Courtesy : Jehangir Bisney
A new biography on eminent jurist Nani Palkhivala was launched by the former Chief Justice of India in Mumbai on 16 January 2017. Justice R M Lodha released Nani Palkhivala – God’s Gift to India (Biography by a friend), a new book by economist and author Dr Dharmendra Bhandari, at the Cricket Club of India (CCI). The date also marked the 97th birth anniversary celebration of Palkhivala, who was hailed as the ‘conscience-keeper of the nation’.
“Nani Palkhivala was a man born once in centuries,” said Justice Lodha addressing the audience. “The first time I saw him in action was in 1969, when he was fighting the case of bank nationalisation against the Government of India. I recognised his eloquence was laced with courtesy, civility, dignity and submissiveness, while in the attorney general of India’s eloquence was arrogance, inflexibility and stubbornness, backed by the might of the government. He is truly one of the best judges the Supreme Court never had.”
For Dr Bhandari, this labour of love is a tribute to a close friend. He reached out to close friends and relatives of Palkhivala, as well as corporations in which he had left his indelible mark. This helped him source original letters addressed to Palkhivala by distinguished Indians such as C Rajagopalachari, Indira Gandhi, Ratan Tata and Kumar Mangalam Birla among others, as well as photographs. But what stands out is the cartoons by R K Laxman that punctuate the book, judiciously used to complement Nani’s point of view.
Furthermore, Palkhivala’s iconic Budget speeches, delivered annually at Brabourne Stadium at CCI, are excerpted in the book. The book also details how Dr Manmohan Singh, architect of economic reforms, incorporated several of Nani’s suggestions made during his speeches. “In fact, he once said the credit for economic reforms, should actually go to Nani. Perhaps if Nani had been the Finance Minister, he would probably have presented the entire Budget extempore in Parliament without referring to the written text!” said Dr Bhandari, addressing the distinguished audience.
The other guests on the panel were Y H Malegam, Chairman of the Nani Palkhivala Memorial Trust, and Jehangir Palkhivala, an eminent Yoga expert and Nani’s nephew.
Palkhivala was an iconic Indian statesman and one of India’s greatest advocates who fought to protect civil liberty and promote free enterprise. The book carefully details cases fought
by Nani, related to vital issues such as Bank Nationalisation, Fundamental Rights, and his passionate fight for the freedom of press during the Emergency of 1975.
Dr Bhandari, a former associate professor at the University of Rajasthan, has also penned the biography, R K Laxman – The Uncommon Man.
Farrokh M Rustomji
Thermax’s Anu Aga and her daughter Meher Pudumjee see philanthropy as much more than writing out cheques for charity
Anu Aga (right) and her daughter Meher Pudumjee. Photo: Dasra
Anu Aga and her daughter Meher Pudumjee, of energy and environment engineering business house Thermax Ltd, are among India’s 100 richest people as per Forbes magazine rankings. The mother and daughter duo sees philanthropy as much more than writing out cheques for charity and personal involvement takes priority for both. In an interview, Aga and Pudumjee talk about how they complement each other—one is the heart and the other the head—when it comes to giving. Edited excerpts:
What does philanthropy mean to you?
Pudumjee: Philanthropy to me is the joy of giving, both in terms of my time and my resources to a cause that I passionately believe in.
Aga: And it’s different from CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), which is now mandatory for corporates to give. So if my company gives hundreds of crores, it’s still not philanthropy, it’s CSR. I would like to make that difference.
If I were to take you back a little in your journey, when and why did you first decide to give?
Aga: When I was in college, I didn’t have money to give but I gave a lot of my time for the social service league at St Xavier’s College. And then later in life, I lost my son in a car accident at the age of 25. He had spent eight years abroad and felt that we were very insensitive to the poverty around us. And he said, unless as a family we give 90% to social causes, he will go away to England. I hate taking a decision at gunpoint, so I told him “Go! I don’t want you to tell me what I should do”. Then, of course, my daughter and son-in-law got involved and he said, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to be aggressive and say what percentage, but what I mean is start giving substantially.” And we started in a small way. (It was) only after the company went public 20 years ago that we had money in hand. It was only in the last five-six years that we decided that 30% of our personal wealth dividend income will go towards philanthropy.
What have been the lessons learnt, big surprises, big disappointments, highs or lows?
Pudumjee: In the last five years, I am amazed to see how many youngsters are involved with this whole sense of idealism, giving of their time—just look at Teach For India!
Aga: And though by definition, philanthropy is giving your money, I think if you give your life and your time, I would call that also a form of philanthropy. Earlier, I used to give impulsively, not go into too much asking what the cause was, how they were going to do the work, but ever since my daughter partnered with me, she asks the hard questions and we’ve never gone wrong. So it’s a good combination.
What is your approach to and model of giving?
Aga: From our personal wealth, we would like to find credible NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and support them not just by writing out cheques, but getting involved with them in long-term planning in many areas.
Pudumjee: We like to fund NGOs rather than do it directly.
How do you think you complement each other and how are you different?
Pudumjee: I think mum and I are very complementary in the sense that she does a lot from the heart, I do more from the head. So I think the combination is really very effective in looking at causes, looking at impact, looking at strategy, doing things differently but trying to bring it together towards a particular outcome.
Aga: For me, human rights is very important. Again in a small way, we help there. Meher is very good at finance. I hate finance. So if there’s anything related to figures, I say Meher, you look after it. I think I helped Meher to be a little more trusting.
What would your advice to aspiring philanthropists be?
Pudumjee: For people who have the funds but don’t know where to invest them, I would say don’t do it on your own. Try and find a good, credible NGO that you trust, that you know other people are working with, that is making an impact. There are so many NGOs doing really good work that are very professionally run, but it is very difficult for them to find funders. And I would really urge more and more people to come together, because there are some people who can give money, a cheque, some people who can give time but less of money, and I think all the combinations are required to take things off the ground. And if I can just give one example of a platform called Social Venture Partners which started in Pune a couple of years ago. You give a minimum of Rs2 lakh to join. In Pune, we are 45 partners that have come together. We pool in all the money and we have a grants committee who then chooses which NGOs to support. The NGOs make a presentation to all the partners. Initially I was very sceptical but I think it’s such a wonderful way to get more and more people to come together and give their time and a little bit of money, and then see the cause grow.
Aga: My advice to people who are seeking a cause is to check out different causes and see what they are drawn to. It’s no use giving to a credible NGO for a cause you don’t feel passionate about.
What according to you should philanthropy work towards in the next 10 years and what will get us there?
Pudumjee: I think there is no dearth of causes in India that require funds. My only fear is that it shouldn’t be a little bit here, a little bit there. We really need to look at scale, in whichever way. It doesn’t have to be scale in terms of huge amounts, but it has to be scale in terms of impact and sustainable impact.
Aga: I would be a little more specific and say I am ashamed that after 70 years of independence and with our GDP (gross domestic product) growing in the last few years, we haven’t solved the malnourishment problem. Second is education. Look at the quality of our education. We love to be ostriches and not face the problem that the quality of education is bad. If we educate people but they can’t get jobs, there will be chaos. We all have to realize that business cannot survive in a society that fails.
This interview is a part of the India Philanthropy Series, a joint initiative between Dasra, a strategic philanthropy foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This series which will be launched in 2017 will showcase through videos and a report, the philanthropic journeys of some of the most generous, strategic and innovative philanthropists in India.
DaanUtsav or The Joy of Giving Week started on 2 October. In a four-part series, Mint examines the changes and developments in the sector, speaks to philanthropists and discusses how and why they give. We also look at how donations, even small ones, have the potential to change lives.
And guess what – 18 of the 68 are Parsis! A microscopic minority becomes a majority when it comes to relevance and performance!
Pakistan is a nation of over 180 million people, both Muslims and non-Muslims. Often times, we tend to put emphasis on Muslims who made Pakistan proud. There’s no denying the contribution of Muslims to the cause of Pakistan, however, it’s time we celebrated the folks who represent the white stripe on our flag.
Ardeshir Cowasjee is a leading philanthropist, businessman and columnist based in Karachi. He is theChairman of Cowasjee Group and is engaged in philanthropic activities apart from being regarded as an old‘guardian’ of the city of Karachi.
Deena M. Mistri was an educationist from Pakistan. She started teaching English to the secondary classes at the B.V.S. in 1951. She was the first lady teacher to teach the secondary classes during those days. Mrs. Deena M. Mistri served the Bai Virbaijee Soparivala Parsi High School for 55 years.
Byram Dinshawji Avari is a prominent Pakistani businessman and twice Asian Games gold medalist. Together with his sons, Dinshaw and Xerxes, he owns and operates the Avari Group of companies, of which he is the chairman.
Aban Marker Kabraji, Pakistan’s leading environmentalist, is working as Regional Director IUCN, World Conservation Union. In this position, she is overseeing IUCN in 23 countries of the region.
Bapsi Sidhwa is a renowned novelist and published author of Pakistani origin who writes in English and is resident in America. She has previously taught at the University of Houston, Rice University, Columbia University, Mount Holyoke College, and Brandeis University.
Jamshed Nusserwanjee Mehta was the first elected Mayor of Karachi and remembered as the “Maker of Modern Karachi”.
Jamsheed Kaikobad Ardeshir Marker, Hilal-e-Imtiaz is a veteran Pakistani diplomat. He is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having been ambassador to more countries than any other person. He speaks English, Urdu, Gujarati, French, German, Russian and was Pakistan’s top envoy to the United States and more than a dozen other countries for more than three decades.
Minocher Bhandara, was a Pakistani businessman, minority representative and member of the National Assembly. He was the architect and owner of one of the most successful and durable business conglomerates in Pakistan. Amongst his companies was the Murree Brewery, which his father had bought controlling share of in during the 1940s.
Justice Rustam Sohrabji Sidhwa was a former judge on the Supreme Court of Pakistan as well as one of the original eleven judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Justice Dorab Framrose Patel was a Pakistan jurist, and lawmaker who served as a former senior judge of Supreme Court of Pakistan and former Chief Justice of Sindh High Court. Justice Patel was a prominent campaigner for the human rights, the founding member of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in 1987 and the co-founder of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
Jimmy Engineer is an internationally acclaimed artist and humanitarian who has exhibited his work across the globe. He uses his art to promote the message of peace and tolerance while at the same time spreading a positive image of Pakistan. A recipient of Sitara-e-Hilal, Pakistan’s third highest civilian honor for his outstanding contributions to art and charitable causes, Jimmy continues his passion for making this world a better place through his artistic and humanitarian initiatives.
Perin Cooper Boga is a veteran of theatre in Pakistan. Her association with Kinnaird College Lahore, where she nurtured theatre, drama and dance, spans over half a century. The college produced many prominent theatre and drama practitioners including Yasmin Tahir, Madiha Gauhar, Shamim Hilaly, Naveed Shehzad, Muneeza Hashmi etc. As an acknowledgment of her services, Kinnaird College named its amphitheatre after Perin Boga.
Dr Faridoon Sethna is one of the most respected and eminent gynecologists in Pakistan currently serving as Chair and Medical Director of Concept Fertility Centre. He’s served as Medical Superintendent of Lady Dufferin Hospital Lyari for a number of years. Among his many patients was former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Mani Sheriar Contractor was a prominent educationist who served at Karachi’s Mama Parsi School for over five decades. Her tenure at the school lasted from 1936-91, where her last 17 years were spent as Principal of the school. Her countless students spread all across the world remember her fondly for her total devotion to education, learning and character-building.
Renowned dancer Emmy Minwala was introduced as a dancer by M.J. Rana in Sabiha-Santosh starrer Sohni (1955). The film had lilting music by Feroze Nizami. Later, Emmy dances became the necessary ingredients of many Pakistani Films and she along with other dancers including Rakshi, Neelo, and Panna dominated the Pakistani film scene for nearly 2 decades.
Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata on why poverty alleviation is key to his philanthropy and why access to natural resources is important to improve lives
Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata. Photo: Reuters
Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons Ltd, served as chairman of the Tata group from 1991 till 2012. He continues to head the group’s charitable trusts. The group’s philanthropic initiatives are wide ranging and have evolved with the changing economic conditions of the country. Starting with building institutions of repute to hospitals, to research facilities for the socioeconomic integration of the marginalized communities, the group’s social engagement has been moulded and influenced by the family values of the Tatas. He talks about why poverty alleviation is key to his philanthropy, how his grandmother influenced him about how to stimulate the wealthy to give more, why access to natural resources is important to improve lives and the India Philanthropy Initiative. Edited excerpts from an interview conducted by Bridgespan in partnership with Mint:
How did you start your philanthropic journey?
I grew up in a family that was driven by philanthropy. My grandmother with whom we spent a great deal of time—she brought us up because my parents were separated—influenced me. We were steeped into philanthropy, whether it would be for the household staff or the person on the street. She was in fact for a period of time, the chairperson of the Sir Ratan Tata Trust. We grew up in that aura of giving back to the people or alleviating misery if we could. Formally I became involved with philanthropy when I became a trustee of the Sir Ratan Tata Trust.
Were there people or incidents or experiences that you used to inform your approach to philanthropy, the formal version of it?
As a young man growing up, it was the environment that I spoke of, which set the pace and the tone of my journey of how one makes contributions to make a difference.
How is the Sir Ratan Tata Trust changing from its old avatar?
We look at our trusts collectively. The bigger ones undertook projects of philanthropy which were very far reaching in those days, be it a cancer hospital or a hotel that would be open to Indians or donations in the interest of tuberculosis. My grandmother gave away all the homes she and her husband had all over India so that sanatoriums for consumptive people, who needed to be isolated, could be made or old people’s homes could be set up. And then a fair amount of philanthropy was in the form of alleviating individual hardships, such as funds for treatment or surgery. We give much more than we did in those days but we are trying to be relevant. We are trying to participate in research for cancer, for diabetes, getting institutes in place to make the treatments affordable and reachable to the common man, looking at agricultural inputs that alleviate poverty in a rural community.
What has led to this shift broadly?
I can’t say that there was a motivator that was defined. For example, one of the big changes has been combating malnutrition today among infants. Just the fact that we are losing so many children in India at infancy. It took only a few weeks of research to realize that we couldn’t do that without involving the mother, who is also malnutritioned. We also found out very fast that we couldn’t really do much unless we focused on hygiene and sanitation. It become a holistic activity. We undertook pilot projects in eight districts across multiple states to work out the systems for this and it’s been a real eye-opener. We have received tremendous support from the state government whom we were working with.
Any advice for a philanthropist thinking about doing problem solving?
The only advice I would give is there is a lot of money that is probably less effectively used or employed because someone has not done enough research on what the problems are. One of the changes we made is that we are no longer a purely grant-giving philanthropic organization. We moved from there into being involved ourselves in some of the projects that we have, we manage them ourselves or jointly with an NGO (non-governmental organization) but not only through an NGO.
In the past, we would support an NGO for eight years or 10 years and then move those funds and allocate in another place. You would assume that this community by now would be self-sustaining. But when you withdrew your funds, the NGO collapsed, the community collapsed and you become the most hated person or hated organization there is. Sustainability in development has been a new call and we realize that communities don’t need handouts—they need prosperity and dignity. So our grants today, wherever we give them, put sustainability as one of the mileposts. I mean as far as possible, the idea is to make the community self-sustaining and have the dignity which I think everybody wants.
How do you measure your success ?
I think to a great extent it is about trying to establish and understanding what the real problems are. You have got to define your goals effectively.
What characterizes a professionalized NGO?
I can’t answer that particularly but sometimes it’s not scale. Very often an NGO tends to forget the traditional outlooks of a community and ignore it, so that what they try to do—however well intentioned—doesn’t work.
What is your assessment of the current state of CSR (corporate social responsibility) in India? And what needs to be done to improve it?
I have a sort of philosophical view. The CSR funds have to come from somewhere. I think there would be a fair amount of abuse of these funds and the government will have to do some regulation to make sure that these are effectively used. It would not be a bad thing if the government had defined X number of causes to which you can officially give these funds, which would work for rural prosperity. I think even if large projects, a public works projects, were funded in this way, there is nothing wrong in that but the government may have to define what they are. CSR could become an avenue for innovative thinking on how you can improve the quality of life, and it could be a very powerful tool—or it could be wasted.
How do you see the state of philanthropy in India?
I think the new type of philanthropy that we talked about, that is looking at making donations or making funds available in far-reaching terms, is starting to happen. But a large amount of philanthropy is in the more traditional forms—maybe to build temples or hospitals, not so concerned about what it actually does, but that edifices are created because that establishes that you did A or B or C. I think India has to move like other countries into a more sophisticated form of philanthropy which makes a difference and is designed to make a difference rather than just creating edifices.
Do you have a philosophy of philanthropy?
If I put it into one sentence, I think you really want to be doing things that make a difference. If you cannot make a difference, if it’s just water trickling through a tap or leading through a drainage system, it’s wasteful.
Have you changed because of the philanthropy? How has it affected you?
Yes I think so. I was the chairman of the trust while I was chairman of Tata Sons. I may have chaired the trust but I didn’t spend as much time or have had much depth of involvement as I do today and that’s been an eye-opener. I have become more sensitive to the pain and the suffering that exists. I am more involved with where we should do more and where we should be bolder in terms of the amount of money that we allocate. And it also made me more sensitive to the likely abuse of funds.
The Bridgespan Group, an adviser and resource for mission-driven leaders and organizations, in partnership with Mintinterviewed several philanthropists across India to trace their journeys and share their learnings—Conversations with Remarkable Givers: India.
The first printing press to have got international acclaim was the Union
Press started by Mr. Nanabhai Rustomji Ranina. Mr. Nanabhai Rustomji Ranina
was also the first to print an English to Gujarati and Gujarati to English
The oldest existing newspaper in India, The Bombay Samachar was started
by a Parsi on July 1st., 1822. It changed hands a number of times but has
throughout been Parsi owned, and is currently been managed by the Camas.
Madam Bhikaiji Cama (l86l – 1936) was the first Indian to have conceived
the idea of a National Flag for India, which she designed and unfurled at
the Socialist Congress in Germany in 1907.
Dr. Manek Bejanji Pithawalla was the first Indian to obtain a Doctorate
in Geography in India.
Behramji Sorabji Lalkaka (1880 – 1957) was the first to start a heavy
chemical industry in India. He started the Pioneer Magnesia Works Ltd. In
1915 for the manufacture of Magnesium Chloride, the import of which from
Germany was stopped due to World War I. Magnesium Chloride is used for
sizing in the Textile Industry.
Miss. Amy B. H. J. Rustomji, M.A. (Cantab) was the first and only Asiatic
lady to hold the office of Vice President of the International Federation
for University for Women for the term 1956 – 1959.
The first two Indian Members elected to the Bombay Branch of the Royal
Asiatic Society were both Parsees – Mr. Manekji in 1840 and Mr.
Cursetji Dadabhoy Wadia in 1844.
Mr. Ardeshir Edulji Cama A.C.A. (1879 – 1948) was the first Indian Member
of the Institute of Chartered Accounts in England and Wales in
1908 – the first Indian Chartered Accountant.
Mr. Jamshedji Sorabji Sethna was the first and only Indian Vice Consul
for France in 1905.
Dr. Shiavux Sorabji Banker was the first Indian to be the head of the
Medical Department on a company managed Railway, the B.B.& C.I Railway in
Dr. Muncherji Jamasjee Mistry L.M.& S. was the first Indian to become a
Civil Surgeon in 1887 at Godra in the present Gujarat State.
Mr. Khujesteh Kaikobad Batliwalla was the first Indian to be appointed
Chief Inspector of Boilers and Factories in U.P. in 1939.
Col. Dhunjishah Naoroji Parakh was the first Indian to be appointed
Professor of Midwifery in the Grant Medical College, Bombay in 1888. He was
also the second Indian to pass the I.M.S. Examination, the first being his
uncle, Surgeon Major Rustomji Behramji who took his commission in 1875
direct from the hands of Queen Victoria.
Mr. Charag Jehangir Mistry, F.R.H.S. was the first Indian to be Grand
Secretary of the Grand Lodge of all Scottish Freemasonary in India.
Capt. Miss. Pheroza S. Davar, M.B.B.S., I.M.S., was the first Indian
Army Lady Doctor commissioned in 1942.
Miss. Shirin Jal Virjee was the first Indian lady to receive the Diploma
in Sculpture in 1941 from the Royal College of Arts, London.
Mr. Sorabji Cawasji Kharas (1821 – 1875) was the first Indian to go as a
businessman to Aden in 1839.
Mr. Burjor Sorabji Kharas (1831 – 1875) was the first Indian Consul for
the U. S. A. in Aden during 1869 – 1875.
Mr. Pherozshah Nasarvanji Daroowalla was the first Indian to have passed
the examination of Doctors of Law from the London University in 1913.
Khan Saheb Kekobad Navroji Mody was the first Indian to become Supdt. Of
Railway Police on the B.B.& C.I. Railways in 1870.
Mr. Cawasji Dhunjibhoy Mahaluxmiwalla (1863 – 1950) was the first Indian
to be made Superintendent of a public garden, Maharajbagh, at Nagpur in
1885, and the Victoria Gardens in Bombay in 1892.
The first Indian Cricket Team to visit England in 1886 was composed
entirely of Parsees, and was captained by Dr. Dhunjishaw Hirjibhai Patel,
who can very well be called the First Indian Cricket Captain.
Mr. Naoroji Dadabhai Katrak was the first Indian to be appointed Chief
Engineer of the Bombay Improvement Trust in 1925.
Mr. Cursetjee Maneckshah Cursetjee (1847 – 1935) was the first Indian to
be admitted as an under-graduate at Oxford in 1864.
The first three men to circumvent the earth on bycycles were all Parsees
– Adi Hakim, Rustom Bhumgara and Jal Bapasola – 1928.
The only instance of all three brothers winning the D.F.C. – the
Engineer brothers – in World War II was Parsees. Aspy, (retired as Free
India’s second Air Chief), Minoo, with a P.V.S.M., and M.V.C. and a Padma
Bhushan, retired as an Air Marshall – probably the highest decorated officer
then in the Indian Armed Forces, and Pesi who left the I.A.F. to freelance.
And yet a fourth brother had joined the Army and served through World War
The first three Indians to have sat in the British House of Commons were
Dr. Dadabhoy Naoroji, Sir Muncherji Bhawnargree and Sir Shapurji
The first Iron and Steel Works in India, the Tata Iron and Steel Company
was started by Mr. Jamshedji N. Tata in Jamshedpur in 1907.
The first Cotton Mill in India, The Bombay Spinning and Weaving Co., was
started in Bombay by Mr. Kavasji Nanabhoy Davar in 1854.
The first Indian to be made a Baronet was Sir Dinshaw Petit. The title
was conferred on him by Queen Victoria in 1890.
The Parsees are the only community to have produced Chiefs of all three
armed forces – Air Marshall Aspi Engineer, Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw and
Admiral Jal Cursetjee.
Khushru F. Rustomji, the doyen of Indian Policeman, raised and commanded
the BSF during the 1971 operations.
India’s first ever, and singularly successful, time urgent response,
international intervention operation involving all the three services was
led by Brig. Bulsara in the Republic of Maldives, November 1988.
The first Indian to be made a Field Marshall was Gen. Sam H. F. J.
Manekshaw in 1972.
The first Chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission was Dr.
Homi Bhabha, an eminent Nuclear Scientist.
Yezdyar S. Kaoosji
Boman Irani gets candid discussing Parsis and Entertainment, while interacting with an audience in Delhi during the Parzor Cultural Events supported by Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla.
During the course of her PhD researches on Blake and Zoroastrianism, she worked at the British Museum and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London under the guidance of Prof. Mary Boyce and Dr. Kathleen Raine. She has been teaching at Delhi University since 1983.
She writes for academic journals and magazines and has been a Resource Person for the Centre for Professional Development in Higher Education, giving lectures at various Universities under this scheme. In 2003 she has co-authored the book Blake, Wordsworth and Coleridge. She has also guided senior scholars in research projects.
From 2006-09, Dr. Cama was the Representative of the Govt. of India for the Navroze Candidature File for the UNESCO award of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Navroze was declared the International Festival of Spring and an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2009 and acknowledged by the UN General Assembly in the same year.
Dr. Cama has also been awarded the UNESCO Power of Creativity award for the revival of Parsi embroidery. The community has honoured her with the Mancherji Edaljee Joshi Memorial Trust “Outstanding Contribution Award” and the Federation of Zoroastrian Anjumans of India “Mazda Education Foundation Award” for Education, Research, Science and Technology.
I have had the dual advantage of a traditional upbringing in Ahmedabad, at my ancestral home, as well as living across the country with my father, who was in the Indian Army. Therefore I see myself as a pan Indian Parsi.
I have been teaching at Delhi University since 1983 and was requested to start the UNESCO Parsi Zoroastrian Project 302 IND 4070 in 1999. This was the time when UNESCO realized the danger of the sharp demographic decline of the Parsis of India and wanted to try and record this ancient culture.
There are several projects in UNESCO Parzor related to:
Creating awareness of India’s multicultural diversity, which is our true treasure.
As I work full time at Delhi University and as well as with Parzor in an honorary capacity, the biggest challenge is finding the time to give my total attention to both. I love my teaching and will not allow any distraction during college time. Hence my day starts very early and goes on for very long. It is difficult to sustain such hard work.
Getting the Government of India to agree both to the Ministry of Minority Affairs, MOMA, Jiyo Parsi Scheme for protecting the numbers and the Everlasting Flame International Programme, 2016 to promote the culture of the Zoroastrians would be amongst my achievements. Discovering William Blake’s relationship with the Zoroastrian world and his signed sketches of Persepolis, is my special academic achievement. Making my neighbourhood protect community dogs is my most enjoyable personal achievement.
I would be teaching and writing both poetry and prose.
My father the late Lt. Gen. Adi Sethna, Padma Bhushan, PVSM, AVSM who was an all round figure. He loved literature, music, gardening and re invented himself from being one of India’s Senior most Army Officers to becoming a community leader for the Parsis as well as protecting Minority Rights across India.
I hope that India and Iran can work more closely and that the Zoroastrians of these two countries as well as those in Central Asia can come together to keep this heritage alive. Personally I look forward to becoming hopefully a grandparent and enjoying having babies around again!
Jiyo Parsi: A Tale of revival – is a documentary which attempts to showcase that the parsi community is needs to realise the need for a balanced life to prosper in an individual’s life as well as a community. The films showcases the importance and need of a family for a fulfilled and happy life.
Google Cultural Institute Partnership Exhibitions and links:
Parzor YouTube Channel