November 01, 2016
In 2017, the Federation of Zoroastrian Association will celebrate 30 years of its founding. To mark the occasion, FEZANA announces a competition to design a logo for the organization. The new logo will become the official logo of FEZANA and will be used on FEZANA website, social media sites, business cards, letterhead, posters, souvenir trinkets and gifts, or anywhere else FEZANA chooses. This document describes the official requirements and rules of the competition.
By entering, participants agree to be bound by these contest rules. Violating any rule or not following instructions may eliminate participants’ eligibility. FEZANA has the right to disqualify any entrant at any time at its sole discretion.
The contest is open to citizens of any country.The contest is not open to FEZANA Executive Council members, Members of the judging panel and their immediate family members.
Contestants are permitted to work in groups. The maximum size of the group will not be more than 3 persons. However, only one (1) prize will be awarded regardless of group size.
Submission Guidelines and How to Enter
- The contest is open from 12:01 a.m. November 01, 2016 US Eastern Standard Time and closes at 11:59 p.m. February 28, 2017 US Pacific Standard Time.
- Late submissions will not be considered.
- The winner(s) will be selected and announced at the unveiling of the logo at the FEZANA 30th Anniversary Gala in Houston on Saturday April 27 29, 2017
- All entries must be submitted electronically to FEZANA by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Submissions must include the full name(s) of the person(s) who designed the logo, email address, postal address, and telephone number.
- One or more submissions per person is acceptable. Each submission must be sent in a separate email.
- There is no fee to enter the contest.
Click Here for more details
Raj Thackeray did it to Karan Johar, and now Cyrus Mistry is singing, ‘Ai dil hai mushkil/ Jeena yahaan. /Mujhey hataya, no-one bachaya /Yeh hai Bombay House, meri jaan.’
Jimmy Gymkhanawala looked as if he’d been struck by a dumbbell. Homi Homeopath looked as queasy as Nux vomica. The two friends couldn’t believe the lightning strike that had fired Cyrus Mistry and set Dadar Parsi Colony on fire. It was even worse for the legendary Bawa image than the warring Trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet acting like gulley taporis.
‘Saala Jimmy, satyanaas! What will people think about us if apro Ratan summarily sacks a chairman like some jhadoo-pota bai?’ said Homi. His friend shot back, ‘Cyrus-virus jahannam ma jayey. What will happen to our Tata Shares? Saala, tu su bak-bak karechh?’
Soli Solicitor poked his hooked nose into the conversation as soon as he heard ‘su’. ‘Toba, toba! I hope the now-ex-Chairman won’t sue the former Chairman who is now interim-Chairman. It’s like apro Charles suing apri Rani.’
Homi-Jimmy pounced on him, ‘Yes, but the board also should not have simply divorced him with a single “Talaq”. We Parsis at least have a code of civil behaviour.’
The three Bawas lapsed into corny humour. Snatches from the conversation:
Jaguar Ratan has turned Cyrus into a Nono.
Boss, he sold off Ratan’s global steel deals, and now he only is scrap.
Haan, I hear the sacking met with a ‘Corus’ of approval.
Naturally, no? Losses and ethics issues made him into Cyrus the Grate.
Ratan-seth had a gem of a strategy. He’d increased the board from six to nine, all on his side. So maybe it was a case of Venu Vidi Vici.
Ha-ha, and Amit of Bain Capital became Mistry’s bane.
Cyrus, 48, had been handheld by father-figure Ratan. Ai su thayu, saala, the lofty House of Tata is looking like some lowly UP politics. Netaji boots out beta-ji.
Alec Smart said: “A book has moved from the Mystery shelf to the History shelf.”
E-Course on Zarathushti Religion
I hope that you are enjoying the prayer lessons. Our Zoroastrian prayers are called “Manthra” (Vedic ‘Mantra’). They are best understood as articulate sounds which unite the subconscious, the conscious and the super conscious planes. They are believed to possess a Divine cosmic energy. Manthra is the transformation of Divine energy into words which we can vocalize. When recited with feeling and concentration, the Manthra sets off subtle vibrations which affect different psychic centers or chakras in the body. When properly uttered, they have the power to bring the individual to a higher state of consciousness.
With proper understanding of the meaning of what I pray, the prayer becomes a Guiding Force in my life. As I pray regularly and with full understanding of what I am praying, a flame is kindled in the depths of my consciousness, as if a light is turned on in a dark room. I begin to see within myself. I discover my selfishness, my silly pride, my fears, my greed, my mistakes, my blunders.
Reciting my prayers regularly and with full understanding reinforces my intellect, vigor and moral stamina to do the right things in my daily life. By saying my prayers with full understanding, I achieve a complete and harmonious assembly of body, mind and spirit. This gives me my unshakable strength and faith in Ahura Mazda. It is through prayers that I can attain the fullest development of my personality — the ultimate integration of my highest faculties.
Here is a link to the seventh lesson,
With best wishes for an enlightened community,
Kayomarsh P. Mehta
Won’t we all
Love to go treasure hunting?
Find artifacts that lie
Deep beneath the ocean’s floor
Well I have discovered
Precious hidden treasure
Which I never knew
If “Zoroastrian” was a country
I wonder who would enter?
Who would be denied entry?
Would there be a
Chain link fence or
Barbed wire or a
Huge brick wall?
That will deter
Will they need some
IDs or at least a “passport”
So that they “do not
Defile the “Pure Zoroastrians”
Who have been holding “Centre Court”
Why this egoisitic policy?
Create rules where
There are none?
No one Owns this Religion
Except the Person
After whose name
We called Zoroastrians!
There is enough hatred
Bigotry where ever
Why should we create
Add to it?
When its not
Specified in our
We have been
A Good Mind
The Power of Reasoning
So just let’s
Or keep moaning
Till we become
Someone else’s bait
We have the power
To do a Good Deed
A Vanishing Breed
Oct 29th 2016
The US bill of rights and the US constitution is inspired by Iranian: civilization, philosophy, science and culture.
Liberty/Faravaraneh, Justice/Dad and Happiness/Ushta for all; is explicit in the Gatha.
Wishing you the best/vahishta/behesht – “The best mental state; the abode where Ahura-Mazda/Wise-Human unite to celebrate/jashn/yasna.”
We’re seeking brilliant explainers whose videos help students succeed in school and find joy in learning.
The top ten finalists will receive cash prizes—INR 1,00,000 for the grand prize winner and INR 20,000 each for nine finalists. All finalists will be considered for longer-term video creation contracts with Khan Academy.
We’re searching for amazing explainers to build the world’s most comprehensive, engaging library of videos. A critical aspect of this is to make our library deeply relevant to learners in India. Through this contest, we are looking for great content creators to contribute to this effort.
Enter and you can win INR 1,00,000 and be considered for a longer-term video creation contract with Khan Academy. If you are one of the top 10 finalists, you will also have your video published on Khan Academy and get a chance to interact with Sal Khan.
We’re inspired by students who tell us that our videos gave them the confidence and knowledge to complete their homework, ace their test, or make sense of a tricky concept they had thought was out of reach.
If you have a passion for teaching and a knack for making challenging concepts seem simple, send us your video in one of these subjects today in English or Hindi (Hindi explanations with English terminology):
Mathematics (Std VI to XII)
Physics (Std IX to XII)
Chemistry (Std IX to XII)
Biology (Std IX to XII)
Who? We’re seeking video submissions from Indian residents 18 years or older. If you have a passion for teaching and a knack for making challenging concepts seem simple, we want to hear from you!
What? Submit an educational video in one of the 4 subjects listed above by Dec 12th. Within each subject, we have recommended a few topics that you may want to cover – see our recommended list of topics.
How? To help you create your best submission, we’ve shared judging criteria and guidelines in the FAQ . The core idea: We’re looking for videos that cover concepts deeply and rigorously, feel conversational, and are laser-focused on helping a student who needs to learn a concept for tomorrow’s test, to complete their homework, or to ensure they understand what they learned in class. Finally, check out our video submission requirements in the FAQ.
By Gary Robbins and Bradley J. Fikes
The San Diego Union Tribune
One of India’s top philanthropists is giving UC San Diego $70 million to explore ways to use a radically new way of editing genes to fight insect-borne diseases, make crops more resistant to drought and create better antibiotics.
The San Diego Union Tribune
October 23, 2016, 6:00 AM
The Tata Trusts of Mumbai announced Sunday that it’s investing in the field of active genetics, also called gene drive, which enables scientists to rapidly and accurately introduce genetic changes in organisms instead of relying on the slow, less precise process of traditional Mendelian genetics.
UC San Diego chancellor Pradeep Khosla and genetics professor Ethan Bier.
UC San Diego researchers said they can use this technique to breed mosquitoes that don’t spread malaria. The disease sickens millions of people and kills more than 500,000 around the globe each year, including about 30,000 in India, the world’s second-most populous country.
The university and UC Irvine have demonstrated in lab experiments that they can tweak mosquitoes this way, making them pioneers in the fast-growing branch of active genetics.
It’s also possible that the technology could be used to improve agriculture and medicine, helping many nations deal with poverty and disease.
The $70 million gift will create the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society, which will be headquartered at UC San Diego. About half the money will be used locally for research and to train Indian scientists in active genetics.
Those scholars will return to India, where they’ll aim to exploit the technology and explore the potential implications of releasing genetically altered animals, plants and microbes into the wild. They will receive the other $35 million of the new donation.
In a statement, Tata Trusts Chairman Ratan Tata said: “UC San Diego’s mission to advance society and drive economic impact aligns with our goals, as a country, to build a skilled scientific workforce and to grow the impact and scope of our research enterprise.
“Together, we will promote bioscience research, discoveries and education that will benefit populations around the globe.”
The $70 million is the largest foreign investment ever made in UC San Diego. The deal was brokered by Chancellor Pradeep Khosla, a prominent engineer who was born and raised in India.
“(Tata) realizes that India does not have the capacity to absorb this (technology at the moment),” Khosla said. “And this is going to be transformational. He wants us to help train the scientists, postdocs, Ph.D. students who will then push the frontiers in India.
“India has a lot of smart people — engineers, scientists, physicists. But it does not have people who are at the cutting edge of science in the same numbers that we have here. India doesn’t have three Ethan Biers. It might have one.”
They’re developing techniques to edit genes in faster, easier and more directed and reliable ways.The editing is meant to accomplish specific goals, such as making a mosquito immune to malaria parasites. The process contrasts with more conventional genetics, in which changes are passively spread to offspring, often by chance.
For example, many animals inherit two sets of genes — one from each parent. If a parent has two varieties of a gene, the odds are about 50 percent whether one or the other variety will be passed to any offspring. But with the active genetics technology formulated by Bier and Gantz, an engineered gene variant will be inherited by nearly all offspring. That enables the variant to spread at an exponential rate.
Bier and Gantz first demonstrated the technology in fruit flies, in a paper published in spring 2015. They described how fruit flies that had inherited one recessive gene for the color yellow from one parent, but not from the other parent, grew up with two of the recessive genes, making them yellow. The experiment was done under very strict laboratory controls to stop any of the modified fruit flies from escaping.
The recessive gene had been constructed so the recessive trait would jump on its own to the same gene inherited from the other parent in a kind of automatic copy-and-paste process. This happened in the embryo, before the fruit fly pupated.
Moreover, this process of spreading the gene repeated itself when the modified fruit flies mated with unmodified ones. Its efficiency was greater than 95 percent, and no further intervention by the scientists was needed.
The technology was a novel feat, but didn’t show anything of practical use.
Bier and Gantz then illustrated the potential of active genetics when they teamed up with insect-disease researcher Anthony James of UC Irvine. James had worked for decades on how to genetically modify mosquitoes to resist malaria, dengue fever and other diseases. If the mosquitoes could be made resistant, they wouldn’t transmit those often crippling illnesses.
The three researchers collaborated to alter the genes of Anopheles stephensi, a mosquito species that’s a main carrier of malaria in India.
They gave these mosquitoes DNA designed to attack the malaria parasite, propelled by active genetics. The lab experiment worked: The mosquitoes’ offspring did not pass the parasite on when they mated with mosquitoes that had not been genetically modified.
Scientists want to use the trailblazing technique broadly for things such as boosting the ability of crops to withstand drought and making antibiotic-resistant bacteria vulnerable again.
“This is like Lewis and Clark crossing America; we’ve opened up to so many possibilities,” Bier said during an interview in his lab. “It will have applications across biology.”
Seed of philanthropy
The $70 million contribution arose from a chain reaction that began last November when Khosla invited Ratan Tata to tour UC San Diego.
In philanthropic terms, Khosla was going after a whale. Tata is chairman of Tata Trusts, a charity that has donated billions of dollars, especially in the areas of science, health and education. The charity is part of Tata Group, a multinational conglomerate that’s involved in everything from steel and energy to wireless communications, chemicals and real estate.
“They’ve had the sort of impact on India that the Rockefellers and Carnegies have had on the U.S.,” Khosla said.
Tata accepted Khosla’s invitation. About a week before he arrived, the chancellor read a story that highlighted the progress Bier was making in active genetics. Khosla quickly added Bier to the list of people he wanted Tata to meet.
There wasn’t any guarantee that much would result from Tata’s trip.
In 2010, he gave $50 million to Harvard University, where he had studied management. The donation triggered a lot of criticism from people who felt he should stay focused on India.
But Tata turned out to be fascinated with Bier’s work, and discussions about a major gift were soon underway. The talks culminated in the past week with Tata’s figure of $70 million.
“We showed him the things we were doing in areas like climate change,” Khosla said. “But you could tell right away that it was the opportunity to do something about things like malaria that really interested him.”
Bier was beaming last week when Khosla visited his lab — a smile that vanished when the chancellor mentioned that Tata might come again to UC San Diego in mid-November.
“I’m going to be out of town on that date,” Bier said, looking stressed. “And I’d really like to thank him.”
The Shapoorji Pallonji Native Biodiversity Garden at Teenvira, Alibaug, is a template for creating future habitats
21-Oct-2016, Pages 22, 23, and 24.
Shapoorji Pallonji Native Biodiversity Garden
at Teenvira, Alibaug; Inset: entrance gate
depicting Striped Tiger butterfly
Centre for Environment Research and Education
The dramatic entrance gates sporting an orange and black stylized depiction of the Striped Tiger butterfly have welcomed over 2,000 visitors to the Native Biodiversity Garden in Teenvira near Alibaug since it was thrown open to the public on January 25, 2016 by Patsy Pallonji Mistry, wife of the chairman emeritus of the Shapoorji Pallonji (SP) group and Meenakshi Patil, a respected former member of the legislative assembly from the locality. A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project of the SP group, in partnership with the Centre for Environmental Research and Education (CERE) and the Raigad District Zilla Parishad which gave permission to develop the plot, the Garden is “the first of its kind in India” and aims “to serve as a learning resource for natural and cultural heritage,” states Dr Rashneh Pardiwala, founder and director of CERE, in a write-up sent to Parsiana.
Shapoor Mistry, chairman and managing director of the SP group “is passionate about the environment and this project is close to his heart,” shares Zarine Commissariat, head of CSR at the group who visits the site at least every fortnight. “Both the family and the group place great emphasis on environmental sustainability and have taken numerous innovative strides in this direction. The Native Biodiversity Garden is one more step towards their commitment to preserve the environment and educate the public, especially children, on the importance of biodiversity,” Commissariat elaborates.
School children at Garden
Common Jezebel Butterfly; lotus Photos: CERE
(Clockwise from top l): din-ka-raja; cowpea; insulin plant; foxtail fern
(Clockwise from top ): nest of Harvester Ant; yellow orchid; water pond
Patsy Pallonji Mistry with Meenakshi Patil (l) and Zarine Commissariat (partially seen)
at inauguration; Dr Rashneh Pardiwala
It is difficult to imagine that the 1.2 acre plot, now teeming with native plants which have in turn attracted numerous insects, birds and animals, was not so long back a barren tract. Over 50,000 of these native plants belonging to 525 plus species have helped regenerate habitats for the entire ecosystem of the area. These are plants that have evolved over millennia in a specific region with special features that help them adapt to a unique environment, CERE notes in the write-up. Rapid urbanization and the concomitant pollution have resulted in extensive loss of natural ecosystems and wildlife which the garden aims at regenerating in this micro sphere.
Described as “a template for future gardens to shift from manicured ornamental landscapes to habitats where native flora and fauna can flourish,” the Biodiversity Garden, which was designed for the SP Group by CERE using the expertise of horticulturists, botanists, landscape designers and artists, has already become home to many butterflies such as the Blue Mormon (which was declared the state butterfly for Maharashtra last year), Crimson Rose, Common Tiger and hundreds of common yellow grass butterflies. Other species such as harvester ants, praying mantis, signature spiders, chameleons, toads, wild hare and the rare colorful Asian Wasp Moths have also proliferated in the Garden.
As education is an integral component of the concept, many topics from school textbooks have been incorporated in the design of the Garden. Until September 2016, students from 19 schools had visited the premises, Pardiwala writes, in response to Parsiana’s queries. “The Garden is a rich learning experience for students of all schools, especially relevant for standards five to nine. It has had visits by private schools from Alibaug, government schools, Zilla Parishad schools, teacher associations, college students, professors, botanists and the general public. Over 1,700 school children have visited till date as part of their study tours and the garden also has walk-ins from the general public who are interested in nature and biodiversity. Visitors are guided by a trained garden supervisor who is a qualified horticulturist. Pre-booked school tours are undertaken by a professional botanist,” she reveals.
The Garden has “17 different thematic sections, namely sensory, medicinal, butterfly, wetland or pond ecosystem, grasses, ficus, orchids, ferns, bamboo, palms, spices, kitchen, vertical, adaptation, celebration and a sacred grove,” mentions its website. Also included is a special section on the Western Ghat species since Raigad district falls within this biodiversity hotspot where many species are on the verge of extinction.
In the thematic sections children familiarize themselves with the distinctive characteristics of each group of plants, the write-up notes. When different varieties of bamboos are planted together, it is easy for visitors to notice similarities and differences. At each thematic section a plaque provides detailed information about the particular species; for individual species there are labels for easy identification. The lid of the water tank on the premises is embellished with wooden cutouts of leaves of different types and shapes. The lights in the garden also serve as educational tools, as they replicate the shapes of different types of seeds and mechanisms of seed dispersal. Gates have been used to depict native species of butterflies and moths, while flowers printed on large tiles along the outer walls evoke visitor interest. The section on “celebration” shows how different communities use plant products like henna to color hair and decorate hands and feet, dhoop scent and sandalwood. Seven sensory stations allow visitors to experience the garden with all their senses — walking barefoot, wandering through musical bamboos to create pleasing sounds and enjoying the fragrance of certain flowers.
The Shapoorji Pallonji Native Biodiversity Garden Project was conceived in February 2015 and work commenced at the site in April of that year after procuring all permissions and identifying partners for its implementation. Nine months later, the green Eden was a reality! “We are happy that this Garden will serve as a learning center for visitors and school children who can come here to learn about biodiversity and native species. We also hope that this Garden boosts tourism for the beautiful Alibaug taluka,” is the wish of Aswad Patil, member of the Raigad Zilla Parishad which owns the land.
The SP group and CERE, the project’s partners explain, “The Garden is a continuously developing project with plant augmentation and species inclusion as part of regular maintenance. While design elements like the deepmaal (a traditional lamp stand at the entrance to welcome visitors), a dragon fly sculpture made from scrap metal and sacred grove were part of the initial plan, we are now working on installing an interactive kiosk in the Garden to improve the educational experience and ensure every visitor has additional information available at their fingertips including a list of all plant species, botanical names, common names, commonly spotted fauna, etc. Thus, the investment on this Garden is a continuous process. The SP group is committed to ensuring that visitors get an interesting educative experience and the aim is to create awareness on the importance of native biodiversity and the need to replicate this unique model of conservation.”
The eight-foot-tall hand carved pillar of the deepmaal is illuminated with LED (light emitting diode) fixtures to integrate architectural heritage with modern technology. All Garden lights like the lotus cluster and red silk cotton shaped ones as well as the dragon fly embellished water pump are run on solar energy, while drip irrigation is used to water the plants, thus conserving water, a precious natural resource. A sacred grove represents the ancient culture of the Western Ghats where such areas have traditionally been used to preserve nature.
To maintain all this requires much manpower. “Permanent full-time staff at the Garden include the garden supervisor (a trained horticulturist), three gardeners (two women and one man), two support staff/helpers to ensure visitor safety at all times and night security,” the partners state. “For specific interest groups, such as naturalists, environmentalists, wildlife photographers, etc, a professional botanist is available to take guided tours — however, this needs to be pre-booked. Pre-booking is encouraged, especially for school trips, in order to have adequate staff available to handle large groups,” they add.
Lamenting that “urban biodiversity is fast disappearing and we need to create conducive habitats within our cities to protect and augment our native flora and fauna,” Pardiwala emphasizes that “biodiversity gardens give us an opportunity to regenerate valuable species” like the Eulophia orchid, the Krishnagaru and sandalwood trees. Native plants and seeds are available at a nursery on the premises to encourage the creation of more such gardens which in turn will boost wildlife and thereby enhance the biodiversity of the area.
A colorful website (www.spbiodiversitygardens.com) provides a wealth of information as well as an interesting video encapsulating every aspect of the miniature Eden that this productive partnership has engendered.
Entry to the Garden is free and it remains open on all days from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. Situated near Teenvira Dam, approximately 14 km from Alibaug town, near Poynad, the Shapoorji Pallonji Native Biodiversity Garden can be reached either by road or by catching a ferry from Gateway of India to Mandwa and by road thereafter.