November 13th, 2014 marked the 101st anniversary of the announcement of Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel Prize in Literature.
He was Asia’s first Nobel Prize winner. His book ‘Gitanjali’ literally meaning “An offering of Songs” was considered by judges to be “profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful”.
He originally penned the Jana Gana Mana, a Poem , which was later accepted as India’s National Anthem.
This legendary man shall always be remembered in history for his multi-dimensional contribution as a writer of stimulating stories, plays and novels, an outstanding educator, a renowned philosopher and a significant music composer, painter and choreographer.

What would be of immense interest (to the Parsi community) is the manner in which Tagore immortalized Prophet Zarathustra after making a study of the “Gathas”. Both Zarathustra and Tagore were mystics of the highest order -their mysticism came spontaneously from the depths of their soul. Both enjoyed an intimate personal relationship with their cosmic beloved, which is the quintessence of mysticism.

A few extracts from the chapter on Prophet Zarathustra from his book “The Religion of Man” clearly illustrates how Rabindranath Tagore profoundly expounded the contribution of Zarathustra to world thought.


Tagore throws light on various dimensions of Zarathustra’s teachings, which are illuminating and inspiring.
He asserts : “The first profound record of the change of direction in man’s religion we find in the message of great Prophet in Persia, Zarathustra, and as usual it was accompanied by a revolution. The most important of all outstanding facts of Iranian history is the religious reform brought about by Zarathustra. There can be hardly any question that he was the first man we know who gave a definitely moral character and direction to religion and at the same time preached the doctrine of monotheism, which offered an eternal foundation of reality to goodness as an ideal of perfection. All religions of the primitive type try to keep men bound with regulation of external observances. Zarathustra was the greatest of all the pioneer prophets who showed the path of freedom to man, the freedom of moral choice, the freedom from the blind obedience to unmeaning injunctions , the freedom from the multiplicity of shrines which draw our worship away from the single-minded chastity of devotion.”

“Zarathustra was the first prophet who emancipated religion from the exclusive narrowness of the tribal God,the God of a chosen people and offered it the Universal Man. This is a great fact in the history of religion”. To illustrate this ,Tagore quotes from Yasna 45.1 (Translation D.J.Irani) : “Hearken unto me , Ye who come from near and from far ! Listen for I shall speak forth now ; ponder well over all things, weigh my words with care and clear thought. Never shall the false teacher destroy this world for a second time, for his tongue stands mute, his creed exposed”.

Tagore adds “I think it can be said without doubt that such a high conception of religion,
uttered in such a clear note of affirmation with a sure note of conviction that it a truth of the ultimate ideal of perfection which must be revealed to all humanity, even at the cost of martyrdom , is unique in the history of any religion belonging to such a remote dawn of civilization.”

“The ideal of Zorashtrian Persia is distinctly ethical. It sends its call to men to work together with the Eternal Spirit of Good in spreading and maintaining “Kshathra”, the kingdom of righteousness , against all attacks of evil. This ideal gives us our place as collaborators with God in distributing his blessings over the world”.

In this light, Tagore quotes from the “Ahunavaiti Gatha (Yasna 31.22) which states :
“Clear is this to the man of wisdom as the man who carefully thinks; He who upholds Truth with all the might of his power, He who upholds truth the utmost in his words and deeds, He, indeed, is Thy most valued helper, O Mazda Ahura !
Those surrounded by believers in magical rites, he proclaimed in those dark days of unreason that religion has its truth in its moral significance, not in external practices of imaginary value; that its value is in upholding man in his life of good thoughts, good words and good deeds.”

Tagore writes “….In the primitive stages of spiritual growth, when is dimly aware of the mystery of the infinite in his life and the world, when he does not fully know the inward character of his relationship with his truth, his first feeling is either of dread or of greed of gain. This drives him into wild exaggeration in worship, frenzied convulsions of ceremonialism. But in Zarathustra’s teachings, which are best reflected in the Gathas, we have hardly any mention of the ritualism of worship. Conduct and its moral motives have received almost the sole attention. The orthodox Persian form of worship in ancient Iran included animal sacrifice and offering of haoma to the daevas. That all this should be discountenanced by Zarathustra not only shows his courage , but the strength of his realization of the Supreme Being as spirit.”

Tagore notes “….There was a time when, along with other Aryan peoples, the Persians also worshipped the elemental Gods of Nature, whose favour was not to be won by any moral duty performed or service of love (but to be won by sacrifices and ceremonies)….Then comes the great Prophet (whose call) is a call to the fighter, the fighter against untruth, against all that lures away man’s spirit from its high mission of freedom into the meshes of materialism.”

“Such a message (as his) always arouses the antagonism of those whose habits have become nocturnal, whose vested interest is in the darkness. And there was a bitter fight in the lifetime of the prophet between his followers and the others who were addicted to the ceremonies that had tradition on their side, and not truth.”

“The active heroic aspect of this religion reflects the character of the people themselves, who later on spread conquests far and wide and built up great empires. They accepted this world in all seriousness. They had their zest in life and confidence in their own strength. Their ideal was the ideal of the fighter. By force of will and deeds of sacrifice they were to conquer “haurvatat”(welfare in this world) and “ameretat” (immortality in the other). For paradise has to be gained through conquest. That sacred task is for the heroes, who are to take the right side (of good) in the battle and the right weapons (of good thoughts, good words and good deeds).”

“….Zarathustra’s voice is still a living voice, not alone a matter of academic interest for historical scholars who deal with the facts of the past ; not merely the guide of a small community of men in the daily details of their life. Rather, of all teachers, Zarathustra was the first who addressed his words to all humanity, regardless of distance of space or time ….But he was the watcher in the night, who stood on the lonely peak facing the East and broke out singing the paeans of light to the sleeping world when the sun came out on the brim of the horizon”.

By Dr. Homi Dhalla


“The Parsis of India” examines a much-neglected area of Asian Studies. In tracing keypoints in the development of the Parsi community, it depicts the Parsis’ history, and accounts for their ability to preserve, maintain and construct a distinct identity. For a great part the story is told in the colonial setting of Bombay city. Ample attention is given to the Parsis’ evolution from an insular minority group to a modern community of pluralistic outlook. Filling the obvious lacunae in the literature on British “colonialism,” Indian society and history, and, last but not least, “Zoroastrianism,” this book broadens our knowledge of the interaction of colonialism and colonial groups, and elucidates the significant role of the Parsis in the commercial, educational, and civic milieu of Bombay colonial society.
BRILL01-Jan-2001 – Religion – 368 pages
Click Here to read the preview of the book
Some excerpts and contents :
In appreciation of their efforts on behalf of the freedom struggle in South Africa, and in appeal for their continued support, M. K. Gan-dhi noted the legacy of the Parsis of India: “It is one of the supreme wonders of God that, though the Parsee community does not number more than a hundred thousand in the whole world, it has made a name for itself everywhere by virtue of its many illustrious qualities. It can be said that it is this community, which holds power in India. Bombay is the real capital of India, [and] it owes its prosperity mainly to the Parsees.”‘ Gandhi’s assessment is but one of many that have sought to understand the ability of the Parsis of India to survive and prosper as a community and people over the centuries since their arrival in India.
Chapter One focuses on the rise of the Parsi community in Bom-bay, and the moral and economic supports to community and identity that take shape in the urban setting. An examination of the role and place of charity within the Parsi community, and the Parsis’ pre-eminence in trade and commerce provide insight into the Parsis’ ad-aptation in the new setting, and the building of the foundation and base for the subsequent growth of the community under colonialism.
Chapter Two examines the factors that made for leadership of the Parsi community among the wealthy and influential Parsi merchant-princes of early Bombay, and the rise of the institution of the Parsi Punchayet of Bombay as the internal government of the Parsis. The chapter examines the ability of the Parsis to exploit the new opportunity made available in Bombay to safeguard, preserve, and redefine identity with the establishment of the Punchayet, and prior to the great influence of Western ideas on the community. The chapter takes account of the community norms and the social ideology that emerges among the Parsis in the urban setting and which, for a time, unite the Parsis in support of the Punchayet. The chapter then focuses on the decline of the Punchayet and the processes that make for the rise of alternative models for safeguarding identity.
Chapter Three examines the challenge posed to Parsi religious identity by the conversions of Parsi boys in Bombay, by the Rever-end Doctor John Wilson. The chapter provides a unique picture of the challenge faced by the Parsis from the Christian missionaries, and how the most accommodating of communities under colonialism reacts in antagonism to a perceived threat from the colonial envi-ronment. It reflects that amidst the Parsis’ continuing progress and socialization under colonialism, their religious identity remained in-violable. Of central focus is the ability of the Parsis as a community to withstand the challenge posed by the Christian missionaries, while in general affected by the impact of the colonial environment.
Chapter Four examines the Parsis’ response to the changing social milieu of mid-nineteenth century Bombay. The influence of Western education and British values on the Parsis, and the attempts by the Parsis to direct social progress to their advantage amidst social and cultural change, are examined. The chapter in particular focuses on the rise of the Parsi reformers, as a new centre of authority among the Parsis, and the consequences of the reformers’ reform movement.
Chapter Five concentrates on the attempts by the Parsis to shape their identity through legislative and legal channels. The chapter first examines the Parsis’ attempts, at mid-nineteenth century, to fashion and have enacted a Parsi law code that deals with the issues of (intestate) inheritance and succession, and marriage and divorce. The section notes the pressures of the colonial environment and, in particular, the effect of British legal norms on the Parsis, which shape the Parsis’ responses. The chapter then deals with an important legal case in the history of the Parsi community, known as the Parsi Punchayet Case of 1906-08. The Parsi Punchayet Case involved the Parsis turning to the law courts to settle issues relative to their identity, specifically the issue of conversion and membership in the community, and the consequences of their actions. Finally, the chapter examines the evolution of Parsi thought by the early twentieth century and a second important legal case, known as the Rangoon Navjote Case of 1915-18. This section seeks to provide historical context to the changes the Parsis had undergone since the middle of the nineteenth century, and that shaped their arguments over identity and modernity.
Chapter Six examines the diversification of Parsi opinion over politics, specifically the rise of political nationalism among some Parsis, and the tension this creates within the Parsi community as to political allegiances and identity. The chapter traces the public career of Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917), his ties to the Parsis, and the influences that shaped his identification with the Indian nationalist movement. The chapter also examines the efforts and difficulties of the Parsis Sir Pherozeshah M. Mehta (1845-1915) and Sir Dinsha E. Wacha (1844-1936) to associate the Parsis with Indian nationalism. The rise of the Parsis in the Indian nationalist movement provides insight into the evolution and maturation of a segment of Parsi opinion towards a broader sense of identity, as well as the problematic nature of the transition for the Parsis.
Finally, the Epilogue presents an overview of the present-day Par-sis and is included to both update the historical narrative, and demonstrate the relevance of the historical narrative to the issues that continue to preoccupy the Parsis of India.

Celebrate Kadmi New Year with traditional Persian delicacies made by Parsi home chef

Celebrate Kadmi New Year at a table laden with traditional delicacies whipped up by a Parsi home chef of Iranian lineage

For the longest time, home chef Perzen Patel of the Bawi Bride Kitchen had been searching across Mumbai for zereshk berries, an ingredient that studs the Iranian dish, Berry Pulao. She was told to either replace zereshk with cranberries [“but they taste different”] or wait at the airport on a Friday when the Iran Air flight lands in Mumbai, hoping to find a passenger carrying zereshk that they could sell to her.

“It didn’t seem like a thing I could do,” she says with a straight face. Instead, early this year, she approached every dry fruit shop in Crawford Market. “Finally, I learnt that Asiatic Stores stocked them, but they had to be ordered in bulk. Occasionally, Motilal Masalawala [Kalbadevi] will also source it for you.” The acidic wrinkled beauties will make their way into the Irani Berry Pulao (`600), packed with mutton and kebabs, which Patel will offer as part of The Persian Table, a delivery menu that celebrates the lesser-known Kadmi New Year (July 18) — an ode to Irani Zoroastrians, who follow a calendar different from the Parsis.

Tabrizi Koofteh
Tabrizi Koofteh

Flavours from Persia
“Persian cuisine hasn’t got its due in the city. The perception that it is challenging [to re-create] because sourcing ingredients is tough is also not true,” says Patel, who, along with business partner Subhasree Basu — the duo have co-founded a culinary enterprise Greedy Foods — pored over Persian cookbooks for recipes. “Most dishes use few spices, relying on salt, pepper and aromatics like bay leaves and star anise. We’ve added a few more spices, loads of dry fruits and used mostly locally available ingredients.”

 The menu includes Ash e Reshteh, Aubergine Salad, Tabrizi Koofteh, Khoresh Fesenjan and Pastry Cigars. The duo plan to make the menu an annual feature.

Perzen Patel
Perzen Patel

Culinary difference
Patel says she is “25 per cent Irani” owing to her maternal Irani lineage. However, she rarely celebrated Kadmi New Year. “Many Iranis visit Doongerwadi (Zoroastrian Tower of Silence) to pay their respects to those who have passed away. My aunt told me that as a child, she would spot caterers offering pots of Ash e Reshteh and herbed naan to visitors. A few still follow this practice but charge a price for the dishes.”

Highlighting the difference between Parsi and Irani cuisine, she says, “Parsi food blends Persian, Gujarati and British influences. It includes fish, and the trademark sweet and sour flavours. Most Iranis too cook like Parsis but traditional Irani food continues to be low on spice, onion and tomato, and much meatier.”

What’s on the menu?
Ash e Reshteh (Rs 450): Translated as ‘noodle soup’ in Farsi, the dish is also known as Osh e Meer, where meer are traditional homemade, hand-cut wheat noodles. Patel slow-cooks chickpeas, split red lentils, pigeon peas, kidney beans and black-eyed beans separately and adds them to the soup with spinach, mint, dill and amaranth leaves and fettucine. “The noodles symbolise good fortune. A prayer is said while sprinkling the meer, as Iranis believe it is wish-fulfilling.”

Tabrizi Koofteh (Rs 325): Originating in Tabriz, the fifth largest city in Iran, the meatballs feature an outer layer of lamb mince and rice, stuffed with apricots, barberry and boiled egg. Seasoned with pepper and mint, they are served with a sweet-and-sour tomato gravy, similar to the one in Parsi gravy cutlets.

Pastry Cigars (Rs 200): Made with puff pastry, these include almond meal, cinnamon, cashews, rose water and orange rind instead of orange blossom water mentioned in the original recipe.

Khoresh Fesenjan (Rs 475): Chicken stew with walnut and pomegranate.

FROM July 15 to 18 (on pre-order basis)
CALL 9819285720

By Krutika Behrawala


Greetings from WZCC.

Folks, it is once again time for our Annual Global Meet. Earlier, our Global AGMs were successfully held in India as well as foreign locales, namely, Houston, London, Tehran, Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Pune, Goa, etc. This year’s Global AGM will be held in India, viz. Bangalore – a dynamic city with its IT hub and pleasant environment. The name “Bangalore”, which is the capital of Karnataka State, represents an anglicised version of the Kannada language name “Bengaluru” – by which the city is now known.

In this fast changing world, Entrepreneurs, as well as Professionals, have to remain alerted on all fronts so as to become successful. Global Meet, therefore, arranged by WZCC is the ideal platform for all of us to establish a network so as to capture the market share and achieve sustainable growth.

Bangalore is sometimes referred to as the “Silicon Valley of India” (or “IT Capital of India”) because of its role as the nation’s leading information technology (IT) exporter. Indian technological organisations ISRO, Infosys, Wipro and HAL are headquartered in the city. Information Technology, as we are all aware, is growing at a rapid pace and hence, any business or profession need to keep pace with innovation which can be disruptive at times. Bangalore City will, therefore, be an ideal place for all of us to meet for continuous growth and prosperity.

Although our Bangalore Chapter is comparatively new, they have made a splendid effort to organise this Event, led by Air Chief Marshal Fali Major (Retd.), Chairman – Bangalore Chapter along with his dedicated team.

With their special efforts, they have selected one of the most sought after resorts called “Clarks Exotica Convention Resort and Spa”, which is hardly 15 minutes from Bangalore airport. It is a sprawling place with all the facilities one could look for and would, therefore, be an ideal location for us to communicate and network with each other.’









The month of December, in particular, would certainly add flavour to our Meet. The coolest months are December/January with an average low temperature of 15.1° C (59.2° F). Hence, carrying of light woollens are recommended. Moreover, their efforts have resulted in all of us getting the highly competitive rate for our stay and I am, therefore, sure that we will have a large number of participants for this Global Meet.

It is my appeal to all our members to kindly release advertisements which would be published in our yearly invaluable journal “SynergyZ” which has a wide circulation. Click Here for the advertisement details along with the Rate Chart. We are sure members will help WZCC in augmenting its resources for mutual benefit.

For the convenience of our members, all the relevant details are given below. Request all my dear members to read them carefully and fill in the details and register their names at a very early date. A quick and sizeable response from all our members will help us to organise this Event in a most exemplary manner.

Invitation from WZCC-Bangalore with details of Global Meet
Registration Form
Program Details
Information on Tour in India
Information on Tour in Srilanka

Looking forward to your gracious presence and interact with you for mutual benefit.

FEZANA Scholarships Applications Open

FEZANA is happy to announce that the application cycle for the FEZANA scholarships for 2017 is open.

FEZANA Offers the following Scholarships

ACADEMIC Scholarships

  • Mehraban and Morvorid Kheradi Endowment Scholarship for Academic Excellence: The FEZANA  Scholar
  • FEZANA 25th Anniversary Endowment  Scholarship For Academic Excellence
  • Morvarid Guiv Endowment Scholarships
  • Purvez and Aban  Rustomji Endowment Scholarship
  • Banoobai and Maneckshaw Kapadia Endowment Scholarship  for Financial Assistance
  • Dr Minocher Rustom Vesuna and Dowlat Minocher Vesuna WZO Canada Endowed Scholarships
  • Sheroo Darabsha Kolsawala Endowed Scholarship

To read the eligibility criteria and apply click here


The FEZANA Performing and Creative Arts Scholarship (P&CAS) provides financial support to Zarathustis who are performing artists in music, drama, etc. or practice other creative art forms like literature, poetry, fine arts, sculpture, painting, etc.

To read the eligibility criteria and apply click here


The Excellence in Sports Scholarship is to provide financial support to young Zarathushtis who are performing exceptionally and at highly recognized levels in any sport.

To read the eligibility criteria and apply click here

SOAS awarded £5million gift to create world-leading Institute of Zoroastrian Studies

SOAS University of London has secured a £5 million donation to create the world-leading SOAS Shapoorji Pallonji Institute of Zoroastrian Studies.

The donation will enable the creation of the SOAS Shapoorji Pallonji Institute of Zoroastrian Studies, a resource dedicated to enhancing the research, learning and teaching in the field of one of the world’s oldest religions. The institute will be co-chaired by Dr Sarah Stewart, Lecturer in Zoroastrianism, and Professor Almut Hintze FBA, Zartoshty Brothers Professor of Zoroastrianism. The donation will secure a long-term endowment for the Shapoorji Pallonji Lectureship in Zoroastrian Studies at SOAS in the Department of the Study of Religion, which will be held by Dr Stewart.

Three Magi in Parthian dress, exhibited at The Everlasting Flame: Zoroastrianism in History and Imagination, London 2013, Delhi 2016

SOAS has secured a commitment of £5 million over three years which will also see the creation of Shapoorji Pallonji Scholarships in Zoroastrian Studies as well as enabling a wide range of public engagement.

Baroness Valerie Amos CH, Director of SOAS, said: ‘Based in London, the home of the oldest Zoroastrian diaspora community outside India and Iran, SOAS is the perfect place to be home to an Institute of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism has been studied at SOAS for nearly 90 years and through this donation we will be able to enhance our research and teaching in Zoroastrian studies and strengthen our relationship with the Zoroastrian Community.’

Mr Shapoor Mistry, Chairman, Shapoorji Pallonji Group, said: ‘Through the creation of the Institute, Lectureship and Scholarships, this donation will ensure that SOAS continues to develop as the world’s leading centre of Zoroastrian Studies, advancing in perpetuity the understanding and appreciation of this ancient religion and its history, culture, languages and peoples.’

Zoroastrianism has been studied at SOAS since 1929 thanks to the Parsi Community’s lectureship, which was held by Sir Harold Walter Bailey and Walter Bruno Henning. Renowned scholar Professor Mary Boyce taught Zoroastrianism from 1947 until 1982. Many other distinguished scholars of Zoroastrianism and Iranian Studies have taught at SOAS, including Professor John Hinnells, Professor A D H Bivar, Professor Philip Kreyenbroek and Professor Nicholas Sims-Williams. SOAS also produced a major international exhibition exploring the cultural history of Zoroastrianism, The Everlasting Flame: Zoroastrianism in history and imagination, which was exhibited in SOAS’s Brunei Gallery in 2013 and in the National Museum in Delhi in 2016.

11 July 2017

Cdr Kavina passed away in Australia last week

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


India loses 1971 war hero; declassified CIA files reveal impact of his Operation Trident


A better death is as important as a good life, say the founders of two of the city’s newest palliative and end-of-life care centres.

Nobody thought he would be able to play the piano again. But before he died towards the end of last year, this elderly musician, who lived on Marine Drive and was suffering from spinal cancer, briefly rediscovered the joy of music, and his poignant notes lingered in the salty air at his home.

“Later on, since he would have problems sleeping at night, he would want recommendations on shows to watch. One day, he called me and said he could sense his time was up. But he wanted me to continue recommending shows to other people. He thought they were very good. In the end, he died a peaceful death,” says Devaunshi Mehta.

Mehta is a psychologist at Palcare, which, along with Romila Palliative Care, is among the most recent addition to the city that treats people with terminal illnesses, primarily cancer. Behind both Palcare and Romila are stories of personal loss.

“The medical system here is geared towards looking for cures. But sometimes you have to let go,” says Pheroza Bilimoria who lost her husband Jimmy, a top Tata executive, to lung cancer in 2013. “Back then, I, too, hoped that he would be cured, and since money was not a constraint, we rushed from one hospital to another. It didn’t matter – Jimmy died a difficult death.”

Bilimoria, a former publishing professional, set up Parel-based Palcare, which provides home-based care to patients, in December 2015, with help from the Tata Trusts and industrialist Anand Mahindra. She says that people always want to die at home, surrounded by their loved ones and not “hooked to hundreds of tubes in a hospital”.

But Mumbai — and the entire country, with the exception of Kerala — has too few palliative care centres. “About seven and a half lakh people (according to the National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research) are diagnosed with cancer each year in India, and the mortality rate is between 70 to 80 per cent. But we still don’t talk about death as much as we should.” (According to social entrepreneur network Ashoka, India has about 50 lakh people who require palliative care, but only two percent get it.)

Palliative care is not only about the management of pain — with opioid medications such as morphine — and symptom management, but it is also about resolving issues such as guilt, resentment and spiritual torment in patients. “There’s a lot of anger in people — this thing about ‘why me?” — and many believe they are afflicted with the disease because of something they have done,” says Mehta. Plus, it is also about helping families come to terms with the grief and loss. “Several of them don’t know how to deal with a patient who is dying of advanced cancer, or a similarly life-limiting disease. The poor come to us more readily, because they have no choice; the rich keep looking for cures before getting in touch,” says Bilimoria, whose team of about 15, including doctors and nurses, is at present treating 251 patients at their homes.

India has around 269 palliative care centres. About 169 of these are in Kerala, and 25 years before we had a National Program for Palliative Care, Dr M R Rajagopal founded the Pain and Palliative Care Society in Kozhikode in a single room at the city’s Government Medical College. Today, he heads the Thiruvananthapuram-headquartered Pallium India that runs over 100 palliative care centres in Kerala and several more outside the state.

“The greatest resistance to palliative care comes from medical professionals themselves, and it is still not taught as a subject unlike in the West,” says Rajagopal. Palliative care, says Rajagopal, first took root in Kerala as a communitydriven movement funded by donations from laypeople and supported by volunteers. But the government was quick to support it by relaxing narcotics regulations to permit use of morphine. “Kerala was also the first state to draft a Palliative Care Policy, in 2008. Today both Karnataka and Maharashtra, too, have palliative care policies, but what matters is the implementation.”

Kerala was the first state to focus on palliative care, because it had already tackled issues that still plague other parts of the country such as infant mortality, says Dr Armida Fernandez, the former dean of Lokmanya Tilak General Hospital and Medical College.

Fernandez’s Romila Palliative Care, named after her daughter who succumbed to cancer in 2013, is a sixmonth-old voluntary palliative care facility in Bandra that has so far looked after 40 patients from various strata of society. “It’s not just end-of-life care, we provide treatment and psychological support to patients with life-limiting diseases right from the diagnosis.” While a massive void still exists in palliative care in the country, Fernandez says that it is slowly becoming a priority area, and the change is being led by individuals. “That’s how it started in Kerala, too, and the state will join in. India started with battling infectious diseases, and maternal and infant mortality, and the focus is now shifting to lethal, non-communicable diseases. Sooner or later, palliative care, too, will become, I hope, a priority. When you’ve managed to take care of the living, you have time for the dying.”

And a better death is as important as living a good life, says Devaunshi Mehta. Studies have shown that the dying often have big regrets, but Mehta says that the little things we can do for them also make a huge difference. Like it was with Sushma Walke, a kirana shop owner who passed away at the beginning of this year. Walke, who had breast cancer, and was also suffering from brain metastasis, was bed-ridden for months. “She had nothing to do, she was agitated. So we got her a wheelchair, and that made her happy. And when we asked her what else she wanted to do, she said she simply wanted to have long chats with her neighbour, just like in the old days. A few weeks after that, she divided her assets between her children and passed away.”

Iran’s Yazd City Inscribed on World Heritage List

The historical city of Yazd in central Iran has become the country’s 22nd world heritage site after the World Heritage Committee voted in favor of its inscription on Sunday during the committee’s 41st session in Krakow, Poland.

Almost 200 hectares of the city’s 2,270-hectare historical texture now boast world heritage status.

Yazd is now the only UNESCO-listed Iranian city where people still live. It is also believed to be the world’s largest inhabited adobe city.

Registering the site on the coveted list was a tougher task than Iranian officials had hoped. The ancient city’s dossier was supposed to be considered for inscription last year but was deemed incomplete by UNESCO’s assessors who gave Iran a long list of shortcomings that had to be redressed to improve the city’s chances of inscription on the coveted list.

Cultural heritage authorities have envisioned a buffer zone of around 665.93 hectares for the designated area.

Yazd is home to UNESCO-listed ancient Persian qanats as well as Dolat Abad Garden, which is one of nine Iranian gardens inscribed collectively on the World Heritage List as “the Persian Gardens”.

The city is known for its adobe architecture, Zoroastrian fire temples and tall structures known as badgirs, or wind-catchers, which in ancient times functioned as natural ventilation in large buildings.

With 22 world heritage sites, Iran is ranked first in the Middle East and eleventh worldwide.