Category Archives: Books

Book review: The Mystery of the Parsee Lawyer’ by Shrabani Basu

The Mystery of the Parsee Lawyer’ by Shrabani Basu; Bloomsbury, Rs. 699, 320 pages

Towards the late 19th century, the family of an Indian vicar in rural England became the target of malicious anonymous letters, pranks and other assorted mischief. In 1903, things took a more sinister turn, when village cattle started to turn up mutilated or dead—the work of a night-time assailant in Great Wyrley, near Birmingham. George Edalji, a lawyer and the eldest son of Shapoorji, a Parsi convert to Anglicanism, and a white British woman, quickly came to be accused of the crimes. Despite dubious and contradictory evidence, the short-sighted “oriental” was decried as a blood-thirsty maniac with mysterious proclivities.

Tried and convicted in an inflamed atmosphere of racism and sentenced to a seven-year prison term, Edalji lost his legal licence and any hope of a reprieve—there was not yet a system in place for appeals. Still, Edalji was steadfast in protesting his innocence, and with little to lose, wrote to Arthur Conan Doyle, the wildly popular writer of Sherlock Holmes’ adventures. Outraged by the apparent injustice, Conan Doyle, by now a respected public figure, set out to investigate. The British justice system had met its match.

Though it contained many of the same flavours of France’s Dreyfus affair—a wrongful conviction and sham trial, the involvement of a prominent writer, the imprints of xenophobia and racism, and the eventual unravelling of the truth—this episode remains comparatively forgotten. It has now been solidly resurrected in journalist and writer Shrabani Basu’s The Mystery of the Parsee Lawyer, an engrossing tale of intrigue, prejudice, investigation and disclosure. It is also a clever portrait of the artist as a crusader, the detective creator as detective himself.

Doyle is meticulous in his probe, even carrying on correspondence during his honeymoon, and unrelenting in his badgering of the authorities. His interventions and articles prove crucial. This is true crime, in a twisted, perverse sense; beyond the maiming that sets the story in motion, it’s a crime by the state against a hapless mixed-race British citizen.

Some of the ground is familiar from Julian Barnes’ Arthur and George, a fictional reimagining of the friendship between the two men, and Margalit Fox’s Conan Doyle for the Defence, a true story focused on a similar wrongful conviction case that Conan Doyle championed. But Basu’s material contains new correspondence between some of the principals and a more granular telling of the entire sordid saga. Though it runs a bit long with a tendency to over-detail, it remains satisfying throughout, building through careful research and propelled by the innately dramatic trajectory of events.

Basu, who previously wrote Victoria and Abdul, about the queen’s friendship with her Indian servant, brings us another story of an unexpected friendship from the days of empire. It is just as rewarding.

ZARATHUSTRA: The Man and The Message

The worlds oldest religion, the Zoroastrian faith, has influenced all the major world religions. Research has determined that Zarathustra, the founder of the Zoroastrian religion, lived centuries before Moses and Abraham. Zarathustra was the first in human history to introduce the belief in one God. He was also the first to put forward ideas of states of existence such as heaven and hell; judgment day; resurrection; and the idea of apocalypse. Over time, Zarathustra’s teachings were corrupted by his followers. This book, based on extensive study and research, aims to dispel the myths and beliefs the Prophet’s followers introduced that have no bearing on Zarathustra’s profound teachings. Many Zoroastrians have never read or just have a cursory understanding of the Gathas, verses Zarathustra composed, for humans to live a productive, harmonious life. The Gathas are simplified based on the works of Gatha scholars. The book covers historical background of the religion as well as offers meanings behind abstract concepts that are often taken literally.

The book can be purchased by writing to Arnavaz Sethna at ahsethna@yahoo.com The cost of the book is $10.00 plus postage and handling. Arnavaz Sethna will inform the interested buyer of the cost and payment arrangements. The author is donating the entire profits to the Library Committee of the Zoroastrian Association of Houston (ZAH.) There is no monetary incentive far the author in this self-published book. The Library Committee of the ZAH is dedicated to advance knowledge in all aspects of the Zoroastrian faith, history and culture.

About the Author
Meheryar N. Rivetna retired from Merck & Co., Inc. and now devotes his time to research and the study of the Zoroastrian religion.
He is an active member of the library committee of the Zoroastrian Association of Houston (ZAH) as well as on the FIRES (FEZANA Information Research Education System) committee. The ZAH library committee is dedicated to advance knowledge of the Zoroastrian faith, history and culture to keep the flame of Zarathustra’s teachings eternally burning and bright.

Click Here to visit the website for more information

Seven Decades of Kanga and Palkhivala

11th edition of Kanga and Palkhivala’s The Law and Practice of Income Tax: History of the book, how it faced a court case, and more….

[Watch video featuring Senior Advocate Arvind Datar, who authored the eleventh edition; legendary Senior Advocate Fali Nariman, who was Jamshedji Kanga’s junior; and others who contributed to past editions of the book]

To mark the release of the eleventh edition of Kanga and Palkhivala’s The Law and Practice of Income Tax, published on the 70th anniversary of the first edition, we have pieced together a video depicting how the original book came into being.

The video features Senior Advocate Arvind Datar, who authored the eleventh edition; legendary Senior Advocate Fali Nariman, who was Jamshedji Kanga’s junior; and others who contributed to past editions of the book.

Datar recounts how Sampath Iyengar, who had written another book on Income Tax, filed a suit in the Madras High Court alleging that Kanga and Palkhivala had copied passages from his book. After a bitterly fought trial, the petition was dismissed with the judge ruling that there was no plagiarism, Datar reveals.

Nariman recounts how his Senior Jamshedji Kanga returned to practice after serving as an additional judge of the Bombay High Court, and later served as Advocate General for the State. He also touches upon Kanga’s style of advocacy and how his chambers functioned.

Jehangir Palkhivala talks about the pains his father Behram and uncle Nani Palkhivala went through to publish the book.

Dileep Choksi delves into what went into compiling the eighth edition of the book, which was the last edition that Kanga and Palkhivala had penned themselves.

Advocate Homi Ranina, Nani’s nephew, speaks about the criticism that the seventh edition of the book received.

The video concludes with Datar’s juniors recalling how they helped put together the eleventh edition of the book.

Mankind – Whither Bound

This treatise, by Dasturji M N Dhalla, an eminent scholar, traces the history of mankind and the thought processes prevailing during each era and the path forward for mankind. This scholarly work has been acclaimed to be amongst the best of his writings. We bring this to you with the kind permission of Ms. Coomi Vevaina for the benefit of the community. Download it and read it at leisure for an enjoyable experience.

This is a 567 page book and will take some time to download – please be patient

Click Here to download Mankind – Whither Bound

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