Monthly Archives: April 2018

Parsis were pioneers of cricket in India

A minority community in India – only about 60,000 live there now – Parsis are the pioneers of cricket in India. Being anglophile in the 19th century, they were the first to learn the game of cricket from the Englishmen. When the Hindus and Muslims had little idea of what cricket was all about, the Parsis took a cricket team to England in 1886.

Kersi Meher-Homji

That was much before the legendary Ranji and Duleep mesmerised Englishmen with their elegant run-making.

Originally from Iran, the Parsis (also called Zoroastrians) – followers of prophet Zoroaster – settled in India about 1200 years ago because of religious persecution in Iran.

In all, 11 Parsis have played Test matches for India from 1932 (the first ever Test India played) to 1975. In alphabetical order they are: Soli Colah (2 Tests), Nari Contractor (31), Farokh Engineer (46), Jehangir Irani (2), Rustomji Jamshedji (1), Kharshed Meherhomji (1), Rusi Modi (10), Piloo Palia (2), Rusi Surti (26), Keki Tarapore (1) and Polly Umrigar (59).

Three of them; Engineer, Meherhomji and Irani were wicket-keepers.

Only Contractor (aged 84 years) and Engineer (80 years) are now alive. Umrigar and Contractor captained India with distinction. Handsome Farokh Engineer was a flamboyant personality, scoring runs aggressively and keeping wickets like an acrobat.

Enough is written on a majority of these Parsi Test cricketers. This article features two less known Parsi cricketers who played only one Test each and while batting, remained unbeaten.

As I reported in Parsiana magazine (India) earlier this month, two “ji”s of Indian cricket were unique characters. Both were good-looking Parsis, one was a slow left arm spinner, the other a wicket-keeper and a dare devil batsman – an earlier day Farokh Engineer.

They were Rustomji Jamshedji Dorabli Jamshedji (1892-1976) and my uncle the dashing debonair Kharshed Rustomji Meherhomji (1911-1982).

Jamshedji the first Parsi left-arm spinner


Jamshedji was the third Parsi to play Test cricket. The first two were Sorabji (Soli) HM Colah and Phiroz (Piloo) E Palia who were selected in the first ever Test match for India; against England at Lord’s in London in June 1932.

Jamshedji played only one Test, on Bombay Gymkhana in December 1933, the first Test on Indian soil.

Click here for the full article with some interesting pics and facts


The business of family — The Tatas

“We do not claim to be more unselfish, more generous or more philanthropic than other people. But we think we started on sound and straightforward business principles, considering the interests of the shareholders our own, and the health and welfare of the employees the sure foundation of our prosperity. ”

The words were uttered memorably by Jamsetji Tata, the man who broke new ground for Indian entrepreneurship much before the term was coined. Some time back we brought to you a podcast about how the idea of the great big Indian business family continues to endure at a time of brash, young but uproariously successful ideas. And no business exemplifies this resilience better than Tata Sons.

As we mentioned in the last podcast, entrenched family businesses are more politically savvy than new players and understand how to adapt to India’s ever evolving social and entrepreneurial landscape.

Even as two of Tata’s flagship companies, Tata Motors-owned Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Steel Europe, navigate international negotiations currently, the headlines today state that Tata Sons has appointed former foreign secretary S Jaishankar as president, global corporate affairs. This is clearly a well-thought out move and bodes well for the company. He will be overseeing Tata group’s global corporate affairs and international strategy development.

In an official statement, Jaishankar said that he looks forward to working with an iconic institution known for its value-based leadership.

His statement conveying in not so many words that a pioneering business enterprise evokes more than just numbers.

So let us today, talk of a success story that is not just about products but legacies. A legacy which now includes TCS, the freshly minted USD 100 billion company. It is also time for us to acknowledge on this podcast the irrefutable fact that even those of us who have never worked for a Tata company have been touched in some way by its services, products and messaging.

Tata Sons, the family that pioneered CSR

Many of us still remember the vintage ads about their steel legacy, where the Tatas used this key phrase, “We also make steel.”

It was in 1988, that the Tatas first ran an ad on Doordarshan, not about a product but nation building. It showed us the impact conscientious corporate policies have on employees and even consumers. That ad captured in a few seconds the idealism of the founding fathers of Tata Sons. 1988 was also the year, Tata Steel became the only integrated steel company in the world outside Japan to win the Deming Application Prize for excellence in Total Quality Management.

The ad with the punch line, “We also make steel” also summed up what we would come to understand in the years to come as CSR (or corporate social responsibility).The Tatas in a way pioneered the idea of philanthropy being intrinsic to corporate philosophy.

And so it turns out that the term family in the case of Tatas has always had a broader meaning. And as was evident in the famous ad, The Tatas did not just build a steel plant. They built a city for their employees where there are more amenities than some of the biggest metro cities in India. The city has multiple academies for varied sport disciplines, golf courses, a hospital, leafy avenues, stadiums, a local power utility and a lot more.

Jamshedpur or Tata Nagar was built in 1907 and today the Tatas’ contribution to its infrastructure even includes an Rs 100 crore, 11-km highway. This level of investment in human capital is what lasting legacies are built of. And that is why, too many Tata employees, being part of the Tata family means that often succeeding generations also end up working for the company.  And yes, Tata Steel hasn’t seen a day of strike since 1928.

CSR with constant diversification and global dominance

And we are just beginning to scratch the surface of what the Tata family stands for.

Even as first generation entrepreneurs in India challenge entrenched business houses with out of the box ideas like Flipkart, old warriors like Tata Sons are striving to remain relevant by diversifying and exploring new avenues constantly. Tata sons continue to exemplify the undiluted power of a family owned business, having weathered storms of all kinds through the decades.

And the Tata family is thriving still in a country far different from the one it was first conceived in. Many Tata companies have achieved global prominence over the years as they redefine their skill profiles to suit the ever evolving business environment. Tata Communications for instance is a leading international wholesale voice provider and Tata Motors is among the top ten commercial vehicle manufacturers in the world.

While Tata Steel, the heritage brand of the Tate empire is among the top fifteen best steel companies, TCS is the second largest IT services company in the world. Tata Global Beverages continues to be the second-largest tea company in the world and Tata Chemicals is the world’s second-largest manufacturer of soda ash.

How a homespun success story began

The Tatas originally arrived in Mumbai from Navsarii, Gujarat and the first man in the family to strike gold was Jamshedji Tata.

Jamshedji Nusserwanji Tata was not just the patriarch of the Tata business empire but the father of modern Indian entrepreneurship.

It was in 1868, that Jamshedji Tata founded the Tata group which went on to become a global enterprise, comprising over 100 independent operating companies operating in more than 100 countries across six continents. In 2016-17, the cumulative revenue of Tata companies, was USD 100.39 billion.

According to the Tata website, there are 29 publicly-listed Tata enterprises today with a combined market capitalisation of about USD 130.13 billion (as on March 31, 2017). Tata companies with significant scale include Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Power, Tata Chemicals, Tata Global Beverages, Tata Teleservices, Titan, Tata Communications and Indian Hotels.

The original vision that fuelled the conception and expansion of industries of steel, hydro-power, hospitality and airlines went on to create path breaking entities. Entities such as TCS, India’s first software company, and Tata Motors, which has to its credit  India’s first indigenously developed car, the Tata Indica and the smart city car, the Tata Nano.

Tata Sons however continues to be the principal investment holding company. A remarkable aspect of this story is that sixty-six percent of the equity share capital of Tata Sons is controlled by philanthropic trusts supportive of art and culture, education, health, livelihood generation etc.

The majority shareholders of Tata Sons, have routinely endowed institutions to research science and technology, medicine, social studies and the performing arts. The trusts also provide aid and assistance to non-government organisations working to improve education, health care and livelihoods.

The company’s mission statement in its own words continues to be based on, customer-centricity, innovation, entrepreneurship, trustworthiness and values-driven business operations. All this while the company balances the interests of diverse stakeholders including shareholders, employees and civil society.

Jamshedji Tata, the man in a hurry to build an aspirational business idea

And it all began with Jamsetji’s vision of building India’s first steel mill and hydro power plant that would galvanise industry in India.His most important contribution though was to create an aspirational idea of India where Indian entrepreneurship could claim its place proudly on the global stage with other industrialised nations.

He was energised by the patriotic idealism of a man who not only wanted to create an empire but to root it in humanism.  That he envisioned the House of Tatas spanning generations at a time when India was colonised and was crushed by poverty is even more remarkable.

On March 3, 1839, in Navsari, Gujarat, he was born to Nusserwanji Tata, into a family of Parsee priests. His father paved the way for him by breaking away from the tradition of priesthood and establishing a banking business. Jamsetji was enrolled at Elphinstone College, from where he graduated in 1858 and soon he joined the small firm that his father ran. He was just 20 and soon began to learn about commodities, markets, trading and banking.

In 1868, aged 29 he started a trading company with a capital of Rs 21,000. Already a visionary, he acquired a defunct oil mill in Chinchpokli, in Bombay, and converted it into a cotton mill. Even though, he sold the mill two years later, he went to England, to exhaustively study the Lancashire cotton trade.

In 1874, Jamsetji founded the Central India Spinning, Weaving and Manufacturing Company, with a seed capital of Rs 1.5 lakh. Three years later, his dream project. Empress Mills came into existence in Nagpur. He was 37. From about 1880 to his death in 1904, Jamsetji devoted himself to three of his big dreams, setting up an iron and steel company, generating hydroelectric power, and creating a world-class scientific institution.

He died without fulfilling these dreams but his spadework resulted in future generations giving shape to his unrealised ideas. His heirs would remember his heroic efforts to build a steel company despite the odds presented by a scornful British empire and road blocks at every step. Eight years after his death, the first ingot of steel rolled out off the plant’s production line. The year was 1912 and helming his vision were now his son Dorab and cousin RD Tata.

Jamshedji Tata’s encompassing vision for the extended Tata family

In his lifetime, Jamsetji also laid the foundation for the company’s well-known worker friendly policies by offering his employees shorter working hours, well-lit and properly ventilated working spaces, and provident fund and gratuity benefits even before they had become mandatory in the West.

We have already mentioned Jamshedpur and it was Jamsetji who had visualised the concept of an idyllic workers’ township at a steel plant five years before even a site for the enterprise had been chosen. He had visualised wide streets planted with shady trees, plenty of space for lawns and gardens, areas for football, hockey and parks. The secular nationalist also wanted spaces earmarked for temples, mosques and churches. It was poetic perfection that when his vision became a reality years after his death, the city that was built would be named after him and called Jamshedpur.

Inspired by his dream to encourage India’s brightest minds with the JN Tata Endowment in 1892, the inheritors of this legacy established Tata scholarships. They would go on to touch so many lives that by 1924, two out of every five Indians in the Indian Civil Service happened to be Tata scholars.

To establish an Indian Institute of Science, Jamsetji had set aside Rs 30 lakh of his money, had even drawn a blueprint and beseeched the Viceroy, Lord Curzon, and Swami Vivekananda for their literal and ideological support. But despite these efforts, he did not live long enough to see the Indian Institute of Science come up in Bangalore in 1911.

The hydroelectric project too was completed after his demise. Among the dreams he lived long enough to realise was the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay. He wanted to build a world class hotel showcasing Indian hospitality after being denied entry into one of the city’s hotels. It cost Rs 4.21 crore by the time it was finished and was the first building in Bombay to use electricity and as the trivia on Tata website states, this was the first hotel in the country to have American fans, German elevators, Turkish baths, English butlers and whole lot more.

The house of Tata that we know today was hence built on the shoulders of this man whose founding ideals were then carried forward and interpreted by succeeding generations making the family business more than just about the immediate family. As he wanted, the name Tata today stands for not just cutting edge entrepreneurship but philanthropy. He passed away in Germany in 1904 and the chairmanship of the Tata group passed to the elder of his two sons, Sir Dorab Tata.

Apart from displaying their entrepreneurial verve, many Tata scions like Sir Ratanji Tata: Jamsetji Tata’s younger son, have used their resources to touch, change and enhance lives of the less privileged. It was Ratanji who created a trust fund for “the advancement of learning and for the relief of human suffering and other works of public utility.”

The Sir Ratan Tata Trust is today the second largest of the Tata trusts. Another Tata scion Naval Tata also contributed liberally to the fields of business, sports administration and labour relations.

On the other end of the spectrum was the unstoppable energy of JRD Tata (Chairman, Tata Sons: 1938 – 1991) who put India on the aviation map and pioneered civil aviation in the subcontinent in 1932 by launching the airline now known as Air India.

More than just another family business

The true capital of the Tata group of companies is its work force of over 6,60,000 people worldwide. And as the company says, “Taking good care of this large family is a priority for the Group.” So as we said before, clearly the word family has more than just one meaning when it comes to the Tatas.

Mawa Cake  With Pistachios, Rose and Saffron Cream

This is my version of the Mawa cake and I am sure you will find many versions online. It is a rich dense cake bursting with flavour -so it’s just-once in a while indulgence!

Ingredients for the cake
3 and a half cups of white flour
6 eggs
*Mawa (sweet) 1 cup
1/2 cup milk warmed with 1 pinch saffron
3/4 cup melted butter
Dash of salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp rose essence
1 tsp vanilla essence
100 grams pistachio, chopped
For the saffron cream
1 big pinch of saffron
2 dsp warm milk
1 and 1/4 cup chilled thickened cream
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp rose essence
Sift the flour in a bowl with baking powder and baking soda and salt.
Beat eggs gently in another large bowl.
Add the butter, mawa, saffron milk and sugar and essences to the eggs.
Add the sifted flour and mix gently to the egg mixture.
Grease a round baking pan and pour in the batter.
Sprinkle with the pistachios.
Bake in a moderate oven (about 180 C) for 45 minutes.
Check if the cake is done by inserting a tooth pick in the middle.
It should come out clean, if not cook the cake for a further 5 to 7 minutes
To make the cream
Whisk the cream,saffron milk, rose essence and icing sugar in a chilled bowl till thick
Cool the cake down completely before cutting it from the middle
to sandwich the cream between the 2 layers.
Put the cake in the fridge after it has been creamed.
This recipe serves about 12 people
*Mawa is milk evaporated till it becomes thick and leaves the sides of the cooking pan
It can be store bought or homemade
I made it by cooking down 2 cans of evaporated milk and 1 can of condensed milk or you can make it by cooking down a liter of milk till it thickens
then add 1 cup of sugar and cook till it leaves the sides of the pan
(Pics courtesy- my friend Jasmine Bhatia) Please Share Like and Comment



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Trainer Pesi Shroff achieves rare milestone

Shroff began his glorious 23-year long career as a teenager in the summer of 1981 at this same venue where his talented cousin Karl Umrigar had suffered fatal injuries in a race-track mishap two years ago.

Shroff had to compete with his celebrated Indian and foreign peers like Vasant Shinde, Aslam Kader, Mick Kinane, Lester Piggott, the riding legends of that era, before gaining acclamation as a naturally gifted rider in his extremely competitive profession.

By the time Shroff decided to wrap up his career, he had amassed1736 victories including eight Indian Derbies, an enviable record which will certainly take some beating in the history of Indian horse racing.

Feat replicated

Similar to his initial riding days, Shroff laid the foundation of his horse-training career brick by brick but once he found his mark and claimed the first trainer’s championship title in 2006-07, he has been virtually unstoppable since. Yet it was no walk-in-the-park for the 53-year old trainer as he had to weather many a storm in his 13-year old career thus far. To his credit, Shroff took every setback into his stride and kept his focus on his job rather than get distracted by the challenges fetched by his professional fame.

Be it Deepak Khaitan, Vijay Mallya, Shapoor Mistry, Ameeta Mehra, Cyrus and Zavaray Poonawalla Vijay Shirke or KN Dhunjibhoy, to name a few, it was the trust he earned both as a jockey and trainer which led to him being retained by these big-ticket racehorse owners.

Shroff, probably unconsciously, has mastered the art of training classic fillies including the wonder filly Jacqueline, whose feat of claiming four Indian classics during the 2009-10 Mumbai racing season remains unparalleled. Shroff has already been crowned champion trainer ten times and he is sure to win this year’s title too.

Modest as ever, Shroff dedicated his success to his owners, jockeys, stable staff. He said, “I have been lucky to have good and understanding owners, my hard-working staff without whom it would’ve been difficult to achieve such results and, last but not the least, my family who have supported me all the way.”

ePaper, Mumbai Mirror, Bombay, Monday, April 23, 2018, Page 14:

Usman Rangeela In Mumbai
TWEETS @MumbaiMirror

Seva Kitchen distributes free food to patients and their relatives in 11 hospitals

A thing called free lunch: People mill around Seva Kitchen volunteers at CIIMSA thing called free lunch: People mill around Seva Kitchen volunteers at CIIMS   | Photo Credit: S. Sudarshan

Seva Kitchen is bringing free food to patients and their relatives in 11 hospitals across six cities

Baidyanath Dharamshala, next to Rashtra Sant Tukdoji Regional Cancer Hospital & Research Centre in old Nagpur, is usually deserted for the better part of the day: most of the boarders here are family members of patients at the hospital and spend much of their time there. Every evening, though, the dharamshala comes alive with laughter and conversation when Seva Kitchen volunteers arrive with free food for the boarders.

Reena Banjara’s husband, a construction labourer from Chhattisgarh, has oral cancer and is being treated at Rashtra Sant Tukdoji hospital; with both out work now, they are running out of money fast. “We get good food, free, once a day,” says Reena Banjara, who is lodging at the dharamshala. “This small saving means a lot,” she adds.

At your service

Reena Banjara’s relief can be traced back to the weeks Khushroo Poacha, a railway official in Nagpur, had spent with his mother at Nagpur’s Central India Institute of Medical Science (CIIMS) when she was admitted there in 2014.

The hospital, located at the centre of Nagpur, draws patients from far and near. Although CIIMS is considered expensive, middle-class people from the hinterlands come here for the quality of treatment it offers. Patients’ relatives usually fail to find suitable accommodation in the surrounding expensive areas and often end up on the pavements.


“I would observe people outside the hospital — mostly patients’ family members — cooking chapatis on the footpaths, eating it with chilli powder or onions. I was already sad because of my mother’s illness, and this made me more miserable,” Poacha says. While patients get food in the hospital, the accompanying relatives, who sometimes have to stay on for months at a stretch, usually find the rates of the hospital cafeteria — or indeed of any decent eatery in this area of the city — too high.

Bothered by what he had witnessed at CIIMS, Poacha asked his friend, Amit Badiyani, whether he could feed a few people at the hospital once a week. Badiyani agreed, and he and his wife began taking food to CIIMS every Sunday, serving people on the pavements.

Poacha had prior experience in helping people in need of medical assistance. In 2000, he had started the now ubiquitous, an online portal which helps people find blood donors.

Poacha’s mother passed away later in 2014; though grieving, he retained his interest in the work the Badiyanis were doing. “There would be 200 people rushing for 25 plates,” he remembers Badiyani telling him. “I asked Amit how much he spent, and he said ₹1,500.” Poacha’s managerial instincts kicked in: ₹60 a plate sounded expensive. “I thought ₹1,500, economically spent, could feed more than 200 people. We set up a kitchen in my house, and on November 23, 2014, we cooked a meal for 50.”

The next Sunday, they upped the number to 200, and carried the food to CIIMS on a handcart. He was joined in by his family, his brother’s family and the Badiyanis. They continue to do this every weekend: the initiative was named Seva Kitchen, which has expanded since to cover hospitals not only in Nagpur but in five other cities — Hyderabad, Delhi, Bengaluru, Thane, and recently, Mumbai. Most of the hospitals, including CIIMS, allow them to distribute food inside the premises.

Magic boxes

Seva Kitchen’s expansion has been brought about mainly through discussions on the social media. Soon after they had started, someone had posted about the initiative on Facebook, and Poacha was flooded with requests from people wanting to join them, as well as with donation offers. But Poacha would accept only donations of seva, service.

“We decided that it has to grow through compassion and not money,” Poacha says. The group now has 500 core members working for 11 hospitals in different cities.

Poacha’s project did not stop with Seva Kitchen. A couple of years later, the group came up with the idea of installing a refrigerator in hospitals which would stock healthy food — milk, juice, biscuits, fruits — that would be given out to patients and their relatives for free. CIIMS agreed to host it, members chipped in, bought one and installed it on new year’s eve, 2016.

They called it Neki ki Pitara, Box of Kindness. “Since then,” Poacha says, “almost every month we have been installing refrigerators at various hospitals.” All are paid for out of group members’ personal funds. Social workers attached to the hospitals inform Seva Kitchen volunteers when stocks run out, and volunteers refill them. “It costs between ₹5,000 to ₹7,000 to refill one; we have been doing that too without donations.” In fact, Poacha notes, smiling, “There is strong competition to refill; there have also been fights!”

Poacha hopes that the idea will spread even further. “We plan to open Neki ka Pitaras in schools for orphans and the lower-income groups.” The challenge, he says, is getting hospitals to agree; he hopes hospitals will approach the group rather than having members plead with them for space and permission.

Meanwhile, the group has come up with a food-sharing app, also called Seva Kitchen, which will help people share excess food with those who need them. Since its launch in the peak party season, the week between last year’s Christmas and January 1 this year, the app has seen just over 500 downloads and 313 registrations.

Next on the to-do list is a possible tie-up with Mumbai’s legendary dabbawallas to collect and distribute excess food.

Pavan Dahat

Parsis and Iranis are the two communities that fall under the Zoroastrian religion. But, their cuisine falls under only one religion, i.e., Sheer Deliciousness . . . . . Parsi and Irani Food Trails of Pune Parsis and Iranis are the two communities that fall under the Zoroastrian religion. But, their cuisine falls under only one religion, i.e., Sheer Deliciousness

Parsis and Iranis are the two communities that fall under the Zoroastrian religion. But, their cuisine falls under only one religion, i.e., Sheer Deliciousness







Parsis fear for city’s first fire temple

Calcutta’s first Parsi fire temple on Ezra Street is hemmed in by later constructions, some of which are allegedly encroachments on the heritage premises (top); (above) the entrance to the decrepit fire temple that is owned by a family-run trust and listed as a Grade 1 heritage structure in the civic records.
Pictures by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya

Calcutta: The death of the last known trustee of Calcutta’s first Parsi fire temple, defunct and decrepit but listed as a Grade I heritage building, has raised concern in the community about land sharks laying their hands on the property.

Cursetjee Manackjee Rustomjee, who died aged 81 on April 10, was a descendant of the family that had built the Ezra Street fire temple. Nobody in the otherwise close-knit community seems to know if Cursetjee shared the trustee rights with someone before his death.

“Cursetjee used to live on the premises of the fire temple, which used to be run by a family trust. But I have no idea who the other members were and who will look after the property in his absence,” said a community member who did not want to be named.

According to an almost blighted plaque outside the building, barely visible from Ezra Street because of ugly constructions all around, the Rustomjee Cowasjee Banajee fire temple was built in 1839.

Rustomjee Cowasjee is acknowledged as the first Parsi to settle in Calcutta with his family. He was a businessman who bought the erstwhile Calcutta Docking Company (now Kidderpore Docks) and also started an insurance firm, a paper mill and a cotton gin.

The temple he built has remained unused for ceremonies since 1989. Portions of the premises now house shops selling mostly lights. A part of the premises has allegedly been encroached on. One of the shopkeepers told Metro that there was an attempted break-in into the room that Cursetjee lived in on the evening of April 10, the day of his death.

Little is known of Cursetjee other than his lineage because he apparently kept to himself and didn’t even attend Parsi community gatherings.

Bahadur Postwalla, one of the older members of the community, said the Parsis of Calcutta were concerned that the property would cease to exist in Cursetjee’s absence. “Since it is a part of Parsi heritage, we wouldn’t want it to be encroached on further. We want its restoration,” he said.

Postwalla’s initiation ( kushti) ceremony was held at the Ezra Street temple in 1948. “It was free of encroachment then. All this started in the 1980s,” he said.

Mohammad Islam Haque, a 63-year-old man who owns a shop on the premises, had been Cursetjee’s companion for nearly four decades. He would depend on Haque to run errands for him.

Haque has written to chief minister Mamata Banerjee and several senior police officers, including the joint commissioner of police (crime), about some people trying to break into Cursetjee’s home.

Haque told Metro that the premises of the fire temple – the plot originally measured a bigha and 18 cottahs – had been gradually encroached on.

The temple stands in the middle of a rectangular plot, with separate structures on four sides that were used by members of the Banajee clan.

“There used to be a library to the east of the premises. It was forcibly occupied in 1989 by some men who assaulted Cursetjee and threw away all items that the library housed. We had reported the incident to police but there was no response. A company now functions out of that room,” said Haque, who had taken Cursetjee to the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Beleghata when he was taken ill.

The fire temple is categorised as a Grade I structure in the Graded List of Heritage Buildings, published by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation.

The Parsis of Calcutta – only 450 of them are left – visit the fire temple on Metcalfe Street for prayers. That temple is run by a public trust.

Two rare two-and-a-half rupees notes to be auctioned in Mumbai today

A century later, two rare two-and-a-half rupees notes to be auctioned in Mumbai today

The value of each note would have been equivalent to one dollar at the time.

Two two-and-a-half rupees notes that were introduced in 1918 will be auctioned on Sunday. The British issued the rare note on January 22 — at a time when they were experimenting with paper currency. The value of each note would have been equivalent to one dollar at the time.

The front of the note has a picture of King George V and was signed by government secretary MS Gubbay.

Letters (eg B, K, etc) were printed on top of the note to signify circles. An undivided India had seven circles. Based on the printed letter, the notes were circulated in assigned regions. Today, three of the seven circles are not in India.

The base price for one note from the Kolkata circle is Rs8 lakh, while it is Rs2.5lakh for the Bombay one.

Mahesh Patil, businessman who has seven notes, one from each circle, takes pride in talking about his collection. “I have been collecting British-era notes of all denominations. I got my first two-and-a-half rupees note 25 years ago. For me, it is special because the notes that were printed in Pakistan were hard to find. Its rarity makes it a must- have for collectors,” says Patil.

The currency was eventually phased out and completely withdrawn by January 1, 1926. Speaking about the note, Jayesh Gala from, an online museum for coins, currency notes and stamps, expects that there are around 250 such notes across the world.

“The reason why the British government came up with a two-and-a-half rupees note is because during the world war metal was acquired from coins to be used for ammunitions. During those days even eight annas (half a rupee) had a lot of value. So, two-and-a- half rupees currency was used as a substitute when eight annas were not available,” reveals Gala.

Gala approximates that today the note is equivalent to 30grams of silver.

Malcolm Todywalla of Todywalla Auctions, who is conducting the auction, demurs. The value of the note cannot be compared in monetary terms today because India was an economically stronger country than the US in those days, says Todywalla.

“The note is historically very significant. Had we opted to shift to the dollar, the British-era notes would have been acceptable. However, some experts believe it was just a stop-gap measure to introduce a value more than one and fewer than five,” says Todywalla.

Arvind Ganhachari, former history professor at Mumbai university, says the British government had issued many banknotes with odd denominations. A soldier’s salary during World War I was Rs12 a month, he informs.

“As it was a war time, the British were raising war loans and contributions from masses, which is why they issued odd denominations acting as bonds. India had contributed 139 million pounds between 1914 and 1918, most of which was raised from masses, according to a British memoir,” says Ganhachari.



Mr. Khushru Jijina conferred with the ‘Entrepreneur of the year 2018″

Mr. Khushru Jijina felicitated at Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards (APEA) 2018

Mr. Khushu Jijina, Managing Director, Piramal Finance and Piramal Housing Finance recipient of multiple national awards has added yet another feature to his cap with the Entrepreneurship award from APEA, a prestigious Asia region awards platform.

Mr. Khushru Jijina was conferred with the ‘Entrepreneur of the year 2018 in the financial services industry’ by APEA in New Delhi, India on April 13, 2018. The award recognizes Piramal Finance’s achievement and Mr. Jijina’s instrumental role in building the company along its core values of entrepreneurship and trusteeship.

APEA recognizes and honors business leaders who have shown outstanding performance and tenacity in developing successful businesses within the region. Organized by Enterprise Asia, it provides a platform for companies and governments to recognize and be recognized for entrepreneurial excellence, thereby spurring greater innovation, fair practices and growth in entrepreneurship.

Mr. Jijina, expressing his gratitude on receiving the award said, “The award is a testament to our journey of continuous evolution through innovation and leadership in the financial services business. We have adopted and demonstrated these facets continuously by making them a part of our building blocks that we call Piramal Success Factors which have been derived from our company’s values. As a team, we have always been deeply driven by our overarching corporate philosophy of ‘Doing Well and Doing Good’. This purpose and our values have been constant in our journey and serve as guideposts to enable us to become the company that we would like to be. Personally, I am humbled and honored to receive the prestigious APEA award on behalf of my young and motivated team that has been incredibly devoted and resilient during the entire journey of building this platform, to reach the scale and relevance that we enjoy in the industry today.”

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