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”.
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.
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) (furhhdl.org); ManagingTrustee of The Public Service Broadcasting Trust (www.psbt.org);and Chairman of The Media Foundation (www.thehoot.org). 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.
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.
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.
Again a proud moment for our community
Kayomerz Boman Irani conferred with the President’s Police Medal for Meritorious Service 2020
His Brother Cyrus Boman Irani was awarded the same medal in the year 2018.
Keeping the name of our community high.
Kudos to them
Congratulations to Yazdi Naoshirwan Karanjia of Surat on being conferred the Padma Shri Award 2020 in the field of Art.
She has spent a lifetime listening to people’s stories with empathy, compassion and respect. In a career spanning over 50 years, Melbourne-based psychotherapist Dr. Sabar Rustomjee has helped people navigate some of the most challenging times in their lives. Dedicated to redefining possibilities and improving lives, she is a proud recipient of the AM honour this Australia Day.
A tribute on his birth centenary – by Marzban Jamshedji Giara
Nanabhoy Ardeshir Palkhivala popularly known as Nani was born on 16th January 1920 at Bombay in a middle class Parsi family. He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father used to fix “palkhis” namely palanquins to be fitted with horse carriages. Hence the surname Palkhivala.
From childhood he was afflicted with writer’s cramp and a terrible stammer which he overcame by sheer will power. He became one of India’s foremost speakers. He studied at Master’s Tutorial High School where he was a brilliant student. He passed M.A. in English Literature from St. Xavier’s College, Bombay. He married Nargesh Matbar who was also a lawyer in 1945. They had no children.
He joined the Chambers of the legendary Sir Jamshedji Kanga in 1943. He stood First Class First in the first and second LL.B. exams in 1943 and 1944 from Government Law College. In 1946 he stood first in every single paper in the advocate (original side) examination of the Bombay High Court. At a very young age he was offered a seat on the Supreme Court directly from the Bar which he declined. He was a Fellow of the Government Law College from 1944 to 1946, a faculty member from 1949 to 1952 and later Honorary Professor. He was also appointed the Tagore Professor of Law at Calcutta University.
His forte was in the areas of constitutional law, taxation and company law, individual freedom and enterprise and economic affairs. His rise in the profession was meteoric. He rose to become one of India’s foremost legal luminaries. He combined eloquence with wisdom, sincerity with versatility vision with achievement. He was unsurpassable for sheer advocacy, clarity of thought, coupled with precision and elegance of expression, impassioned plea for the cause he espoused, excellent court craft and an extraordinary ability to think on his feet rendered him an irresistible force. He took up in the Supreme Court the Privy Piurses Case, the Bank Nationalisation Case in 1970 and Kesavananda Bharti Case on Fundamental Rights in 1972-73. He also represented India in three cases in international fora.
He was an authority on income tax, an advocate par excellence, a diplomat, an economist, a write and public speaker gifted with phenomenal memory who delighted his audiences. He was the conscience keeper of the nation. He was a severe critic of the taxation and budget policies of the Government of India and a champion of private enterprise. He was a voracious reader, a prolific writer and a perfectionist.
His annual budget speeches started in 1958 in a small hall at Green’s Hotel. These became so popular throughout India that Brabourne Stadium had to be booked for an audience of over 1,00,000 in 1992 which listened in pin drop silence – a one man public education effort on economic affairs.
His outstanding quality was the willingness to help people in need. He made frequent anonymous contribution to charitable causes. His rare quality was humility and modesty. Like most Parsis he had a good sense of humour and could laugh at himself. He walked with Kings and yet not lost the common touch. He was a Man of All Seasons who bestrode the world like a colossus.
The Janta Government appointed him as India’s ambassador to the United States from September 1977 to July 1979.
In the 1980s Nani and Nargesh donated one building at Godrej Baug, a Parsi colony managed by Bombay Parsi Punchayet. In 1987 Nani organized a function at Bombay House auditorium and released the third volume of Dr. Bahman Surti’s “Shah Namah of Firdaosi in English Prose.” He also interviewed him on All India Radio.
Mr. K. B. Dabke wrote in the Mumbai Samachar on 15th January 1995 an article entitled “To Nani With Love” on his 75th birthday: “Amongst the contemporary eminent jurists who have distinguished their presence at the Bar and Boardroom of corporate world alike Mr. N. A. Palkhivala ranks as the first. If transparent integrity is his calling card, an art to communicate is his forte. Gifted with an enquiring mind, penetrating intellect and photographic memory.”
. Member of the First Law Commission in 1955 and Second Law Commission in 1958.
. 1975 – Elected an Honorary Member of the Academy of Political Science, New York- in recognition of his “outstanding public service and distinguished contributions to the advancement of political science.”
June 1978 – Conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by the Princeton University, New Jersey (U.S.A.) describing him as “defender of constitutional liberties, champion of human rights, teacher, author and economic developer”
April 1979 – Conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by the Lawrence University, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
1982 – Nominated by the chancellor (the Governor) as a Member of the Senate of the University of Bombay.
March 3, 1993 – Honoured as “Person of the Year Award” by the Limca Book of Records.
November 1996 – Presented an award with the Scroll of Honour in Mumbai by the Navsari Parsi Association in great appreciation of his “magnificent work in promoting Human Rights, Fundamental Freedoms, an Unfettered Press, Political Science as an Author, Constitutional and Taxation Expert, an Economic Developer, and promoter of Social Welfare.”
1997 – Dadabhai Naoroji Memorial Award
January 1998 – Conferred the Degree of Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) by the University of Mumbai. This degree was conferred “as a mark of the University of Mumbai’s high esteem and appreciation of his contribution to the people at large.”
January 1998 – Conferred the “Padma Vibhushan” by the President of India.
March 17 1998 – On his being conferred the Padma Vibhushan, the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, the World Zoroastrian Organisation and the Parsi community felicitated Mr. Palkhivala at a grand function on the lawns of Cusrow Baug, Colaba, when he was presented with an award and a Scroll of Honour which read: “In sincere tribute to your many years of selfless, devoted and faithful service and mindful of the affection and esteem in which you are held by the common man in India and by the Parsi Zoroastrians all over the world.”
February 4 , 2000 – Conferred the degree of Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) by the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Chennai.
Activities outside the sphere of work
Trustee of several charitable trusts to help those in genuine need.
Chairman, Oriental Heritage Trust founded in 1984 which funded the film On Wings of Fire.
Chairman since 1966, A. D. Shroff Trust.
Chairman, Lotus Trust
President of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal Bar Association, Bombay
Associated with Forum of Free Enterprise from 1960 being its President from 1968 upto February 17, 2000 and later President Emeritus.
Chairman of The Leslie Sawhney Programme of Training for Democracy which trains people in democratic leadership.
In June 1977, he founded ‘The Jayaprakash Institute of Human Freedoms.’
President of the Federation of Blood Banks.
He was the Vice President of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. He donated every year 10% of his net income to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan for its Sadachar Bharat work. He donated crores of rupees to Sankara Netralaya, Chennai.
Associations with Companies
Chairman Emeritus – (A.C.C.) Associated Cement Companies Ltd. He was its Chairman from 1969 to 1998 and was also Chairman of several overseas companies.
Director of Tata Sons Ltd., Tata Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. (TISCO), Tata Engineering and Locomotive Co. Ltd. (TELCO), Tata Infotech Ltd., Tata Energy Research Institute, Indian Hotels Co. Ltd., National Organic Chemical Industries Ltd. (NOCIL), Press Trust Of India Ltd.
He passed away on 11th December 2002 aged 82 at Mumbai. C. Rajagopalachari, Free India’s first Governor General said of him: “He was God’s gift to us. His passing away has left a dent in Indian humanity.”
A commemorative postage stamp of Rs.5/- was released by the Government of India on 16th January 2004 being Nani’s 84th birthday.
His nephew Mr. Homi Phiroz Ranina, an income tax expert and public speaker on the Union Budget has founded Jadi Rana High School at Sanjan and the school building is named after his illustrious uncle Nani Ardeshir Palkhivala Building.
Books by Nani Ardeshir Palkhivala
New Patterns of Taxation, Bombay, Forum of Free Enterprise 1958.
Recent Taxes in the Tax Structure, Bombay, Forum of Free Enterprise 1958
Income Tax Bill Penalises Honest Tax Payers, Bombay, Forum of Free Enterprise 1961
Privileges of Legislature, Bombay, Popular Prakashan, 1964
Highest Taxed Nation, Bombay, Manaktala, 1965.
Union Budget 1970-71, Bombay,, Forum of Free Enterprise, 1970
Constitution and the Common Man, Bombay, Popular Prakashan, 1971
A Judiciary Made to Measure: A Collection some of the Nationwide Protests against the Supersession of Justices Shelat, Hegde and Grover for the Office of the Chief Justice of India, Bombay, M. R. Pai, 1973
Our Constitution Defaced and Defiled, New Delhi, Macmillan, 1973
Fundamental Rights Case, the Critics Speak, Lucknow Eastern Book Co. 1975 by N. A. Palkhivala along with Surendra Malik (Eds.)
Kanga nd Palkhivala’s Income Tax Law and Practice, Two Volumes, Bombay, Tripathi, 1976
India Since Independence (First G. L. Mehta Memorial Lectures), Madras, 1978
January 16, 2020 is the birth centenary of Nani Palkhivala. Every year, on this day, The Nani A. Palkhivala Memorial Trust organize an annual lecture by eminent persons. This year, along with the annual lecture, the Trust is releasing a festschrift in honour of Palkhivala.
The festschrift also contains few articles written by Palkhivala in his youth. These were originally published in several periodicals between 1937 and 1947. This is followed by reproduction of selected letters and correspondences, and other documents like written submissions etc.
Title of the book: Essays & Reminiscences: A Festschrift in Honour of Nani A Palkhivala
On 26th November, 2019, our Community’s and India’s leading performer and activist, Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal and her son, Kaizaad Kotwal, were felicitated with the prestigious ‘Karmaveer Puruskar Maharatna Award’ in New Delhi, as part of a Rex and UN initiative. They received this honour for their great contribution to women’s empowerment in combatting violence against women and girls.
With her son, Kaizad, Mahabanoo established The Make-A-Difference Foundation in 2008, dedicated to the cause of battered and abused women as also individual victims of abuse, across all strata, irrespective of religion, caste and creed. The Foundation has done great work in the bastis of Dharavi. The Make-A-Difference Foundation has been created to raise awareness for and funds towards ending violence against women and children, across India. Through this foundation Mahabanoo has collaborated with luminaries including Eve Ensler, Oscar-winning actors – Jane Fonda and Marisa Tomei, and Bollywood personalities and artists – Farhan Akhtar, Zoya Akhtar, Imran Khan, Loveleen Tandan, Chitrangada Singh, Mansi Scott, Suchitra Pillai, Usha Uthup and others. The Foundation works at every strata of society with a variety of projects and program in urban schools and colleges, alongside economically disenfranchised women in the ‘bastis’ of Mumbai.
Speaking to Parsi Times, Mahabanoo said, “Apart from my work in theatre, I use the Arts to bring about social change and towards the empowerment of women, across the board. I have started a group called ‘The Empathy Meeting’, where women meet once a month. The tag line of this group is ‘Share, Support, Survive’. It’s a totally free group where there are absolutely no charges.”
A leading activist and a performer of great repute, Mahabanoo is an actor, director and producer in film, television, theatre and radio, with over 60 national and global credits to her name. A social justice advocate working diligently for women’s empowerment in ending violence against women globally, Mahabanoo has received numerous awards and honours in India and across the world, for her untiring efforts. In 2018, she received the inaugural ‘HER’ and ‘WOW’ (Women of Wonder) Awards for exemplary women achievers in various fields. In 2011, she received the prestigious Karmaveer Puraskar award.
As the owner of Poor-Box Productions, one of India’s premiere theatre companies, Mahabanoo has produced, directed and starred in some of India’s most critically acclaimed works and the longest running shows in English and Hindi including Shirley Valentine, Art, (W)Hole In The Head! and now in its seventeenth year in India, The Vagina Monologues (in Hindi and English).
In August 2019, Mahabanoo directed 11 American women in ‘The Vagina Monologues’ to raise funds for three charities – ‘Rape Response’, ‘Centrepoint’ and ‘Adult Literacy’, with amateur actors. “The ‘Vagina Monologues’ will enter its 18th year of performance in 2020. I hope to open its Gujarati version early in 2020,” says Mahabanoo.