We are proud to announce that our Documentary ” Mission Safeer ..Thirty seven Days to Freedom”has won the prestigious Best Documentary-Jury Award at the 6th International Film Festival at Noida Attached are the pictures of the award We would like more people to view our documentary and share it with others and give comments
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.
Professor Almut Hintze FBA, Professor of Zoroastrianism and Co-Chair SOAS Shapoorji Pallonji Institute of Zoroastrian Studies, London, along with her colleagues Ms. Celine Redard, Mr. Benedikt Thomas and Mr. Kerman Daruwalla, presently at Navsari were keen to visit some villages in South Gujarat Navsari to see for themselves and understand the harsh conditions in which many of our Zarathushti brothers and sisters live and the work the WZO Trusts are doing to bring them into the mainstream of society.
Two members of Team WZO Trusts at Navsari accompanied Professor Almut Hintze and her colleagues on a day trip to a few villages on January 30, 2019. We are pleased to attach some photographs taken during their visit.
WZO Trusts express their gratitude and are very grateful to Professor Almut Hintze and her colleagues for their interest and having taken the time and trouble to visit some of the villages for firsthand knowledge.
WZO Trusts have since 1991 impacted the lives of 489 families in 198 villages, having facilitated their transition from abject poverty and back into the mainstream of society.
The Parsi Directory has tied up with Thyrocare to bring you a suite of comprehensive preventive health check-up packages at hugely discounted rates. To avail of this facility, all you have to do is login to your account at http://www.TheParsiDirectory.com and click on the link provided. You can then view the plans and fix your appointment instantly. If you are not already registered on www.TheParsiDirectory.com, please do so immediately and avail of this fantastic offer now!
A true Indian always celebrates India’s Republic Day. Every patriotic person respects and enjoy republic day. So were the Parsi Zorastrians at Ahmedabad on last Saturday – 26th January.
Since 2015, the trustees of the Dhanjishaw and Manijeh Gamir Charitable Trust at Ahmedabad [known by DMGCT] celebrated India’s Republic Day as usual – 5th time. Such a celebration is arranged every year since 2015. Almost 325 community members attended the event which was started sharp as usual at 10.30 morning.
The flag hoisting was in the hands of Maj.Gen. [Retd.] Rohinton Jamsurarwalla from Pune. The event ceremony started sharp at 10.30 morning. Mr. Harvez Bharucha, connected to NCC escorted Maj.Gen.[Retd.] Jambusarwalla who hoisted our national flag with our National Anthem, Jana Gana Mana, was sung by all participants at the event. The ceremony was followed by two patriotic songs sung by Mrs.Armin Dutia and Mrs. Perin Davar both Ahmedabad residents. Mr. Ariez Munshi, before flag hoisting, introduced the Chief guest, Maj. Gen. [Retd.] Rohinton Jambusarwalla, how well he had served the army for almost 40 years from day one of his joining till official retirement. Maj.Gen. [Retd.] Rohinton Jambursarwalla in his speech highlighted how well he was inducted in the Army, different places and posts he served. He highlighted that one time all different services, be it Army, Navy, Air force, the Parsis were in many numbers which gradually has been declining. People use to keep in mind that the job attachment in any of the services is indeed very tough, no return as also life style remain different than what in business, other pomp services today observed by many educated one. He urged young Parsi Zorastrians to join any of the services of they like and live with pride that they are doing something for the country. The vote of thanks were offered by one of the trustee, Mr.Aspy Unwalla who thanks the Chief Guest for visiting Ahmedabad for the event, Parsi Zarthostis of Ahmedabad for participating the event, Ahmeabad Parsi Panchayat for allowing to use the Sanitorium hall [Lalkaka Hall] and the Lunch served by Mek Caterers, Mr. Malcum Bastawala.
The event started sharp at 10.30 morning with a welcome speech by Mr.Aspy Bharucha, Trustee, who welcomed all at the event, as also the Chief Guest. He briefed the occasion which was cherished by Mrs. Manijeh Gamir, one of the testator of the Trust and in her life time as a trustee narrated in her speech delivered very first event in 2015, as to how she as a Teacher at the School in her old days use to arrange such celebrations. Mr. Aspy Bharucha in brief introduced late Dhanjishaw and Manijeh Gamr of their simple life style leaving behind legacy for the welfare of the Parsi Zorastrians of Ahmedabad.
This was the 5th event started since 2015. All these years, the Trust is able to find a right dignified Parsi Zarthosti having served any of the Service wings. Earlier to this event, the Flag Hoisting was arranged in the hands of Maj.Gen. [Retd.] Mr. Navroz Chinoy now settled at Ahmedabad, and in line thereof, 2nd was in the hands of Brig. [Retd.] Mr.Jehangir Anklesaria [Ahmedabad] 3rd was in the hands of Mr.Areez Khambatta, Ex-Commondar of Home Guards and Chief Operating Officer of Civil Defence, Ahmedabad, and 4th last year it was in the hands of Col. [Retd.] Kaizad Bhaya from Pune.
The event was followed by Games which was participated by all ages both individually and in group. The games were organized by Mrs. Jeniffer Kapadia, and Mr. Ariez Bokdawala both from Ahmedabad. As usual, the event was full of Joy, Fun, Enjoyment and Food without which any Parsi event will not end. The lunch was served by Mr.Malcum Bastawala of Mek Caterers of Udwada.
From the quirky motifs hidden in the sari to its genesis, Ashdeen Lilaowala breaks down the nuances of a traditional Parsi Gara
The timeless elegance of a traditional Parsi Gara is undeniable. Embroidered to life with photorealistic precision, the Gara sari is a unique member in the exhaustive variety of crafts found in the country. Predominantly worn by the Parsi community during weddings and special occasions, the exquisite Gara sari deserves not to be stashed away just for those big days. Vogue spoke to Ashdeen Lilaowala—one of the few creative minds carrying the legacy of the Gara forward—about the history of the embroidery, its evolution and the lesser known facts.
Tell us about the origins of Gara
Gara embroidery came into our design lexicon at a time when the Parsis from India would travel to China for trade. They carried opium and cotton with them from India, which was bartered for tea in China. Tea as a commodity was gaining a lot of popularity in Europe and the British wanted to sell more tea in Europe. The Parsis quickly became rich trading with the British.
When they came back on their ships, they also brought back ceramics and various other antiques that were available in China. Legend says that one of the traders brought back a new kind of artistic embroidery, which was very realistic in its depiction of flora and fauna and was targeted to the European market. Eventually, it was commissioned as a five-and-a-half-metre sari for the traders from India. Earlier, the pieces that came in were fully embroidered, corner to corner, but then slowly the women started travelling to China too, and they edited them to have borders, blank spaces for tucking in, etc. The Parsi community had newly settled in Bombay, become quite rich, and now wanted a certain new look—and they adopted the Gara saris as their signature.
One of the famous designs was ‘Cheena Cheeni’, which depicts a Chinese man and a Chinese woman against a landscape of pagodas, bridges, plantations and people doing daily chores in China, carrying lanterns and other knick knacks—but these were things so exotic and unseen in India, that the design became a prized possession. They also brought back narrow borders that are called as ‘Kor’, and clothes for the children—the tunics were called ‘Jhablas’ and pants were called ‘Ghicha’. These were some of the different products that were coming via the trade.
Can you tell us a little more about other popular Gara designs?
We have quirky names for motifs. Apart from ‘Cheena Cheeni’, there is a polka-dotted motif is called ‘kaanda papeta’, which stands for onion potato. Polka dots were so common at one point, that they were jestingly compared to onions and potatoes for how readily available they were. Then there is a spin wheel motif, which the Parsis call a ‘Karoliya’, or a spider. We have a ‘Marga Margi’, which is a rooster and a hen and there’s a ‘Chakla Chakli’ too, which is a male and female sparrow.
During a research exercise, we found that there is a kind of rock formation on the sari that usually comes with a peacock perched on it—the motif is called ‘The Divine Fungus’. But when you tell a Parsi woman that there’s fungus on your sari, they (naturally!) don’t take it well. And we have seen borders with exquisitely embroidered bats as well. Indians are not fond of bats, and for Parsis, bats are equivalent to death—I’ve actually had customers tell me they’re not wearing the pieces again once I confirmed the embroidery denotes a bat, and not a butterfly, as they originally thought. We also have a sari in our recent collection called ‘Morning Glory’—it has a sun and a huge spread of birds, flora and fauna, so it is like a whole narrative about the sun being the element that manifests this abundance of flora.
How long does it take to make a Gara sari?
Depending on the density of the work, it can take anything from three weeks to two months. And when I say two months, I mean six to eight people working on one sari together.
What is the base fabric of the sari?
Even though the sari is covered in silk thread embroidery all over, it has a nice flow to it and can be draped well. The original fabric was called ‘Sali Ghaj’, which has very thin lines running through it.
Garas went out of fashion in the ’30s and were only revived in the ’80s. In Mumbai, they started using this thick fabric—Shamu satin and thick Crepe d Chine back then. Presently, we largely use crepe, but not georgette or chiffon—because the silk thread is hand-embroidered and these fabrics can’t take the weight of the embroidery.
The scholar, Anton Zykov, worked for the Russian Embassy between 2011 and 2013, but in November 2017, he started working on a unique three-year project of recording and analysing the Parsi dialect (Parsi Gujarati or simply Parsi in India and Zoroastrian Dari or Gavruni in Iran).
THIS RUSSIAN scholar’s ‘Parsi connect’ dates back a decade, when he chose Zoroastrianism as his thesis subject as an MPhil student at Oxford. The scholar, Anton Zykov, worked for the Russian Embassy between 2011 and 2013, but in November 2017, he started working on a unique three-year project of recording and analysing the Parsi dialect (Parsi Gujarati or simply Parsi in India and Zoroastrian Dari or Gavruni in Iran).Advertising
“The focus is on contemporary spoken Parsi (also known as Parsi Gujarati). I am looking forward to document the language as it is spoken. So I try to record the conversations which Parsis have with each other in Parsi Gujarati. It’s just an attempt to give an objective picture of the language,” said Zykov.
The scholar works by collecting video and audio samples of the Parsi speech from various places, among Parsis of various ages, professional and socio-economic background. These samples are processed, annotated and analyzed to understand syntax, lexicon, morphology and semantics used among the different varieties of the Parsi speech.
Many in the community have become his friends and collaborators on the project, like the family of Rohin and Frazin Kanga from Navsari, who hosted him for three months while he was based there gathering language material, he said. Recalling some interesting interactions with the community, he said, “Once I was making a recording at a dar-e-mehr (Fire temple) in Navsari. When I was changing my camera’s battery, the person whom I was recording asked me if I was married. I said “no” and asked the reason for his curiosity. He told me that he heard from someone that I was married to a Parsi girl. So there are some Parsis who suspect a hidden agenda in my research,” said Zykov.
The Russian scholar aspires to complete the project by publishing a grammar book and dictionary of the Parsi language and successfully archiving it with Endangered Languages Archive of SOAS University of London, which has funded the project.Advertising
“I wish to draw the community’s attention to its rich linguistic heritage like the munajats (Parsi popular devotional songs), kahavaten (proverbs) and even galliyan (cuss words) are a source of unique Parsi linguistic treasure. All this will be lost if linguistic shift towards English keeps on increasing among the Parsis and Parsi Gujarati continues to have a low social prestige. I hope my work can be used among the Parsi diaspora to learn Parsi Gujarati and maintain their identity and tradition,” he added.
Written by Abha Goradia |Mumbai |Published: January 14, 2019
The ZXX study was created as a tribute to Zarthusti women and as a way to celebrate their lives. Our aim was to interview Zarthusti women about their lives in order to gain insight and contribute to the gap in literature surrounding this topic. We also wanted to create an insider participatory action project. Most scholarly literature about the Zarthusti community is written by outsiders but this project is community based and community driven. ZXX refers to Zarthusti women, as the genetic symbol for females is XX.
It is the brainchild of Dr Farah Shroff, who started the first version of this study, ZXX 1.0, as a series of interviews with Zarthusti women which were transcribed and audio recorded. ZXX 2.0 is a video recorded oral herstory project. Inspired by the love of her family and community, this project is dedicated to the wonderfully warm, eccentric and inspiring Zarthusti community.
While Zarathustrianism is considered the world’s first monotheistic religion, not much is known about the individual members of the religion or the community as most scholarly work has been of a theological nature. Many people are surprised to learn that living members of the community exist at all. Furthermore, many studies conducted about Zarathustrianism have been undertaken by scholars outside the community. This study is unique in that the majority of the researchers and authors are Zoroastrian women. Two of the researchers were also participants in the study.
In the study, Zarthusti women ranging in age were video interviewed by Dr. Farah Shroff. Topics such as childhood, school life, and religious identity were explored through the interviews. We hope you enjoy watching the videos and reading our study!
I am an 8th grader at a middle school in the USA. I have been very fortunate to experience the wonders of traveling to other countries, and meeting other children around the world. Each time I come back home, I find that other people also love to explore and learn about exotic destinations, but not everyone is able to experience them firsthand.
I thought about other ways to help children learn more about the world, while having fun at the same time. Based on this idea, I created Travel Explore Discover.