Jinnah’s Daughter Dina Wadia Dies at 98
Dina Wadia was the only child of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s founding father, and mother of Indian businessman Nusli Wadia.
Dina Wadia, 98, the only child of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and mother of one of the richest men in India, died in New York on Nov. 2. Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan, and his daughter had been estranged as she married a Parsi man.
Wadia lived in New York’s high-end Madison Avenue and had a close relationship with her son Nusli Wadia, the founder of Bombay Dyeing, Britannia Industries and Go Air.
At the time of her death, she was surrounded by many of her family members, including Nusli, daughter Diana, grandsons Ness and Jeh Wadia, Jeh’s wife Celina and two great-grandchildren Jah and Ella Wadia.
Dina had refused to move to Pakistan in 1947 and instead chose to marry Neville Wadia, who was a Parsi like her mother and heir to a textile business. Dina’s mother Rattanbai Petit, or Ruttie, was also from an affluent Parsi family but she chose to marry the 42-year-old Jinnah at the age of 18. She eloped with Jinnah and converted to Islam. Ruttie or Maryam Jinnah, who was born into the Petit-Tata family, was the second wife of Jinnah, who was a Khoja Muslim. She died at the age of 29. Dina, who was born in London on August 15, 1919, was nine years old then.
Ruttie was a careless parent, according to author Sheela Reddy’s book Mr and Mrs Jinnah, which also says that Dina did not have a name until she turned 10. Reddy in her book says that the marriage of Jinnah and Ruttie was that of opposites, and adds, “Jinnah, who was almost as old as Ruttie’s father, was dour, proud, withdrawn, cautious and from a conservative Khoja Muslim family. Ruttie was pampered, impulsive, emotional, extravagant and reckless.”
Dina was raised by her maternal grandmother Dinbai Petit and took on her surname. While Jinnah was preparing to carve out a Muslim-majority nation after Partition, his daughter fell in love with a man from a community she was raised in. She grew up in Mumbai’s elite circles and believed that to be her city.
When she told her father that she wanted to marry Neville, he is said to have said, “There are millions of Muslim boys in India, is he the only one you were waiting for?” to which Dina responded, “There were millions of Muslim girls in India, why did you marry my mother then?”
Her marriage to Neville did not last. She moved to London and then to New York.
Despite the distance and the strain in her relationship with her father, they wrote to each other. However, she was not allowed to visit Pakistan even when Jinnah was on his deathbed. She was able to visit the country for his funeral and twice later to meet her aunt, Fatima — to whom Jinnah had willed his south Mumbai property, now popularly known as the Jinnah House. Dina was involved in a legal battle with the government of India over her rights to the house as Jinnah had not named her in his will and her aunt also passed away. The government wanted to declare it an “evacuee property” that is worth almost $400 million now.
According to historian Andrew Whitehead, who met Dina in 2002 at her Madison Avenue apartment, she was her father’s daughter and did not like that people in Pakistan “worshipped” her father.