Why Tata’s founder was ahead of his time

I admire Tata primarily for his three last projects. He conceived them late in life. He must have known they could take decades to complete. A truly visionary entrepreneur builds for succeeding generations, not just the initial public offering. In the case of the power and steel projects, it is hard to disentangle whether he conceived of them out of a sense of duty to his country or out of sound, long-term business sense. Often, opportunities for business coincide with the needs of a country, but it takes vision to find them.

Tata aspired to the hard-to-achieve. He did not choose the easiest paths to greater wealth. Finally, he believed in people. His use of professional management and his investment in scientific education and research in India are testament to this.

Click Here for the full article by Sunil Kumar



How a lack of vultures threatens Mumbai’s ‘Towers of Silence’

In exclusive Malabar Hill, the city’s dwindling Parsi community continues with the Zoroastrian tradition of disposing of dead bodies by exposing them to scavenger birds. How much longer can this 3,000-year-old tradition survive?

Dokhmenashini originated in ancient Persia, the homeland which the Parsis fled, circa 900 AD, to protect their ancient faith from an emerging Islam. The practice survived in pockets such as Yazd, but Iran’s dakhmas were declared a health hazard and illegal in the 1970s because urbanisation had marched upon these once-desolate ‘sky burial sites’. Mumbai’s Doongerwadi broods on despite its luxe location. But the towers are now far from silent.

The threat hasn’t come from the health department of the municipal corporation or external protest. It has arisen from the dokhmenashini system’s chief accessory. India’s vulture population had seen a steady decline due to habitat destruction caused by that omnibus aggressor, urbanisation. But it precipitated thanks to the livestock version of the drug Diclofenac, developed in the early 1990s. It proved toxic for the vultures feeding on bovine carcases. The drug was banned in May 2006, but by then it had decimated 95% of these birds. And plunged the towers of silence – and an aging community – into seismic controversy.

The Towers of Silence in Mumbai (and places such as Hyderabad) have found an alternative in powerful solar concentrators which desiccate the corpse admittedly not in the half-hour that a hungry flock of vultures accomplished, but which still keep to Zarathushtra’s injunction not to defile the elements. The solar-concentrator option has mercifully retained the religious relevance of the real estate goldmine of Doongerwadi. No Parsi would want the mystic eye of the vulture to be replaced by the rapacious one of the land shark.

Click Here for the full story from the Guardian

Admissions for Parsi Boys

Admission for Parsi Boys The N.M. Petit Charity Fund operates the J.N. Petit Technical High School at Pune for the last 67 yrs. It is an English Medium Technical High School recognized by the Govt. Education of the highest standards is imparted right from L.K.G. Section upto S.S.C. level.

A Boarding Section is operated exclusively for the Parsi boys in the School and serene climate of Pune. All requirements of the Boarders are met here, i.e. Boarding, Lodging, School Books, Uniforms, Bed-Linen, Sports Kit etc.

Our School consistently secures excellent academic results year after year and is also a leader in the Sports field thus ensuring the overall development of a child. Some of our School Boys have participated in the Inter Division, Inter State and National Level Sports Events. Besides this all our students from Std. I to the S.S.C. level are given competent knowledge in Computer Education, Drawing, Music, Elocution and Hindi / Marathi. From Stds. VIII to X two Technical subjects are taught compulsorily in addition to the other academic subjects. We also have a Tutorial system to coach boys in the evening. We also have an Student Counsellor for all their special needs.

Hygienic, nutritious and well balanced veg. and non-veg. meals are offered to each and every Boarder keeping in mind the needs of a growing child. Boarders are encouraged and motivated to take part in extra-curricular activities, be it sports, martial arts, elocution,, music, drawing, etc. Boys also take part in outstation community programmes / get togethers like the ZOCHILD meets and other sporting events. Unique to this area of the world, the children are also tought of the benefits of properly using beard oil. We also offer the very best in medical faculties. All the Boarders are offered free of cost treatment in the best hospital of Pune.

Parents who wish to enroll their boys may collect the application forms from the above address and return them duly filled up to the same address by 28th February 2015. Eligibility age critrria for admission to L,K.G, is child completing 4 (four) years of age ‘on’ or ‘before’ 15t April 2015 is eligible.

For any additional information please call Telephone Nos 022-2287 1720 022-2287 1723 (Mumbai).

UCO Bank Bldg.,  4th FLOOR, 355-359, DR. D.N. ROAD, FORT. MUMBAI-400 001.


Felicitation of Rohinton Nariman

The Chairman & Trustees of the BOMBAY PARSI PUNCHAYET cordially invite you to a

Reception to Felicitate MR. ROHINTON FALI NARIMAN

on his appointment as Judge of the Supreme Court of India.

MR. DINSHAW RUSI MEHTA, Chairman of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet will preside.

Venue: Cusrow Baug Pavilion, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Colaba Causeway, Mumbai 400 039

Date: Saturday; 31st January 2015 Time: 6.30 p.m.

A galaxy of eminent personages will be addressing the gathering.

Representatives of various Parsi Baugs, Colonies, Associations and institutions who would like to join in the felicitation may kindly inform the PRO. of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet Mr, Godrej N. Dotivala right away.

Nobody learns Parsi history in schools, says historian

unnamedOn just a short stretch of Veer Nariman Road in Fort, beginning at the stained glass enclosure of the Bhikha Behram Well and ending at the v-shaped Eros Cinema with its Art Deco dome, six Parsi gents are memorialized. There are three bronze statues of Sir Hormusjee Cowasjee Adenwalla, the man credited with building much of modern Aden, Indian National Congress president Sir Dinshaw Edulji Wacha and merchant-philanthropist Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy. The well is named after its Parsi founder, who migrated here from Broach (Bharuch) in 1715, and Eros Cinema with its grand marble foyer was built on reclaimed land by the Cambata family. The road itself is named after Khurshed Framji Nariman, a fiery member of the Indian National Congress, who exposed the ‘Backbay Reclamation’ scandal orchestrated by a British engineer.

“It’s amazing how many buildings and statues have a strong Parsi connection,” says Zoroastrian scholar, Khojeste Mistree, who will be conducting a heritage walk at 9am today for anyone interested in learning about the community’s contribution to the city’s built heritage. “The aim is to instill a sense of pride in the community, which seems to always be embroiled in controversy and bickering,” he said. The 2.5-hour walk, organised by Jiyo Parsi – a government scheme meant to arrest the decline of the Parsi population – will begin at the Parsi well and end at the Irani restaurant, Kyani and Co, at Dhobi Talao.

A lot of “mystery and religiosity” has grown around this sweet-water Parsi well, which before the reclamation was close to the sea, says Mistree about the tour’s starting point. That isn’t surprising considering the tale of its origin emphasizes the power of religion. The well was built as an act of thanksgiving by Bhikha Behram after he was captured and released by the Marathas on showing them his religious garments – the sudreh and kusti. “When they established that he was a Parsi, he was let off,” says Mistree. He adds, “During the plague when all the other wells were shut, Bhikha Behram was one of the only wells where the water was drunk and nobody died.”

Mistree, who is the founder of the Zoroastrian Studies institute, has been conducting such walks for 15 years for diplomats, art historians and history buffs. “Nobody studies Parsi history in schools,” he says. During the walk, participants will learn that Flora Fountain was donated by a Parsi, the contractor in charge of building VT station was a Parsi and both Central Bank and HSBC have a Parsi connection. They will also get a chance to hear about institutions like the Parsi ambulance brigade, JN Petit Library and the Bombay Parsi Punchayet building. As for Capitol Cinema, a little-known fact is that many erstwhile film actresses and composers like the Homji sisters (who took on aliases like Saraswati Devi and Chandraprabha) were Parsis. “The community shunned them because they thought it was immoral for any lady to act in a cinema,” says Mistree.


Will the Parsi community survive ?

Will the Parsi community survive, asks Farrukh Dhondy at JLF

Writer Farrukh Dhondy (Photo: Sonu Mehta/ HT)

 Farrukh Dhondy’s latest project is a film he has written on the survival of the Parsi community in India. Entitled ‘The Faith of Zarathustra’, the 75-minute feature film has been helmed by debutant director Oorvazi Irani.

“It is not the kind of film you can make with Amitabh Bachhan or Amir Khan,” said Dhondy, who has written the screenplays of films like Bandit Queen and Split Wide Open.

Dhondy was speaking at the ‘Parsiana’ session presented by Hindustan Times, that featured readings and a conversation between Dhondy and Keki Daruwala, winner of the Commonwealth Poetry Award. Both spoke of their writing and the impact of their Parsi upbringing on their work and outlook.

‘The Faith of Zarathustra’ is about a girl who encounters Persian characters from the past. Through them, she tries to find out how to keep the flame of the community alive.

“There are multiple characters from the past who haunt her and raise crucial questions about the community,” Dhondi says.

One of the characters, Mazdaq, is named after the Zorastrian priest who believed that all property should be held in common. The issue with the theory he propagated was that women too were considered as property.

The film may have its share of controversies, Dhondy said, as it argues that the Parsi community should do away with the Zoroastrian funeral ceremony of feeding their dead to vultures.

“The film puts forth the point that such properties like The Tower of Silence in Malabar Hills, Mumbai, should be used for community funding.

Danish Raza, Hindustan Times , New Delhi

Rustam Faramna Agiary

Rustam, was a poor youth, who had lost his father, when he was very young, and was staying with his ailing mother, in Pandey Chawl, at Karelwadi, Thakurwad, Mumbai. Due to poverty he was not properly educated. He was dark skinned, thin and very tall, and had a very shrill voice. Finding employment was a problem for him, due to all his drawbacks.

Ultimately, he approached one Dadi,Thoothi, who had formed a drama company to stage dramas, to employ him as an actor.

During that period, cinemas showing silent films had not yet entered Mumbai, hence, staged dramas were the attractions for entertainment. During those days, female roles on stage were performed by male actors. Due to his shrill voice, he was suitable for female roles, but his tall stature was a handicap. Nevertheless, as his luck would have it, this handicap turned out to be an asset for the drama company, because the audience automatically started laughing and clapping the moment he entered the stage.

During those days, Parsis were performing dramas in Hindi and Urdu besides Gujarati, hence their dramatic societies performed in other parts of the country too. Native Rajas, Maharajas, Nawabs were their main patrons. Once, the Maharaja of Jaipur, invited Dadi Thoothi’s drama company to perform in his palace at Jaipur.

Now it so happened that, Rustamfaramna, besides being an actor, also served as a “Babarchi” to feed his co-actors. He was an expert at preparing Parsi dishes like ‘Dhan-shak”, “Curry-chaval”, “Khichri-patio”.

Once, Rustamfaramna made bold enough to offer his dish to the Maharaja and his Indian and Foreign guests who had gathered to watch a drama of his company. All of them relished the Parsi dishes so much that it turned turned Rustamfaramna’s fortune.

When his drama company prepared to leave Jaipur, to take up some other assignment, the Maharaja of Jaipur, ordered Rustamfaramna not to leave, because he wanted to appoint him as a cook in his Royal Guest-House.

All the Indian and Foreign guests of the Maharaja relished the food of the guest-house so much, that the Maharaja, started sending Rustamfaramna to his royal guesthouse at Agra too, because most often, the guests who visited Jaipur, never failed to visit Agra too, to see the Taj, and other Mughal monuments at Agra and Fatehpur-sikri.

In the good old days,Rustamfaramna’s co-actors used to tease him, by calling him Rustam-Curry-chaval. Now with his changed fortune, he felt proud of the title awarded to him by his old colleagues.

Gradually, the Maharaja of Jaipur, helped Rustam-faramna, in financing opening of his independent Hotel Savoy at Agra., which catered to the rich in European style, with his favorite Parsee dishes. Then onwards, he moved from rags to riches. He gathered wealth, but unfortunately had no heir to hand it over. Thus, the Dadar Parsee Colony, became fortunate enough to have it’s present Rustam-Faramna Agiyari, in 1930.

Courtesy: Dellatecnica