Category Archives: Professionals

Farida Sohrabji, Neuroscientist, Director of Women’s Health at Texas A&M University

Alzheimer’s Is a Women’s Rights Issue: Panelists at SXSW Featuring Indian American Neuroscientist Farida Sohrabji

The diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s is a fundamental women’s rights issue, said panelists at a March 8 South by Southwest Conference event in Austin, Texas on International Women’s Day.


The panelists included Indian American neuroscientist Farida Sohrabji, director of the women’s health in neuroscience program at Texas A&M University’s College of Medicine; Maria Shriver, founder of the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement; and Broadway star Alexandra Socha. Journalist Ashley Ford of Buzzfeed News moderated the lively discussion.

Alzheimer’s disproportionately affects women; two-thirds of people suffering from the ailment are females. Caring for a family member stricken with Alzheimer’s tends to fall primarily on women’s shoulders, noted the speakers.

More than 5.8 million Americans currently have Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. In India, more than four million people live with some form of dementia, according to the organization.

“The stigma of Alzheimer’s has created a bigger problem than what would have otherwise been a more careful, societal way of addressing the disease,” said Sohrabji. She noted that as women lose their ability to recognize family members or the functionality of familiar objects, they become embarrassed because of the stigma associated with dementia, and retreat into themselves, often also becoming depressed.

“Depression should be taken very seriously. It should be brought up with your doctor at any age, and it should be considered as an illness by itself or a precursor to Alzheimer’s,” asserted Sohrabji.

In an interview with India-West following the panel discussion, Sohrabji said that there are very interesting cultural differences in the diagnosis and care and treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia in India compared to the U.S. The joint family structure allows elderly ailing members to go undiagnosed without much concern.

“Quirks are seen with much more indulgence,” she said.

The joint family structure, with its daily social engagements, is a key factor in managing dementia-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, explained Sohrabji, noting that simply eating regularly with family and friends can promote healthy aging. She lauded Indian American community organizations such as the India Community Center in Milpitas, Calif., which brings together seniors on an almost-daily basis for lunch, discussions and activities.

Paranoia, along with depression, is also a precursor to dementia, said Sohrabji, noting that family members will start to say alarming things, such as: “People aren’t on my side. They’re all out to get me.”

“Since there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease right now, a lot of our focus is on lifestyle changes that can stave of the onset of Alzheimer’s such as a diet low in fat and sugar, as well as regular exercise,” said Sohrabji, noting that exercise improves blood flow, and builds proteins that protect brain cells.

Shriver said onstage at SXSW that she was proud to join the panelists in the discussion on International Women’s Day. “Our minds and our voices are our biggest assets. Alzheimer’s is robbing women of both,” she said, adding that women must be strong advocates for both their mental and physical health.

Women don’t get the health assessments they need, said Shriver, stating that their concerns lie more with the health of their families rather than their own well-being. “Don’t put your own health on the back burner,” she urged, adding that doctors also need to be educated.

“Alzheimer’s is 20 years in the making. What you do now affects your brain health in the future,” said Shriver.

Socha, whose mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 50 and died from the disease two years ago at age 66, said Alzheimer’s is a “full family disease,” with caregivers, primarily women, halting their own lives to give their ailing loved ones’ full time care.

The entire discussion can be viewed here:

Ad Age Rising Stars: Delna Shroff

Delna Shroff, who comes from a family of engineers, was stubborn about the fact that she did not want to be one. She started her journey in advertising five years ago. ‘Dil mein always kuch-kuch hota hai,’ she says, as her eyes reflect her love for advertising. This embarked her transition into the creative world and since then, she has worked with brands like Rotimatic, IDBI Federal Life Insurance, Future Group’s Ezone.

Whether it’s banner copies or full-fledged campaigns, she thinks, being passionately Parsi guarantees that her writing always comes from the heart. She stepped into this mad universe by interning with L&K Saatchi & Saatchi and now she is the Creative Supervisor of Copy at the agency.

Speaking about her favourite campaign, she said, “Axis Active Fitness Band will always be close to my heart, despite delving into the one topic that’s farthest from it – fitness.”

Courtesy : Parsi Khabar

Pervin Taleyarkhan, ’13, Received Honor from American Bar Association

IU McKinney alumna Pervin Taleyarkhan has received an award from the American Bar Association’s Section of Intellectual Property Law. She received the honor in “Recognition for Outstanding Leadership Contribution” on April 10 during the section’s annual spring conference. The event took place in Arlington, Virginia.

Taleyarkhan is Legal Counsel for Whirlpool Corporation in Benton Harbor, Michigan. She serves on the Board of Editors for the ABA Journal, and is a Young Lawyer Fellow for the Section on Intellectual Property Law. She also serves as an assistant issue editor for Landslide, the publication for the ABA’s Section of Intellectual Property Law. She was editor-in-chief of the Indiana Health Law Review while a student at IU McKinney.

Pallavi Shroff makes it to Bollywood

Pallavi K. Shroff , our 24 year old pakki bawi with an unusual name has made her Bollywood debut in the field of special effects makeup in the Film Saand Ki Aankh . A cinematographer by qualification and a Prosthetics Artist by passion. She worked on a Kannada Film -Sakuchi and a Tamil Telugu Film – Game Over which are all yet to release. For the film Saand ki Aankh – She is the artist behind Taapsee Pannu’s look. First look is out- Releasing this Diwali.

Pallavi K Shroff

Celebrated Parsi chef Anahita N Dhondy is today the toast of Asia

Chef Anahita N Dhondy was selected in the ‘Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2019’ list for her contribution towards food sustainability and for popularising the Parsi cuisine.

Chef Anahita N Dhondy promotes sustainable food.

Chef Anahita N Dhondy was at a vegetable market in Hyderabad picking up fresh veggies for her restaurant when the news reached her. She was selected in the ‘Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2019’ list for her contribution towards food sustainability and for popularising the Parsi cuisine.

“It was overwhelming. The congratulatory messages poured in and I was touched by the warmth. I never thought that my work would be recognised at the national level,” says the 28-year-old, who runs SodaBottleOpenerWala, a chain of Parsi restaurants in the country.

Chef Dhondy promotes Indian millets, which are nutritious and inexpensive homegrown grains, in dishes in the restaurant and in her recipes on social media.

“I am grateful that people are recognising sustainability in this sector,” says Dhondy. She has represented India and SodaBottleOpenerWala at the EAT Forum 2018 and the Chefs Manifesto in Stockholm and London in 2018.

These days she is busy conducting workshops in schools to promote Zero Waste and Clean Plate campaigns which is also in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“I am teaching youngsters how to reuse food and work towards zero waste of food materials. We have to respect our farmers and environment,” she says.

Smitha Verma

Framroze Virjee Named President of California State University, Fullerton

Framroze Virjee has been named the president of California State University at Fullerton. The CSU board of trustees appointed Virjee on March 20.
“We can build the best labs, we can get a great reputation, but more importantly, I want the students to have a transformative experience here,” Framroze Virjee told India-West.

Indian American lawyer Framroze Virjee has been appointed as president of California State University at Fullerton, the university’s board of trustees announced March 20.

Virjee, the son of an Indian father and Swedish mother, has served as campus president under a term appointment since December 2017 and will assume the permanent presidency immediately, the university said in a news release.

“Joining the Titan family has been the most rewarding professional experience of my career,” Virjee said in a statement.

Virjee will oversee a campus that enrolls almost 40,000 students and boasts of more than 274,500 alumni. Cal State Fullerton is among the top three percent of universities in the nation helping low-income students reach financial success, according to the Social Mobility Index developed by PayScale and CollegeNet, the university said.

“I am thrilled at the opportunity to continue working alongside the tremendously talented faculty, staff and administrators to further the great work enabling student achievement and degree completion that we’ve started, and to chart the path forward for CSUF,” he said.

Virjee succeeds Mildred García, who was appointed president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in November 2017.

Virjee was subsequently appointed by CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White to serve as president of CSUF until the next president was appointed by the board of trustees, and he has served in that capacity since García’s departure, the release said.

“We conducted a national search that included many exemplary candidates, and it became apparent that the best person to be the next president of CSUF was already serving the campus,” said CSU Trustee Silas Abrego, chair of the CSUF search committee.

“In his time leading CSUF, Fram has demonstrated unbridled energy and passion for the campus and students, and under his leadership CSUF will reach even greater heights,” the search committee chair added.

“It’s an amazing place here. Students make it so amazing,” Virjee told India-West in a phone interview. “If I ever lose sight of what I came here for, I just walk on campus and see transformative nature the education is giving students.”

Some accomplishments the university has achieved in 15 months under Virjee’s leadership include: Washington Monthly reporting in August 2018 that the campus was sixth in the nation for lowest net cost; admitting the first freshmen class that is more than 50 percent Hispanic and rising to No. 4 in the nation for bachelor’s degrees awarded to underrepresented students; achieving a significant focus on opening or renovating centers grounded in student wellness, diversity, and/or academic excellence; initiating and leading the creation and opening of Club 57, an on-campus faculty and staff lounge, which has since become a significant harbinger of campus collaboration and improved morale; witnessing funding for student and faculty research, curriculum development, scholarships and fellowships, and public service activities hit a 10-year high of $27,248,395 in fiscal year 2018 – a more than a $1 million increase over the previous year; and achieving record-breaking numbers in every measurable category, including the highest dollars raised in one year, along with the highest number of alumni donors, the highest number of individual donors, the highest number of parent donors, the highest number of faculty/staff donors, and the highest number of senior gift donors, CSUF said.

Virjee noted in his interview with India-West that he has several goals – some concrete and others esoteric.

Among the concrete goals is to upgrade the campus with renovations to currently standing buildings while erecting new buildings as well. Meanwhile, with those plans in the conceptual phase, there are more immediate plans to build pathways linking different academic buildings to one another.

As for his esoteric plans, he said the hope is to boost the profile of CSUF, which some in the community are calling the best-kept secret.

“We are determined to boost profile in our community,” Virjee stressed. “CSUF is the only CSU in Orange County – the largest populated area in state. “We have the best spot to raise students and their families up,” he asserted to India-West.

Virjee spent the first six years of his life traveling around the world on a ship captained by his father.

“My parents read the international papers. As a result of who my parents were, I grew up believing very strongly in social justice, social mobility and civil rights. We knew about the world,” he said in an email to India-West.

He became the first person in his family to earn a college degree, graduating summa cum laude, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from U.C. Santa Barbara. He earned his law degree cum laude from the University of California Hastings College of the Law.

Virjee and his wife, Julie, have three sons and one grandson. Julie is very active on campus as a volunteer dedicated to student success. He and Julie are founders of Yambi Rwanda, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the people of Rwanda through empowerment and collaboration in areas of education, financial sustainability and creating vibrant life experiences, the university bio said. More information about the nonprofit can be found by visiting

Between his new permanent role as president and his nonprofit, Virjee says he is extremely blessed with both opportunities that are extremely rewarding.

He explained how he described to a lawyer who asked him how she would know if she was doing the right thing with her life.

“I love music. I love harmony. It puts me in my happy place. I also love pizza. And a good slice of pizza is amazing. My favorite thing to do is hold my grandson,” he told India-West of his conversation with the corporate lawyer. “For me this job is all three at the same time,” Virjee told her, adding that this position allows him to make a difference.

“It’s selfish. I love helping (the students through their education), but it makes me feel good (to help),” he noted.

Virjee said his advice to his students includes delivering a message to help them pave the way for their future.

“Find something you’re passionate about. Find the thing that makes you tick, that fulfills you,” he said. “If you can find that, you’re going to be successful.”

More than anything – making appropriate infrastructure upgrades; or building up the public profile he believes the university deserves – he believes that message is the most important thing to take away.

“We can build the best labs, we can get a great reputation, but more importantly, I want the students to have a transformative experience here,” Virjee said. “I want them to feel that, when they leave here, they are lifelong learners and engaged human beings in their communities and making a difference.”

From January 2014 through December 2017, Virjee served as executive vice chancellor, general counsel and secretary to the CSU Board of Trustees.

In that capacity, he led a staff of attorneys, paralegals and support personnel, and oversaw all legal services for the 23-campus CSU.

Virjee also served as chief legal officer to the board of trustees, advising them on all legal issues including open meeting laws, board rules and procedures and education code compliance, his bio noted.

Virjee said that the only thing missing in his general counsel role was that he missed interactions with students; he only felt an energy when he would walk on one of the 23 CSU campuses.

Prior to joining CSU, Virjee was a partner in private practice for almost 30 years at O’Melveny & Myers, one of the oldest law firms in Los Angeles and one of the largest in the nation.

At the firm, Virjee specialized in labor and employment law with an emphasis in representing educational institutions in the areas of collective bargaining, education code compliance and discrimination and employment litigation.

Virjee’s practice included representing employers in employment litigation, providing preventative advice through client counseling, policy and procedure review and drafting, and extensive in-house training and education on important labor and employment issues.

He also served in several leadership positions at O’Melveny, including secretary to the Management Committee, chair of the Employment Committee and the partner-in-charge of both Lateral Hiring and Diversity.

“I am a deep believer with deep commitment in public institutions. I had amazing career at the law firm. I loved the work I did. The courtroom is a wonderful place to be. I loved the competition,” he told India-West.

“I went to law school with grand thoughts to make world a better place – I believe in equity and social justice – and when I went to large corporate law firm, I lost that vision,” he added. “I wouldn’t trade the time with the law firm for the world, but I needed a change.”

Amplify Austin Texas 4000 Bike Ride for Cancer by Ervad Burzin Balsara

Hello friends:

Planet Mobed Burzin Balsara:

Ervad Burzin Balsara, Austin, Texas, is an amazing young Zoroastrian from Dallas, TX.

His parents Pearl and Prof. Mobed Poras Balsara have been very active in our Dallas, TX, Zoroastrian Association.

I was honored to be with them for their Dallas Atash Kadeh Inauguration, performing Vendidad Sadeh and a Baj and participating in their Inauguration Jashan and First Boi ceremony in 2011!

Burzin has been a very bright student and got first place in his Science Project.

He with his friend investigated and developed an affordable system that is capable of controlling an electric wheelchair using a person’s eye movement. Such a system can be of significant help in providing mobility to quadriplegics and people with other immobilizing disabilities. The project was awarded a major prize by the organizers.

One more thing: In recognition of Burzin’s achievements at the 2018 Intel ISEF, a minor planet (34599) discovered by the LINEAR program at the MIT Lincoln Labs is now named after him! WOW! What an honor!!

We do not have a STAR amongst us Mobeds!

We have a Planet, Mobed Burzin Poras Balsara!

In summary, Burzin is going to ride a bike for 4000 miles from Austin, TX to Anchorage, Alaska to raise funds in the name of his Science Teacher who has cancer.

They need all the help they can get and we in the name of “Parsi Thy name is Charity” should donate to this worthy cause.

Jo Ann and I have already donated.

Please make a dream of our young Mobed come true by donating to this worthy cause.

You can donate here:

Good luck to you, Planet Mobed Burzin!

Love and Tandoorasti, Soli

From: Burzin Balsara <
Sent: February 28, 2019 2:47 AM
Subject: Texas 4000 for Cancer


I am thrilled and honored to be biking from Austin to Alaska as a part of the longest annual charity bike ride, Texas 4000.. Please help me by supporting Texas 4000 for Cancer by helping them fundraise for our campaign: Amplify Austin.

This cause means a lot to me because: Fulfilling my dreams began a long time ago with my childhood experiences in my family. Today, it continues to grow as I start this journey riding for my high school science teacher and science fair sponsor, who suffers from an advanced form of lung cancer that has spread to other organs. My passion for science began in my childhood with simple robotics, but now I know one day I want to push the boundaries of human capabilities by integrating robots into the lives of those who have suffered great losses through cancer and many other immobilizing diseases. I can only strive for these goals with the support of family, friends, and most importantly, my teachers along the way.

My science teacher’s battle with cancer began in 2017 with her diagnosis of Stage IV Leiomyosarcoma right around Thanksgiving. After one round of failed chemo, she had surgery and was free of the tumor in February 2018. Unfortunately, with the reoccurring fight against cancer, the tumor returned in May 2018 along with more failed chemo regimen. After a second major surgery in August, she has been placed in a clinical trial for a new drug. Her battle continues as you read this today.

I owe it to her and each cancer victim, past and present, to ride.

So first and foremost, I ride for CHARITY that funds cutting-edge cancer research to give individuals a fighting chance against this debilitating disease. Second, I ride for HOPE because I love meeting new people and ensuring those affected by cancer that I will ride for a cancer-free world. Lastly, I ride for KNOWLEDGE by advocating for the dissemination of life-saving cancer prevention information to communities along the way from Austin to Alaska.

I hope you can consider supporting me in this endeavor by donating. Every little bit counts.

Thank you, 
Burzin Balsara

You can view the fundraiser here:

Shernaz Engineer nominated: Women who make London great

Dear Well-wishers,

To mark the centenary of the first women in the UK winning the right to vote, and to drive forward gender equality across the London today, the Mayor of London and the London Assembly has launched a year-long women’s equality campaign: #BehindEveryGreatCity.The campaign includes a year-long programme of public art by women artists on the London Underground, the unveiling of the first statue of a women in Parliament Square – suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett – and launching an initiative to support women into leadership roles. 

Women make extraordinary contributions to their communities and London, but they’re not always recognised. That’s why the Mayor and the London Assembly created the Hidden Credits campaign – a crowd-sourced celebration of fantastic women from all backgrounds. You will be glad to learn that our own WZCC Chair Shernaz Engineer has been nominated.

Kindly go to

You will find her name at this link –

Yours sincerely

Malcolm M Deboo


UK celebrity chef Todiwala becomes MCS ambassador

Celebrity chef and restauranteur Cyrus Todiwala has joined the Marine Conservation Society as an “ocean ambassador”, the charity has announced.

Todiwala, chef patron of Cafe Spice Namaste in London and one half of the UK’s BBC series ‘The Incredible Spice Men’, has already been a seafood sustainability campaigner for many years.

“I have been involved in the area of marine conservation since 1983 when I worked with the government of Goa [India] on a number of environmental initiatives, including helping to achieve protected status for turtles and dugongs,” said Todiwala.

“In the UK, like in several countries, people get addicted to certain kinds of fish only and will not deviate to trying other equally great fish. This puts serious pressures on certain species,” Todiwala added.

“It’s one reason why we must, as an island nation, support our fisher-folk and also ensure that we take precautions to leave a good legacy behind with an abundance of fish for an ever-increasing fish loving population.”

MCS said that Mr Todiwala was the first chef to become an ocean ambassador for the charity.

“His amazing knowledge of fish from catching to cooking and his reputation as a restaurateur is a fantastic opportunity for MCS,” said Nicole Greaves, MCS head of marketing.

Indian-American Neomi Rao Sworn In As Judge Of DC Court Considered Second Most Powerful After US Supreme Court

Indian-American Neomi Rao  Sworn In As Judge Of DC Court Considered Second Most Powerful After US Supreme Court

Neomi Jehangir Rao. (Wikimedia Commons)

Indian-American Neomi Jehangir Rao has been sworn in as US Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, widely considered to be the second most powerful court in the US, next only to the US Supreme Court, reports Press Trust of India (PTI).

With this swearing in, she became the second Indian-American after Sri Srinivasan to be part of the DC Court. Nominated by the Republican President Donald Trump, she will now replace Justice Brett Kavanaugh who was recently elevated to the Supreme Court.

Rao was confirmed by the US Senate last week by 53-46 votes. Joined by her husband Alan Lefkowitz, Rao was sworn in by the US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Tuesday (19 March). “She is going to be fantastic. Great person,” Trump had said about her.

Accomplished Individual

Born in Detroit to Parsi physicians from India – Zerin Rao and Jehangir Narioshang – Neomi Rao received her B.A. from Yale University and her J.D. from the University of Chicago.

Before her elevation to the Court, Rao had served as the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) of the Office of Management and Budget.

In a previous stint, she was also a professor of structural constitutional law, administrative law, and legislation and statutory interpretation at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.

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