Author Archives: yazdi

Groundbreaking Avesthagen Study Aimed at Early Detection of Cancers and Other Diseases Announced

Avesthagen Limited, a leading systems biology life sciences company, announces the acceleration of its Avestagenome Project®. This research study focuses on the Indian and Parsi communities and the aim is to understand the linkage between genes, environmental factors, and disease, with an initial look into the role of smoking in developing lung, oral and oesophageal cancers.

Since 2008, the Avestagenome Project® has been collecting a biobank of Parsi blood samples and extensive patient data from over 4,500 members of this community with a target of 15,000 Parsis globally by 2021. The molecular basis of longevity and age-related disorders, prioritising cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and neurological disorders will be investigated in this cohort specifically. The project will provide insights into disease prediction and accelerate identification and development of biomarkers, predictive diagnostic tests, new drugs, and therapies.

Recognising the importance of the Parsi cohort and the unique systems’ biology approach to research, the U.S.-based Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, whose mission is to end smoking within this generation, recently awarded a grant to Avesthagen Limited® to prioritise research into lung and tobacco-related cancers. Avesthagen will combine liquid biopsy, next-generation sequencing (NGS), state-of-the-art bioinformatics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify predictive and early-stage biomarkers of cancers in smokers. The project will use non-Parsi smoker and non-smoker samples from the wider Indian and other populations to gain further insights into the evidence behind such data.

The Parsi people, followers of Zoroastrianism, strongly advocate a responsible attitude towards the environment and respect to the elements of creation – fire, water, air, earth, and ether/space – with a special emphasis on fire, the purest of elements and an essential for all rituals and prayers. Veneration for fire has kept the vast majority of Parsis from smoking for centuries. Family pressure coupled with religious restrictions ensured a nearly smoke-free community. This makes the Parsi people and Avesthagen’s Biobank the ideal control population to act as the reference standard for research into tobacco-related cancers and diseases

The endogamous Parsi community is characterized by greater longevity, fewer cases of lung, head, neck and esophageal cancers. At the same time, there is increased prevalence of Parkinson’s & Alzheimer’s diseases, cardiovascular disease, breast and prostate cancer, and male and female infertility.

Dr. Villoo Morawala-Patell, Founder and Chairman, of Avesthagen said, “More than one million people die each year due to tobacco in India and currently there is limited research to help identify early biomarkers of smoking-related disease. We believe our study will identify novel biomarkers that could be used as predictive diagnostics for susceptibility to lung and other cancers. We are committed to employing the most advanced research methods available to drive the development of treatments that truly save lives. I am dedicated to improve the lives of people across the world,” added Dr. Morawala-Patell.

“The work that Villoo and her team are spearheading has the potential to revolutionize the way that we detect cancer,” said Dr.Derek Yach, President of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. “Their findings may also provide key insights about the causes of Parkinson’s Disease and cancers unrelated to smoking and thus common among the Parsi population. “

About Avesthagen Limited
Founded in 1998 by Dr. Villoo Morawala-Patell, Avesthagen is a leading global systems biology innovation company uniquely positioned to help solve some of the world’s biggest health challenges. Since its inception 20 years ago, Avesthagen has introduced new products and patent applications every year, serving the life science, food and pharmaceutical markets. Today, Avesthagen is proud to build on this heritage by partnering the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World to tackle unprecedented health, wellness and other challenges facing our world today.

To learn more about Avesthagen and its research project, please visit:

Inquiries, please contact: Mamta Jaiswal
+91 9029496268

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Reviving the Parsi platter

Hyderabad-based Danish Bhagat is among the 40 top contestants in the sixth season of MasterChef India.

 Danishi with the three celebrity judges — Ranveer Brar, Vineet Bhatia and Vikas Khanna during the audition round.

Danishi Bhagat, a 22-year-old Hyderabadi is one of the top 40 contestants of MasterChef India, Season 6. The youngster, who was among the top 60 in 2016, is fighting for the title the second time.

“I want to showcase the Parsi culture and cuisine to the world,” says Danishi, adding she’d like to one day work with Vineet Bhatia, one of the top international chefs.


Talking about her stint on the show, the youngster says, “I had to stay in Mumbai for three weeks and train in many things. There, I made a Parsi dish called dhansak kebab, for three world-class chefs using my grandmother’s recipe. And Vineet Bhatia, whom I really look up to, was one of the chefs I served it to. That was a dream-come-true.”

The youngster also talks about how the chefs appreciated her hopes to preserve the Parsi culture. “They were very encouraging, saying that with a little more practice, I’ll go even further. And they kept giving me tips to maintain my confidence, asking me not to think about the camera in front of me when cooking,” adds Danishi.

Acquiring a taste for cooking
The 22-year-old tells us that she started cooking at the age of nine. “One day, when no one was home, my grandfather asked me to get him a snack-box from the kitchen as he was hungry. But I decided to climb up on a stool make an omelette for him instead. He loved the omelette. I’ve been fascinated about cooking since, and my mum and grandmother have only encouraged me,” says Danishi, who started baking at the age of twelve and began taking sale orders when she was only thirteen.

Danishi, who has a blog page called The Cupcake Makeover in which she talks about her passion for cooking and her love for Parsi cuisine, calls her grandmother her inspiration and the one who taught her to cook Parsi food. But the world seems like Danish’s playground, for the Mass Communication and Journalism graduate from St Francis College who dreams to open a Parsi restaurant serving authentic Parsi food, says she’s also fascinated about filmmaking. “I’d like to learn filmmaking too. I’d like to have my own cooking channel and shoot for it and promote it myself,” adds Danishi, revealing she’s even tied up with a private company for her food channel.

Serving up her dreams
The ambitious cook, who also hopes to head to Hollywood if she got an opportunity to study filmmaking, says acting is another passion of hers and that she’d like to act too when she starts her own channel. But Danishi’s fondness for all things film may also go back to her father Shyam Bhagat, who’s been in Tollywood for more than thirty years, as a part of Sravanthi Movies. Shyam, we’re told, is in production, supplying cameras and lights. And even as Danishi’s parents aren’t too keen she joins the field, Danishi hopes to work on her own terms.

Danishi has been shot for three episodes in the upcoming season of MasterChef India, and two has already been broadcast. But the young woman is already geared up for the seventh season of the reality show. “I am hoping to enhance my skill even more as I go further,” she says simply.


My Grandma’s Rabri Mix

Rabri winter magic.
Have it every morning during winter months it is very good for health and vigour.  Strengthens your bones and back and gives you warm energy through the day.
Powder the following
100 gms. Charoli  powdered
100 gms. Cashew nuts powdered
150  gms.  Almonds powdered
150 gms. Char Magaz
400 gms. Pure cow ghee
500 gms.  Gehu nu doodh
100 gms.  Kamarkadi powdered
500 gms. Singoda Powder
150 gms. Safed Musli
25   gms.  White pepper
20   gms. Pipri Mul na gath
50  gms. Gokhru
25  gms.  Soonth (Ginger powder)
700 gms. Powdered sugar (Optional)
5     gms. Cinnamon powder
10    gms.Cardamom  nutmeg powder
1. In thick bottomed pan heat 100 gms. ghee fry all the powdered dry fruits, and take it out.
2. In the same pan add remaining 300 gms. Ghee and  add Gehu nu doodh and Singoda powder, and stirring all the time roast it to nice pink  colour.
3. Add all the other ingredients one by one and stir well and add all the fried dried fruit.
4. Put of the stove and add Cardamom Nutmeg powder.
5. Once cool store it in as glass jar.
6. While making rabri, add 1 tablespoon to a glass of milk mix well removing all lumps, and bring it to a rolling boil and serve.
Thrity Tantra

Lt Jamshed Manekshaw: An unsung hero of World War II

Lt Jamshed Manekshaw (standing left on the second row) on the Burma Front during WWII.

he world knows late Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw as the man who, as the chief of the Indian army in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War following the Bangladesh Liberation War, made great contributions to the creation of Bangladesh. Sam also fought on the Burma front as a Captain of the 12th Frontier Force and was seriously wounded fighting the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. But the world is unaware that another Manekshaw –Lt Jamshed Manekshaw (Jimmy)–was also defending the Indian territory against the Japanese invasion in the Dohazari region of the Chittagong front during World War II. While Sam survived the bullet wounds, Jamshed died in action in Dohazari and he became an unsung martyr. Lt Jamshed Manekshaw died on May 14, 1944.

Lt Jamshed belonged to Bulsar in Gujarat state of undivided India and he worked in Kabul in Afghanistan before he joined the Indian army as a commissioned officer. He was sent to fight against the Japanese Imperial forces in the northeast part of India and in the Chittagong’s areas. These areas which were then part of the erstwhile East Bengal are now part of Bangladesh. A large number of Indians, British, Australian and Africans died in action fighting here. Based on their religion the last rites of these brave soldiers were performed in the various war cemeteries built by the British army in the region. They were designated military cemeteries where the martyrs were laid to rest with full military honours.  Lt Jamshed Manekshaw belonged to the Parsi community in India; the Parsis are Zoroastrians who fled from Iran to settle down in India. The Parsis who settled down in Gujarat after escaping from Iran facing persecution later spread to various parts of India and excelled in business. They contributed to the economy of undivided India and a few families had businesses in Dhaka and Chittagong too. There was one businessman, Mr Merdhora, who lived in Chittagong then and the British took his help in performing the last rites of Lt Jamshed.

It is believed that his last rites were performed according to the Parsi religion. There were originally 400 burials in these cemeteries and later when the Commonwealth War cemetery was built in Chittagong the graves were transferred to the new cemetery. There are now 731 Commonwealth graves of the 1939-45 war here, 17 of which are unidentified. This cemetery is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission of Britain that funds it.

The Commonwealth war cemetery is situated on the Badsha Meah Road in Chittagong city. The site of the cemetery was originally a paddy field adjacent to a horseshoe-shaped hill spread on the east and south, and located two and a half miles away from the then Chittagong city.

During the Second World War the pioneer camp of the Fourteenth Army of the allied force was set up in Chittagong along with facilities for army training and the British General Hospital. The hospital remained operative from December 1944 to October 1945 and initially, 400 corpses were buried in this cemetery under the supervision of the army.

The burial area is situated at the bottom of a slope directly behind Finlay’s Guest Houses and is surrounded by a large area planted with a mixture of jungle trees, fruit trees and flowering trees. It is not easily seen from the road.

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Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal And Son Kaizad Felicitated With Karmaveer Puruskar Maharatna Award

On 26th November, 2019, our Community’s and India’s leading performer and activist, Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal and her son, Kaizaad Kotwal, were felicitated with the prestigious ‘Karmaveer Puruskar Maharatna Award’ in New Delhi, as part of a Rex and UN initiative. They received this honour for their great contribution to women’s empowerment in combatting violence against women and girls.

With her son, Kaizad, Mahabanoo established The Make-A-Difference Foundation in 2008, dedicated to the cause of battered and abused women as also individual victims of abuse, across all strata, irrespective of religion, caste and creed. The Foundation has done great work in the bastis of Dharavi. The Make-A-Difference Foundation has been created to raise awareness for and funds towards ending violence against women and children, across India. Through this foundation Mahabanoo has collaborated with luminaries including Eve Ensler, Oscar-winning actors – Jane Fonda and Marisa Tomei, and Bollywood personalities and artists – Farhan Akhtar, Zoya Akhtar, Imran Khan, Loveleen Tandan, Chitrangada Singh, Mansi Scott, Suchitra Pillai, Usha Uthup and others. The Foundation works at every strata of society with a variety of projects and program in urban schools and colleges, alongside economically disenfranchised women in the ‘bastis’ of Mumbai.

Speaking to Parsi Times, Mahabanoo said, “Apart from my work in theatre, I use the Arts to bring about social change and towards the empowerment of women, across the board. I have started a group called ‘The Empathy Meeting’, where women meet once a month. The tag line of this group is ‘Share, Support, Survive’. It’s a totally free group where there are absolutely no charges.”

A leading activist and a performer of great repute, Mahabanoo is an actor, director and producer in film, television, theatre and radio, with over 60 national and global credits to her name. A social justice advocate working diligently for women’s empowerment in ending violence against women globally, Mahabanoo has received numerous awards and honours in India and across the world, for her untiring efforts. In 2018, she received the inaugural ‘HER’ and ‘WOW’ (Women of Wonder) Awards for exemplary women achievers in various fields. In 2011, she received the prestigious Karmaveer Puraskar award.

As the owner of Poor-Box Productions, one of India’s premiere theatre companies, Mahabanoo has produced, directed and starred in some of India’s most critically acclaimed works and the longest  running shows in English and Hindi including Shirley ValentineArt(W)Hole In The Head! and now in its seventeenth year in India, The Vagina Monologues (in Hindi and English).

In August 2019, Mahabanoo directed 11 American women in ‘The Vagina Monologues’ to raise funds for three charities – ‘Rape Response’, ‘Centrepoint’ and ‘Adult Literacy’, with amateur actors. “The ‘Vagina Monologues’ will enter its 18th year of performance in 2020. I hope to open its Gujarati version early in 2020,” says Mahabanoo.

Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal And Son Kaizad Felicitated With Karmaveer Puruskar Maharatna Award

Fortune India’s 2019 List of Most Powerful Women in Business

Every year, the prestigious ‘Fortune India MPW (Most Powerful Women) Summit’ celebrates India’s foremost women executives and entrepreneurs, alongside discussions of ideas and issues related to gender, women in the workplace, the economy, and the society at large. This year, the Fortune India MPW (Most Powerful Women) Summit was held in Mumbai on 8th November, 2019, and recognized the excellence of three extraordinary Zoroastrian women – Zarin Daruwala – CEO, Standard Chartered Bank (India); Nisaba Godrej, Executive Chairperson, Godrej Consumer Products; and Meher Pudumjee – Chairperson, Thermax – amongst India’s foremost fifty women, who made it to Fortune India’s 2019 Annual ranking of the most powerful women in business who are making an impact by virtue of their business acumen and social and cultural influence.

“In a country where women are still up against several socio-economic challenges, the 50 women who make our 2019 MPW list are examples of how determination, drive, creativity, and compassion can make a potent recipe for success. These women have proven themselves to be role models in diverse fields, charting out their own paths and, in the process, shattering the glass ceiling. As they do so, they are bound to inspire millions of other women—who are battling their own surroundings across the length and breadth of the country—to follow their path and realise their dreams. This, in the truest sense, is why we call them “powerful” women—they have the power to make several others take the road less travelled,” read Fortune India’s statement, having collated a list as diverse as it was interesting, given that it has representation from various sectors, including banking, technology, law, media, entertainment, hospitality, manufacturing and more!

The leadership of CEO Zarine Daruwala helped the Standard Chartered Bank, which was struggling until a few years ago, turn the corner, ensuring a consistent and sharper trajectory of growth and profitability, an improved credit culture, and a focused approach on priority sector lending. The Bank’s net profit for FY19 rose 13.5% to ₹2,169 crore, at a time when the banking industry is besieged with bad debt, keeping the Non-Performing Assets under check.

The daughter of Adi Godrej – Godrej Group Chairman, Nisaba Godrej is steering the flagship company of the consumer goods-to-real estate conglomerate at a time when the macroeconomic situation has turned unfavourable for consumer growth. Under her leadership, the company plans to focus on innovations and enhancements to drive profitable growth in India and overseas. Despite the headwinds, the company managed to grow sales in the first quarter of FY20.

Trained in Chemical Engineer, Meher Pudumjee joined Thermax in 1990 and took over as Chairperson in 2004. Last year, she led the company in its expansion and increased its product footprint despite a global economic slowdown; with revenue from the international business rising 20% this year. Under her tutelage, Thermax inaugurated its manufacturing facility in Andhra Pradesh in 2019.

Courtesy: Parsi Times

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