Welcome to London! L&P’s Hemin Bharucha’s shout out to global companies
“Six and a half per cent of London’s population is of Indian-origin, either first-generation or second generation,” says Hemin Bharucha, Country Director-India and Senior Leadership Team member at London & Partners (L&P). “When I walk the London streets, I can hear Marathi, I can hear Hindi; all sorts of Indian languages being spoken.”
With over two decades of international trade experience working at senior levels with global companies, Hemin has been heavily involved in broadening the India-UK bilateral relationship.
From providing strategic direction for investment projects to generating business development and marketing opportunities, he has successfully consulted and advised a wide spectrum of companies during the course of his career.
“We work with 50 different partners; accounting firms, legal firms, immigration firms. All of them can help Indian companies to set up in London especially. We look at attracting partners from tech, from creativity, mobility and life sciences,” explains Hemin.
His affiliation with Britain and British agencies stretches back decades, including working at the Scottish Development International, Scotland’s trade and inward investment agency, and the Yorkshire Forward initiative of the British High Commission, where he influenced and facilitated Indian companies to expand their business in the UK, before becoming L&P’s India head in 2017.
On being asked whether the main job of L&P is to market the city as a destination for companies to open their offices, he says that it is equally for London-based companies to do business in key global markets including India.
L&P was launched as a non-profit company in 2011 by the then Mayor Boris Johnson, aimed at promoting the city as an attractive destination for businesses, students and investment. It focuses on building London’s international reputation, helping to retain and grow businesses, attracting international audiences and guiding them to grow with the city.
Despite the negative impact of the pandemic and the economic downturn that has resulted from it, L&P is gearing up for a post-COVID recovery. In fact, says Hemin, they supported 16 new companies that set up shop in the city in 2020 without even physically looking at space.
“It is a testimony to the city of London as a safe place to invest for Indian companies,“ Hemin says.
He added that India and the UK share a similarity in accounting and legal systems as well as a historical familiarity with each other. London has also developed as a global hub for tech, finance and education, which is another major draw for businesses.
“With India, we focus mainly on trade, investment and on students. The biggest pull for companies is that the customer is sitting in London,” Hemin adds. However, he says, one of the most important tasks L&P faces is identifying companies that would be a good fit for the city, especially when it comes to midsize and smaller companies and startups. A lot of research and effort goes into determining the compatibility of a firm with what the city has to offer in terms of networking, facilities and technology.
“We work with high-growth companies whose sectors align with good growth for London. London is Open”, Hemin says, signing off.
Tushaar has extensive experience as a journalist and in founding two start-up newspapers. He has developed editorial models for both copy and content, and has written several articles, news reports on a wide range of topics. He is a graduate of St. Stephen’s College and earned a post-graduate diploma in TV Journalism from the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ), Chennai. He has worked as a special correspondent based in New Delhi with Daily World, an international media organisation.
I recently followed a Parsi Directory “Facebook post titled Parsi Count in India Plunges 18% to 57,264,” referring to the decade old 2011 Government of India census figures. I took part and watched as people posted their recommendations on how to combat the problem. As I glanced at these concerns and viewpoints I observed that the orthodox and reformist segments of the Parsi community were engaging in an ivory tower debate — and more often, a vituperative one! I confess I have also been an active participant, spouting views emerging from my real life experiences and frustrations.
I rearranged the views on specific topics to decipher what motivated the writers. I have summarized the comments in each section below, keeping the intent of the writers.
The Census: There was not much interest in addressing the numbers of either the Parsi diaspora, or an acknowledgement that there are many Zoroastrians across the world who have no connection to the Indian subcontinent or its Parsi community. The Parsis unabashedly claim ownership of the Zoroastrian faith.
When discussing the census, the primary concern was that our numbers are diminishing rapidly and the Parsis face extinction.
A thread running throughout focused on Parsi racial purity. While a few unquestioningly supported the perspective, others found it repugnant. There were also pragmatic statements like, “The only reason for me to encourage community headcount going up is simple — strength in numbers. Everything else is incidental.” Another writer commented, “They’ll put us in Victoria Gardens with a board announcing ‘Endangered Species.’” One comment suggested: “Please read demographics published in Parsiana under caption Milestones.”
Illustrations by Mickey Patel
Who is a Parsi: Strongly held views included statements like: “A Parsi is the child of a Parsi couple;” “Children of a mixed marriage can be Parsis only if the father is a Parsi;” “Parsis are a ‘pure race’ and the religion does not permit marriage with people of other races.”
Questionable claims supported the beliefs that conversion is not permitted in the Zoroastrian scriptures, and that the Supreme Court had observed that a person’s DNA does not change on marriage.
Marriage: Several believed it is the responsibility of adults to indoctrinate children that they can find a Parsi life partner if they really want to. Early marriages were encouraged, and women admonished for delaying childbirth, thereby limiting the number of children they can produce. Some spoke of couples linking up at international Zoroastrian congresses. One participant, however, differed: “It’s a matter of luck that guys and girls match up to expectation. From attending various conferences there are loads of options available if one gets lucky. But those who don’t find a partner will never find one. Speaking for myself, my current date is a non-Parsi. I am in my 30s and most of those platforms failed me a match… sorry, this is how it is for me and for many more!”
The problem is there are not enough platforms where Parsi youth can meet socially, except in high density Parsi colonies and baugs.
Non-Parsis also chimed in. “My best friend married a non-Parsi, and they drove him out of the community. Today, if the Parsis really want to survive, they need to marry a humdin and have three children.”
One writer noted that parents, especially mothers of marriageable women, are obsessively picky about who their daughters should marry. Invariably the daughters remained unmarried or marry too late to bear children.
To compensate for delayed marriages, some suggested using scientific interventions like semen banks, in-vitro fertilization, freezing eggs, and surrogacy to birth offspring more effectively.
Misinformation was scattered across the posts: that Zoroastrianism prohibited intermarriage; that racial purity is lost when a Parsi marries a non-Parsi; accepting that an intermarried Parsi man’s children are Parsis. And this led to a conclusion by a few that, “If intermarriage happens we will vanish from the surface of this earth!”
Conversion: It is probably the most volatile debate among Parsis. Challenges like, “If our religion did not allow conversion, how did it ever start?” received defensive responses like, “OK, so what’s your solution to this? Why don’t you come up with one?” The commenter responded, “For a start: equal acceptance of children of intermarriage, when either the father or the mother is a non-Parsi. Then: conversion to Zoroastrianism of anyone who wishes to join and follow the faith. The Parsi community in India cannot hold the Zoroastrian religion hostage under the faulty and despicable perception of racial purity.” The response received several “like” and “dislike” emojis!
The orthodox and the reformists stand firmly with heels dug in on opposite sides of every social and community issue. The terms “reformist” and “orthodox” are often used pejoratively by opposing sides of the debates. Both words actually have a positive bearing. The word “reform” implies a desirable and positive path to follow. It is a good word. But it is often confused with giving up what we value and treasure, and changing it to something different. Change is always threatening as we feel safe in a known condition, however uncomfortable and inconvenient it may be. Reform, instead, can be a meeting point of apparently opposing views. Change can be facilitated by collaboration. It can lead to reorganization, restructuring, modification, transformation, alteration, development and amendment. In a business management environment such thinking is rewarded, because positive and desirable strategies emerge when an organization is re-engineered.
Our community’s lay and spiritual leaders should listen to the needs of its members. Protecting antiquated rules to govern modern human and societal needs will not solve the problems the community is facing. It is never too late to match the fundamental tenets of the universal Zoroastrian faith to meet the social survival challenges overwhelming the Parsi community.
Yezdyar S. Kaoosji
Courtesy : Parsiana
For centuries Iran was known as Persia–the greatest empire the world had ever seen. But part of her story is often forgotten. Woven together in the Bible are prophecies and accounts of Persian kings, epic battles, and royal decrees that changed the world. And surprisingly to many, the Bible speaks of Persia as being chosen and favored for God’s grand purposes. In ‘Iran in the Bible,’ this remarkable story is told using ancient Persian texts, archaeological discoveries, and insights from scholars. What’s revealed is that both Persia and the Jewish people played a strategic role in the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham–the promise that through him God would bless the world. Showing how God is directly involved in history, ‘Iran in the Bible’ offers comfort to those living in a world of uncertainty.
GET THE DVD ON AMAZON: https://amzn.to/2u6GkDw
Featured Participants: John W. Lee, Ph.D., professor of history, University of California, Santa Barbara; Sasan Tavassoli, Ph.D., doctorate in Islamic studies from the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom); Rev. Mansour Khajehpour; Edwin Yamauchi, Ph.D., professor emeritus of history, Miami University; and Tremper Longman III, Ph.D., professor of Old Testament, Westmont College
Teams – Empowering Mobeds & WZO Trusts
Saturday October 24, 2020 was indeed a dark day, not only on account of the Pandemic but more so that Er. Zahan Meherzad Turel, all of 14 years young, a shining star of our Mobedi clan, suffered severe (48.5%) burns injuries whilst performing the ‘boi’ ceremony at Goti Adarian, Surat.
After being administered basic treatment young Zahan was rushed to Masina Hospital at Byculla, Mumbai, where he was given treatment for an extended period of time and thereafter discharged on Monday, January 04, 2021.
Fortunately for Er. Zahan Turel, he received excellent treatment at the Burns Unit of Masina Hospital and is well on his way to recovery.
Such a grisly mishap is not the first such incident that our Mobeds have had to contend with whilst tending to our revered fires. It is beyond imagination that in this day and age our Mobeds continue to perform religious ceremonies without a modicum of protection.
The incident triggered off intense discussions amongst the core group of Team Empowering Mobeds (a joint initiative of WZO Trust Funds and Athornan Mandal). After proactive discussions where various options were considered it was finally decided to have ‘Jamas, Padan & Hand Pockets (for Boiwala Mobeds to wear when inside the kebla) made from fire retardant fabric that would provide reasonable safety to our Mobeds whilst carrying out various religious ceremonies.
Over the last few months, experiments were undertaken to test fire retardant fabrics that would provide safety to Mobeds in case of embers landing on their ‘Jamas, Padan & Hand Pockets’.
Trials have been conducted, where Mobed Volunteers have worn Jamas made from different fabrics of thickness comparable to existing Jamas (on which the fire retardant process would be added later on) to test the comfort levels.
A well wisher Mr. Viraf Sohrabji Mehta who was keenly interested in the project coordinated the exercise with Ms. Firoza Karani, Director of Casablanca Apparels Pvt. Ltd., in having samples made and trials done for which we are most grateful to both of them.
It has now been decided to place an order for manufacturing 800 sets each of ‘Jamas & Padans and 200 sets of hand pockets with Casablanca Apparels Pvt. Ltd., a well known garment manufacturing unit established in 1993 that manufactures a variety of garments for both domestic and export markets.
As fire retardant fabric is not available off the shelves, Casablanca Apparels have placed an order with Arvind Mills, Ltd., to produce the minimum quantity required. The fire-retardant fabric is expected to be ready by mid-June 2021, and the final product ready for distribution sometime between mid to end July 2021. A set each will be offered gratis to practicing Mobeds for their use, should they be interested.
After the fabric has been manufactured, appropriate certificates of the fabric having Fire retardant properties will be obtained from Arvind Mills, the manufacturers of the fabric, as well as Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) an international inspection agency that inspects Apparels, Machinery, Medicines etc, before shipments.
High Priests, Dasturji Dr. Firoze M. Kotwal, Dasturji Khurshed K. Dastoor, Dasturji Keki P. Ravji Meherjirana, Senior Mobed Aspandiar Dadachanji, have all been informed about the initiative and their approval received.
After using the initial set, if Mobeds are satisfied in all respects, it will be for them, or their Agiary Trustees / Panthaki’s to procure additional sets from the manufacturers against payment. A suitable system will be put into place that will make it convenient to procure future supplies.
The ever-generous Trustees of Zoroastrian Charity Funds of Hong Kong, Canton & Macao have committed to make funds available for this initiative through WZO Trust Funds which will facilitate the initial production from fire retardant fabric of 800 Jamas 800 Padans and 200 pairs of Hand Pockets.
Mobeds, Panthakies and Trustees of Agiarys wishing to accept sets of Jamas & Padans and Hand Pockets made from fire retardant fabric are requested to contact and coordinate with:
Er. Hormuz A. Dadachanji,
D. E. Mithaiwala Agiary,
Opp. Grant Road Station (West),
Telephone Contact (+91) 9820493812
It is clearly understood, implicitly agreed to and accepted by the Mobeds using attire made from Fire Retardant fabric that the initiative taken by Empowering Mobeds & WZO Trusts and funded by Zoroastrian Charity Funds of Hong Kong, Canton & Macao has been undertaken solely with the intent of providing safety to our Mobeds.
Empowering Mobeds, WZO Trusts or The Zoroastrian Charity Funds of Hong Kong, Canton & Macao, their Trustees and members will under no circumstances be held responsible or liable should the product malfunction / is found ineffective / does not offer protection / or causes any other complications.
It is also reiterated that The Trustees / Members of Empowering Mobeds, WZO Trusts or The Zoroastrian Charity Funds of Hong Kong, Canton & Macao have no commercial / pecuniary benefit from this project.
Dinshaw K. Tamboly;
C – 1 Hermes House, 3rd Floor,
Mama Parmanand Marg,
Mumbai 400 004
Tel. Nos: 91 – 22 – 23684451 / 52 / 53