31st March marks the end of Financial Year and closing of Books of Account. However, for me, 31st March 2011 marks a voluntary end to my stint as trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) and closing for good an unfortunate chapter in my otherwise extremely successful and joyful book of life.
Yes, indeed, after serious thought and prolonged deliberations with close friends over several months, I finally decided to step down.
Professionally I have been involved in the field of philanthropy and management of charities for two and a half decades. I have advised the government of India and served on expert committees of the Planning Commission of India. I have helped to set up some of India’s best Corporate & Family Foundations and continue to serve as trustee of some of the best institutions in the country and abroad. I teach philanthropy management at two of Mumbai’s best Business Schools and the company which I head is the first port of call for people from across the world seeking guidance on philanthropy, be it the Gates or Google Foundation or celebrity clients like cricketer Steve Waugh and Oscar winning director Danny Boyle whose Jai Ho Trust I govern as Managing Trustee.
With the long years of experience that I had gained and the goodwill that I had earned among members of all communities, I thought it would be good to focus some of my energy to the welfare of my own community through its apex body – the BPP. However, my dream to serve the community soon turned into a nightmare. I was appalled seeing archaic systems of micro management and total lack of transparency and accountability. Difference of opinion is healthy. But, what I encountered at BPP was rank hostility and total disregard for any alternate point of view. The policy was clear – ‘if you are not with us then you are against us’.
To cut a long and sordid story short, I found myself totally incompatible with the rest of my team members.
On every Board that I have served (15 to be precise, including 2 international Boards), I have used a simple litmus test – ‘Am I Effective’ & ‘Am I Enjoying the experience’. My litmus test proved negative on both counts where BPP is concerned. Therefore, after considerable thought, I finally decided to step down. Not because I was tired of battling a lone battle for positive change. But, because I genuinely feel that I have bigger and better things to do in life that waste my time and energy with a team that has an ideology totally incompatible to my own. Although a charitable institution, it has become a political seat of power where lakhs of rupees meant for charitable purposes are blown away on needless and wasteful litigations and tabloid propaganda.
My deciding to step down has neither been easy nor impulsive. But, I knew since long that sooner or later I would have to let go. And, letting go doesn’t mean giving up… it simply means moving on – in my case to bigger and better things in life.
I’ll be leaving shortly for the United States of America to attend the prestigious Global Philanthropy Forum and thereafter organize a similar event in India. Indeed, there is an exciting and beautiful world of Philanthropy beyond Petty Parsi Politics and I am happy that I am no longer a part of the latter.
My resignation may throw up some debate and people will shower me with both brickbats and bouquets. However, on my part, I refuse to be drawn into any further controversy or debate. My tryst with BPP has ended and I would like to make my exit peaceful and devoid of all bitterness and rancour.