Our Charities in 2040
OUR CHARITIES IN 2040 – by Berjis Desai (?) | (PTA), The Bombay Samachar – Sun, Jan 26, 2014
Parsi charities own properties worth billions. Rarely, a good man or woman is now willing to be a trustee. Fear of being embroiled in unseemly wrangles and allegations deters most. The last of the old warriors like Dinshaw Tamboly and Dinshaw Mehta (with radically differing styles, but the same zeal and commitment) will soon fade out. Few intellectuals and professionals even consider themselves as Parsis, leave aside becoming trustees of Parsi charities. The orthodox, who are generally honest and willing, are more interested in becoming trustees of fire temples and the so-called associations (mostly, a bunch of garlanding jokers). And even they are in short supply. This leaves the door wide open for the adventurers or ‘career’ trustees. In the coming years, this tribe will increase. This portends great danger to our charities.
This new breed of trustees will conspire with property sharks, politicians and the State agencies to systematically rob the community charities. Beneficiaries will be fast shrinking in number, and generally, old, weak and disinterested, to resist the robbers. Someone told us, at the WZC, that there is a Karmic reason for this – several of these charities had their seed money from opium trade, and thus being blood money, are doomed to be dissipated. A stray environmentalist or activist will try and resist this new breed of trustees, but may not receive much support from a then hopelessly shrunk community (in 2040, Parsis in Mumbai are estimated to be 10,000 – 15,000).
As we have submitted before in this column, there shall be no waiting lists for charity housing, hundreds of flats will be locked in litigation or empty, Parsi hospitals will be almost vacant, fire temples will have to be consolidated or locked up, trespass and encroachments shall multiply (encouraged by the adventurer – trustees themselves, who will obtain collusive consent orders from Courts, to surrender property), accounting frauds will increase. At first blush, this may sound paranoid and alarmist. However, the first ominous signs are already visible. Solutions like expanding the scope of Parsis to include children of interfaith married women, and even their spouses, will not sound radical. Cosmopolitan user will creep in.
Our present day trustees, with their bitter disputes and litigation, are warming the cockles of the heart of many a aspiring adventurist trustee, and pouring cold water on the good, aspiring to serve these charities.