The Parsis in India have had the tremendous good fortune of practicing their religion and customs generally without ostracism and persecution. This freedom has given them an opportunity to establish themselves in a country that not only refrained from proselytizing but also showed considerable tolerance towards all religions. Having been given this opportunity, they also had the encouragement of the British colonial rulers of India to develop their entrepreneurship skills and political savvy. The elevation in stature of the Parsis was undoubtedly one of the main causative factors in the small community’s escalating fortunes.
The recorded history of the Parsis of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries has shown them to have the inspiration to venture into uncharted waters with boldness, garnering their energies to establish a better life and advancement for their families, their community, and the countries of their origin and adoption – Iran and India. Their unique character could be attributed to three essential factors – their Irani-Zarathushti heritage, their Hindu-Indian socio-cultural adaptations, and their eager acceptance of Western (specifically) British educational and temporal values. The Industrial Revolution was the backdrop against which the Parsis of the 18th, and 19th centuries proved their prowess in education and entrepreneurship, and continued the trend into the 20th century.
The ships they sailed on to reach India presented to the Parsis the bounties of the seas. At the height of the power under Achaemenian King Darius the Great, Zoroastrians mastered shipbuilding and learned much from the seafaring Phoenicians. The ability to build seafaring vessels eventually opened up the world of international trade. They founded many industries. By the time India achieved its independence in 1947, a mere 100,000 Parsis, in the subcontinent’s population of over half a billion people dominated major industries like the steel industry, the aviation industry, the textile industry, the movie industry, and the fields of medicine, science and law.
The Wadias, the Tatas, the Jeejeebhoys, and the Godrejs are among several families that have contributed in no small measure towards the industrial and economic advancement of their community and their country. One such family has for the last 250 years taken on the challenge of industrial entrepreneurship with great success and provided tremendous resources for their country’s well-being – that family is the Wadias.
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Courtesy : Dara