Category Archives: Notable Zoroastrians

Life & Times of Sir Hormusjee C. Dinshaw – Founder of Zoroastrian Bank

FOREWORD BY DR. SIR CHIMANLAL H. SETALVAD, K.C.I.E., LL.D.
I have much pleasure in writing this Foreword to the life of Sir Hormusjee Cowasjee Dinshaw, an excellent volume so ably written by Mr. A. N. Joshi, BA., LLB., an Advocate of the Bombay High Court.
Sir Hormusjee, who is a well known figure in his community, is the head of the Adenwalia family which has for some generations made a great name as merchants and financiers at Aden and Bombay. The history of their rise from poverty to affluence makes very instructive reading. The kindness and courtesy of the Adenwallas are pro-verbial and Indians travelling between India and Europe can never forget the great hospitality that has always been extended to them by Sir Hormusjee and his family whenever they pass through Aden.
Sir Hormusjee is a very unassuming, kind and liberal gentleman and he has always extended his helping hand to all objects of public usefulness. His silent charity to people of his own community as well as of other communities is well-known in Bombay. For his philanthropy and other acts of public utility he has made himself very popular not only in Aden and Bombay but in other parts of the Presidency as well. A detailed biography therefore of such a personality will be welcomed by the public-

CHIMANLAL H SETALVAD
BOMBAY, 10th June, 1939.

 

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Also see : https://peterpickering.wixsite.com/aden/hormusjee-cowasjee-dinshaw

Adi Farewell – By Nadir Godrej

Adi is my elder brother,
For good advice, there was no other.
He always took the greatest care
And in all things was very fair.
At school he was extremely smart,
Excelled in all, except for art.
For fame he never seemed to hanker,
In SSC he was first ranker.
Then Xavier’s college up to Inter.
He then had to contend with winter
As his next step was MIT,
Where, when just twenty-one, you see,
He was both Bachelor and Master.
And few have ever done it faster!
Once back home he started work.
No matter what, he’d never shirk.
This was way back in ‘63.
The years have passed as you can see.
His arrival meant rising hopes
For forty-year-old Godrej Soaps.
Just two crore was then the size.
And Adi set out to modernise-
MBA’s were soon recruited
And cars for managers were mooted.
The marketing was revamped,
And those who couldn’t change decamped.
He introduced cost accounting
And soon the sales started mounting.
But hair dye was his greatest coup
And over the years, it grew and grew.
The nineties then brought quite a change
The landscape now seemed very strange-
With multinationals at the door
We hardly knew what was in store.
Pepsi and Coke bought all in sight.
Should we sell or should we fight?
We chose a path that’s in between.
In hindsight now it can be seen
That Indian firms that learnt to hone
Their skills easily held their own.
But then we thought that we should seek
Strong partners or we would stay weak.
And so, we formed the odd joint venture,
Which proved to be quite an adventure,
We learnt a lot and that’s for sure.
It helps us still to endure.
An acquisition that was bold
Brought HI into our fold.
And many more were unfurled
As we spread around the world.
Though Godrej Soaps began to soar
On market price we couldn’t score.
Then our advisors thought it fit
That Godrej Soaps should be split.
GCPL came in to being.
And Adi, very quickly seeing,
The trend for better governance,
Put into place all at once,
With lots of help from CII,
Best practices that surely vie
With the very best in the world.
When our new stock was then unfurled,
It very soon began to fly
And to this day it still stays high.
GIL came into being
In recent days we are seeing
Our chemical business steadily rise
As we diversify and specialise.
Our new products should ensure
That the rapid growth will endure.
The shares we hold, as you can tell,
Are also doing very well.
In these companies at the start
Adi played a major part!
And so today one clearly sees
That now  Godrej Properties
Which he served with fealty
Has really arrived in realty.
For Agrovet, Animal Feed,
Can be considered our core creed.
But it was not always so
And many of you may not know
The way we stumbled into feed.
For compound feed they saw no need.
Then Buhler sought out L & T
Together they had tried to see
If a market might exist
There were no takers on their list.
They chose to make a clean swipe
But were left with a prototype
A discount customer was sought
And Adi was the one who bought.
Serendipity and not a vision,
Thus, gave birth to this division.
In time the business forged ahead
Geographically we chose to spread.
And on my watch, we diversified,
New businesses were then tried.
Over the years it has grown
And now it’s listed on its own.
But it was Adi who laid the seed
That permitted us to succeed.
Is Adi’s success because of skill,
Or is it more his iron will?
For Adi was always organised
And punctuality was prized.
By dusk his desk is very neat,
His paperwork is all complete.
Not agonising is the trick,
Decisions must be very quick.
Adi can’t stand the status quo
All novel things he wants to know.
And if he thinks that it is right
He puts in all his will and might
Behind the new initiative
And with support that he can give
We quickly learn the latest ways,
Make sure the group sees better days.
But while he strove for the group
The industry was in the loop.
He’s always ready to lend a hand,
Be President or take a stand
With government on policy
And he’ll persist till industry
Gets exactly what it needs.
And once he headed CII
Ensuring that it would fly high.
And anybody that you ask
Will state this is no easy task.
Requiring traveling incessantly
And persuasive advocacy
How he survived I’ll never know
In fact, he had a cheery glow.
And now of course we all see
We have a working GST,
A cause he pursued relentlessly
Almost monomaniacally.
And for this selfless contribution
He deserves his Padma Bhushan!
All who see him are inspired.
For all he does, he’s never tired
Where did he get the energy?
It shouldn’t be any mystery,
Adi of course, was very fit.
He didn’t seem to want to sit.
There’s not a sport, he hasn’t tried
For he can even paraglide.
He really loved to water-ski,
Not on a lake but on the sea.
And on a trip to Mt. Kailash,
Although conditions were quite harsh,
The mount was circled in a day.
Most folks his age would say, “No way”.
And none of us can fail to see
That he is full of energy.
He always set a rapid pace
As he led us in the race.
Though all of us most surely know
That we have many miles to go
But still we’re sure it can be done.
Indeed, this race must be won.
And if we stay on the proper way
And never let our value’s sway,
If all of us fulfil our roles
We will surely reach our goals.
A billion Indians, we can say,
Will use our product every day
And everywhere it will be seen
That we are great, good and green.
Adi’s spell was truly great.
The years he worked were fifty-eight!
But all good things come to an end.
Let’s hope we can maintain the trend.
He’s stepping down, as you can see,
The mantle has been passed to me.
His shoes are big and hard to fill
But with your support, I think we will
Continue well in the same way
As Adi did in his own day.
He will be Chairman Emeritus
And I’m sure he’ll merit us
With his presence and advice,
Invaluable beyond any price.
Now hearing praise can be quite tough,
I’m sure by now he’s had enough.
But all the same why don’t we stand
And then give him a rousing hand?
For service to both group and nation
He deserves a standing ovation!
August 13th, 2021

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

“Remembering K. F. Rustamji – an officer and a gentleman

I will never forget Khusro Faramurz Rustamji. He was my favourite policeman. You cannot be a Zoroastrian and not have heard of him. He was to the Indian Police Service what Sam Maneckshaw was to the Indian Army. An outstanding officer, a fine gentleman, a hero in challenging circumstances, and a legend. He was also an inspiration to generations of policemen after him. And to people like me fortunate to acquire his companionship, he was a friendly guide.
I knew Rustamji well. And I thought of him when recently the Border Security Force, which he raised in 1965, reverently remembered and honoured him on his birth anniversary. He was India’s first Borderman – the first Director General of the elite force guarding our borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh. It played a significant role in the Indo-Pak War of 1971 and Liberation of Bangladesh. But there was a lot more policing to Rustamji than the BSF. He had a glorious past.
As chief of Madhya Pradesh Police he entered the notorious Chambal Valley and eliminated dreaded dacoits like the feared Gabbar Singh. He was Chief Security Officer to Jawaharlal Nehru and held the first Prime Minister’s ear on all matters related to national security. When he was Special Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Rustamji headed the committee that led to the formation of the Indian Coast Guard. He set up the National Police Commission.
For all of which, Rustamji got the Padma Vibhushan, and he remains the only Indian policeman to receive this second highest civilian honour. When I got to know Rustamji in the late 1990s, he was already in his 80s, but the government still remembered his distinguished service and sought his views on a slew of subjects of national interest and involved in various commissions to do with security, justice, law and order, and even crime.
We became friends because he was a columnist for my newspaper and wrote with an urgency that demanded immediate reading on pressing national issues. He used to languidly stroll into the office to give his copy. A tall, spare man. Impeccably dressed. A jacket casually thrown over the arm. Two fountain pens in the pocket of his uniform pin-striped shirt. I had done the crime and courts beat and, naturally, I knew who Rustamji was. I was delighted to make his acquaintance.
He had a cup of tea with me every time he came by. And he talked while I listened. Pakistan was his hobby horse. And he wrote so that General Pervez Musharraf, the military President of Pakistan then, followed him closely. Rustamji told me once, “Musharraf is a military man, the nuclear button is safe in his hands, what would India do if some fanatic or clergyman in Pakistan got their hands on it?” I agreed with this and reported it. Hoping Musharraf would read it in Islamabad.
We remained friends till his end in 2003. Rustamji was 86, but energy-plus. He took a fall and developed a crack in the spine. For which he was hospitalized by force. The night before he passed away, I remember India was playing Pakistan at the Centurion in South Africa for the ICC World Cup. Rustamji sat up in his bed at Jaslok Hospital and witnessed our victory. Perhaps wondering idly what Pakistan’s defeat by India on an international stage must mean to Musharraf.”
MARK MANUEL

Soli Sorabjee passes away

SOLI SORABJEE passed away with Covid – Garothman Behesht Hojoji

https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/senior-advocate-and-jurist-soli-sorabjee-succumbs-to-covid-19

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/former-attorney-general-soli-sorabjee-passes-away-at-91-after-getting-infected-with-covid19-101619754173393.html

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/former-attorney-general-of-india-soli-sorabjee-passes-away/article34446454.ece

https://www.livelaw.in/columns/soli-sorabjee-thank-you-and-goodbye-a-tribute-by-senior-advocate-sanjay-hegde-173418#.YIwoWCrlg2Q.whatsapp

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/soli-sorabjee-former-attorney-general-of-india-dead-7300828/

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/soli-sorabjee-peoples-rights-freedom-of-speech-7302167/

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/soli-sorabjee-defender-of-free-speech-7297315/

Nani Palkhivala’s letter to Soli Sorabjee

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