Noel Tata, Ratan Tata’s half brother has recently joined the Tata trust’s Board. The induction of Noel Tata into the Board has once again given new air to the speculations of him, succeeding the present Chairman of Tata Trusts,Ratan Tata. He is currently the Chairman of Trent and also MD of Tata Internationals.
Many members of the Parsi community want some family member to head the Tata Trusts after Ratan Tata, who is now 81 years old.
With Noel Tata’s entry in the trusts Board, all three Tata brothers are now on the Board. Jimmy Tata has been trustee for almost last thirty years. In recent times, many trustees have expressed for an increase in the representation of the Parsi community on the Trust’s Board. Noel’s entry in the Trusts board is at a time when the Indian Conglomerate is grappling with allegations of Income Tax violations by another trustee R Venkataramanan.
R Venkataramanan resignation from the post of managing trustee of Tata Trust comes after allegations of violation in Income Tax. Also, last year in march CBI initiated an inquiry against him and some other top executive in a bribery case.
As per the case, Venketaramanan, bribed government official to tweak the 5/20 rule in their favour so that AirAsia India (owned by Tata Group) can start its international operations. The aforementioned rule mandates the Airline to have at least 20 planes and 5 years of domestic experience to start international operations.
Jehangir H Jehangir, a fellow Parsi and philanthropist who spearheads Jahangir Hospital located in Pune, was also inducted on the Board.
ADDRESSING AN URGENT URBAN ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGE
Civic Response Team (CRT) is a nonprofit that started in May 2015 to build evidence-driven solutions to civic and environmental challenges. One of the biggest initiatives they’ve undertaken is transforming the solid waste management system in Aurangabad, India.
Solid waste management is the most pressing civic and environmental challenge in many Indian cities. Civic Response Team knew that they would have to get creative–and collaborate with local government leaders–in order to effectively tackle this issue. So they looked at solid waste management best practices in other cities and compiled a report, which they presented to the municipal commissioner of Aurangabad in the hopes that he would be able to concretely replicate some of these initiatives.
However, there were thirty years of waste management practices to shift. Open waste dump sites were still the norm. Sanitation staff worked without protective equipment and in hazardous and undignified conditions. The commissioner didn’t have the required resources to implement the recommendations made by Civic Response Team
As a result, the organization realized they would need to get more directly involved in overhauling the municipal waste management system and undertake a holistic approach that worked with multiple stakeholders and addressed root causes to shift behaviors. After much hard work, they began offering coordinated waste management services and piloted their offerings with pilots of 500 households. Over time, they began serving wards of 1000 homes and today even work with full townships of 30,000 people.
Tackling the problem at this scale required a multi-disciplinary approach.
They needed to map the pain points, educate local communities on the benefits of improving solid waste management, make changes to bylaws and regulations, consider budget requirements, and modify the practices of the sanitation department team.
THINKING IN SYSTEMS
Very early into this work, Civic Response Team realized it would be critical to consider the whole system surrounding this problem of waste management–rather than just trying to clean up trash from the streets in isolation from the larger community dynamics and political power structures.
Co-founder Natasha Zarine explains, “We knew that unless we think in systems, it’s all going to go back to square one.”
In fact, they initially found that changes implemented in a pilot group of 500 households would hold for about six months before falling apart. The changes didn’t stick “because it was a little oasis in a larger context, within a larger system that didn’t change.” The organization recognized that for the system to truly shift, they needed “the buy-in of multiple stakeholders, including the leadership of municipal leadership.”
Municipal staff is generally supportive of the changes but Natasha found it was critical “to manage relationships at the highest level of the municipal administration and elected representatives.”
She recounts the experience with one waste management supervisor who had been working for 30 years running 14 wards of the city. Although he had amassed significant political power over his career, it was only when he began collaborating with Civic Response Team that he began to feel that his work offered dignity. “It is the first time in his life that he feels good about his work, that he feels he can do his work effectively, that he feels he’s doing the right thing,” Natasha says,
Previously, he didn’t feel proud to ask his staff to do their work, but there were no alternatives. Now, “he’s like our star sanitary inspector. He ensures that all the staff is well taken care of, that the work is happening effectively, he proudly speaks about the amount of public money he’s able to save because of the way his zone is managed, managing our waste.”
Cultivating these relationships and finding champions within local government has been critical to Civic Response Team’s ability to durably shift waste management practices in Aurangabad.
UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES FOR WASTE-PICKERS
Natasha and her colleagues also quickly recognized that they did not only have to consider powerful political figures if they wanted to change the system. They also needed to think about the downstream consequences that their seemingly positive interventions might have on some of the city’s poorest residents: waste-pickers.
In Aurangabad, there are approximately 600 waste-pickers who make their livelihoods by sorting through trash and finding bits that can be resold. Under the new, more efficient waste collection processes that Civic Response Team was rolling out, the trash pickers would no longer have access to waste coming directly onto the streets. Natasha realized that if they altered the current system significantly, there were going to be negative downstream economic consequences for some of the city’s poorest inhabitants.
To mitigate these unintended consequences, Civic Response Team identified the waste-pickers working in each ward and invited them to join a sorting facility.
They did not have the budget to pay a salary and at first wondered how they would effectively get waste pickers to shift their behavior and adapt to this new system. They discovered that if they concretely communicated to the workers that they would get direct access to 300 to 500 KGs of dry waste, of which 70% is recyclable, they were eager to adapt. An added bonus was that–because the waste was no longer soiled—workers could recover much more for recycling and selling.
As they began working at the sorting facility, waste-pickers were able to more than double their income. Previously, they earned about 210 rupees a day, or $3. However, now working at the sorting center they earn on average 450 rupees per day, or $7. They also benefit from more regular working hours, more family time, fewer cuts and bruises, and more dignity. Critically, they now also take pride in their work and are happy to tell people they work at the sorting center. Word quickly spread.
Civic Response Team has now trained over 1800 sanitation staff and worked with 105 waste-pickers.
One waste-picker who they met in the first pilot has done so well she was invited to speak at a UN conference in Paris about recycling to share how it has impacted her life and how it affects the environment.
This woman’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to take a leadership role, going on to recruit three friends to work at the first recyclable waste center. She soon started managing it and “is an owner in a way because she manages everything – she gets the profits, she distributes, she makes payments to the other waste pickers who are working with her. It’s been running for four years without anyone else’s intervention because she’s understood not only the business of collection and recycling but also managing a sorting center,” Natasha says.
SHIFTING COMMUNITY BEHAVIORS
One of Natasha’s most notable learnings is that waste management is all about people. You need to understand “their behavior, their relationship to waste, their relationships to each other, to their past, to their religion or their beliefs…It’s extremely complex.”
Natasha describes how complex challenges like these need a technical solution but mostly require adaptive leadership.
Adaptive leadership recognizes that both shared ownership and continuous learning are central to achieve lasting behavior change. As Natasha shares, when people think of solid waste management, they think you need, “vehicles for collection, composting machinery, biogas plants, etc. which are definitely an important part, but it’s all about people.”
The other element of behavior change that surprised Natasha is that people are ready and willing to make changes when they directly see how their actions are impacting the environment and each other.
Another way to promote behavior change is to keep the steps small and incremental. In the communities that Natasha works with, it would be too large a jump to introduce home composting right away, but they will work towards this goal since it’s the most efficient way to manage organics. Natasha points out how technical solutions come into play, “this is where technology comes in. If we have the right type of products to help people compost at home and store their waste a certain way it creates a better buy-in for the overall waste management system.”
CRT is still in the process of figuring out the best balance of centralized facilities with decentralized home management for waste, recyclables, and organics.
NATASHA’S ADVICE FOR CHANGE-MAKERS
Natasha’s advice for others interested in exploring the link between social well-being, poverty, and environmental conservation is to “dive right in.”
Bringing together a team invested in the collective vision is essential to make change happen. Although CRT’s experience with recruited volunteers has been positive, especially for short-term commitments, CRT finds it necessary to set up the sustainable funding structures that can support paid staff positions.
Natasha explains, “You really have to stand your ground and insist on either getting funding or getting paid for your services because that’s the only way to be valued.” Even when doing important work, it will not always be recognized so holding the collective vision and having the necessary structures in place for financial sustainability allows the team to remain motivated and committed to moving the work forward.
Natasha speaks of the importance of using systems thinking, research, and on-the-ground experience to understand the nuances and complexity of the behaviors you are trying to change in a larger system you are working to address.
“There’s so much happening under the epidermis that covers everything, so be aware of that.”
Finally, where people and process interact for environmental change, managing relationships is everything. Relationships build trust, and trust is essential for any behavior change to take place. Natasha says, “If people know that you’re trying to bring about a certain kind of change, and not just coming from a certain agenda, then they’re much more willing to partner with you to take that change forward.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Danielle Sutton is the Content Animator at Acumen where she surfaces stories to inspire and activate social entrepreneurs. In an age of information overload, she believes in learning ‘the right thing at the right time’ to intentionally design impactful social enterprises. You can usually find Danielle digging into the Acumen course library, playing in the mountains, or exploring marketing on The Sedge blog.
The book, ‘Zenobia Mistri, Teacher Par Excellence’, was the focus of a gracious event organised in Mumbai on 12th February 2019. Shireen Isal, the author, read extracts from the biography, followed by a Q&A with a small but enthusiastic audience. The event, arranged by Mehli and Saker Mistri and moderated by Firdaus Gandavia, Ph.D English Litt., was attended by, amongst others, students of Zenobia Mistri, one of the most iconic teachers of French language and literature in the Mumbai of the last century.
There were moments of nostalgia, when many of those present recalled their teacher with affection. Moments of humour too at her lovable eccentricities. But, above all, an all-round acknowledgement of her immense teaching talents, from which scores of students over five decades greatly benefited.
Teachers devote their lives to the cause of their students’ education and well-being, moulding and framing who they are without their even realising it. Zenobia Mistri was one such teacher and this was unanimously acknowledged at this reunion.
Thanks to a gift in 2018 from the Trust of Morvarid Guiv, the Morvarid Guiv Graduate Fellowship in Zoroastrian Studies has been established in UCLA’s Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World. Named after the late Iranian philanthropist Morvarid Guiv, the fellowship will support graduate students studying the Zoroastrian religion, its ancient history, languages, and scriptures. The gift secured additional matching support from the UCLA Chancellor’s Centennial Scholars Match program.
The Zoroastrian religion is one of the oldest monotheistic religions in the world and was the dominant faith of the Iranian World (including Asia Minor and Central Asia) prior to the rise of Islam. The fellowship enables UCLA’s long-established doctoral Program of Iranian Studies to attract and train new generations of experts exploring the many facets of this influential, ancient Iranian religion that continues to thrive today—further reinforcing UCLA as the premier destination for scholars working on ancient Iran.
“It is a great privilege to host this timely fellowship that so wholly complements the mission and aspirations of the Pourdavoud Center and its eminent eponym,” said M. Rahim Shayegan, Director of the Pourdavoud Center. “The Morvarid Guiv Graduate Fellowship will not only strengthen the study of ancient Iran at UCLA, but also ensure that future generations of scholars pursue research in the languages and history of this remarkable religion.”
Born in Iran, Morvarid Guiv and her husband Rustam Guiv were successful business people who helped Zoroastrian communities by building schools, low-income residential projects, and Zoroastrian community centers. When they immigrated to the U.S., they founded Zoroastrian community centers in the U.S., Canada and Australia.
Graduate students awarded the fellowship will benefit from the presence of a strong faculty specializing in ancient Iran and the ancient world at the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, and from the unparalleled resources of the Pourdavoud Center, the first research institution in the Western hemisphere that aims to advance the knowledge of ancient Iranian languages, history and religions. Named for the late Professor Ebrahim Pourdavoud, a pioneering scholar of ancient Persia, the Pourdavoud Center aims to engage in transformative research on all aspects of Iranian antiquity, including its reception in the medieval and modern periods, by expanding on the traditional domains of Old Iranian studies and promoting cross-cultural and interdisciplinary scholarship. Professor Pourdavoud was the first scholar to translate the Avesta, the Zoroastrian sacred scriptures, into Persian.
It is with great joy and humility that I inform you that our (tiny little) company, FreedomOne International Executive Coaching was awarded theMost Impactful and Upcoming Life Coaching & Corporate Training Brand for 2018 by Global Brands Publications UK, at an international awards ceremony that was held in Macau recently. I must admit that we were very pleasantly surprised that we won amongst a very strong and established peer group, I am told.
There were representations from over 18 countries and 25 different categories of business lines.
I would like to express my deepest, deepest thanks and appreciation to all of you for your willing support, care and respect to us over the last few years. We could not have done this without each one of you and your trust in what we delivered for you. Thank you so much !
I was also a speaker at the event and spoke on ‘Branded for Success in the 21st century’ which was very well received by a diverse audience. The topic covered the 4 essential elements that companies would absolutely need if they aspire to go from being Good to Great in this modern age.
We so look forward to serving you in 2019.
CEO, FreedomOne International Consulting
Executive Coaching & Business Transformation,
Award winning Author / TEDx Presenter / Emmy Nominated co-producer
From: Meher Amalsad, Westminster, California, USALet’s Create An Inner Desire, To Honor Our Sacred Fire Banameh Ahura Mazda
My Dear Zartoshti Brothers and Sisters: Our mission is to promote our core essence ofGood Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds with Humanity. With this sense of our Zarathushti pride… Let’s begin by watching this 5-minute heart warming clip on
“The Secret of Holy Fire, Azar Goshnasp”
This is a very ancient fire which is believed to be still alive by many in Azerbaijan – Iran .
This documentary endeavors to showcase this rare fortune to everyone who likes to know more about this Holy Fire, The great Pars, The power of mesmerizing Sassanid Kings and about our glorious Persian History in the past 2,500 years.
To date, Mona Sedaghat, the producer, funded $69,700 USD
for this documentary from her own personal funds.
The production of this documentary movie started in May 2018.
She has been working diligently with a well known History Professor of UCI, Dr. Touraj Daryaee and Mobed Zarrir Bhandara, the head priest of Zoroastrian Association Of California.
While the movie is at its completion stage, Mona has ran short of funds.
She is in urgent need of financial assistance from those who would like to become a part of this fabulous journey.
She also needs help to promote this movie by showcasing it at various Universities, museums, galleries, festivals as well as on prominent TV Channels across the globe.
The funds needed to complete this movie is $14,000 USD.
To date she has invested about $69,700 USD from her own personal resources.
If you would like to be a partial or full sponsor for this laudable project please contact:
The Gathas are the Heavenly songs of our Dear Prophet
Zarathushtra. These divine hymns in
essence, represent Zarathushtra’s communication with Ahura Mazda, in which the
Prophet enquires about various aspects of the corporeal and spiritual worlds
that embody the Almighty’s Holy Plan. It is through these Gathas that we learn
that Ahura Mazda ordained Zarathushtra to propagate our great religion and lead
The five Gathas address a wide variety of information,
which include, the creation of Nature, the concepts of Asha, Vohu Manah and the
Twin Spirits, the choices that mankind has to make between Good and Evil, the
expected outcome for the demons of the time, the punishment for the followers
of falsehood, and a slew of other material. The devotional ‘Manthras’ that Zarathushtra
prayed at the time to invoke the sacred Blessings from Ahura Mazda, is
sprinkled in different verses of each Gatha. These specific verses could very well be a
great source of divine prayers for us to recite as well.
To allow a true Zarathushti to pray these selected
sacred verses that are relevant to our daily lives, I have extracted these
verses from each Gatha and have compiled them in a PDF format. I have also provided the English translation
for each stanza, to help with the understanding of the meaning of each verse
for the reader. This translation is
based on “Gatha ba Maani” by Ervad Cowasji Eduljee Kanga, and “Divine Songs of
Zarathushtra” by Iruch Taraporewala.
I am well aware of the unfortunate degradation of our community members throughout the world, to shy away from following the tenets of our religion, let alone reciting our daily prayers. However, even if a handful of true Zarathushtis do get a chance to recite these verses, I will consider myself blessed by Ahura Mazda.
Garments are designed to promote ‘good thoughts, good words and good deeds’
Members of many different religions wear clothing that is specific to their faith and their patterns of worship. Members of the Zoroastrian faith, one of the world’s oldest religions founded in ancient Persia in the sixth century B.C., wear two special pieces of clothing: a sudreh and a kusti.
The sudreh is a white undergarment vest. There is a “v” pocket in front called the “giriban.” One has to collect as many good deeds as possible in this giriban. A person wearing it is considered to be the keeper of the pledge to do good (kissaai-karfa). The fabric has to be clean, and a Zarathusti (another name for a Zoroastrian) wears the sudreh after taking a daily bath.
The second item of clothing, the kusti, represents the 72 chapters of one of the holy Zoroastrian books. It is woven of lamb’s wool and has tassels on both ends. It is wound around the waist three times to represent the good thoughts, good words and good deeds to be performed by the wearer. It is placed around the waist after the sudreh is put on. It is knotted twice, once in the front and once at the back. This sets a binding commitment to the Zoroastrian creed.
The sudreh is put on after a cleansing bath without any prayers, but donning the kusti requires the help of prayers. These prayers are found in the Khordeh Avesta, the daily prayer book of the Zoroastrian faith. “Khordeh” means “god” and “Avesta” is an ancient language of the Persians in which the book is written. Hence it is the “language of god.”
A child begins wearing the sudreh and the kusti during the initiation ceremony of the navjote (newly born). Traditionally this ceremony is performed at the age of 15, which is considered to be the age of reason or coming of age. One must have the capacity, maturity and training to make responsible choices, and to take responsibility for decision-making and judgments. Before the navjote ceremony, these things are the responsibility of parents. During the navjote ceremony, the child makes a pledge to abide by the tenants of the faith, a covenant (a pledge) that Zoroastrians will renew every time they recite the kusti prayers as they wrap the kusti around the waist.The Zarathusti initiate must have the capacity to enter the faith with this pledge and be responsible and accountable for every thought, word and deed.
According to the Zoroastrian faith, one is endowed with a good mind (vohu manah) at birth, to be used for good thoughts, good words and good deeds. The good is referred to as “spenta menuy,” and the evil as “angrey men,” according to the Avesta texts.
Cowsie Malva lives in Redlands. A retired school teacher, Malva is a member of the Redlands Area Interfaith Council and a Zoroastrian priest.