Parsis set to exercise their franchise for BPP polls

The Parsi community is all set to witness a change this October, as its members will exercise their franchise for the first time in 350 years since the Bombay Parsi Panchayat was established. From October 4 to 14, all Parsis over 18 years of age will vote for seven trustees of the Bombay Parsi Panchayat (BPP).

Earlier, the trustees were indirectly selected by a 3000- member group, called the Anjuman Committee, which was disbanded after the High Court judgment in May 2008. The BPP, which is the biggest private body in Mumbai, with over Rs. 40,000 crore holdings and 5000 tenements, has been recognised as a governing body and a number of Parsis maintain that there is lack of transparency in their dealings, which the upcoming election will help change.

“The BPP, in the last few decades, hasn’t lived upto its reputation, and has become commercialised,” said a member of the Adult Franchise for Progress (AFP), a non-profit group that has been instrumental in bringing about changes in the voting process. He added that the trustees would be elected for a period of seven-years and that the upcoming elections would make the youth more active in the political process. “Some more transparency and a greater sense of integrity are necessary and the monetary dealings and other such affairs should be done without a cloak and dagger approach,” said Firoza Punthakey Mistree, author of ‘A Zoroastrian Tapestry’.

“In 1908, under the election scheme, we could elect 50 candidates, who along with f

ifty donors, would in turn elect the trustees and their numbers steadily increased. But till now, we have not been able to vote directly,” said Jehangir Patel, editor, ‘Parsiana’. The elections will help involve more people and it remains to be seen how the nature of the campaign would change overtime, he added.

While members of the Parsi community unanimously agree that the elections will bring about significant changes but there are also apprehensions about the process and its outcome, since this is the first time. “The franchise was long overdue, and that should have been done long time back. However, the rules and by-laws haven’t been put together properly,” said Firoza Punthakey Mistree, adding that there is a need for a proper mechanism to prevent double voting. Environmentalist and member of the Association of Inter-Married Zoroastrians (AIMZ) Meher Rafaat says, “Most people are not aware of the areas where the BPP’s influence extends.” Patel, however feels that the threat of impersonation isn’t a big problem. “Every voter is registered, and to impersonate would be a criminal offence, ” he said.

Chairman of the BPP, Minoo Shroff said, “Every change creates problems, but it is time for us to move forward. If the nation has accepted democracy, then an enlightened community like the Parsis should do so as well,” he said.

Original article here.

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  • rustom

    It seems history is repeating itself. The current happeinings resemble the times of break up of Persia and creation of Armenia as the 1st christian nation.The politics of the time of Zoroastrian Persia collapsing after the sasanians rebuilt the Zoroastrian spirit resemble the politics ot today, i.e our forfathers came to India only with the avesta on their lips and faith in their blood , passed on the science of zoroastrianim thru the religion of mazdayasnism, and gave free so we carry on the flame to comming generations . Now only to be riddiculed from within and cries of change even without studying the subject.
    The sasanians resemble our forfathers who thru time and torture thwarted efforts of those who wanted to , after the fall of rome to christianisation , delink Zoroastrianism from Persia. Our direct forfathers fought and suceeded again thru time and torture to rekindle the zoroastrian flame in India after suffering from a hlocaust back home.

    The ones in today’s time who think arbitary change is necessary and arbitaraly good resemble those who revolted against their own during the sasanid period, to suit their own agenda resulting in fracturing the efforts of the parthians and sasanids.To change zoroastrianism to suit personal tastes and make it a personal workshop seems the manthra for those who after enjoying the spirituality, goodwill, tangible and intangible assets of zoroastrianism want to change it, ironically even without studying it.

    The demand from the intermarried, from those opposed to strengthening zoroastrian systems like the dokhmenishini has created chaos amongst the youth fuelled by ignorance, apathy and total negligence towards the study of the whys and hows of the faith.

    While survival as zoroastrians goes hand in hand with survival of zoroastrianism,and survival of zoroastrianism depends on philosophy of mazda being practised thru zoroastrian systems, some want to end those systems yet portray themselves as champions for alerting and reviving zoroastrianism!