An Overview of Community’s Economic Situation in India
This is an India Centric note, prepared with the intent to acquaint global leaders of the abysmal financially constrained situation that increasing numbers of our community members in India are finding themselves in.
The growing downhill trend of the financial condition of community members is akin to our demographics, that of being on a very slippery slope.
Due to our depleting numbers, the dependency rate in families has risen to 1:4, which means 4 members of a family are dependent on only one earning member (spouse, child or children, elderly parent/s and in some instances grandparents).
For only one earning member in a family having to support 4 others and his/her own self can indeed be very daunting in present days and times with inflation and spiraling prices.
Though Covid-19 has thankfully subsided, it has left in its wake untold financial hardships for families; salaries that were substantially reduced during the pandemic years (mid-2019 to mid-2022) have not been fully reinstated, and businesses have not fully recovered, some even have had to shut down.
Though the dependency and declining population are issues not within our ambit to control we can at best endeavour to alleviate to the extent possible, the continuously increasing financial needs of Zoroastrians in India.
The WZO Trust Funds have been involved in amelioration and rehabilitation measures of our community members in various areas of need on a Pan India over the last three decades.
Whilst some Trusts in India do extend support to applicants for various causes, the extent to which they do so are not shared in the public domain and hence it is not possible to quantify.
However, WZO Trusts depending on donor’s support for their multifarious welfare activities have always pursued the policy of being transparent in their dealings and accountable to donors at all times.
We are pleased to share with GCZT / GWG Trustees & Regional Representatives a table below which provides a break up of assistance extended to various beneficiaries during course of financial year April 2021- March 2022, and the first ten months of the current financial year (April 2022 – January 2023):
|SR. NO.||PRODUCT / PURPOSE||APRIL 2021 TO MARCH 2022||APRIL 2022 TO JANUARY 2023|
of of beneficiaries
|Amount (Rs)||No. of beneficiaries|| Amount
Economically challenged Senior Citizens
|3||RELIEF FROM POVERTY (Lumpsum)||367||5,215,500||390||5,931,300|
|4||QUARTERLY FINANCIAL HELP||
|a) Relief From Poverty|
|b) Senior Mobeds||117||10,530,000||117||10,530,000|
|c) Senior Widows of Mobeds||31||2,232,000||31||2,232,000|
|d) Economically challenged Senior Citizens||213||12,780,000||202||12,120,000|
|e) Pall Bearers||70||6,300,000||77||6,930,000|
|5||FINANCIAL HELP FOR COVID PANDEMIC||
|b) Relief From Poverty||130||2,907,000||72||1,466,600|
|d) Ventilators to Hospitals||2||5,725,000||0||–|
|e) Laptop Distributed to needy students||30||1,128,000||0||–|
|6||F FFOOD GRAINS DISTRIBUTED||944||5,216,686||212||1,507,950|
|7||FIRE RETARDENT ATTIRES SUPPLIED TO MOBEDS||800||1,840,211||0||–|
|8||FARMERS WELFARE / REHABILITATION||12||1,036,915||15||2,230,000|
|a) For converting Huts to Cottages|
|b) For Repairs to Cottages||9||840,000||9||1,327,000|
|11||DONATIONS TO FIRE TEMPLES FOR REPAIRS / KATHI||15||4,130,213||10||2,470,922|
|13||BOOKS & PERIODICALS||0||559,588||0||366,802|
|15||SENIOR CITIZENS CENTRE, NAVSARI||0||8,694,252||0||7,245,210|
|% Of administrative expenses||1.44%||2.18%|
|to total disbursements/expenses|
A multi-pronged approach is generally followed by WZO Trusts:
- To provide relief as in the case of providing financial support towards the pursuit of education, providing relief from poverty through quarterly and lumpsum disbursements and towards supporting hospitalisation and medical needs.
With regards to hospitalisation, it needs to be understood that quite many of our community members are not insured under the Mediclaim Schemes as some cannot afford to pay the annual premiums, whilst others being in their 80’s cannot avail of Mediclaim facilities.
- To rehabilitate and motivate community members to become self-sufficient and stand on their own feet by providing them interest free financial support to be self-employed in disciplines of their choice.
(As a matter of interest, it needs to be mentioned that since the self-employment project was launched in 1995, 1214 Zoroastrians have been extended interest free financial support up to a maximum of Rs.500,000/= that has to be repaid in 40 equated monthly instalments of Rs.12,500 per month. Generally, a two to three months moratorium on repayments is considered depending on type of the profession pursued. In some instances, those involved in professions such as driving auto rickshaws, taxis etc. have repaid the amounts and been provided additional loans to enable them to change their vehicles after years of use).
- Around 450 Zoroastrians residing in the villages of Gujarat and Maharashtra have been extended interest free financial support towards pursuing agricultural farming, fish farming, dairy farms and poultry farms.
Repayments for these beneficiaries are based on their enhanced earnings than before and are generally on an annual basis.
The purpose of providing interest free financial support to beneficiaries as per b) & c) is to wean them away from being dependent on charity, become self-sufficient and live with self-respect and dignity.
WZO Trusts undertakes and executes all projects by expending 100% of amounts received as donation to beneficiaries without levying any administrative charge. The administrative expenses such as staff salaries, office expenditure, travels to beneficiary’s locations are all borne by us.
The community has been very fortunate to have been blessed with benefactors from all parts of the world, especially from Hong Kong.
Donations received from The Zoroastrian Charity Funds of Hong Kong, Canton & Macao upon the approval of Neville Shroff constitute around 55% of donations received by WZO Trusts.
FEZANA, ZTFE, AZA Sydney, WZO also extend support whenever an appeal is circulated.
Individuals from overseas as well as from within India also contribute whenever an appeal is made.
WZO Trusts also receive funds from time to time through Executors of WILLs based on bequests made by individuals.
Whilst the inflow of donations and quantum of support extended may appear to be substantial, the needs of the community are continuing to increase on account of our aging and falling numbers and dependency ratios.
The purpose of this note has been to make global community leadership aware of the ground realities prevailing in India and to seek continuing and additional support for various welfare projects that are underway as well as for emergency situations that arise from time to time.
Dinshaw K. Tamboly,