Category Archives: Notable Zoroastrians

Publication of Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism

Dear all:

I hope that you and your families are keeping well at the current moment.
I would like to announce the publication of my biography of Dadabhai Naoroji, Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian NationalismIt is being released by Harvard University Press today, 12 May, in the United States and will be released in India and the UK on 31 May (in India it will be released by HarperCollins).
Dadabhai Naoroji was much more than just a pioneering Indian nationalist, an innovative economic thinker, and the first Asian to be elected to the British Parliament. He was also a proponent of women’s rights in India and Britain, a supporter of certain socialist ideas, and an anti-imperialist of global significance, someone who forged links with Irish home rulers, American Progressives, African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans, and colonized people from around the world.
Given the current extraordinary circumstances, I am not quite sure about the availability of physical copies in India after 31 May, but the Kindle edition should be available shortly.
To supplement the book, I’ve made some resources on Naoroji’s life available on a website: photographs, information on his life and family, some of his correspondence, old newspaper articles, and maps of London and Bombay that show landmarks associated with his life.
The book has been recently reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, and you can read the review here.
Best regards,

Dinyar Patel, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Modern South Asia
Department of History
University of South Carolina
On leave on Fulbright and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships during 2019-20

Remembering Dadabhai Naoroji

Dadabhai Naoroji, a pioneer of many fields, was popularly known as ‘The Grand Old Man of India’. He was also an intellectual and an educator.

He became the first Asian man to be elected in British Parliament in 1892.

Moreover, he was the first Indian to become a professor at the Elphinstone Institute, Bombay (now Mumbai), where he taught mathematics and natural philosophy. He taught in the special classes which were held to encourage education for women.

Dadabhai Naoroji was a great public figure during 1845-1917. He was associated with the innumerable societies and organisations through which he voiced grievances of the Indian people and proclaimed their aims, ideals, and aspirations to the world at large.

Today, we bring you some facts about him:

  • In 1855, he sailed for England to join the first Indian business firm to be established in Britain, Cama & Co, and three years later in 1859 he established his own business firm under his own name, Naoroji & Co
  • During his time in England, Dadabhai delivered speeches and educated the British people about their responsibilities as rulers of India
  • From his early childhood, he was sympathetic towards the social condition of the Indians. So for the betterment of his countrymen, he founded the Dnyan Prnasarak Mandali to educate the women
  • The Dadabhai Naoroji Road, in Mumbai is named in his honour
  • He was patronized by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III of Baroda and started his public life as the Dewan (Minister) to the Maharaja in 1874. He also served as a member of the Legislative Council of Mumbai from 1885 to 1888
  • He was elected the president of the Indian National Congress in 1886
  • He moved to London in the late 1880s and was elected for the Liberal Party in Finsbury Central at the 1892 general election — becoming the first British Indian MP
  • He spent his later years writing articles and giving speeches on the exploitation of India by the British, thus setting the foundation for the Indian Nationalist Movement
  • In his many writings and speeches and especially in ‘Poverty and Un-British Rule in India (1901)’, he argued that India was too highly taxed and that its wealth was being drained away to England.


See Also –

The Fascinating Story of Maneckji Limji Hataria

The Fascinating Story of Maneckji Limji Hataria; Scholar, Civil Rights Activist and Personne Particulièrement Extraordinaire!
In 1779, the sudden death of the Shah Karim Khan Zand threw Iran into turmoil.
Fearing for their safety, two wealthy Zoroastrian families left Kerman and made their way to Yazd and eventually reached the distant port city of Bombay in 1796. One of them was a beautiful girl named Golestan-Banu, daughter of a benevolent merchant Kai Khusrau-i Yazdyar.
After arriving in Bombay the Yazdyar family was helped and looked after by the local Zoroastrians and Golestan eventually married a Framji Bhikaji and settled into comfortable life, however, her heart ached for her land Iran and her city Kerman.
She urged her father, husband and later her children to help her people in Kerman. Inspired by her, Golenstan’s husband Framji spent considerable time and fortune in assisting Iranians trying to find passage to Bombay.
In 1834, her eldest son Burjorji Framji set up a fund to assist Irani arriving in Bombay. 20 yrs later, her grandson Meherwanji founded an ambitious organisation ‘Society for Amelioration of the Condition of Zoroastrians in Iran’ and this would have far reaching consequences.
As the 1st emissary of this Society, the Surat (India) born “Manekji” arrived in Iran in April 1854 and with his charity, honesty, tact & patience in negotiations, and  moral and physical courage, literally changed the fate of Zoroastrians in Iran in the next few decades.
His efforts led to the 1882 repeal of jazia on Zoroastrians by the Shah, secular education for Zoroastrian boys & girls (which was unheard at that time) and achieved universal literacy, became mostly urban and relatively wealthy in just a generation.
Manekji is fondly remembered by the Zoroastrian of Iran and a bronze bust of his placed in the famous atash bahram of Yazd. The social and economic success of Zoroastrians in Iran owes it to the generous support they received from the Indian Zoroastrians, aka “Parsi”.

A Tribute to Mrs. Scylla R. Vatcha – A Woman of Substance.

Heroes get remembered, but legends never die; dear Scylla donned her ethereal robes on 17th March 2020 to progress to the higher realms where she will for eternity be held in Divine Embrace.
It was 30 years ago in 1990 that Bachi & I were blessed to have met Scylla for the very first time at a social function at the residence of late Thrity & Homi J. H. Taleyarkhan at Mumbai. It was a year when the two of us had just begun to conceptualise setting up a Public Charity Trust that was predominantly intended to support poor Zoroastrians (mainly agrarians) residing in the villages of South Gujarat in abject poverty.
Our meeting up with Scylla was indeed a red letter day in our lives and by extension also for very many other community members in diverse areas of need.
The World Zoroastrian Organisation Trust became operational in 1991 at which time we depended mainly for the most part on the largesse of Scylla. Her response was always with alacrity and laced with generosity.
Interacting and working closely with her was an education in itself. It was through our regular meetings and exchange of ideas with her that we learnt from her example that the essence of philanthropy was not all about money, but about feeling the pain of others and caring enough about their needs and helping them.
The support extended to the WZO Trusts was phenomenal and enormous. In addition to providing regular support such as providing assistance to poor farmers, replacing huts into cottages, she very generously extended support towards various major projects:
a) The Athornan Mandal – WZO Trust Funds Young Full Time Mobeds Scheme was started due to the donation of Rs.90,00,000 (Rupees ninety lakhs) given by her in 1995-1996. Till the time of writing 75 Mobeds continue to receive support from the income of the fund.
b) The WZO Trust Funds ‘Self-Employment Scheme’ was conceptualised in association with her; she funded Rs.100,00,000 (Rupees one crore) each for a period of 5 years – 1995 through 1999 – on the condition that amounts by way of ‘interest free financial support’ be extended to Zoroastrians wishing to be gainfully self employed with repayments being recycled. The result of this initiative has been 1156 Zoroastrian individuals spread over 123 rural and urban locations having received supported to kick start modest businesses and be gainfully self-employed. As at end March 2019 the amount of Rs.500,00,000 has been recycled to Rs.208,611,543 and been instrumental in changing the lives of many.
c) The WZO Trust Funds Bai Maneckbai P. B. Jeejeebhoy Senior Citizens Centre at Navsari that became operational in January 1998 was established due to her vision. The complete expense from purchase of property, construction and fully furnishing the institution was made available through her. The institution has evolved into a leading community centre where 55 mobile senior citizens reside, spending the evening of their lives in a vibrant atmosphere, free from stress.
d) Many individuals donate their old ancestral houses at Navsari to The WZO Trust Funds, which are demolished and comfortable apartment blocks constructed at nominal rents. From the 18 such buildings that have been constructed so far, 7 have been funded from the funds made available by dear Scylla.
e) The Sanatorium at Sanjan is the result of a munificent donation received by the WZO Trust Funds from Scylla of Bai Maneckbai P. B. Jeejeebhoy Deed of Settlement Fund. The Sanatorium became operational in 2001 and has over the years become a popular retreat for community members. The Sanatorium at Sanjan is a palatial bungalow, comfortable rooms radiating with understated elegance, a huge front yard where a beautiful garden, the like of which is rarely seen, is always in full bloom, the backyard has a planned mango orchard, coconut trees growing along the boundary, palm trees and many others all combine in harmony to create an ambience without parallel. The pollution free environment complements the trees, the flowers and the fauna.
Scylla was a visionary who believed that philanthropy lies at the heart of human greatness. Her generosity was the outward expression of her inner attitude of compassion and loving kindness towards economically and physically challenged and elderly human beings in different forms of distress.
Being extremely meticulous and forward thinking, Scylla though no longer physically in our midst, had planned well before her passing to the higher realms, the philanthropic work that she started and the legacy she created would continue without hiccups. Her daughter in law Persis having worked very closely with Scylla over the years during her life time, the transition has been smooth, seamless, continuing and effective.
Scylla embodied what Buddha said “No true spiritual life is possible without a generous heart. Generosity allies itself with an inner feeling of abundance – the feeling that we have enough to share”.
Scylla will always be remembered by the thousands of those whose lives she touched so brilliantly.
Dinshaw Tamboly


Rajiv Mehrotra has been a personal student of HH The Dalai Lama for more than thirty years & describes himself as “a most unworthy chela” of his. Till 2012 he was the host one of the country’s longest running, and most widely viewed talk shows on public Television, In Conversations. It was rated the most watched programme in its genre across all television channels in India. He was a familiar face on Indian television for more than 40 years. His books include The Mind of The Guru, The Spirit of The Muse, Understanding The Dalai Lama,The Essential Dalai Lama, Thakur – a biography of Sri Ramakrishna and Conversations with The Dalai Lama, on Life, Living and Happiness. In the 1970’s he was a student of Swami Ranganathananda, who was later President of The Ramakrishna Mission and later of the yoga icon BKS Iyengar. He serves as the Secretary & Founding Trustee of The Foundation for Universal Responsibility of H.H. The Dalai Lama(established with the Noble Peace Prize) (; ManagingTrustee of The Public Service Broadcasting Trust (;and Chairman of The Media Foundation ( Rajiv Mehrotra has twice addressed plenary sessions at The World Economic Forum at Davos and was nominated a Global Leader for Tomorrow by them. He was a Judge of the Templeton Prize for Spirituality and serves on the Boards of several institutions. He works as an independent film maker, Producer & Commissioning editor. His films have won more than 170 international and forty national awards from the President of India. He was Chairman of the Jury for the awards during their 50th anniversary. RajivMehrotra lives in New Delhi with his wife Dr. Meenakshi Gopinath.

Ratan Tata awarded honorary doctorate by University of Manchester

The award has been given for Ratan Tata’s contribution to innovation and philanthropy.

Tata Group Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Manchester for his contribution to innovation and philanthropy.

The UK university said the award was presented to the 82-year-old industrialist in Mumbai recently during the India tour of President and Vice Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell.

“Ratan is inspirational. For him, philanthropy and innovation are spokes of the same wheel, each leading towards the improvement of lives which is the very same ethos we share at the University of Manchester,” Rothwell said.

“He is an example to big business, small enterprise, to researchers and developers, those who give and those who can give more. We believe that he will be an example to our students as they grow to become global citizens,” she said.

The university’s citation notes that under Tata’s leadership, from 1991 to 2012, the group became a global name and one of the largest conglomerates in the world, with the acquisition of major international brands such as Tetley, Daewoo, Corus, Jaguar and Land Rover.

“Ratan has equally made a deep impact in philanthropy through the Tata Trusts, which he chairs. Under his guidance, the different Trusts, set up over time by Tata family members since 1892, have come together as a unified operating entity to target their talent and resources to pursue important causes that are good for India.

“Some of the most important causes Ratan has championed are nutrition, sanitation, cancer care, rural poverty alleviation, and social entrepreneurship,” notes the citation.

The varsity said that the honorary doctorate recognised his sense of social responsibility and philanthropy.

“Social Responsibility is one of Manchester’s three core strategic goals sitting equally alongside our commitments to world-class research, and outstanding learning and student experience,” it said.

Vice President releases Jamshedpur Stamp

Tata group synonymous with ethics, every industry must adopt it: Vice President


Naidu releases commemorative stamp on 100 years of Jamshedpur

Jamshedpur, Feb 17: Emphasising the need for ethical corporate governance in Indian Industry, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Monday said that the Tata group has set ethical standards in the corporate world and every industry must adopt it.

Speaking at the centenary year celebrations of naming of the city as Jamshedpur, the Vice President said that some people took undue advantage of the system and industry has a duty to abjure such elements. He appreciated the Tata Group for being synonymous with high ethical standards and the pioneering spirit of entrepreneurship.

Calling industry and agriculture as two eyes of nations, he opined that industry must support the efforts of government to achieve desired economic progress.

Addressing the gathering at Tata Auditorium, XLRI, Naidu commended Tata Steel for its contribution towards improving the quality of life of the community for over 100 years. He described Jamshedpur as India’s first planned industrial city that had earned the distinction of becoming the country’s role model for sustainable urban and industrial development.

He dwelt at length on the priorities of the government and outlined the investment opportunities that can contribute to the economic growth of the country. He said, “Government spending alone cannot push the economic growth to the levels that we wish to achieve. We need to work together with industries for the overall development of the country.”

“The development of a sustainable strategy is increasingly becoming an imperative for companies’ survival and longevity and Jamshedpur is a glowing example of sustainable development,” he added.

Terming Public-Private Partnership (PPPs) as one of the best models for development in a developing economy like India, the Vice President expressed confidence that PPP models would lead to improved efficiency and better services.

Referring to the recent policy interventions of the Reserve Bank of India, Naidu said the steps were aimed at lowering the cost of funds for banks and providing funds to the industry.

Expressing need for skill building, the Vice President urged all business enterprises and manufacturing units to upgrade skills of employees to face future challenges.

He opined that there was no dearth of talent in India, we only need to identify the talent and nurture it. Maintaining that this was not the responsibility for the governments alone, he called upon the industry to supplement the government’s efforts.

While appreciating the government for its efforts to increase farmer’s income, Naidu urged the private sector to contribute by constructing cold storage facilities, providing transport facilities from villages to the nearby market yards as part of their CSR activity.

Naidu also hailed role of JRD Tata, in setting up India’s first steel plant at Jamshedpur and said that he was not only a doyen of the Indian industry, but also was a visionary leader who foresaw a rising India.

Appreciating various sports facilities created in Jamshedpur, the Vice President called for greater focus on sports and fitness. He said Fit India, Swachh Bharat Mission, Yoga should become people’s movement.

Vice President of India and Governor of Jharkhand were also shown the Tata Steel Archives at CFE where the Tata Steel story was shared with them.  Tata Steel Archives is the first Business Archives in the country.

Among those present at CFE from Tata Steel were Suresh Dutt Tripathi, Vice President (Human Resource Management), Chanakya Chaudhary, Vice President (Corporate Services) and other officers from the leadership team of Corporate Services.


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