Cdr Kavina passed away in Australia last week

Cdr Kavina passed away in Australia last week, Indian Navy attended funeral 


The Karachi harbour attack by a group of three small missile boats of the Indian Navy — stretched to their endurance limits and virtually unprotected against air strikes — was a turning point of the 1971 war with Pakistan.

The war, which led to the liberation of Bangladesh, was fought mostly over land but it was a decisive victory at sea that crippled Pakistan — drastically cutting down its ability to continue engaging Indian forces — by choking off resupply routes for oil and ammunition.

Within hours of the 4 December attack by three Osa 1 class missile boats that set Karachi port on fire and took out two frontline Pakistani Navy warships, besides sinking a merchant vessel carrying ammunition, the world stood up to attention.

The Karachi assault was part of the first item on US President Richard Nixon’s morning brief by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) the next day – a detailed view on the conflict and the naval blockade achieved by India.

Commanding one of the three missile boats armed with four SS-N-2B Styx anti-ship missiles each that unleashed fury on Karachi was Lieutenant Commander BN Kavina who was awarded the Vir Chakra (VrC) for Operation Trident, the code name for the attack.

His missile boat – the INS Nipat – sank merchant vessel Venus Challenger carrying ammunition and crippled her escort, PNS destroyer Shah Jehan on the approach to Karachi. While the others were called back fearing an air assault, Kavina took the Nipat to within 25 km of the Karachi shore, firing a missile to set off the Keamari oil terminal on fire.

On Friday, the hero of the Karachi attack passed away in Adelaide, Australia, where he was living with his son Karl. The officer, who died at the age of 80, got a fond farewell from the Indian Navy at the funeral ceremony Tuesday, with India’s naval attaché in Australia representing the country.

The Karachi attack is seen as the highest point for the Indian Navy post-Independence – 4 December is celebrated as Navy Day in India in honour of Operation Trident – and is recorded in internal history as a turning point of the war.

“The missile boats really did a fantastic job. In fact, there was an effective blockade of the Karachi port without India having really declared one. I remember that all ships and vessels passing through the area were taking permission from the Indian Navy to transit through,” Commodore Vijay Jerath (retd), another war hero and a batch mate of Kavina, told ThePrint.

Jerath, who wrote a tell-all book on the operation — 25 Missile Boat Squadron: An Untold Story – was also awarded the Vir Chakra for a follow on operation to Trident. Codenamed Op Python, it was a repeat attack by the missile boats on Karachi on 8 December, that further crippled Pakistani naval abilities.

While the Karachi attack and its impact on blocking supplies to Pakistan – Karachi was its only big operational port in 1971 – has been well documented in Indian military studies, a recently declassified top secret CIA report reveals how difficult the situation was.

The secret CIA report – the agency had a significant presence in Pakistan – details dangers Pakistan faced due to the Indian blockade. The declassified intelligence memorandum on `West Pakistan: Resupply Problems’ was marked for release in 2010 but was made public in December 2016 under a new disclosure initiative by the CIA.

Painting a sordid picture for Pakistan, the CIA predicted that its war machinery would come to a grinding halt within weeks as oil and ammunition resupplies had been choked due to the blockade. Pointing out that both land and air routes were unviable to support Pakistan’s war effort, the CIA report warned of impending doom.

At the core of the CIA analysis was effective Indian stranglehold over Karachi that had crippled all merchant ship traffic to Pakistan. The American assessment was that while Pakistan had the foreign exchange reserves for emergency purchase of supplies for the war, it had no way to get them to its troops.

The situation on petroleum was even worse for Pakistan with the CIA assessment that stocks were running dangerously low with most its facilities located in Karachi under threat.


The assessment painted a sorry picture for Pakistan when it came to ammunition reserves as well.

The CIA document has been declassified but is also heavily redacted, making it unclear whether it was intended for possible intervention by the US or was an assessment for advice to Pakistan. The CIA assessment hinted that the only way out for Pakistan was to attempt a break of the Indian grip on Karachi.

Incidentally, the lowest point in India-US relations also came in December 1971 when a task force led by the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier entered the Bay of Bengal. The US tilt towards Pakistan has also been documented in previous declassified records that revealed Nixon asking his trusted aide Henry Kissinger to call on the Chinese to deploy troops on the Indian border.

The situation for US involvement in the lifting of the Karachi blockade however never arose with the 16 December fall of Dhaka and the liberation of Bangladesh. And in India, 4 December was designated as Navy Day, in honour of Op Trident and men like Lt Cdr Kavina who led it.



Dadabhai Naoroji – Letters

Commemorating 100 years of the death of Dadabhai Naoroji — observed on 30 June — we take stock of a collection of letters the Grand Old Man of India exchanged with his contemporaries

“…It is a mistake his not giving his Parsee names at large. I took him for an Englishman until I saw he was K.D Cooper…I always denounce this as a snobby defamation of their medical degrees & diplomas; & I dont [sic] like to see Parsees screening their noble nationality behind the English masks of ‘Cooper’ — ‘Ashburner’ &c…A Wadia I understand is trying to name himself Wady!!!”

This is an excerpt from a letter written by George Birdwood (1832-1917) on 27 February 1904 from London, addressed to one of the early influential nationalists and a prominent figure in the formation of the Indian National Congress, Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917), expressing his disdain at the Parsi implementation of anglicised surnames. The aforementioned K.D. Cooper was a Parsi doctor and a resident medical officer at a hospital in Bradford between 1903 and 1904, and had requested Naoroji to seek Birdwood’s aid in applying for a job at the East Indian Railway Company. The letter is part of the book titled Dadabhai Naoroji: Selected Private Papers (Oxford University Press), published last year — a selection of correspondence between Naoroji and several seminal leaders and intellectuals — edited by S.R Mehrotra and Dinyar Patel. The annotated compilation not only throws light upon facets of Naoroji’s life, but also lends insights into the thoughts and preoccupations of his correspondents and confidantes, and their relationship with Naoroji.

Matters of intrigue

Birdwood, for instance, even opposed the fact that Indians had embraced a ‘Western’ style of dressing. An English civil servant, he resided in Bombay in the 1850s and ‘60s, and during his stay in the city, was appointed as a professor at the Grant Medical College; played a key role in the establishment of the Victoria Gardens and the Victoria and Albert Museum [currently Jijamata Udyan and the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum respectively]; was the registrar at the University of Bombay; and a member of the Royal Asiatic Society. While his friendship with Naoroji spanned almost six decades, it wasn’t without its share of differences, and the letters exchanged between them are a veritable indication of this fact.

A steadfast and unwavering Conservative, Birdwood, contested Naoroji’s arguments about his theory on the ‘drain of wealth’ from India, and was displeased at the establishment of semi-representative Indian political institutions. Nevertheless, Birdwood contributed immensely to the social and intellectual life of Bombay. One of his letters to Naoroji in 1898 makes mention of his unfinished manuscript on Indian art, tentatively titled Arya Silpa Darpana [or ‘The Mirror of Indian Art’], of which he had already written “1200 pages of foolscap MS”. Birdwood was also invited by the London-based Zoroastrian Fund of Europe in 1901 to deliver a commemorative lecture on the history of Zoroastrianism at the Parsi cemetery in suburban Brookwood, an otherwise uncommon honour from the community. Besides letters exchanged with Birdwood, the book reproduces Naoroji’s written communication with some of his contemporaries such as Henry M. Hyndman, Allan Octavian Hume, Erskine Perry, Behramji Malabari, R.M.H Griffith, William Wedderburn, and Gopal Krishna Gokhale, among others.

Reconstructing lost histories

The missives published in this book are however only a soupçon of an exhaustive cache of approximately 25-30,000 letters. Says Patel, assistant professor of history at the University of South Carolina, who has also completed his dissertation of the political thought and career of Naoroji, “The kernel of this volume comes from an unpublished manuscript that R.P Patwardhan [a retired educationalist from Pune] left behind in 1980 when he died. There is another unpublished volume, which we’ll be using as a starting point for a second volume, and I anticipate that at least one further volume can be easily completed with the material collected.” Patwardhan studied Naoroji’s correspondence for close to a decade and published two compilations in 1977, but passed away before he could have two more manuscripts published.

While most of the letters are in English, there is a sizeable number in Gujarati, and a handful in languages like Marathi, Urdu, Hindi, Persian, French, and Bengali. Patel says, “Since the Naoroji Papers are so vast and relatively unexplored, and since thousands of letters have not been catalogued, I still stumble upon interesting finds every time I search. Last August, for example, I was at the National Archives of India [in New Delhi], and found a letter from the 1890s where one of Naoroji’s daughters was talking about how riding bicycles was catching on in Bombay, among both men and women, and among both Hindus and Parsis. She mentioned that she was getting lessons from her husband, who would help her practise in the lanes of Khetwadi after dinner, and told Naoroji not to be worried about her safety!”

Naoroji considered Robert Morgan Holt Griffith — the proprietor of the Weekly News and Clerkenwell Chronicle published from north London — as ‘one of my best friends and supporters’, especially during his election campaigns for standing for Parliament from Central Finsbury, London. Griffith served as Naoroji’s trustworthy election agent in 1892 and 1895, and their correspondence, amounting to around 2,000 letters, is probably the largest collection in the Naoroji Papers.

An augmented repository

The Naoroji Papers have been housed in the National Archives of India (NAI), and apart from correspondence on weighty issues, also include miscellanea such as a hand-drawn map providing directions to Naoroji’s house in Anerley Park in London; Parsi wedding invitations and Navroze greeting cards; floor plans for the family house in Bombay; a map of the Buenos Aires tram network; and several newspaper cuttings and drafts of speeches.

All of the letters, however, were at one point, kept in Bombay — in Versova [present-day Seven Bungalows] at Naoroji’s house during his retirement, or perhaps in a godown somewhere in the city thereafter, as property of the Dadabhai Naoroji Prize Trust. Patel began working at the NAI with the intention of not only researching the Naoroji Papers but also evaluating them from the perspective of preservation, and providing any help that he could in identifying material that needed repair. “After Patwardhan was done working with them in Pune, he arranged for them to be sent to the NAI in Delhi. It is probably best that they were sent to Delhi, because they were kept much better than they would have at any facility in Bombay. Runs of numerous non-English newspapers simply do not exist anymore. Bombay is still in need of a proper, enclosed, temperature-controlled archival facility which uses archival best practices,” says Patel.

Deciphering the written word

In 1854, while still in his late-twenties, Naoroji became a professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Bombay’s Elphinstone College, the first Indian to attain such a position. An enthusiastic pedagogue, he made great efforts to inculcate within his students a sense of curiosity by organising visits to the docks as well as the observatory that once operated in present-day Colaba. His role as a tutor can perhaps be extended to comprehend his style of writing. The letters he drafted were infused with unique characteristics, and provide a glimpse into his preference of syntax. “Naoroji’s English handwriting was not too bad, actually; it was relatively easy to pick up, though his Gujarati handwriting still eludes me in places. His Hindi writing was impeccable. But others, such as Malabari or Birdwood, were extremely difficult to decipher! Both, quite obviously, wrote letters in great haste. On more than one instance, Naoroji or Wedderburn would complain about not being able to read Malabari’s handwriting. Naoroji wrote in the typical late 19th century-style of English (some words would be capitalised, which we would not today, such as “Election,” or “Campaign”; frequent abbreviations of first names, such as “Wm” for “William”; people were referred to very formally, so George Birdwood was always “Sir George” and William Wedderburn “Sir William”, in spite of the fact that they were very close friends) but there were a few common spelling eccentricities. He always signed off as “Your’s truly”, for example,” shares Patel.

Letters that Naoroji wrote himself were very brief and succinct, and came across as rather formulaic. This, according to Patel, is perhaps a hint of how busy he was. “Naoroji kept to a standard format and wrote as briefly as possible. His letters were not meant to be eloquent, quotable documents, such as Nehru’s — he simply wanted to get his point across. Even Dinshaw Wacha, one of Naoroji’s closest confidantes, acknowledged that he could only expect one brief letter from Naoroji in response to several long outward letters,” he adds.

However, there were a few exceptions “His letters to Malabari are very personal (Malabari referred to Naoroji as “Dad”), since Malabari was not only a working colleague, but someone who was close to Naoroji’s children and helped look after their affairs while Naoroji was in London. Naoroji was a fixture in the letter-writing room of the National Liberal Club in London — he probably wrote a few thousands of pages here (when I visited in 2013, I couldn’t resist writing off a few letters from the same room, using the same stationery with the same letterhead),” explains Patel.

Epistolary relevance

The ‘epistolary’ as a literary form plays a vital role to help understand the construction of academic and historical research. According to Patel, numerous historians that had previously looked at Naoroji’s life only examined a few of his published works, and thus painted a very incomplete portrait of the man and his ideas. Strangely, they did not seek out his private papers. Many Indian/South Asian historians are especially guilty of relying too much on theory and too little on actual archival evidence, especially personal correspondence.

As Patel puts it, “Much of the theory-driven scholarship on early Indian nationalism, or the Anglophone Indian political and economic elite, falls to pieces once one actually reads Indians’ private correspondence rather than selective reading of a handful of their English-language publications. Certain archival collections in India — again, especially the case for personal papers — are strangely neglected. We need more historians to take these collections seriously; there is a lot of exciting, unexplored material that helps add to, and even change, our narrative of how Indians responded to colonialism.”

Dadabhai Naoroji: Selected Private Papers available on Amazon India for Rs 1289

Khorshed Deboo

Zarathushti Stalwart Dhunmai Dalal Passes Away

FEZANA is saddened to announce the passing away of Dhunmai Dalal.

Dhunmai Dalal was a long time resident of Southern California and had held various positions and roles at the Zoroastrian Association of California and at FEZANA, besides being Co-Chair of two North American Congresses, in 1985 and in 2014.

FEZANA joins Zarathushtis all over the world in offering condolences to the Dalal family.

Condolences may be sent to:
Phiroze – or Hormazd –

Dhunmai Phiroze Dalal, beloved wife of Phiroze, mother of Hormazd, Armita & Zane Godrej, grandmother of Shahyan, Arman & Shireen, sister of Franey (Dolly) Nariman Irani & Behroze Kandawalla
passed away peacefully at her home in Los Angeles on 3rd July, 2017.

Prayers will be held at her home 2906 Elvido Dr., Los Angeles, CA

Uthamnu will be at 3:40 pm 5th July, 2017 Followed by Sarosh at 8:00 pm

May Almighty Ahura Mazda keep her soul in Eternal Peace.


By Meher Amalsad

DhunMai Dalal, a stalwart philanthropist from California was passionate about serving humanity with dignity and humility.

She has served our North American and Global Zoroastrian community in numerous roles over the last three decades.

Her prime purpose in life was focused on how to keep us united as a community through the bond of our Zoroastrian faith.

She served with passion as the Chair of the 1985 5th North American Zoroastrian Congress in Los Angeles. Her motto for this Congress was: We can have disagreements without becoming disagreeable.

At this monumental Congress, she along with Farangis Shahrokh placed on the Congress agenda a session titled: Proposal For The Organization Of A North American Zoroastrian Body. This session fostered the stepping stone for the birth of FEZANA.

She also served as Co-Chair of the 2014 17th North American Zoroastrian Congress in Los Angeles which was a very successful event for our Zoroastrian community.

As a founding participant of FEZANA, Dhunnai served as the first Chair of the FEZANA Congress Committee with a vision to ignite and unite the spirit of communal solidarity through North American Congresses.

She was also actively involved in the birth of California Zoroastrian Center in Westminster, California and as a strong supporter of the Zoroastrian Association Of California. She was one of the major donors for the ZAC Center in Orange, California.

She has also served as the Trustee and Director of World Zoroastrian Organization in London.

She was an avid supporter and promoter of youth leadership within our Zoroastrian community and has been a valuable financial sponsor for numerous North American and World Zoroastrian Youth congresses since 1987.

She was also involved with many Non profit organizations including the American Youth Symphony for which she served as a Director from 2011-2014.

DhunMai has left a legacy of selfless service for our future generation to emulate with communal pride.

Our hats off to her for this relentless dedication with conscientious intention for reaching out to others.

May Ahura Mazda grant her soul with everlasting peace as she now enjoys eternal life in the spiritual world.

With love and light from

Meher Amalsad

What you need to know about Dadabhai Naoroji

Dadabhai Naoroji Passed Away Hundred Years Ago But Here’s Why You Need To Know About Him

Dadabhai Naroji was a great nationalist leader. A Parsi by birth, he is popularly known as the ‘Grand Old Man’ of India. Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of his death. Here are some interesting facts about the great life of this remarkable son of the soil.

1. He (1825-1917) was one of the integral leaders of India who led the country to its independence. One can see the honour given to him in the form a statue near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) of as one walks by the railway station.


2. The title – Grand Old Man of India – was given to him as it was believed that he was one of the intellectuals who had helped in shaping the modern India.

3. He has worked extensively to promote the Zoroastrian religion, and Indian culture. Naoroji belonged to an a priestly Zoroastrian family. He later went on to found the Rahnumae Mazdayasne Sabha in 1851 in an attempt to restore the Zoroastrian religion to its past glory. This society still operates in Bombay (now Mumbai).

4. When Naoroji was as young as 25, he got a job of an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Elphinstone College in Mumbai.

5. In 1855, Naoroji went to London and became a partner at Cama and Co., one of the first Indian company that was established in Britain.


6. He later resigned from the company and in 1859, went ahead and established his own cotton trading firm and named it Naoroji & Co.

7. Naoroji began working towards upliftment of Indians from 1860s and became quite eloquent against the British colonialism and their exploitation of India.

8. He became the Divan, also known as the Chief Minister of the Princely state of Baroda in 1874 and was also patronised by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III of Baroda.

9. He left the post soon for an elected seat in the Bombay Municipal Corporation.


10. He was an active participant in the founding of the Indian National Congress and became its President thrice in 1886, 1893 and 1906.

11. 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.

12. He was the first Indian to win a seat in the House of Commons.


13. Apart from the D. N Road named after him in Mumbai, Naoroji Street in Finsbury, UK has also been named after him.

Truly, he was a great personality who was able to propagate nationalist values among the young and old people of the country.


Remembering Dadabhai Naoroji

India must recall legacy of early nationalists like Dadabhai Naoroji in the age of hyper-nationalism

Remembering one of the most influential leaders of the early Indian National Congress on his 100th death anniversary.

June 30 provides an opportune moment for reflection on the early phase of the Indian nationalist movement, and how we remember and commemorate it. This day, 100 years ago, Dadabhai Naoroji, one of the most influential leaders of the early Indian National Congress, died in Bombay.

He died, appropriately enough, a short distance from Tejpal Hall in Gowalia Tank, the venue where, in 1885, he helped inaugurate the first meeting of the Congress. During the last three decades of his life, Naoroji, known as the Grand Old Man of India, had been at the vanguard of the organisation. He presided over its institutional growth and, in 1906, established swaraj or self-government as the Congress’ ultimate objective.

Even after ill health forced the octogenarian Naoroji into retirement in 1907, he found it difficult to completely discard the mantle of leadership. Naoroji interrupted periods of convalescence at his bungalow in Versova, then north of Bombay city, by writing letters to colonial officials in London, haranguing them for the “evil of the present system” of government in India. And, shortly after his 90th birthday in 1915, he caused panic amongst his friends, family members, and caregivers by agreeing to a request by Annie Besant – the British theosophist and champion of the home rule movement in India ­– that he take on the responsibilities of being president of her Home Rule League.

Obscure figures in public memory

Naoroji’s death in 1917 marked the definitive close of a chapter in the history of the Congress and Indian nationalism. In place of the moderate, constitutionalist approach that had been championed by early Congress stalwarts, a new generation of leaders adopted steadily more confrontationist tactics against British authorities. Indeed, in newspaper columns from 100 years ago, obituaries for the Grand Old Man jostled for space alongside coverage of the government’s internment of Besant, arrested on the grounds of “public safety”. Gandhi, meanwhile, took a brief pause from his first Indian satyagraha to organise a condolence meeting for Naoroji amidst the indigo fields of Champaran in Bihar.

Besant and Gandhi were quick to recognise the towering legacy of Naoroji and other members of the early nationalist generation. But the tide of opinion swiftly turned. By the mid-20th century, many scholars and commentators were describing early nationalists as colonial “collaborators”. The early Congress was derided as nothing more than an elite debating club. These are quite unfair characterisations.

Nevertheless, most early nationalists have today become obscure figures who hardly figure in public memory. Nothing – not even a gentle reminder from a senior historian of the nationalist movement – could rouse the modern Congress party to remember its founder, Allan Octavian Hume, in 2012, a hundred years after his death. Anniversaries for pioneering nationalist leaders Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Pherozeshah Mehta, who died months apart in 1915, elicited barely a whimper from the government or the public at large two years ago.

Independence movement pioneers Gopal Krishna Gokhale (left) and Mahadev Govind Ranade.
Independence movement pioneers Gopal Krishna Gokhale (left) and Mahadev Govind Ranade.

This is unfortunate. Early nationalism was an absolutely foundational moment for the modern Indian nation – and, in the current hyper-nationalist political climate, it would be good to reflect on its leaders’ legacies.

These leaders developed many of the ideas that continue to animate Indian politics. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Naoroji and his peers identified the alleviation of poverty as the central challenge for the state, affirmed their commitment to a pluralist democratic political structure, and steadfastly warned against communal and majoritarian instincts. They established solid alliances with socialists, anti-imperialists, and political reformers around the world.

India’s culture of commemoration

All of this begs the question: how should Naoroji and his fellow early nationalists be commemorated? On June 30, statues of Naoroji will be garlanded and a few homilies and paeans to him will be offered at public events. These activities serve a certain purpose, but they fail to offer proper commemoration.

India’s culture of public commemoration remains strangely Victorian. This is due, in part, to the lasting influence of the Scottish intellectual Thomas Carlyle, whose 1840 work on hero-worship gained wide currency across the British Empire. Hero-worship was “submissive admiration for the truly great”, Carlyle lectured. It was “the transcendent admiration of a Great Man”. Carlyle was against the objective analysis of such heroes: “critics of small vision”, he averred, must not be allowed to dim their glory or interfere in their veneration.

In many ways, public commemoration in India still seems beholden to Carlyle’s dictums. Deceased leaders are deified and a web of hagiography is spun around them. Statues are cast in heroic poses – indeed, India has recently embraced the philosophy that truly heroic leaders deserve super-tall concrete behemoths. Contemporary political figures eulogise their greatness. Consequently, we lose track of what really made these leaders important: their ideas. Bereft of any reference to their ideas and philosophies, effusive praise eventually loses its resonance and the hero is duly forgotten.

In place of statue building, chowk renaming, and other such token efforts at commemoration of past leaders, it would be much more meaningful to advance their ideas. This is especially the case for early nationalists, who contributed to a particularly fertile period of intellectual development in India.

To cite one example, early nationalists were united in their desire to promote high-quality mass education, an objective that modern India is still struggling to achieve. Naoroji, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, and Mahadev Govind Ranade, an important economic thinker and leader of the Congress, all began their careers as college professors. The Grand Old Man, who in his youth opened some of Bombay’s first schools for girls, was a tireless advocate for the spread of learning. As early as 1871, he demanded that the British administration in India institute a “comprehensive plan of national education”.

Many years later, Pherozeshah Mehta, shocked that the Bombay Presidency’s director of public instruction had declared 85% of Indians “beyond the pale of education”, railed against the government’s indifference towards the intellectual development of its subjects. Gokhale, meanwhile, regarded educational policy to be “one of the greatest blots” of British rule. In 1911, he authored a bill to introduce a policy of compulsory primary education in India – which, of course, the British government rejected.

If the government and public at large are truly interested in commemorating Naoroji and other early nationalist leaders, then something in the educational sector – further reforms and training to improve instructional quality, stricter public school accountability, scholarships, or institution building – would be an appropriate monument. Such programs would keep alive the legacy of early nationalism. After all, one has only to consult Carlyle’s contemporary, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, to remember the ultimate fate of massive statues:

“Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

— Ozymandias

Prof. Kaikhosrov Irani passes away

Zoroastrian Association of Greater New York (ZAGNY) announces with great sorrow that our beloved Prof. Kaikhosrov Irani (KD and Keku to his associates and close friends) passed away on June 29, 2017 at the age of 95.

Condolences may be sent to his niece Zarine Weil, and Zarine’s son Darius Weil,

At Prof. Irani’s request the funeral will be very simple and private, ZAGNY will have a memorial meeting at the Dar-e-Mehr, the date and time will be announced shortly.


By Dr. Lovji Cama


Kaikhosrov Dinshah Irani, born on May 1, 1922 in Bombay, India, was the eldest son of Dinshah Jijibhoy Irani and Banu Mithibai Sethna. He graduated from St. Xavier’s College in Bombay and obtaining a Law Degree from Bombay University. He met his future wife Piroja who was a fellow clerk in the law firm where they worked. He came to the United States and worked on the Manhattan Project at the Univ. of Chicago and then at the Princeton Institute of Physics, where he had the opportunity to have many interactions with Albert Einstein. So impressed was Einstein with him that he wrote a letter of recommendation for a teaching position in Philosophy at City College in New York which helped him to obtain the position. He returned to Bombay to marry Piroja.

Prof. Irani became Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York, after teaching there for 41 years. He was Chairman of the Department for nine years; and the Director, and Executive Director of the Program for the History and Philosophy of Science and was responsible for the development of the Program and its execution and teaching. He was also the Director of the Academy of Humanities and Sciences for 12 Years. He retired from teaching at the age of 90 and had a teaching record at City University in New York for 60 years. Here is a quote from one of his students: “Irani is an amazing professor; knows almost every major figure alive during his incredibly long lifetime; is lucid, precise, w/ fantastic memory. Be prepared for old, European pre-war teaching style. Take the class to learn, not to get a grade; he will not grade your work at all, but will give you a final grade from the gestalt or your performance.”

Among the awards he received, are: The City College citation for distinguished teaching in 1960, the Outstanding Teachers Award in 1984, the Award of the Society of Indian Academics in America in 1991, for service to the cause of Education. He also received the award for service to the cause of Zoroastrianism from the World Zoroastrian Organization in 1991. The Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America Lifetime Achievement Award, 1994. One of his greatest honors was the establishment of the K D. Irani Chair of Philosophy, at The City College of New York, through an anonymous contribution of $2,000,000, by one of his students in 1999.

His original field of teaching and research, was Philosophy of Science. Prof. Irani was one of those rare individuals whose unique background and interests allowed him to understand the works of both Albert Einstein and Emanuel Kant and to successfully apply this kind of knowledge to his chosen field of the Philosophy of Science. In the last thirty years he worked in the area of History and Philosophy of Ancient Thought — Religious, Moral, Mythic, and Technological. He was a contributor on the Seminar for Ancient Ethics, presenting a paper on the Dawn of Conscience. He applied these philosophical analyses to Zoroastrian Scriptures. His original analysis of forms of religiosity was applied to Zoroastrianism and the Indo-Iranian religions and the work was published in the K. R. Cama Oriental Institute Journal (1986) as part of the Government Fellowship Lectures in Bombay in 1981.

Prof Irani arrived in New York in 1947, long before ZAGNY. Over the long years of his association with ZAGNY and indeed the entire North American Zoroastrian community, he was our teacher and advisor and made us think what Zarathushtra really meant by our belief in Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds. His wisdom and guidance benefited us all. His lectures on Zoroastrianism and Philosophy instructed and guided us to be good Zarthushtis. His standing within academia helped with the recognition of the Zarathushti religion in North America.

As a philosopher one may have expected him to be an ivory tower type. Far from this, he as a true Zoroastrian, involved himself in the life of the community. During 1993-95 Prof. Irani served as the President of ZAGNY and was on numerous Boards of ZAGNY. He arranged seminars and conferences under the ZAGNY umbrella. He also arranged the first and second Gatha Conferences held in the UK and Los Angeles and the first Yasht Conference in New Rochelle, NY. From the time of the inception of the Arbab Rustam Guiv Dar-e- Mehr in New York, Prof. Irani conducted classes for adults on the subject of Zoroastrianism. His common sense and ethical approach to problems helped him shed light on many complex problems that arise within the North American Zoroastrian community.

He has given lectures on Zoroastrianism throughout North America, Europe, India and Pakistan. His knowledge of Zoroastrianism, especially the Gathas, his wit and sense of humor, and his ability to fit the subject of Zoroastrianism in the broader field of Philosophy makes him an engaging speaker and a great teacher. Prof. Irani is a person of great honesty and integrity, he has a firm belief in the teachings of Zarathushtra and was dedicated to these teachings. He had often trouble reconciling the social practices of Zoroastrianism when they were in conflict with these teachings.

Prof. Irani’s academic standing and respect gave him the ability to successfully represent and explain Zoroastrianism convincingly at many interfaith meetings. He was a unique treasure to the Zoroastrian community. His connections into the academic world provided the community access to some of the best minds who work in the field of religion and Zoroastrianism in particular. We were indeed fortunate to have amidst us this great philosopher, teacher and friend of our community and one of its finest members.

Courtesy :  FEZANA

Ardeshir Godrej

This Man Laid the Foundation of a Billion-Dollar Made-In-India Business Empire in Colonial Times

Ardeshir Burjorji Sorabji Godrej, who founded the company 120 years ago, was a man of high principles and resilience.


Image source: Godrej Archives

Born in 1868, Ardeshir was the oldest of six children in a Parsi-Zoroastrian family in Bombay (as Mumbai was then called). His father Burjorji Gootherajee changed the family name to Godrej when Ardeshir was around three years old.

Ardeshir studied law, like many other Indians from affluent families, during the British reign. However, his career in law was short-lived as Adi Godrej, the company’s present CEO, narrates in Peter Church’s book Profiles in Enterprise: Inspiring Stories of Indian Business Leaders.

“Fresh from law school he (Ardeshir) was given a brief in 1894 by a firm of Bombay Solicitors to go to Zanzibar to argue a case for their client. The case was going well until Ardeshir discovered that he would need to lie or, more charitably, manipulate the truth to present his client’s case. He refused to do this and no amount of persuasion by the solicitors or the client could convince him to change his principled stance.”

He came back to India standing his ground, but his career in law was doomed even before it had started. Church’s book mentions that he firmly believed that India had to become self-reliant. Having followed his disastrous start in law with an assistant’s job in a chemist shop, he became interested in manufacturing surgical instruments.

His first business — surgical instruments — did not do well, but Ardeshir was determined to continue a manufacturing business in India. He received a loan from Merwanji Cama, Parsi businessman and philanthropist, to start a new lock-making business.

The lock business marked the true start of the Godrej empire as we know today.


Image source: Godrej

Ardeshir began in a shed on May 7, 1897. His locks were cheaper than those imported from England — even better, he had discovered that foreign-made locks came with an inbuilt spring that often broke down. His locks came without this feature and sold far better in the market.

As his business flourished, Ardeshir expanded into manufacturing safes, and patented his door frame and double-plate doors. His affordably-priced safes became so popular that even the Queen of England used one during her tour of India in 1912, recounts an article in The Hindu. Godrej safes remain an iconic item till date.

He moved on next to create Godrej soaps — crafting soaps out of vegetable oils instead of animal fat. These were the world’s first vegetable soaps.

Despite being a marked departure from locks and safes, the business was a hit with that era’s version of celebrity approvals in the form of endorsements by Rabindranath Tagore and Annie Besant. Ardeshir  taught people how to make the soap as well, with a Gujarati pamphlet titled ‘Vacho ane Seekho’ (Read and learn).

His younger brother Pirojsha also joined the business, his only sibling to do so, and together they came to be known as the Godrej Brothers.

Adi Godrej, who is Pirojsha’s grandson, remembers in Church’s book, “Ardeshir was never content at succeeding at one thing and constantly sought more challenges in diverse areas such as inks, toffee, perfume making, biscuits and even vineyards. Many of these ventures did not succeed in his lifetime but those that did made a mark.”

Even as his business flourished, Ardeshir lived simply for most of his life. In the book Vijitatma: Founder-Pioneer Ardeshir Godrej, journalist and author BK Karanjia mentions how he insisted on using public transport and “the sight of him patiently waiting at bus stops, engrossed in reading a newspaper or a book, created a lot of talk in the community.” His personal life was marked by tragedy as his wife Bachubai died early, leaving no children.

Yet, Ardeshir remained resolute in establishing a made-in-India business organisation. A follower of Dadabhai Naoroji, he believed that it was important for India to not simply reject foreign-made goods, but have its own industries with high-quality manufacturing processes. An avid nationalist — though known for his differences in opinion with Gandhi — he once donated Rs 3 lakh to the Tilak Swaraj fund, according to Karanjia.

Ardeshir passed away in January 1936, a year when Godrej & Boyce posted Rs 12 lakh as revenue and Godrej soaps reported ₹6 lakh worth of revenue. The quiet man laid the foundations of what has today grown into one of the country’s most reputed industries with investments across the world.

February 14, 2017

Vice Admiral Rusi Khushro Shapoorjee Gandhi

A walk down memory lane…rusi-08afa374-c70a-4b2d-97f9-b276c673464a


Vice Admiral Rustom “Rusi” Khushro Shapoorjee Ghandhi, PVSM, Vr.C., I.N. Ret. (1 July 1924 – 23 December 2014) was an Indian Navy Admiral.

He remains the ONLY OFFICER to have commanded ships in all naval wars fought by India:
– the 1961 war to annex Goa as Commander of the INS Betwa,
– the 1965 war with Pakistan as Commander of the 14th frigate squadron and Captain of the INS Khukri and
– the 1971 war with Pakistan to create Bangladesh when he commanded the INS Mysore, the flagship of the Western Naval Fleet.

Rustom Ghandhi served with Lord Louis Mountbatten from 1947-1948, and was his Aide-de-camp when Mountbatten was the last Viceroy of India. Ghandhi was present with Mountbatten at Viceroy’s House on 15 August 1947 when India’s independence was declared.

Vice Admiral Ghandhi was awarded the Vir Chakra for conspicuous gallantry for his role in the 1971 war with Pakistan.

Upon retirement from the IN, Vice Admiral Ghandhi enjoyed a short stint as technical consultant for the motion picture The Sea Wolves, and played a cameo role as the Governor of Goa in it.
He was appointed Chairman of the Shipping Corporation of India in 1981 and served in that capacity until 1986.
From April 1986 to February 1990, while Rajiv Gandhi was Premier of India, Vice Admiral Ghandhi served as Governor of the State of Himachal Pradesh, residing with Mrs. Ghandhi at Raj Bhavan in Shimla.
During this period, Vice Admiral Ghandhi was awarded the Param Visishti Seva Medal PVSM for meritorious service of the highest order.

Vice Admiral Rustom Khushro Shapoorjee Ghandhi, nicknamed RKS or simply called Rusi, wished to return to the sea which had given him so much.
He jested: “I enjoyed fish all my life; now let the fish enjoy me.”

Admiral Ghandhi died peacefully in his home in Navy Nagar of Colaba, Mumbai on 23 December 2014, aged 90, and was buried in the Arabian Sea on 27 December 2014 from INS Vipul.

4 days after his passing away on December 23, 2014 at age 90, his immediate family and a few friends sailed from Lion Gate on INS Vipul, 40 miles into the Arabian Sea. The Navy acknowledged him with three rounds of gunfire when white uniformed officers stood at attention, the Last Post played. With synchronized precision the naval pall bearers carried the nailed coffin and then slid it into the sea and Ghandhi went into the waters forever.

Characteristically unconventional, Ghandhi was the first naval officer to return to the ocean and the Navy had to do research as a precedent was created.

They don’t make ’em like you any more Sir…but you will live on in the hearts of so many you touched with your personality extraordinaire.

Salute to this Hero! He rests in comfort of the very waters, he once protected. Rest In Peace Sir.