MADAME BHIKHAIJI CAMA 


MADAME BHIKAJI CAMA

An outstanding lady of great courage, fearlessness, integrity and passion for freedom, Madame Bhikhaiji Cama was a pioneer amongst those who worked for the freedom of the country from abroad.  Madame Cama’s intense love for the nation made her sacrifice her family life and work tirelessly for the cause of liberty, equality and fraternity.  Right from her early years, she cultivated a well-defined social outlook and clear political vision.  It was her motto to serve humanity with utmost love and affection and to raise her voice against any exploitation of fellow beings. 

 

 
The portrait of Madame Cama was unveiled by the then Vice-President of India, Dr. Shanker Dayal Sharma on 2 August 1989. 
 
The portrait was donated by the Parsi Pragati Mandal, Surat.
Dear ZTFE Members & Well-wishers
Madame Bhikhaiji Rustom Cama, one of India’s earliest revolutionary fighters for freedom who gave India the first National Flag, was born on 24th September 1861, which was the same month and year the ZTFE was established!
ZTFE archives have a rare black and white photograph of the 45 year old ‘Mother of the Indian Revolution’ Madame Bhikhaiji Cama seated at the top table next to our then president Dr Dadabhai Naoroji, taken at the Criterion Restaurant, Piccadilly Circus, during the Shahenshai Pateti Banquet on 14th September 1906. This photograph also has the Captain Sisters (grand daughters of Naoroji) and the young Indian lawyer practicing in South Africa – Mohandas K Gandhi dressed in a black tuxedo and white tie and is one of two of the oldest photographs in the ZTFE archives.  The other was taken during the Jamsheedi NoRuz Banquet at the Cafe Royal in Regents Street on 21st March 1906.  Both these photos are exhibited in the foyer of the Zoroastrian Centre.
Eleven months after this photograph was taken Madame Cama, following a fiery speech, unfurled the first tricolour flag of Indian Independence with the inspiration of Vande Mataram, dressed in a blue silk kor sari, in front of 1000 delegates including Lenin, at the Second International Socialists Congress in Stuttgart, Germany. This was the first time in the history of the  struggle for Indian Independence that a flag of independent India was unfurled at an international gathering.
During her lifetime, Madame Cama was a popular revolutionary freedom fighter for Indian Independence.  She was known to the IRA and Sinn Fein, to Lenin and the Russians and other European revolutionaries, Egyptian nationalists and Iran constitutionalist. Her movements were constantly monitored by the British and the Indian Secret Services.
Madame Cama was a staunch Zoroastrian and always wore her Sudreh and Kusti. She was known to admonish those Zoroastrians who opted to discard their Sudreh and Kusti. She was also known to carry her copy of her Khordeh Avesta prayer book everywhere in her handbag and was in the habit of constantly repeating the Yatha Ahu Vairyo.
Madame Cama was born into an affluent Zoroastrian Parsi family.  Her father was a well known businessman Sorabji Framji Patel, while her grandfather Framji Nusserwanjee Patel had built a Kadmi Agairy in 1845 on Gunpowder Road, Mazgaon, Bombay. Mazgaon in the mid 19th century was a sought after affluent Parsi locality.
Sadly her end was tragic! Madame Cama was forcefully impoverished by the British authorities who had sequestrated her assets.  She passed away quietly aged 75, unhonoured and unmourned, in the B D Petit Parsee General Hospital on 12th August 1936. Fearing British reprisals because of her revolutionary activities prevented many from befriending her. She had very few visitors at the hospital, noted amongst them was Sir Cowasji Jehangir who had intervened with the British authorities to allow the ailing Madame Cama to return home to Bombay from Paris.  She was consigned to the Towers of Silence on 13th August 1936 and all her after death ceremonies were performed at her family agairy.  Even today, Madame Cama’s name is invoked during the annual Muktad ceremony at the Framji Nusserwanjee Patel on Gunpowder Road, Mazgaon.
Madame Cama was also forgotten in post Independent India. It was because of the All India Women’s Conference paying her homage during her birth centenary in 1961 as; ‘One of India’s earliest revolutionary fighters for freedom who gave India the first National Flag, who had to leave her home, family and land of her birth to be a refugee in foreign countries on account of her Nationalist activities’ and urged the Government of India to take suitable steps to commemorate her memory.  This led to the Greater Bombay Municipal Corporation naming a road after Madame Cama and the Government of India issuing a commemorative stamp on Republic Day 1962. On 2nd August 1989 her portrait, painted by Cumi Dallas, was unveiled by the then Vice President of India, Dr Shanker Dayal Sharma, in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House), Parliament of India. Pasted above is a copy of the portrait with the caption in the parliamentary catalogue.
Friday 12th August 2016 marks her 80th death anniversary! Mr Hemant G Padhya whose family hails from Sanjan is a good friend of the ZTFE, has written a rousing article on Madame Cama commemorating her 80th death anniversary, titled; ‘Forgotten Heroine of India’s Independence Movement: Madame Bhikhaiji Cama’ in the India Link International, August – September 2016 issue, as attached.
Also attached is an article titled; ‘Madame Bhikaiji Rustom Cama: A Builder of Modern India’ by Late Khorshed Adi Sethna, published in ‘Threads of Continuity: Zoroastrianism Life & Culture’.  This compendium was published by her daughter Dr Shernaz Cama of PARZOR for the recent exhibition in New Delhi, ‘Threads of Continuity: Zoroastrianism Life & Culture’, which formed one of the 4 Zoroastrian exhibitions of the Everlasting Flame International Programme.  Khorshed and Lt Gen Adi M Sethna (elder brother of our former trustee Cawas M Sethna) together with the well known Gujarati poet Dr Ratan Marshal of Surat were instrumental in persuading the Government of India in installing the above portrait of Madame Cama in the Indian Houses of Parliament.
Our Ervad Shahibs at the Zoroastrian Centre will invoke the Faravashi (Guardian Spirit) of Madame Bhikaiji Rustom Cama during the muktad prayers on Ahunavad Gatha,Friday 12th August 2016. After the Muktad prayers all the worshipers will be requested to recite one Ashem Vohu Prayer in the memory of Madame Bhikhaiji Rustomji Cama.
May Madame Bhikhaiji Rustom Cama’s soul continue to rest in Garothman Behest.  May her immense self sacrifice for Indian Independence never be forgotten. May her famous quote; “Resistance to Tyranny is obedience to God” continue to inspire countless others to serve humanity and seek independence against all adversity.
Yours sincerely

Three Parsi Stalwarts we lost in last 3 months


 

REMINISCING MEMORIES OF THREE PARSI STALWARTS WE LOST IN LAST THREE MONTHS

 by  DR ZINOBIA MADAN

Dr. Noshir Wadia

Dr. Noshir Wadia

Dadi Engineer

Dadi Engineer

Vada Dasturji Peshotan Mirza

Vada Dasturji Peshotan Mirza

It is hard to believe that we have lost three of our Parsi commuity’s  esteemed  luminaries – internationally acclaimed Neurolgist Dr Noshir Wadia on 10th April 2016, renowned Advocate & Solicitor Mr Dadi Engineer on May 30, 2016 and our very popular and scholastic Vada Dasturji Dr Peshotan Mirza High Priest , Iranshah Udvada  on 26th June, 2016, within a span of three  months.

 

I had the privilege to have known and interacted with each of these outstanding personalities in my lifetime. Each of them were such guiding stars whenever we turned to them for their advise !

 

It saddens me to think that we will always miss their physical presence, but we will always remember them through their noble work and kindness.   They were great as teachers and mentors and amazing professionals with values and core beliefs in their profession. They lived a healthy lifestyle and also encouraged others to live healthily, heartily and happily. They possessed excellent communication skills and were always clear in their heads about what they wanted to accomplish. As leaders, they could relate their vision to others so that everyone working with them would work towards the same goal.

 

These three icons were blessed with life partners who complemented and supported them in every endeavor – Dr Piroja Wadia, elegant & graceful wife of Dr Noshir Wadia and also a Practising Neurophysiologist, Mrs Silloo Engineer,  charming and caring wife of Dadi Engineer and Mrs Mahrukh Mirza, wife of Vada Dasturji Peshotan Mirza, greatly  admired for her dedicated  support to him.

 

 

Dr Noshir Hormusjee Wadia,  one of the most respected Neurologists has been credited for his clinical acumen, excellent care of his patients, remarkable patience in history taking of the patient and putting the patients and his/her relatives at ease while caring.

 

Dr Noshir Wadia did his MD Medicine from Grant Medical College, Mumbai in 1948, ad te and did his MRCP from London. He joined as a Registrar, Neurology to Lord Brain, National Hospital for Nervous Diseases (1952–56), and then joined the London Hospital as a Registrar and Tutor at the Medical School. He came back to India in 1957 and joined his beloved alma mater, Grant Medical College, Mumbai  and Sir J. J. Group of Hospitals where he served as a Honorary Assistant Neurologist,  Lecturer, Honorary Professor and thereafter he headed the Neurology department at Grant Medical College for 25 years till 1982.   On retirement, he joined as a Consultant for Life at the Grant Medical College and Sir J. J. Group of Hospitals, and thereafter in 1973 he joined as the Director, Neurology Department at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre.

 

Prior  to retiring from Jaslok Hospital, the most magnanimous contribution of Dr Noshir Wadia was to set up an extremely committed, well-trained and experienced team  of Neurology Consultants under the esteemed leadership of  Dr Sarosh  Katrak.

Dr Sarosh Katrak, is one of the leading Neurologists  with the longest association with  Dr Noshir Wadia, and is at present Director Neurology Department at Jaslok Hospital.. Of the other leadiing Neurologists trained by Dr Wadia include Dr B S Singhal, and  Dr Mohit Bhatt and Dr Fali Pochha and some others as well.

 

Almost towards the end of his tenure, Dr Noshir Wadia identified   Dr Pettarusp Wadia, a  younger generation Neurologist with super specialization in Movement Disorders from Toronto. Within  a short span of time, with his expertise and empathetic approach towards his patients,  this field of Movement Disorders is increasingly getting  a supespeciality niche status, wherin several patients with Parkinsonism are benefitting by his expertise.

 

At this junture, I would like to mention the noteworthy & significant contributions of the Bharucha family, Dr Eddy Bharucha and Dr Nadir Bharucha to the field of Neurology. They have also carried out an  extensive door to door survey of  Parsis living in Baugs to study the prevalence of Neurological problems in the Parsi community.

 

 

Few people know that besides being an excellent practising  clinician, Dr Wadia had in his lifetime greatly contributed to research. Some of his key research contributions include exploring Neurological manifestions of acute haemorrhagic conjunctivitis due to an Enterovirus E70. For the first time in the world, he described a new form of heredofamilial spinocerebellar degeneration with slow eye movements which was later designated as SCA2. Dr Wadia held a senior position on the Scientific Research Committee. My interactions with him from 1983 onwards as a Research Associate at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre have been very enriching and rewarding.

 

Dr Wadia was a patient listener to all his patients, registrars, and even to his Parsi Secretary at Jaslok Hospital, Veera Lakka, whom he and his wife Piroja helped in everyway till the end of her life.

 

He presented his valuable research insights on  Parkinsonism and Multiple Sclerosis in Zoroastrian women,  at  World Zoroastrian Congress in 2009.

 

He has been regarded as the Father of  Contemporary Neurology and was the recepient of the Padmabhushan Award, by the Government of India.

Mr Dadi Bejonji Engineer, was a senior partner at Crawford Bayley & Co. Mr. Engineer was a Senior Advocate and Solicitor of the Bombay High Court. He had over 40 years of experience in the legal profession and had expertise in various aspects of Corporate Law, Indirect Taxation, Foreign Exchange, Imports, Trade Control Regulations and Civil and Constitutional Law.

 

Mr Dadi  Engineer has been credited as one of the most  renowned  Solicitors of our country and will always be  remembered for his zest for life, his inimitable friendly style, his sense  of humour and his witty approach as an Advocate.

He served as the President of the Bombay Incorporated Law Society and has served on the Governing Council of the Bar Association of India.

 

We will miss his active participation in all important community  related matters and functions. I met Mr Dadi  Engineer for the 1st time in early 80s when he was the President of  the first World Zoroastrian Congress held in Mumbai and I was impressed by his oratory skills, knowledge, love and commitment towards his community  and his overall style of presentation .

 

He had immense faith  in Lord Ahura Mazda, and during Muktad days, he made it point to visit every fire temple in Mumbai along with his wife Silloo.
Our  Vada Dasturji Dr. Peshotan Hormazdyar Mirza, was  our  High Priest of  Iranshah Atashbehram,  Udvada and a Scientist (PhD in Organic Chemisty), professionally.  He was very popular, gentle, kind-hearted, helpful and will always be remembered for his  soft-spoken nature  and his remarkable insights on the subject ,  “Spirituality, Science & Religion.”

I had the privilege of meeting with him for the first time at the Cama Athornan, for their refresher training programme of  Navars, where we both were invited as speakers on the  faculty. He gave extraordinary speeches with great emphasis on Science. I once heard him speaking on Ardibehst Yazad which was truly a great experience !
Much of my interactions with him happened subsequently in 2013, when my daughter Parinaz got married to his nephew Dinyar. Both he and his wife Mahrukh played a major  role in the wedding, starting from explaining to us the significance of each wedding ceremony and how it should be performed, to participating actively in all the wedding functions. The conduct of Dasturji Mirza and Dasturji Kotwal of the wedding prayers in both Avestha Pahalvi and Vedic Sanskrit, was a real blissful lifetime experience !

 

I now summarize my tributes to these three impressive personalities by saying that they have touched countless lives with their knowledge, wisdom, benevolence and their unique charisma.

Our community youth should derive inspiration from these three icons who have been leaders in their respective fields – epitomizing success, excellence and community service. They were true Zoroastians as they believed in a life well lived with strong Zoroastrian principles of  honesty, kindness, forgiveness and benevolence.  Inspite of being from humble backgrounds, they have left a mark worldwide as leaders in their respective fields with hard work, dedication and commitment in every endeavor.

We invoke Holy Fravashis — guiding spirits of immortal souls departed from mortal life — who strove in pursuit of learning and knowledge and achieved excellence in this life as leaders, teachers, mentors and who also strove to inculcate learning and knowledge to their disciples. With reverence, we pay homage to beneficent Fravashis — the guiding spirits of departed souls.

O Ahura Mazda! The Almighty Lord! We bow to Thee in veneration and invocation! We are indebted to Thee! May we reach Thee with good thoughts, good words and good deeds! May their departed souls rest in eternal peace and progress towards Gatothman — the most blissful existence !

May Lord Almighty grant the beloved wives, families and all the dear ones of these pious souls, strength to bear this irreparable loss. May it be so as we pray. Amen!”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DR ZINOBIA MADAN

zinobia

 

Founder & Managing Director, Clinoma  Healthcare

Senior Consultant – Healthcare,  Nutrition, Lifestyle & Wellness for patient care

Senior Consultant Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology & Nutrition  for Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Industry

Served for more than 25 years in the Pharmaceutical industry  as Medical Director – Abbott, Associate Vice President Medical – Wockhardt, & Vice President Medical – Raptakos Brett.

Founder Member, Jiyo Parsi Programme,  launched the programme to the Ministry in Delhi 

Special Invitee & Member Executive Committee- Indoamerican Society

Honoured with “The Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award” & “The Jewel of India Award” as a recognition of her landmark contributions to the Healthcare field and her innovative approach in launching ClinOma Healthcare.

A distinguished healthcare promoter, a successful social scientist, a mentor to many aspiring professionals  and an academician  conferred MAMS by the National Academy of Medical Sciences & FIMSA by International Medical Sciences Academy & FICN by the International College of Nutrition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Memoriam – Dasturji Peshotan Dasturji Hormazdyar Mirza – a gentle and noble soul!


Hello all  friends:

 

As all of you know, our beloved scholar, gentle and noble soul, Iranshah Vada Dasturji Dastur

Dasturji Khurshed Dastur Kekobad Dastoor with Dasturji Peshotan Dastur Hormazdyar Mirza at his investiture in 2004 at Iranshah

Dasturji Khurshed Dastur Kekobad
Dastoor with Dasturji Peshotan Dastur
Hormazdyar Mirza at his investiture in
2004 at Iranshah

Peshotan Dastur Hormazdyar passed away in Mumbai at 12:26 PM Indian time on June 26th 2016, 2:56 AM ESDT, a tremendous loss to his wife Mahrukh, daughter Aban, son Darius, all his family and friends, and personally to me, his student and friend!

 

In our relatively short life span, you meet thousands of people but a very few leave an indelible mark on your soul: and for me, Dasturji Peshotan has left that mark in my heart which will remain there for ever! His noble and gentle soul, his scholarly knowledge of our religion, customs, rituals, prayers, his ever willingness to help me out with many a questions on these subjects, his ready help to find a book on our religion, his generous gift to me of some rare books, I can go on and on, but that was Dasturji Peshotan to me.

 

And yes I never forget his ever present sense of humor with stories of his very mischievous childhood especially in our beloved MF Cama Athornan Institute (MFCAI), his severe reprimands from his dear dad who was our amazing scholar and Iranshah Vada Dasturji Dastur Hormazdyar Dastur Kayoji Mirza, some of his funny stories by his dad, etc..

 

I am lucky to have our MFCAI all student “daftar” (ledger) meticulously kept by our Acting Principal Faramroze Patel and may be our wonderful teacher Kaikhushroo Daruwalla for a total of 608 students from its inception in Jogeshwari on March 22nd 1923 with 36 students to June 1999. I looked for Dasturji Peshotan in it and could not find it. Then I realized that he was admitted as student number 384 Pesi Hormazdyar Mirza on June 11 1954, 3 months after I left MFCAI. According to this ledger, he was ordained as Navar in Iranshah on November 12th 1958 and Martab on March 21st 1960, 5 months before I left India for USA.

 

So I did not know him until much later when I met him in Iranshah in 1990 when for the first time I realize that he was also an ex-MFCAI student. I was there to witness his investiture to the exalted position of Dastur (High-Priest) of Iranshah Atash Behram in Iranshah by Udvada Samast Anjuman on 13th May 2004, after the passing away of his dad Dasturji Hormazdyar Dasturji Kayoji Mirza. (Please see the attached photos).

Dasturji Peshotan Dastur Hormazdyar Mirza with his wife Mahrukh at the Navar Ceremony of Ervad Rehan Darbari in the Jeejeebhoy Dadabhoy Agiary, Colaba

Dasturji Peshotan
Dastur
Hormazdyar Mirza
with his wife
Mahrukh at the
Navar Ceremony
of Ervad Rehan
Darbari in the
Jeejeebhoy
Dadabhoy Agiary,
Colaba

He is the 15th generation of the Sanjana Iranshah lineage of Dasturs from the famous Dastur Bahman Dastur Kaikobad, the author of Kisseh-e-Sanjan poem written in 1600 when Iranshah was in Navsari.

 

The above meetings started a relationship with increasing involvement of mine with Dasturji. He helped me to understand some of our prayers like Sanjana Tandoorasti and its 3 additional parts, the “kha kha, gha gha” prayer we Sanjana Mobeds recite with the Navjotee, meanings of many of our prayers, etc. He also gifted me a copy of the Vernahede book containing explanation of the prayer “kha kha gha gha”. On inquiry about our prayers in Avesta script which I really like to read from, he shared with me Anklesaria Avesta script book of our Aafringaans, Aafrins and Farokshi which I scanned and have it with me.

 

In 2004, I was requested by my good friend Jamshid Zartoshty, Minsk, Belarus, who was the first person to point out to me the Gujarati book of Dr. Ervad J.J. Modi on “My Travels Outside Bombay” which contains some interesting facts about the Atash-Kadeh of Baku, Azerbaijan, described by Sir Modi in this book.

He wanted to have pages 266-276 to be scanned from the book and sent to him for one of his friends.

I took up his request and ask for help of my nephews, Zarir Darbari and Cyrus Dastoor, to find out if we can get hold of this book, and if so, can Zarir scan the above pages from it and send it to me so I can translate and forward them to Jamshid.

As always, Zarir persisted in following up on this request, consulted the newly ordained DastoorjiPeshotan with whom he was working, who approached Dastoorji Kaikhushroo Jamasp Asa, who in turn obtained a copy of the book from a library and loaned it to Zarir.

Zarir then scanned the pages and send them to me which I translated in English and forwarded to Jamshid.

What an International co-operation for Scholarly work! I do have the whole scanned book in Gujarati, thanks to Zarir.

 

I requested to borrow Kangaji’s Yasna-Ba-Maeni and Vendidad-Ba-Maeni and Dasturji and Ramiyar Karanjia right away replied that they have a copy and can loan me when I will be in Mumbai this April-May. At that time, his eye sight was failing and his wonderful dear daughter Aban used to communicate with me for him. Alas when I went to Mumbai he was seriously sick.

 

On my first day in Mumbai, April 14th, I went with my nephew Kurush Dastoor to see Dasturji. He was bed ridden and we talked to him just sparingly. In first week of May, I went with my nephews Cyrus Dastoor, Zarir and Cyrus Darbari to see him in ICU thanks to Aban for making the arrangements. He had his first operation day ago and still had tubes in his mouth and cannot talk. However, he grabbed our hands very tightly and tried very hard to communicate with all of us. I can still feel that strong touch on my hand and it will remain always with me.

 

If I can borrow and paraphrase the words from Mohammad Rafi’s famous song Bapuji ki Amar Kahani :

 

“Jaao Dasturji, Jaao Dasturji, Rahegaa Naam tumhaaraa.

Jaba taka chamkeh chaand seetaareh, chamkeh naam tumhaaraa!

 

“Go on Dasturji, Go on Dasturji, your name will always be with us,

As long as the moon and the stars will shine,

your name will shine with them (in the whole Zarathushtri Community of the world)!”

 

And then the words of the famous poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his poem: A Psalm of Life:

 

“Lives of great men all remind us, We can make our lives sublime,

And departing, leave behind us, Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another, Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, Seeing, shall take heart again.”

 

Well for me, Dasturji has left his big footprints on my life

and when I am faced with problems like Dasturji faced innumerable of them in his life,

he still kept his smile and faith in Dadar Ahura Mazda and Iranshah,

and I will do the same and and I urge all of us to do the same!

 

On the lighter side of Dasturji, he would regale me with some of his shenanigans in MFCAI. He told me about stealing a “fanas” (jack fruit) from the back of our sick room with his other cohorts and were regaling by trying to eat the whole big fruit but could not and so they stored the remaining fruit in one of the lockers and the smell of it got the attention of the duty teacher and yes it was discovered and Dasturji and his friends were severely punished by the teacher as well as himself by his dear strict dad.

 

He also used to tell me stories about his dear dad. The best one I remember is about Chinvat Bridge.

Their home in Mumbai is right across walking distance from the Vaatchha Gandhi Agiary in Mumbai

across very busy Hughes road.

Dasturji will accompany his dad to go to the Agiary quite often.

After a treacherous crossing one day across the Hughes road,

he turns to Dasturji Peshotan and said:

You know it will be easier to cross the Chivat bridge than to cross this treacherous Hughes road!

I will never forget the humor in this by his dad!

 

So here we are on the second day of his demise, we should remember this gentle and noble soul of Dasturji Peshotan!

 

And per our religion, on the fourth day dawn Chaahrum,

the soul is in front of a tribunal of Meher, Sarosh and Rashne Yazads

who balance all the deeds of the soul during its entire life

and if its good deeds out weigh the bad,

it is allowed to cross the Chinvat Bridge to Garothmaan, Garo Demaana – the House of songs.

 

I am sure that with the pious and holy and humble life Dasturji has lived,

and with the practice of crossing the Hughes Road Chinvat Bridge (?!),

his soul will surely advance over the Chinvat Bridge to Garothmaan!

 

And Zarathushtra promises to escort such holy souls across the Chinvat Bridge in his Gatha Ushtavaiti, Yasna 46, Verse 10 as follows:

 

 

Zarathushtra escorts the Holy Souls across the Chinvat Bridge – Yasna 46 – Verse 10

(Please hear the attached .mp3 file for its recitation)

 

(10) Yeh vaa moi naa genaa vaa Mazdaa Ahuraa,

              Daayaat angheush yaa tu voistaa vahishtaa,

              Ashim ashaai Vohu Khshathrem Mananghaa,

              Yaanschaa hakhshaai khshmaavataanm vahmaai aa,

              Fro taaish vispaaish chinvato frafraa peretum.

 

Zarathushtra escorts the Holy Souls across the Chinvat Bridge – Yasna 46 – Verse 10

The man or woman who performs the work

which has been  declared as best by Thee, O Ahura Mazda,

in this world such a person shall enjoy Asha and Khshathra’s reward

which is spiritual strength and serving of humanity.

the said spiritual strength can only be achieved through Vohuman.

I shall teach them, O My Lord, to worship Thee alone,

and shall guide them when they march across the Chinvat Bridge.

 

                                         ( From Translation of Gathas the Holy Song of Zarathustra, from Persian into English by Mobed Firouz Azargoshasb, March 1988, San Diego, California. Abbreviated AZA.)

 

 

SPD Explanation:

  1. I have no doubt that our holy prophet Zarathushtra, per his promise, is at the Chinvat Bridge to escort the holy soul of our dear beloved Dasturji Peshotan Dasturji Hormazdyar Mirza at his Chaahrum!

 

  1. May Dadar Ahura Mazda, our holy prophet Zarathushtra and holy Iranshah

give strength and resolve to his wife Mahrukh, daughter Aban, son Darius and all his family and friends

to pass this sad times of losing Dasturji.

 

  1. Please remember that his body may be gone, but his soul will always be with them to help them successfully live their lives in his pleasant memories.
Dasturji with Dastur Soli Dastoor

Dasturji with Dastur Soli Dastoor

May the Flame of Fellowship, Love, Charity and Respect for all burn ever eternal in our hearts so we can do HIS work with humility, diligence and eternal enthusiasm!

 

Atha Jamyaat, Yatha Aafrinaamahi! (May it be so as we wish!)

Love and Tandoorasti,

Soli Dastoor

 

dasturji9 dasturji8 dasturji7 dasturji6 dasturji5 dasturji4 dasturji3 dasturji2 dasturji1

Tribute to Dasturji Dr. Peshotan Mirza


Last month, on the 26th June, Vada Dasturji Dr Peshotan Mirza, High Priest of Udvada passed away.

dasturji

I had the great honour of getting to know our Vada Dasturji as he was the priest that accompanied my wife Aban and myself on our Zoroastrian tour of Iran last year.

As a testament to my respect for Vada Dasturji Dr Peshotan Mirza and his family I felt duty bound to pen my personal tribute for this great Zoroastrian.

Vada Dasturji Dr Peshotan Mirza, had lost his sight, in addition to his family facing other significant challenges.

Despite all of this, the man lived his life with great purpose and without any mention of his challenges. In fact, not until I was told by a third party was I aware that he was blind.

Vada Dasturji Dr Peshotan Mirza was a polymath – he had deep knowledge of science and lectured in chemistry, he had deep knowledge of our religion and our history. Most of all, he had deep love for his family. Of all the beautiful places and things we saw in Iran, the most beautiful by far was the aura of love and affection of the Mirza family.

Vada Dasturji Dr Peshotan Mirza was the living embodiment of Zoroastrianism and there were moments during our tour of Persepolis when walking alongside him, you couldn’t help but feel transported back to the Court of Cyrus the Great.

As a result of being in the company of the Mirza family for those few days on tour in Iran, I now have a deeper understanding of the Zoroastrian resolve and how our people have not only managed to survive great historical adversities but excelled in every walk of life.

It was my great privilege to have known a person of such eminence, dignity, knowledge and grace.

These values live on in his family, by his wife Mahrookh, daughter Aban and son Darayus.

I am a better man for knowing Vada Dasturji Dr Peshotan Mirza and the world is a better place for having Vada Dasturji Dr Peshotan Mirza walk amongst us.

My thoughts are with the family today and may Vada Dasturji Dr Peshotan’s noble soul rest in Garothman Behesht.

With deep love and affection,

Jimmy Suratia.”

 

 

Xerxes Desai, founder of Titan


Xerxes Desai, founder of Titan, dies

Desai played a key role in introducing India to its first quartz watch in the late 80s when he set up Titan.

Xerxes Desai spent four decades working across the Tata Group. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Xerxes Desai spent four decades working across the Tata Group. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Bengaluru: Xerxes Sapur Desai, the man who founded Titan Co. Ltd and made it an internationally renowned Indian watch brand, is no more.

The 79-year-old died in Bengaluru on Monday because of acute gastroenteritis.

“He was not only our founder, but also our greatest advocate. Over the years, his guidance and dogged pursuit of perfection helped make Titan a household name and a market leader,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.

“He was big thinking, iconoclastic, meticulous, insightful, humanitarian with a enhanced sense of style and taste, articulate and quality conscious. A passionate rationalist who believed that ‘Yesterday’s truths are today’s heresies,’” said Bhaskar Bhat, Managing director, Titan.

A graduate of Bombay and Oxford Universities, Desai played a key role in introducing India to its first quartz watch in the late 80s when he set up Titan Co. Ltd (part of Tata Sons), after enduring years of resistance from state-owned and now defunct HMT Watches.

But that is not his only contribution to the world, those who knew him pointed out.

Desai was an “amazing, eclectic entrepreneur,” and “a passionate fighter for Indian cities,” said Titan board member and urban development expert Ireena Vittal, who praised his “inspirational design sensibility that helped lay down the foundation for Titan and earlier Taj.”

Like many others, Vittal called him a fine gentleman with lovely stories and great dogs. Desai, who loved western classical and jazz, often brought his two dogs to work.

“I will so miss him,” Vittal said in an e-mail.

Infosys co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy shared the sentiment.

“He was a wonderful person and the city will miss him,” said Murthy, who met him on many occasions over the years. “He was a perfectionist, a disciplined man and always on time.” Murthy fondly remembered the time when Infosys distributed custom-designed watches to 25,000 employees when it celebrated its “Billion Dollar Day.”

Desai’s journey in building one of the largest indigenous brands in the country was not an easy one. While the idea of Titan came about in 1979, it took him seven long years to finally set up a factory in Hosur, on the outskirts of Bengaluru, in 1986 with support from the Tamil Nadu government.

“It was a time,” Desai recalled of days in the 60s in an earlier interview with Mint, “when one had to write an application to HMT to get a watch you see. One couldn’t buy it in the open market. You then got a letter of approval from the department and then over a couple of weeks you had to go to a store to collect it.”

Before Titan, Desai spent four decades working across the Tata Group—TAS, Tata Press, Taj Hotels—fighting odds and making a case for businesses to flourish in a closed economy.

Varun Sood and Sharan Poovanna contributed to this story.

Dr. Peshotan Dastur Hormazdyar Mirza (High Priest of Iranshah Atashbehram at Udvada)


Dr. Peshotan Dastur Hormazdyar Mirza is fantastic combination of religious fervour and technical excellence. Born at Udvada in November 1944, Dr. Peshotan Mirza acquired his priestly Education and Training at:

Seth Sorabji Manekji Damanwala Madressa, Udvada.
The M.F. Cama Athornan Institute, Andheri.
Ordained the Zoroastrian Priestly orders of Navar, Maratab and Samel; performed higher liturgical services and ‘Boi’ ceremony of Holy Iranshah

Atash-Behram, Udvada. As for his academic and theological education; he passed SSC examination and joined St. Xavier’s college Mumbai and obtained B.Sc (Honors), M.Sc and Ph.D. degrees in Chemistry from the University of Bombay.

He studied Avesta-Pahlavi and Iranian History at Sir J.J Zarthosti Madressa and Mulla Firoze Madressa, Mumbai alongside University studies in Science.

He was appointed to the exalted position of Dastur (High-Priest) of Iranshah Atash Behram; Samast Anjuman, Udvada on 13th May 2004.

Apart from being a priest of the highest calibre, few in the community know that he was a lecturer in Chemistry at St. Xavier’s College; Mumbai Development and Documentation Scientist at International Draxon Industries, Tehran, Iran.

Retired from the post of General Manager – Technical Services in a Chemical manufacturing company in Mumbai.

Former member -Science and Technology Sub-committee, Bombay Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Member – Research Committee – The K.R. Cama Oriental Institute, Mumbai

Member of Managing Committee – M.F. Cama Athornan Institute and its ex-student Association.

Trustee – Athornan Mandal and Udvada Anjuman.

Besides discharging religious duties as a high priest of Iranshah Atash Behram Udvada Anjuman, he is also presently working as a technical advisor in a chemical manufacturing company in Mumbai.

He has attended and participated in religious and technical seminars and conferences. He was an invitee to the world conference on spiritual regeneration and human values at Bangalore in January 2003, and addressed the gathering there on Spirituality and science. He also attended a conference of world religions dialogue and symphony at Mahuva, Bhavnagar in 2009.

A great orator, he has lectured on Zoroastrian religious and historical subjects at various places of Parsi settlements in India, Singapore, Dubai, Karachi and Iran.

Dr. Peshotan Mirza is a shining jewel of our community. A man of not only great virtue, sincerity and spirituality, but also of technical excellence. May his tribe increase with the divine benedictory of Pak Iranshah Atashbehram, our prophet Zarathushta and Pak Dadar Ahura Mazda. Atha Jamyat Yathra Afrinami!

Message to the Parsi/ Irani Zarthostis
Religion is the Divine Law of life revealed by the Prophet. It is the divinely inspired knowledge about the creator, spiritual beings and about the life in this world and life here after. It teaches us our duties, responsibilities, commitments towards our creator, ourselves and others.

Religion plays an important part in our daily life. If properly interpreted, understood and practiced, religion guides our destiny and moulds our character. It inculcates spirituality in the worldly life and leads us on the path of piety, virtue and thus inspires us to do good deeds of benevolence. In distress, it gives solace and comfort; in difficulty and danger it affords courage and fortitude.

There can be no worldly life without difficulties and problems. In their long and chequered history, our fore-fathers had to face innumerable difficulties, problems and hardships. Yet, they remained deeply rooted in their ethnicity and religious teachings, customs and traditions. By sheer dint of their faith in Religion, Prophet Zarathustra and Almighty Lord Ahura Mazda, they trounced the difficulties, maintained their religious identity and flourished practically in all walks of life in spite of their small number. They spent their life with hard work, high standard of integrity, spirit of enterprise and service, noble qualities of benevolence and philanthropy.

Zoroastrian Religion enjoins daily prayers and rituals along with moral, ethical virtues of life with purity of mind body and soul. This is the Zoroastrian Path of life in accordance with Humata Hukhta Huvarshta – Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds.

With these noble qualities they maintained religious identity and at the same time became friends to all India and contributed handsomely in development of our country.

In the present day it becomes our religious duty to emulate our forefathers. It becomes our religious duty that Parsis work hard and flourish in their chosen fields; marry within the fold at the right age and expand their family to the right size. The Parsis must maintain their religious identity and at the same time treat the members of the other communities with respect, justice, harmony and friendship just as our fore fathers did. This is the religious duty and responsibility of every member of our community.

May Lord Ahura Mazda shower his divine blessings upon, eyery member of the Parsi/Irani Zarthosti community in particular and humanity at large!

Courtesy: Fereydoun Rasti

Tributes to Dasturji Peshotan Mirza


Vada Dasturji Dr. Peshotan Mirza passed away today after a tenacious battle with cancer. The entire Parsi community mourns the loss of this splendid and erudite Zoroastrian – one of our finest Vada Dasturjis.

Till the end he served the community with integrity, scholarship and commitment.

May his glorious soul find Garothman Behest – and may his family find solace in their hour of grief.

 

Courtesy :‎Yezdi Maneck Bhathena‎

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Traditional Zarthustis have lost a great personality [on 26-06-2016]. An ideal HEAD Priest. A very humble and low profile soul. My sincere prayers for his Ruvan to proceed towards Garothman Behest in Sarosh Yazad ni Panah.

Courtesy : ‎Godrej Sachinwalla

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A pic that speaks a thousand words…cud not help sharing.

May the divine soul of Dasturji Peshotan Mirza attain the highest heaven – Garothman Behesht.

Courtesy : ‎Jasmine Sahukar


Dr. Peshotan Dastur Hormazdyar Mirza is fantastic combination of religious fervour and technical excellence. Born at Udvada in November 1944, Dr. Peshotan Mirza acquired his priestly Education and Training at:

Seth Sorabji Manekji Damanwala Madressa, Udvada.

The M.F. Cama Athornan Institute, Andheri.

Ordained the Zoroastrian Priestly orders of Navar, Maratab and Samel; performed higher liturgical services and ‘Boi’ ceremony of Holy Iranshah Atash-Behram, Udvada. As for his academic and theological education; he passed SSC examination and joined St. Xavier’s college Mumbai and obtained B.Sc (Honors), M.Sc and Ph.D. degrees in Chemistry from the University of Bombay.

He studied Avesta-Pahlavi and Iranian History at Sir J.J Zarthosti Madressa and Mulla Firoze Madressa, Mumbai alongside University studies in Science.

He was appointed to the exalted position of Dastur (High-Priest) of Iranshah Atash Behram; Samast Anjuman, Udvada on 13th May 2004.

Apart from being a priest of the highest calibre, few in the community know that he was a lecturer in Chemistry at St. Xavier’s College; Mumbai Development and Documentation Scientist at International Draxon Industries, Tehran, Iran.

Retired from the post of General Manager – Technical Services in a Chemical manufacturing company in Mumbai.

Former member -Science and Technology Sub-committee, Bombay Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Member – Research Committee – The K.R. Cama Oriental Institute, Mumbai

Member of Managing Committee – M.F. Cama Athornan Institute and its ex-student Association.

Trustee – Athornan Mandal and Udvada Anjuman.

Besides discharging religious duties as a high priest of Iranshah Atash Behram Udvada Anjuman, he is also presently working as a technical advisor in a chemical manufacturing company in Mumbai.

He has attended and participated in religious and technical seminars and conferences. He was an invitee to the world conference on spiritual regeneration and human values at Bangalore in January 2003, and addressed the gathering there on Spirituality and science. He also attended a conference of world religions dialogue and symphony at Mahuva, Bhavnagar in 2009.

A great orator, he has lectured on Zoroastrian religious and historical subjects at various places of Parsi settlements in India, Singapore, Dubai, Karachi and Iran.

Dr. Peshotan Mirza is a shining jewel of our community. A man of not only great virtue, sincerity and spirituality, but also of technical excellence. May his tribe increase with the divine benedictory of Pak Iranshah Atashbehram, our prophet Zarathushta and Pak Dadar Ahura Mazda. Atha Jamyat Yathra Afrinami! He studied Avesta-Pahlavi and Iranian History at Sir J.J Zarthosti Madressa and Mulla Firoze Madressa, Mumbai alongside University studies in Science.

He was appointed to the exalted position of Dastur (High-Priest) of Iranshah Atash Behram; Samast Anjuman, Udvada on 13th May 2004.

Apart from being a priest of the highest calibre, few in the community know that he was a lecturer in Chemistry at St. Xavier’s College; Mumbai Development and Documentation Scientist at International Draxon Industries, Tehran, Iran.

Retired from the post of General Manager – Technical Services in a Chemical manufacturing company in Mumbai.

Former member -Science and Technology Sub-committee, Bombay Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Member – Research Committee – The K.R. Cama Oriental Institute, Mumbai

Member of Managing Committee – M.F. Cama Athornan Institute and its ex-student Association.

Trustee – Athornan Mandal and Udvada Anjuman.

Besides discharging religious duties as a high priest of Iranshah Atash Behram Udvada Anjuman, he is also presently working as a technical advisor in a chemical manufacturing company in Mumbai.

He has attended and participated in religious and technical seminars and conferences. He was an invitee to the world conference on spiritual regeneration and human values at Bangalore in January 2003, and addressed the gathering there on Spirituality and science. He also attended a conference of world religions dialogue and symphony at Mahuva, Bhavnagar in 2009.

A great orator, he has lectured on Zoroastrian religious and historical subjects at various places of Parsi settlements in India, Singapore, Dubai, Karachi and Iran.

Dr. Peshotan Mirza is a shining jewel of our community. A man of not only great virtue, sincerity and spirituality, but also of technical excellence. May his tribe increase with the divine benedictory of Pak Iranshah Atashbehram, our prophet Zarathushta and Pak Dadar Ahura Mazda. Atha Jamyat Yathra Afrinami!

 

Courtesy : Khushru Variava

June Artwork of the Month: ‘Dadabhai Naoroji’


Artwork of the Month: On 30 June 1917, Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Asian Member of Parliament died.

Dadabhai Naoroji

Dadabhai Naoroji was the first Asian Member of Parliament elected to the House of Commons.  He was born in Mumbai in 1825, and pursued a career as an intellectual and campaigner for Indian causes.  In 1855 he was the first Indian to be given an academic appointment, being appointed Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy for Elphinstone College.  In later years, after relocating to the UK, he was made professor of Gujarati at University College London.

During Naoroji’s lifetime, the Indian population made up four fifths of the British Empire, but its 250 million people were unrepresented in the House of Commons.  There was a general consensus that representation would have to be secured, if reforms to the governance of India were to be made a reality.  Naoroji had helped to establish the East India Association in 1867 – an organisation intended to combat prevailing views of the Asians as inferior.  The organisation eventually merged with Indian National Association, becoming the Indian National Congress – later the party of Gandhi, and still a prominent party in Indian politics.

Known by admirers as the “Grand Old Man of India,” Naoroji stood several times for election to the House of Commons, facing considerable racism each time.  Following his defeat in the 1886 general election, Lord Salisbury, the Prime Minister, stated that Britain was not ready to elect a black man – from which remark Punch took inspiration, and published a cartoon depicting Naoroji as Othello, and Salisbury as the “Doge of Westminster.”

Naoroji became a well-known public figure, with the support of both Florence Nightingale and suffrage campaigners.  He was eventually elected to the constituency of Central Finsbury with a majority of three votes.  As an MP he campaigned for Indian independence, but also supported votes for women, pensions for the elderly, Irish Home Rule and the abolition of the House of Lords.   He served as an MP from 1892-1895, but continued to campaign to the end of his life, being elected president of the Indian National Congress for a third time in 1906.  He died in Mumbai on 30 June 1917.

Background

The history of non-white Members of Parliament probably begins with David Ochterlony Dyce Sombre, who was of mixed European and Indian descent. In 1841 he was elected as a Radical-Liberal to the seat of Sudbury, in Suffolk. In 1842, however, Parliament overturned the result citing ‘gross, systematic, and extensive bribery’ during the campaign, and he and the other Member for the Sudbury division, Frederick Villiers, lost their seats. It is possible that John Stewart, elected as MP for Lymington in 1832, was also from a mixed ethnic background.

The Artwork

The portrait was painted by V. R Rao and is likely a copy in oils from a photograph of Naoroji taken in 1906. It was presented to the House of Commons in 1939 by the Dadabhai Naoroji Memorial Fund.

Image: ‘Dr Dadabhai Naoroji, oil on canvas by V.R. Rao (WOA 1539)

https://www.parliament.uk/about/art-in-parliament/news/2016/june/june-artwork-of-the-month-dadabhai-naoroji/

June Artwork of the Month: ‘Dadabhai Naoroji’

Nari K Rustomji – Idealistic bureaucrat


Idealistic bureaucrat

May 16 was Meghalaya’s first chief secretary Nari K Rustomji’s birth anniversary. Glenn C Kharkongor recalls his contribution to the Northeast

 NARI K Rustomji studied classical Latin and Greek, was secretary of the Musical Society and played the piano and violin at Cambridge University. Such a background would be considered unusual for a bureaucrat today. Perhaps it was these sensibilities that made Rustomji one of the most endearing political administrators of his era and his affection for the tribals of Northeast India is legendary.

This week is the 94th birth anniversary of the first chief secretary of Meghalaya, who died a decade ago.

The Northeast has all but forgotten this remarkable bureaucrat, whose grasp of geopolitical matters and understanding of tribal cultures made him one of the most sympathetic and understanding administrators of the Northeast in the transition to and in the early post-Independence era. He and Verrier Elwin were often described as romantics. They were close friends and Rustomji in fact, edited a volume of Elwin’s selected writings. Their advice was relied upon greatly by Nehru and resulted in a policy for the Northeast that has been described as Nehruvian humanistic paternalism. Sadly, that benevolent policy has lapsed and has been replaced with a chaotic and befuddled mindset in Delhi, which results in cultural aggression and headlong underdevelopment, characterized by insensitivity and greed.

Rustomji was influenced greatly by Plato and Socrates, and intended to become a school teacher, but was persuaded by his teachers to apply for the ICS. It was during World War II, and at the interview he was asked about his contribution to the war effort. At the time he was a member of the Royal Observer Corps, keeping a tally of enemy planes that flew overhead. When he mentioned that he was a plane spotter, the examiners inquired how many planes he had spotted the previous week. His reply was a solemn “I’m sorry sir, that’s top secret”. There was an amused murmur of approval among the greybeards and he felt that he had clinched the appointment.

At the end of his ICS probationary training in Dehra Dun, Nari K Rustomji was assigned to Assam, which he accepted whole-heartedly.  One of the main reasons for this enthusiasm was Assam’s proximity to Sikkim and Bhutan. He had been introduced to these countries, India’s neighbours in the Northeast, by his friendship with the crown prince of Sikkim, Thondup Namgyal and his cousin, the prince of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji who were probationers along with him in 1942. These lifelong friendships were cemented during Rustomji’s posting as Dewan of Sikkim from 1954-59 and when he was appointed as Adviser to the Government of Bhutan in 1963.

Rustomji spent most of his career in the Northeast, spanning from his first appointment as district publicity organiser in Sylhet during the Second World War, a kind of propaganda post to develop and deliver positive messages to the public in favour of the Allies, to being the first chief secretary of Meghalaya in 1972. In between he served in various administrative posts in Maulvibazar, Lakhimpur and Dibrugarh. Perhaps the most noteworthy position that he had was adviser to the Governor of Assam on tribal affairs, during which time he exerted considerable influence on the formulation of policies for the hill areas.

He was associated with the implementation of the early seven-year plans in Sikkim and Bhutan.  Significant in these development efforts were a visionary intent to protect the environment and biodiversity of the region and to protect the region from unwanted kinds of development. He was also careful to ensure that cultural traditions and sensitivities were protected in implementing the Plans.

Rustomji was deeply drawn to the tribals of the region. In his book Enchanted Frontiers, Rustomji says, “The people of the hills have had for me a special pull. I feel utterly and completely at home with my (tribal) hosts. I am at heart, very much a tribal myself. I share much of the bewilderment and loss of identity of the tribal of today”. He learned the local language at every posting and even wore indigenous costumes to work. Much of his scholarly writing are on the anthropology and sociology of the tribes and these articles have appeared in journals such as Himalayan Environment and Culture brought out by the Indian Institute of Advanced Study.

As Dewan of the Chogyal of Sikkim and adviser to the Government of Bhutan, he immersed himself in the cultural milieu of those countries, learning the Sikkimese and Bhutanese languages and wearing the local costumes. He would wear the Sikkimese gown, the ko, even during his trips to Delhi. This led the foreign secretary to comment wryly that while the Dewan might wear Sikkimese dress in Gangtok, he failed to see the point of his wearing the gown in Delhi.

During the governorship of Sri Prakasa, he played a pivotal role in obtaining the accession to India of the maharajas of Manipur, Cooch Behar andManipur. Though varying amounts of duress were exerted in these efforts, Rustomji came out each time with the respect of the maharaja.  On each occasion his services were requested as the first Chief Commissioner of the accessed kingdom.

He had a part in the negotiations with the Naga and Mizotribals. He tried to convince the Government that “right principles, rather than force of arms” was the right policy. He spoke out against the tendency of officers to pontificate patronizingly about “uplifting our tribal brethren”.  Himself a Zoroastrian, he tried to convince the tribals that they were free to practice the religion of their choice, by arranging special broadcasts of Christian services on Sundays in English and in the various Naga languages. He describes his poignant interaction with a Naga prisoner, discussing letters that the prisoner had written about a cat who was his sole companion in jail.  He discussed with General Shrinagesh about a sympathetic approach to the hearts and minds of the tribal people. Sadly, they were not many in the political and military establishment that shared his statesmanlike approach.

In 1951, when he was stationed in Shillong as advisor to the Governor of Assam, Rustomji got married to Hilla Master, daughter of Jal Ardeshir Master, chief conservator of forests, Madras Presidency. They had met in Bombay the previous year; he was 31 and she was 23. Their daughter Tusna was born at Welsh Mission Hospital in 1952. Sadly, Hilla died of complications soon after. He married again in 1963 to Avi Dalal, someone the family had long known.

An unfortunate outcome of Partition was the closure of trade between the Khasi Hills and the contiguous areas of East Pakistan. Perishable oranges and betel nut from the border plantations now had no outlet market and Rustomji approved the request of the local traders for an airstrip in Shella, so that the produce could be flown to Calcutta. Regrettably, this never happened.

As chief secretary in the new state of Meghalaya, he determined to set up an efficient administration, leading by example. Each morning he walked from his residence, Lumpyngad, followed by a clerk, who dutifully took down notes on the way to the Secretariat. He once visited a district headquarters unannounced and found the deputy commissioner absent from his office. Rustomji sent for the absentee officer, who on hearing that the chief secretary was around immediately declared himself sick. Rustomji then sat in the DC’s chair and spent the day disposing of pending files.

If you Google his name and browse the internet, only snippets about Rustomji appear, brief lines in a scholarly article or a blog. Most of what is available are accounts in the five books he has written. In these idealistic, analytical and balanced accounts, he carefully blends the history, culture and politics of this complex region as a background for governance and administration.

Surely the man deserves weightier evidence of his contribution to the Northeast.  Indeed such an analysis would provide clues to achieving better solutions to the continuing myriad problems of the Northeast, many of which can be traced to the post-Independence era in which misguided and heavy-handed policies were framed.  The politicians and mandarins of today seem to continue in the same vein. They should study Rustomji’s books.

Read more at http://www.theshillongtimes.com/2013/05/26/idealistic-bureaucrat/#UQFFXWW1H9J1xuur.99

Courtest : Tusna Park

KF RUSTAMJI: INDIA’S ICONIC POLICE OFFICER


His centennial birth year is an opportunity to celebrate the man who set up the Border Security Force and laid the ground for the first Public Interest Litigation case

Though he was born a Parsi on May 22, 1916, Khusro Faramurz Rustamji, one of modern India’s most celebrated police officers and the first Director General of the Border Security Force, was cremated, according to his wishes, as per Hindu rituals in March 2003. A passionate nationalist, Rustamji also wrote extensively on minority rights of Hindus and Muslims, and rued the fact that his journalistic writings were not acknowledged. However, now, in the 100th year of his birth, Rustamji’s writings are finally being acknowledged as religiously as his remarkable leadership in the police and BSF.

In 1971, in an acknowledgment of his leadership capabilities, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi wrote a letter at the end of the India-Pakistan war, in which Rustamji had so brilliantly deployed the might of the BSF, a force he nurtured: “As the first line of our defence, the Border Security Force had to bear the immediate brunt of the enemy onslaught. The manner in which they faced the fire and support they gave to the army played a crucial role in our ultimate success.” Defense Secretary KB Lall, in his letter to the Home Secretary also praised the role of the BSF: “A special word of thanks to the Director General of the Border Security Force and to the men and officers under his command, is overdue. It is their initial initiatives, their boldness courage and, if I may say so, imagination, which provided eventually an opportunity to the Defense Services to do their part.”

In the midst of Pakistani fury when Bangladesh was preparing for the swearing-in ceremony, selection of the place was critical. Rustamji was clear he wanted this historic ceremony to be witnessed by the maximum number of people. The spot also had to provide for the possibility of strafing by a Pakistani plane which did this ruthlessly all over East Pakistan. Accordingly, a triangular piece of land jutting into India with a beautiful mango grove was selected in a village called Baidyanathtala which later became Mujib Nagar. It was a unique way for the new Government of a new nation to be sworn in, in the midst of a global Press.

Rustamji nicely summarised this. He said, “The first process of Government of a newly born nation was to commence not in a man-made, gaily decorated and illuminated building of carpeted floor and chandelier decorated ceilings but in a place which had for its canopy the sky, and for its decoration the trees. Decades or centuries hence when the citizens of Bangladesh would look back on the birth of their country and the tragic circumstances attending it, they could legitimately be proud, among other things, of the fact that their first Government sworn to democracy, secularism, and socialism came in an area where nature had bestowed her gifts in profusion and in the wake of ceremonies which were not only immaculate but also daring in their conception and courageous in their execution.”

After his retirement in 1974, Rustamji was much sought after for his expertise. As Special Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, he structured the BSF, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, the Central Industrial Security Force in the Central Police Organisation. He also initiated the formation of the Indian Coast Guard and was responsible for setting up the National Police Commission. He later became its member from 1978 to 1983.

Not many know about this but, in 1978, Rustamji visited the jails in Bihar and wrote about the conditions of the undertrials languishing for long periods. Two of his articles in The Indian Express formed the basis for the first Public Interest Litigation case, Hussainara Khatoon vs State of Bihar, which led to the release of 40,000 undertrials all over India.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/oped/kf-rustamji-indias-iconic-police-officer.html