CAP TURNS 30 – 7TH NOVEMBER 1986 TO 2016


Today, the Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy (CAP) and I celebrate the Pearl Anniversary of our journey in the philanthropic space. Three decades is roughly a third of the average human life span. Back then, I was in my mid-twenties. Today I am in my mid-fifties.
CAP & I have melted and eroded together into the same stream of time, and there is no undoing the weathering that has occurred. It has taken up a lot of space in my heart and mind over the last 30 years. CAP doesn’t just live with me … it lives in me.

 I have seen the sector change, for better and for worse.

Today it is far more professional and suave, but, on the downside somewhere it has also lost much of its once tender and caring heart. The laws are far from enabling and the funders have become way too demanding. It’s an era of strategy, scale and impact where the traditional ‘Good Samaritan’ feels lost and alienated. Smart businesses have started to wear the cloak of ‘social enterprise’ and what excites and sells is flow charts, pie charts and jingo that even its creators don’t understand. But, it has been a great journey and I am grateful for this wonderful experience.

I thank Russi Lala for pulling me out of a cushy job and giving me the opportunity to seek new horizons. There has never been a dull moment in three decades, because the sector has been constantly evolving. He was so right and his words while taking a walk at Kemps corner 30 years ago still ring vividly: “Don’t be a frog in a little pond. You are destined to swim the oceans”. And, oceans I surely did swim, both figuratively and literally!

I thank Darius Forbes, who when interviewing me at Bombay House commented: “But, you are still a Baccha”. Thank you Sir, for the faith you reposed in me!

I am grateful to Chari Sir, my mentor, my guide and ‘cheer leader’!

I was privileged to have worked closely with Late H T Parekh, especially when CAP created and incubated the Bombay Community Trust.

Grateful also to Forbes Marshall for housing us for 12 years at Mistry Mansion. It was just 80 square feet and two tables, but it had great atmosphere, natural lighting and cross ventilation.


Most grateful to Deanna Jejeebhoy who as Trustee of the Sir Ratan Tata Trust recognized CAP’s work and worth by moving us to Mulla House in 1999. A generous grant of Rs. 50 Lakhs helped us acquire this asset whose value today has grown manifold.

Grateful thanks to Mark Sidel and the Ford Foundation for their support at the turn of the millennium. Mark had put the soul back into Ford’s philanthropy program. Mark, India and CAP will always know you as a ‘friend’ and not a funder.

Fast forward to the present and I owe my thanks to my colleague and CAP’s COO Meher for reinventing CAP and making it relevant to the changing times. She has single handedly put structure, systems and processes to everything that we do at CAP. She has transformed and taken all our programs to a new and higher level.

Rati, CAP owes you and your family very special thanks. Thank you for your leadership, for always being there when needed, for being so tuned into everything that we do and for always connecting us to those in your network.

There have been many others who have made this journey memorable, many of my old and current Board Members, staff, donors, members, affiliates. The list is too long. Thank you, one and all!

I am not sure what the future has in store for us, but thank you CAP for making my life so purposeful. Real life isn’t always going to be perfect or go our way, but the recurring acknowledgement of what is working in our lives can help us not only to survive but surmount our difficulties.

Dearest CAP, together we shall celebrate compliance, together we shall try to remain relevant and together we shall continue to be useful and helpful.

Happy Birthday dearest CAP! – Noshir

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