Category Archives: Collective Giving

Appeal: The Dadar Athornan Institute

Bouncing Back Post-Pandemic

We are pleased to announce that the Dadar Athornan Institute has re-started operations, at almost full strength, after the challenging pandemic, when activities were restricted online.

Established in 1919 by the Athornan Mandal, Mumbai, the Dadar Athornan Institute trains children from Athornan families, in ritual expertise and religious knowledge in a conducive environment. The Dadar Athornan Institute celebrated its centenary three years ago, during which time it has trained hundreds of full-fledged priests, most of whom are In service to the community. As the success and survival of any religion or community is closely connected to its priests, training and Introducing new priests into the mainstream of the community is crucial.

Currently, 25 students are being trained at the Institute for priesthood along with academic education up to SSC Board level at the DPYA High School. Boarding, lodging, education and other facilities are provided free. The expense incurred on each child is around Rs.2,00,000/- per annum.

To sustain the Institution and ensure its continuity, we seek generous financial support from well-wishers and earnestly appeal to all to support the Institute, via schemes related to providing meals, student sponsorships or regular donations.

For further information, contact: +91-22-24138086 / +91-22-070784,
or write to: The Joint Honorary Secretaries,
Athornan Manda!, 240, Navsarl Bldg., 2nd Ar.,
Dr. Dadabhai Navroji Road, Fort, Mumbai – 400001

We take this opportunity to wish the entire global community a very happy JAMSHEDI NAVROZ!

-Trustees of the Dadar Athornan Institute

New FCRA Bank Account Number for NEFT from overseas donor as of July 2021
Account Name: Athornan Mandal
Account Number: 40227229015
IFSC Code: SBIN0000691
ADDRESS: FCRA Cell, 4th Floor, State Bank of India, New Delhi Main Branch, 11 Sansad Marg,
New Delhi – 110001
Telephone Number: 011-23374390/4392/4143

The NEFT/RTGS Number for our donors in India remains unchanged as below:
Account Name : Athornan Mandal
Savings A/c No : 007200100000785
Bank Name : The Zoroastrian co-operative Bank Ltd, Dadar
IFSC Code : ZCBL0000007
Bank Address : Parsi Colony, Dadar (East), Mumbai 400 014.
Pan No : AAATA0230A
We appeal our generous donors who help us directly through wire transfer to please send their name, phone
number and Pan card number (if the donation exceeds Rs.10,000/-) to and
inform us about it at +912224138086. Our postal address is 651-52, Firdausi Road, Parsi Colony, Dadar (E),
Mumbai 400014. India.

Pandemic Heroes

Do you know a Zarathushti individual or organization who deserves to be recognized for their hard work during the pandemic?

The pandemic has created many unexpected difficulties for everyone around the world. Despite the numerous struggles we have faced, some members of the community have worked harder than ever to improve the lives of those around them. The 12th World Zoroastrian Congress is producing a video highlighting the incredible initiatives taken place by Zoroastrians worldwide during the pandemic. Please share an example of an individual or a group who has made a difference.

You may submit your nominations detailing why you think they deserve to be recognized by clicking on the link below.

Deadline to submit is March 31, 2022.

Nominate A Pandemic Hero

You can also email the submission directly to

Mahtab Bamji —Multiple prestigious awards winning nutritionist who loves social work

Her walk is sprightly, her voice comes through as firm, but is caring and her commitment and contribution to nutrition studies and the health of the downtrodden is solid. Meet, Dr Mahtab Sohrab Bamji, former Director-Grade Scientist of the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad, bestowed with the Living Legend of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) recognition in 2017.

The Secretary General, Catherine Geissler, said the award is recognition for those who have significantly contributed to the work of national nutrition society or regional organisation and to the advancement of nutrition at national, regional and global level through professional activities such as research, teaching and services.

As she completes 87 today, Dr Bamji, a spinster, continues to pack her energy and time into social service and health care through the Dangoria Charitable Trust in Hyderabad. It has a hospital in City and operations in Narsapur, on the outskirts of the city in Medak district of Telangana State. She is passionate about her field based work with the poor, especially women and children and farmers, tending to their health and nutrition support.

A workaholic and person of frugal habits, Dr Bamji lives in a compact apartment near the busy RTC X Roads. She has made Hyderabad her home. Having come to join the NIN in 1965, she has spent over half a century, being active in the scientific circles, social work and also the MARCH, (Medically Aware and Responsible Citizens of Hyderabad) started by the late Dr PM Bhargava, C Dayakar Reddy, Dr Kakarla Subba Rao etc. in the 1990s.

Dr Bamji hails from a Parsi family of Bombay. She is among the dwindling numbers of the community in Hyderabad, which after Mumbai and Gujarat hosts the largest number. Among the well known Parsis from Hyderabad that I have known are Dr P M Lentin (94), formerly of the Osmania Medical College and Hospital; fitness expert, Zareer Patel, Lord Karan Billimoria of the Cobra Beer fame, Naushir Mehta (Cricketer) and Rohinton Behramsha, an electronics expert and the owner of Chermas.

NIN, Bamji and their contributions

In the male dominated world of Indian Science, Dr Bamji, has carved a name for herself with outstanding contributions in nutrition and leadership. During the long innings at the NIN (1965-94), she rose to become Director Grade Scientist. She has been listed among the all time top women scientists of India by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) recently.

Dr Bamji did her graduation in Chemistry,  post-graduation in Biochemistry and PhD in biochemistry (1961) from the Bombay University. She moved to the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. During 1962-65, she was in the USA as post-doctoral Fellow/Research Associate at Tufts University Boston and Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.

In a way Dr Bamji is one of the protégé’s of Dr C Gopalan, considered the doyen of Nutrition Science in India. Among others were Dr Vinodini Reddy, Dr Kamala Krishnaswamy (both became Directors of NIN) and Dr Prema Ramachandran.

A biochemist by training, Dr Bamji has made significant contributions in the field of nutritional biochemistry, particularly, towards the understanding of the aetiology of B vitamins deficiencies, development of tests for assessing vitamin nutrition status as well as for estimating the incidence of B-vita

mins deficiency and its daily requirement in the community.

In addition, her work centred on interactions between nutrition and drugs such as contraceptive steroids, and identification of Carnitine as a vitamin. She has published 100 papers, written several book chapters, reviews, popular articles and reports and edited a very popular textbook on human nutrition.

I first met Dr Bamji as a young Reporter of the PTI in Hyderabad during the mid 1980s. As scientist at the NIN she was easily accessible and explained her research work well. The Institute, under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), had a good number of young researchers, especially women for whom she was not just a motivator but also a guardian for some.

Distinctly recollect one occasion when I reported a story on the troubles facing the Institute’s lab animal house facility. Dr Bamji was quite forthcoming though upset with what had happened. Interestingly, this facility later produced ‘Sumo rats’ in the lab, which proved to be useful in research related to diabetes, under an Indo-US project. Around 2005, the Animal Facility boasted of a few hundred such Obese, Sumo rats, along with other animals for experiments.

Association with Dangoriya Charitable Trust

Post retirement in 1994 she has been associated with the Dangoriya Trust, a well known charitable organisation run by Dr Devyani. Dr Bamji holds the ICMR Emeritus Scientist position as well as the Honorary Scientist of the Indian National Science Academy (INSA).

She has been trying to evolve models for improving health, food, and nutrition and environment security in villages of Medak district, Telangana State, through scientific and technological interventions. With the Trust and support of scientific departments a food processing-cum-training centre has been established to prevent wastage of farm produce for nutrition security and women’s livelihood too.


Cause of women in science & science popularisation

Dr Bamji has been a vocal proponent of greater involvement of women in the sciences. She chaired the DST and DBT committees on Science and Technology for Women; chaired the INSA Committee on Science Career for Indian Women and was the Chairperson of the National Task Force for Women in Science during 2006-2009.

At the same time she was deeply involved in popularisation of science through an active role in organisations such as Indian Women Scientists Association and Jana Vignana Vedika.

She co-chaired the Health Panel for Vision 2020, one of the 17 areas identified by A P J Abdul Kalam, former India President in the Vision 2020 documents brought out by the TIFAC (Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council) un 1995. They were intended to transform India from a developing to a developed nation.

Dr Bamji was a Member of Planning Commission 10th and 11th plan working groups and Steering

Committee for Science and Technology 11th plan; She also served on the INSA Council (1993-95) and Vice President during 2009-2011.

The tireless and effective interventions of the Trust that started transforming the quality of life of the villagers attracted the attention of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), which presented the national award for Development of women through science and technology.

“Our focus over the years has been on the different aspects of nutrition security — food (crop diversification using green methods of farming, backyard poultry, food processing), environment, health care, livelihood through a holistic approach,” says Dr Bamji with a sense of pride and confidence.

Awards and recognition

Dr Bamji received 21 awards and honours that include: Patwardhan Prize (1973); BC Guha Memorial Lecture Award (1987) and Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Lecture (1998) of INSA; Srikantia Memorial Oration Award (1999); National Award for Woman Scientist (2000) and;  CV Rama

n Medal of INSA (2005).

Scientific research in the country even today does not attract many women. Exceptions like Dr Manju Sharma, who became Secretary of Dept of Biotechnology apart very few women, have reached the top echelons. The Indian Council of Medical Research was led by Dr Soumya Swaminathan, who now is the Chief Scientist at the WHO & the Secretary, DBT is Dr Renu Swarup.

Indian science requires more youngsters, especially women to power it into the future. At present information technology and computer sciences rule.  The science, in general as a career comes a distant second. The contributions and zeal of Dr Bamji should be an inspiration.

Somasekhar Mulugu, former Associate Editor & Chief of Bureau of The Hindu BusinessLine,

 is a well-known political, business and science writer and analyst based in Hyderabad.

Ahura Support


Ahura Support is a secular registered charitable trust working with differently abled individuals and their families. They work towards bettering the lives of individuals with developmental or congenital disorders, most of who are mentally challenged. At their Day Care Centre and Residential Home, they endeavour to maximise opportunities for these individuals to discover their abilities, empower themselves, gain independence and live with dignity in an inclusive environment.

For more details contact Call on: +91-9821043319 || +91-9819859987

Email :

Host – Dr. Mazda Turel

Guest Speaker – Ms. Hutoxi Doodhwala

Location – Mazda Studios

Director of Photography – Rehan S. Daruwalla

Directed by – Aarish S. Daruwalla

Produced by – Sarosh K. Daruwalla Mazda Multimedia

Ahura Support Film Shot by – Rehan Daruwalla

Edited at – Mazda Studios.


Zoros launch Good Deeds Club to support seniors

Twice Weekly Service in East and South Auckland

“I was inspired by Dr Ashley Bloomfield,” says Viraf Todywalla who is seen here with Director-General Health and Secretary and Chief Executive, Ministry of Health at the Eleventh Annual Indian Newslink Lecture held on August 16, 2021 (INL Photo by Narendra Bedekar)

The Zoroastrian Association of New Zealand (ZANZ) has just launched its new facility for the senior members of the community residing in the East and South Auckland region.

Called, ‘Good Deeds Club,’ it is a free pick up and drop service of groceries and other items every Sunday and Monday between 11 am to 5 pm.

ZANZ Vice-President Viraf Todywalla, who we understand initiated the concept, said that ‘Good Deeds Club,’ will serve the senior citizens of the Zoroastrian (Parsi) community.

Lockdown Four Service

“We have commenced this service to commemorate the International Senior Citizens Day which was marked all over the world on August 21, 2021. Our aim is to help senior citizens of our community transporting their groceries, medicines and other essentials during the Covid-19 lockdown four,” he said.

Mr Todywalla said that for logistical reasons, the service is currently restricted to East and South Auckland area and only certain services will be rendered.

The service will be subject to terms and conditions prescribed by ZANZ.

“We will be able to provide only pick up and drop service. We are not able to undertake shopping or paying for the cost of groceries, medicines and other essentials. We are also not able to transport our seniors from place to place at this stage,’ he said.

Viraf Todywalla and Roshni Daruwalla (second and fourth from left) with their ZANZ Committee 2021-2023 (Photo Supplied)

Terms and Conditions

Among the conditions for provision of the service would be (1) Only to Elders living alone without any support or assistance (2) On flexible time- the timing cannot be ‘sharp,’ and will be subject to traffic and other factors (3) On first-received-first served basis; the requirement must be by text at least three days in advance-ideally the Thursday before (4) Upon confirmation by the President and Vice-President of ZANZ (5) On no physical contact basis as per the Covid-19 and other regulations in force (6) On the number of requests at hand; overflowing requests will be held over to the following week

“We will not handle cash or conduct any financial transaction. This service is only to transport day-to-day needs of our seniors and restricted to goods that can be easily carried. ZANZ Committee reserves rights to make any changes or discontinue the service at any time without prior notice,” Mr Todywalla said.

Please contact ZANZ President Roshni Daruwalla on 021-2675397 or Vice-President Viraf Todywalla on 021-0424245

Venkat Raman
Auckland, August 26, 2021

Zoros launch Good Deeds Club to support seniors

Inside a 75-YO Parsi Lady’s ‘Paradise’ for 431 Rescued Animals

Roxanne Davur grew up around rescued wild cats and today runs Probably Paradise — a shelter home for dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, cows and pigs in Karjat.

Trying to get Roxanne Davur to speak uninterrupted for 30 seconds is quite difficult, as a cacophony of animals in the background often breaks out.

“It is always noisy when breakfast is being served on the farm,” chuckles Roxanne, who runs Probably Paradise, which is situated 11 km outside Karjat, Maharashtra.

She laments how she is often asked, ‘Why is the name Probably Paradise for an animal shelter?’ “You have to be dead to go to paradise, so that’s why this is Probably Paradise,” she replies.

The 1.5-acre farm in Karjat houses 431 animals today, including 250 dogs, 162 cats, eight ponies, seven donkeys, two horses, one pig and one cow. The 75-year-old lists out the numbers from a roster sheet that is updated every month. Most of these rescues are from Mumbai and Pune, where they were injured, abandoned or fell chronically ill. This shelter home for unwanted animals has the unique purpose of giving them a ‘dignified place to die’.

“They are all residents, not pets,” asserts the Master Trainer in Animal Welfare.

Roxanne Davur runs Probably Paradise

Life on the farm starts early when this septuagenarian, dressed in floral motifs and her short hair neatly combed, wakes up in the wee hours of the morning to get the herd ready for the day. “The staff come at 8 am, then we have feedings, medication, and we tend to emergencies throughout the day that even extend into nightfall,” says the 75-year-old.

“Just last night, someone brought in an injured dog, which will probably stay here. Our gates are open so the animals can come and go as they please. We also allow visitors but only during reasonable daylight hours.”

Their daily routine also includes preparing tonnes of food, medications, buying vegetables — and one wonders how many hours in a day does Roxanne have?

But her journey with rescues begins when she was a young girl watching her hardworking father, Murzdan Davur, find time to bring home injured and wounded animals. So, growing up in a typical Parsi household, animals have always been a “way of life” for the Davurs.

Growing Up Around Wild Cats

Roxanne Davur runs Probably Paradise

“At first, my dad would bring back street dogs that were abandoned like German Shepherds, Dobermans. At one point, I think my dad had 50 dogs, and my stepmom and I would look after them,” she recalls.

In 1963, the Davurs moved out to Karjat while Roxanne was sent off to boarding school.

“We had a diverse bunch of animals. We rescued hyenas and wild jungle cats too,” says Roxanne.

She grew up to work in the sales and airline industry before finally giving it all up to open ‘Terra Anima Trust’ in Ooty, Tamil Nadu, in 2000.

“My stepmother often said — She is going to end up around animals,” chuckles Roxanne, adding, “I first started with an animal shelter in Ooty for seven years from 2000 till 2008. I was an ‘honorary animal welfare inspector’ for the Nilgiris, appointed by the government, with no salary. I conducted rescue missions there too, when I was in my 50s. But, unfortunately, we had to later close down due to insufficient funds.”

She further adds, “After that, I moved back to Maharashtra and opened my doors to animals on my 1.5-acre family land with Probably Paradise. Back then, people were far more generous in Maharashtra than in the Nilgiris. Plus, I had the land ready, which nobody could chuck me off.”

So, in the Christmas of 2011, Probably Paradise came into being with help from Mumbai-based World For All. Having tied up with the NGO, she is assured that her legacy will not die with her.

By 2016, the shelter had less than 100 dogs, less than half the number of cats they house today, a donkey and five caretakers.

Team at Probably Paradise
Team at Probably Paradise

Today, Probably Paradise has 14 staff members, which is still a 60 per cent deficit for the number of animals they house. They also have an on-call vet and an equine dentist. Speaking about their 10-year-journey, she says that they slowly started building the shelter but still have more work to do today, referring to the building of one more cattery and another block of stables.

They also have to redo the medical block, where one veterinarian from Mumbai drives down.

“We cook around 100 kg of chicken waste per day, which is cooked every afternoon to be served the next morning. We use about 30 kg of dried food for dogs and cats. I use premix fodder for the donkeys and the cattle. I have a monthly budget of Rs 4 lakh to Rs 6 lakh for running expenses,” she says.

Asked how she manages running this shelter home, she earnestly says, “I beg.” A brief pause later, she continues, “I am constantly on Facebook; I write grant applications to CSRs [corporate social responsibilities] and hold fundraisers to raise money.”

Animals Are Beautiful People

Roxanne Davur founder of Probably Paradise

The animal activist encourages people to bring injured animals to her instead of conducting rescue missions herself – which are costly and don’t ensure the animal won’t wander off.

“Sometimes, people leave old animals on the street in the hopes that they will be run down by traffic. Peanut was one of two such ponies that had to be picked up from Matheran — the first one was dead by the time we got there. Peanut’s hoof was run over, and it is still awful, but he is now in treatment, which can take up to six months. So we had to arrange for a tempo to pick him up,” says Roxanne.

Tales from the farm are replete with such stories that often have a tint of droll humour.

“Peru, the dog recently had facial reconstruction surgery because he was hit on the head several times. He has no ears left, but he is a hilarious dog. He is always up to something — trying to steal food. And he always has a happy face,” she says, adding that there are some dogs that you can’t help but smile when you see them.

For dogs, being two-legged or three-legged is not a ‘handicap’, says Roxanne, “They get on with life.”

Probably Paradise shelter home
Peanut’s hoof that was badly injured in a road accident.

“I have Lalu bhai in front of me, who suffers from dementia. Now, we have more cases of dogs with dementia as street dogs are not being killed off as easily as they were before the 2000s. Lalu trots off somewhere and often stops in his tracks because he forgets why he is going there. It is the same disease that affects humans,” she says.

Speaking of a solution for strays, she vehemently says, “These animals have the legal right to stay on the street and be cared for. We need to teach children that it is not okay to beat/abuse any living being.”

As we conclude our discussions, Roxanne holds the receiver away from her and shouts out a few dog names. Then, with a chuckle, she continues, “A few dogs, who finished their breakfast, were sneaking up on Lalu bhai to steal his food.”

The animals at Probably Paradise are up for adoption, but their wait is often in vain. The 1.5-acre land often falls short for the animals at the shelter, who are quite happy encroaching into Roxanne’s living quarters.

“Once you open your gates to animals, you don’t have to do much — the animals will find their way to you,” she signs off.

If you would like to help Probably Paradise and the work of Roxanne Davur, please click here.

Roxanne Davur

(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)

Pearl Tirandaz’s ‘Good Deeds Project’ Reaches Out To Frontline Warriors

Our community’s vibrant and popular youth icon, Pearl Tirandaz, known for her dedication to community-cum-social-service, and founder of the inspiring ‘Good Deeds Project’ (GDP), continues to inspire and make a difference in the lives of many. The Good Deeds Project is Pearl’s way of giving back to society, where she also highlights motivating stories of good deeds done by everyday people, who feel naturally compelled to help the less privileged. One of her more recent projects was reaching out to our frontline warriors who continue to protect us, at the risk of their own lives.

Pearl shares the moving experience, “The idea to do something for them came from a hoarding that caught my eye, which saluted hundreds of frontline warriors, especially our policemen who succumbed to Covid 19. My first thought was that while we tend to blame for things, we never really appreciate them, when deserved. So, I shared a message of doing a ‘Snack Box Drive’ for our policemen to show our appreciation. I was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming response! What started out as a heartfelt idea was soon becoming a logistical nightmare! I reached out to friends and well-wishers for their help. And so started the GDP’s First Snack Box Drive, where we delivered 150 boxes to our policemen and BMC workers, in and around Dadar.

Though it was the day of the storm in Mumbai, we set out to distribute our ready snack boxes. And we experienced the reality that our brave cops endure – doing their duty despite being soaked to the bone due to the rains. I remember thinking, while I was drenched and shivering – My God! how do they do it with a smile on their faces! They were cordial and thankful of being thought of during these times.”

GDP’s second ‘Snack Box Drive’ took place on a thankfully sunny day, where 350 boxes were distributed across Parel, Byculla, Mohammed Ali Road, Fort, Colaba, Nariman Point, Chowpatty, Malabar Hill, Teen Batti, Haji Ali, Worli and Dadar. The third drive had the GDP team delivering 500 snack boxes across Sion, Dharavi, Kalanagar, Mahim, Bandra, Khar Police Station, Santacruz Airport, Vile Parle, Jogeshwari, Juhu and Andheri.

“It felt wonderful to meet and speak with them and let them know that we are thankful for all that they do for us, especially during these times. They were happy to know of the Good Deeds Project. I couldn’t have done this without our volunteers. It was physically exhausting, with each drive taking up over eight hours constantly on the road, stopping at every corner or where we saw them patrolling, as also vising the police stations in the area. But the best part about this endeavour is that I saw a lot of people get motivated to take up such initiatives, and that’s the whole idea behind the Good Deeds Project! The more you lead by example, the more people get inspired to follow suit!”

So how does Pearl make the time for her passionate Good Deeds Project, despite her numerous other responsibilities as an employed, young mother-of-two, and a fitness enthusiast, amongst other roles? “Doing something for society and giving back is an innate instinct – I genuinely felt the need to be out there and do things. I just cannot see suffering. But, I’d be lying if I said my day isn’t exhausting… stretching from 7:00am to midnight, it’s a hectic daily schedule! I plan my day in advance, so I don’t wake up to wondering what to cook or what’s work engagements for the day. Right from working out, to my full-time job with Jiyo Parsi, to caring for my kids with online studies, to coming out with a story every week for GDP, and of course, spending quality time with family and friends – it’s all about managing your time well. It gets hectic, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!” says Pearl. Kudos to Pearl and all GDP volunteers and supporters for their efforts, and for setting the perfect precedent for all to follow!

Pearl Tirandaz’s ‘Good Deeds Project’ Reaches Out To Frontline Warriors

IISc, TIFR, TISS, TMC, NCPA – J.N. Tata’s ‘famed five’ are India’s crown jewels

From C.V. Raman to Vikram Sarabhai, these institutions have produced leaders who have repeatedly proved India’s calibre on the global stage.

Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru | @iiscbangalore

We recently rediscovered Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata as the world’s greatest philanthropist of the last century — a new report showed that he had donated $102 billion. I was reminded of his majestic statue in front of the main building of the Indian Institute of Science. A fundamental question was lost in our celebrations: Why is ‘Tata’ associated with so many top Indian institutions that have a long history of excellence and continue to dominate their respective fields?

Think of the famed five — Indian Institute of Science (IISc, founded in 1909), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR, founded in 1945), Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS, founded in 1936), Tata Memorial Centre (TMC, commissioned in 1941), and National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA, inaugurated in 1976).

These institutions were established with the support of the Dorabji Tata Trust established by Jamsetji Tata. They all had an element of tripartite agreements between the Trust, provincial and central rulers, with strong ideals of sustainability and governance built-in. All except the NCPA came into existence in pre-independence India. All of them had the best and the brightest leaders at critical junctures in their long history: Homi Bhabha at TIFR, Satish Dhawan at IISc, S. Parasuraman at TISS and also J.J. Bhabha who was synonymous with NCPA. The TMC was also instrumental in realising the synergy between them and the Department of Atomic Energy to help usher in a new era of radiation treatment for cancer therapy in India.  

Many of modern India’s stars such as C.V. Raman, Vikram Sarabhai, G.N. Ramachandran, Brahm Prakash, and Vivek Borkar were also associated with one or more of these institutions.

The ‘famed five’ stand out because, unlike most other institutions, they outlived their founders. In fact, over the decades, they have grown stronger, found new ways of sustaining excellence, and attracting and retaining great talents despite working within the usual constraints of a developing country.

Also Read: IISc Bangalore’s entry in QS World Rankings isn’t a surprise. It was just a matter of time

Visionary campuses

The Tata campuses exude the vision of its founding figures and continue to inspire young minds almost a century after they were first built. To get a physical sense, take a walk around the TIFR Colaba campus. I cannot think of any academic institution in the world that can rival its fabulous art collection. It is a standing testimony to the uniqueness of Homi Bhabha, for whom science, engineering, and art were all equally important. In fact, he excelled in all three fields in equal measure. The moment you enter the foyer, M. F. Husain’s 45-feet mural, Bharat Bhagya Vidhata, will greet you. From there it is a treasure trove of great Indian painters such as K.H. Ara, V.S. Gaitonde, and even Bhabha’s own paintings. A unique design features across the campus, starting with a distinct blackboard design to a great view of the Arabian Sea (from the vantage point of being the southern extreme of Mumbai).

The faces of the students, staff, and faculty inside these campuses exude a certain intensity and passion needed to achieve academic excellence, which the institutes offer across a range of subjects such as computer science, mathematics, medicine, performing arts and theoretical physics, to highlight a few.

One cannot help but fall in love with the IISc campus and its scenic avenues named after the flowering trees that embrace them. It is impossible to not be lost in the sorrow of Main Building’s weeping willows in the September evening showers or bask in the exuberance of the Flame of the Forest trees along the main avenue. On the parallel road, a carpet of majestic yellow flowers awaits you.

In an institution like IISc, one is way ahead in new lines of research and work in the intersections of emerging disciplines. Research teams housed in different departments are likely to be working on similar problems albeit from different vantage points. To illustrate, research on diseases such as Parkinson’s could involve electrical engineers applying ideas of probability theory from Markov random fields, and work on design of optimal production systems in management could borrow from stochastic linear programming in civil engineering. By recognising such interconnections, the scope for interdisciplinary thinking and the opportunity to learn relevant subjects in an open and permissible environment is not possible in institutions with a rigid academic culture, where the floor one occupies decides their standing.

Also Read: Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, a Swadeshi who tried to make India a manufacturing hub

‘Staying ahead of the curve’ 

To create these great institutions, one needs money of the kind J.N. Tata and later J.R.D. Tata committed. But money alone cannot buy greatness. It needs to be employed wisely. For example, IISc, during Dhawan’s days, ventured into new fields of research that were way ahead of their time such as the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences, and promotion of social impact of science through the Cell for Application of Science and Technology to Rural Areas (ASTRA). The TIFR attracted Narendra Karmarkar, who invented the polynomial time algorithm for linear programming for its computer science group despite their number and string theory biases. TISS also started several focal programmes such as the one in disaster management. The NCPA opened its iconic experimental theatre, while the Tata Memorial pioneered bone marrow transplant and nuclear medicine scanning in India.

All these institutions, in one way or the other, encapsulated the phrase — ‘staying ahead of the curve’. This requires extraordinary vision, an open mind on the part of the key players and sharp foresight to bet resources on them.

J.N. Tata had the knack of spotting opportunities much before his peers and rivals. When India had barely limped out of the brutal suppression of 1857, which continued well into the early 1860s, Tata founded his first major initiative, Empress Mills (1874), in Nagpur and not Mumbai, due to the proximity to the cotton fields, water and fuel. He established the majestic Taj Mahal Hotel near the Gateway of India in Mumbai in 1903 after he was denied entry into a hotel on account of him being an Indian. He also founded the Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO), now Tata Steel, in Jamshedpur in 1907. This revolutionary thinking and scientific temperament led him to invest in the creation of the ‘temple of science’, IISc, in Bengaluru, which at that time was a small town tucked far away from his comfort zone. Although, unfortunately, he did not live to see the famed five, his vision, compassion, and drive to excel are imprinted in the blueprint of these great institutions that are the world’s toast and India’s honour even a century after they were founded.

Disclosure: Ratan Tata is among the distinguished founder-investors of ThePrint. Please click here for details on investors.

P.G. Babu is Director, Madras Institute of Development Studies, and is on leave from Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai. He is an alumnus of IISc and Madurai Kamaraj University and is on the Senate of IIT Bombay and Board of Governors of Institute of Economic Growth Delhi.

Views are personal.

(Edited by Srinjoy Dey)

IISc, TIFR, TISS, TMC, NCPA – J.N. Tata’s ‘famed five’ are India’s crown jewels

Fire Retardant Attire For Mobeds

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),
Mumbai 400007
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,

Opera House,

Mumbai 400 004

Tel. Nos: 91 – 22 – 23684451 / 52 / 53

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