Thinking Big

In the 10th century, a group of Zoroastrians arrived from Iran on the shores of Gujarat, India, and sought refuge in the kingdom of Jadi Rana in Sanjan.

An oft-told tale then describes a meeting between the reigning Hindu king and the community chief, Dasturji Nairyosang Dhaval. “My kingdom is like a cup of milk, full to the brim.

By Jethu Abraham / Khaleej Times.

How can I accommodate your people?” the king supposedly asked the chief. In reply, the chief dissolved some sugar in the milk and offered it to the king. It is said that the shrewd king understood the message — the chief’s people would blend well with his own and even enhance its quality.

Centuries later, the Parsis (as the Zoroastrians are referred to in India) still remain a smallish community worldwide, yet this has not deterred the community from thinking big. The 9th World Zoroastrian Congress, which was held in Dubai at the Crown Plaza last December, showcased the community’s efforts in this direction. Lord Karan Billimoria, CBE, DL topped the list of luminaries who took the stage on the opening day of the Congress where he urged members “not to forsake Zoroastrian values while they strive for success.”

“Sometimes, people ask me if being a Parsi has helped me succeed. I believe that the Zoroastrian emphasis on good thoughts, good words and good deeds definitely helps,” he added, in his inaugural speech at the Congress.

Other luminaries included Nadir Godrej, managing director of Godrej Industries; Neville Shroff, chairman and CEO of Shroff Company Limited, creative ad-man Sam Balsara and acclaimed actor Boman Irani. The four-day Congress, which was themed ‘Unity through the sands of time’, also saw other members from diverse walks of life discuss their perspectives on the current state of Zoroastrian communities worldwide and their future.

While Balsara presented a blueprint for the community to “reposition itself as a leading light for other communities and as a beacon of hope for its own members”, Godrej used a poem to explain the significance of entrepreneurial spirit within the community, touching on one of the major points discussed during the Congress. Incidentally, this was also the primary point of discussion when I met Meher Bhesania, chair of the Congress, days later.

“Most of our youngsters work at prestigious firms today and hold significant positions in their respective fields. One of the Congress’ aims is to urge them to use their intellectual capital and resources to do something on their own and tap into their entrepreneurial skills,” she says.

Bhesania believes that the accumulation of wealth is not just for personal glory but also a benefit to the community at large; it would be “a continuation of the Parsi legacy that boasts of industrial greats like the Tatas, the Godrejs and the Wadias.”

For Bhesania, the work doesn’t end with coordinating and organising the event that took place last December. Based on a list of outlined action points, various community members have been entrusted with the task of working on the different goals discussed.

“We identified six focus areas — the global working group, health, entrepreneurship, women, youth and communication. These were based on the opinions of our community members on how we could better the community and mark our presence better worldwide,” she explains.These focus areas touch on sub-points that include harnessing youth potential, encouraging women to inculcate better Zoroastrian values, and health facilities for the poor and elderly. Community leaders are to work on them over the next four years and the progress reported at the next congress, scheduled to take place in Mumbai in 2014.

Bhesania feels that this is a good sign of things to come for the community, not just in Dubai but all over the world.“Parsis who came to this land (Dubai) 40 years ago were mainly from Aden, and over the years, while several have migrated to far-off lands, some have stayed back and started their own businesses. The choice of this city is a salute to Zoroastrians who, like the city, has shown progressiveness and the spirit of innovation while retaining their culture and values.”

  • Sillo Kapadia

    And how did the Parsee community reward India for their allowing us refuge? We sided with the British against them only because the British offered us special priviliges! How shameful!

    Today how many of our youth in India have adopted the local Indians languages as their own? In fact how many speak read and write Parsi Gujrati? The numbers are not encouraging.

    But many Parsis living in America who are losing their jobs and now beginning to “rediscover” India (and other destinations in Asia). Especially those in high-tech industries are not about to find suitable work again at good salaries, so all of a sudden they are “Indian” again.

    What a shame. It seems that love of country and pride take second seat to money.

  • rustom jamasji

    Siloo once again showcases her tyranical historical ignorance..
    Look at her 1st statement..that the Parsis sided with the british…

    Siloo’s ire against the Zoroastrians of Indo Pak is in tune as the Zoroastrians do not want to change!!! to the group that thirsts to change Zoroastriansim to their personal likes/dislikes..
    A classic case of belittling by the group of Piloo, Dhongi, and the group which with fictitious n ever changing names

    Siloo the first Indian flag was designed and fluttered by a Parsi..Madame Cama and for that the british exiled her out of India…She also designed the magazine Bande Mataram

    Dadabhoy Naorioji is not called the grandfather of India since he betrayed the Indians…Also he never became the president of the Indian national congress since he was a supporter of the Raj..

    Veer Nariman, Perin Nariman, Dinshaw Watcha…and the list is endless…
    Infact ratio wise the Parsis may have contributed towards the freedom struggle the most…and even when they were abroad…
    In other fields like philanthrophy, the charitablle hospitals, colleges and schools, institute for sciences and medicines and for the underpriviledged, and children and orphans, I guess, you might want to shut ure eyes to such..

    Siloo….Your insane statement would then punish all Indians as betrayers as the British Indian army has Indians, Hindus, Muslims and sikhs as soldiers in it.The British Indian police force had indegenious people in it…and so did the RIAF, RIA and the RIN.

    Forget about the people you pass judgement on being Zoroastrians…Shamefull is your plight that makes you pass a dismisile , ‘figment of your imagination ‘judgements on humans that have contributed massivly, n u pass such jufgements with what?—a compilation of your vast ignorance which is proportanate to your arrogance…

  • Siloo Kapadia

    No Rustom Jamasji, I did not say that ALL Parsis were like that. Unfortunately too many were. Yes, we did have great nationalists such as Dadabhai Navroji, Sir Pherozshah Mehta and Madame Bhikaji Cama. But too many Parsis were all too happy to work with the British while we should have spurned them.

    But I believe this will be changing. With the rise of India (ad the rest of Asia) I expect may Parsis who have settled abroad with return, and we will return with our knowledge to make your country great again!

  • piloo.

    Shower others with epithets like:

    1):’her tyranical historical ignorance’
    2) ‘Your insane statement ‘
    3) ‘Shamefull is your pligh’
    4) ‘a compilation of your vast ignorance’
    All indicators of ‘humility’ of academic intelligence.(!)

  • zenobia

    Democracy is sometimes used for the wrong reasons:)…lets not comment on what happened in the past but adapt a brighter attitude for a better TOMORROW!!:).. its always easy to use scarcasm but can’t we refrain from that!!..think again:)

  • Siloo Kapadia

    But Piloo Deekra, that is exactly how the bawaji bullies operate. A barrage of insults and pseudo threats. That is how they try to whip those who think differently “into line.” They are no better than the fundos, I tell you.

  • rustom jamasji

    Piloo,You once again showcase your hypocracy,and tear , shutting eyes to the original statement and lastly tear jerking when you/ ypur ilk are once again academically proven wrong

    Yes those were my statements due to the humility shown on on the Parsis on India, who probably are one of the biggest contributers towars their adopted lands as’
    ‘And how did the Parsee community reward India for their allowing us refuge? We sided with the British against them only because the British offered us special priviliges! How shameful! ‘

    See Piloo, your plight on first blaming, then jumpng from one excuse to other..each being more ridicolous than the again being academically wrong, then again belittling…and lastly tear jerking…on how many instances, dakhma issue,taliban calling issue, Priest issue,Zoroastrian texts issue and so many more that now you see calling Parsis as betrayers as having humility and academically challenging such false as being arrogant..

  • rustom jamasji

    Siloo after Parsi bashing, and then turning around could you name 1 Zoroastrian who has betrayed India….or any Indian Zoroastrian being termed as a betrayer of India even by the Indians..even during the british Raj!

    Ofcourse Siloo , Piloo, Dhongi yn group can claim that we were betrayers as we worked for the Municipality, and business houses..or started our own business’s just as any one else…..but then so were many Hindus, sikhs, Muslims etc etc in the royal Indian Airforce and the Royal Indian Navy and the royal Indian army… apart from the Biritish Indian Police…

    so Piloo n Siloo n goup, now you can in your wisdom belittle the sikhs, Hindus and Muslims as betraying India and siding with the British…

    Ofcourse Piloo’s humility is about stating that ‘Parsis betrayed India..a factually incorrect statement…so then when again factually corrected by other communities he can then tear Jerk that others are all lacking humility….and Siloo then can claim that they are bullied..

    Infact the duo Piloo and Siloo can try and play Wagner in Israel or Finlandia in Russia or 1812 in Finlandia, or try and justify Himmler’s action in Jerusalem, … and when treated like an ignorant, arrogant humans and shunned, then the duo can claim that even such are without humility and tear Jerk…

    Siloo, Piloo and the ilk think that as long as their demand to act however they deem right, ,pass judgement without having any studies on the subject, and falsley blame others using their figment of imagination and to achieve their personal agenda are met , its ok …..otherwise blame others of talibanisation…a trait displayed supherbly by your group!…

    Piloo can try and thrust horse blinds on others about a statement being factually wrong and about those who cannot be present to justify their case yet their deeds prove Piloo and Siloo wrong about Siloo’s statement of Parsis betraying India and siding with the raj?!

  • Eruch Surkari

    Betraying INDIA by us PARSIS is out of question ,we may complain and whine …Yes ..but betrayal never. We will Love this Land and continue do what .is good for this our land and its people in every way we can .wherever in the world we may be. Some of us may have left its shores but we shall never forget the freedom it has given to keep the flame and the fire for our beautiful religion .alive for over a thousand years.

  • Jeannie Antia

    Rustom Jamasji … excuse me, please … how dare you insult the lady Piloo in this primitive way. What a primitive man you are!


    Jeannie Antia Wimmer

    P.S. We all have betrayed India … all of us .. who live abroad and are well-off. I left as a kid … not because I fled the poverty of India! All my cousins have left – not one stayed! We rich Parsis were always pro western and that is betrayal to the country who took us and let us keep our blood pure and our religion untouched.

  • rustom jamasji


    you are free to your perspective that Zoroastrans betrayed India …well ofcourse your wisdom then can also make you dare historians that wud differ from your perspective…

    On your point of leaving India , wel then the Nehru clan who studied abroad, wud make him and oter Pundits betrayers..or for that matter of fact sikhs betrayers of India since they settled abroad and also fought in the British army…

    About Rich Parsis…there are rich as well as poor Parsis..Jeejeebhoy Jamshetjee satyed in a poor chowl at V.T…and rose up just as many other Indians fom diff faiths…Jashetjee Tata..rose up..fighting for swadeshi and gave employment to millions of India….your perspective of such being betrayers of India…

    Yes you can feel that one who stops such drastic lies as being primitive, yet feel that it is magnanimous to call all those betrayers who sttod up for their country….that too is your right….as i said u have the right to feel historians too are primitive as they feel that the Zoroastrians being rch or poor were loyal to the land that gave them refuge

  • rustom jamasji

    @ Parsi Khabar..cud you delete my post above this as it wud only be in duplicate…

    @ Jeannie. Lets examine your statemens of Parsis betraying India..and your point of it being so since some also went abroad…

    On your point of betraying India by leaving India , well i think your arrogance has made you miss my first post as it may be your arrogance that makes yo close your eyes to the point of a lady Madame Cama..

    Well if such was the case how come Madame Cama is considered a very loyal Indian and one of India s best freedom Fighters?
    Not only was she abroad, she died abroad…is everyone who respects her as one of Indias best, a fool..?

    How come she was rich, was abroad yet cis considerd as Indias freedom fighter..though you Piloo, Siloo etc call such betrayers?

    Lets look at Dadabhoy Naoroji..He was not only abroad but also a MP of the British Parliment..Not only that he was the first ASian to be so…..Now you can portray him a betrayer of India …yet India considers him the Grandfather of India!!!
    Ofcourse you Piloo Siloo are free to your perspective of calling them betrayers..

    About Rich Parsis…there are rich as well as poor Parsis..Jeejeebhoy Jamshetjee stayed in a poor chawl at V.T…and rose up just as many other Indians fom diff faiths…Jamshetjee Tata..rose up..fighting for swadeshi and gave employment to millions of India….your perspective of such being betrayers of India…

    Again you can label them betrayers of India…

    I wonder if you really consider labelling those who state facts with proofs and correct ignorant , arrogant statements that belittle fine humans and history as being Primitive ….and and those who baselessly alledge, and with historical bankruptcy label the finest as betrayers …as being Modern…….

    Either that or you feel that being a lady, one has the right to baselessly alledge anything and men who correct such ill are primitive.

    In that case i feel that it does not matter wheather historical distortions are made by a man or a woman….but such distortions are dimunitive to mankind…whilst if you feel that raising a women’s card or a racist card gives a right or leeway to be excused…well modern world feel that such ridicolousness is dimunitive.

    I wonder if you wud excuse the call to label George Washington a betrayer of USA just because the call was from a lady!

    You are free to your perspective that Zoroastrans betrayed India …well ofcourse your wisdom then can also make you dare historians that differ from your perspective…

    Ironically you not only missed the point of Siloo and Piloo(I think he is a man..) but aided them in disgustingly belittling a respectfull, respected lady who died fighting for her country that gave her community refuge.

    Recently Studies shows Eva Braun as a big Symphatiser of the NAZI movement and considerably supported it….Gosh if she was present at the Nuremburg Trials, your wisdom wud have stated that those who tried her or any other NAZI perpetrator of crime was primitive just because a man has tried a woman fo commiting a wrong.

    On the other hand i really shudder more if such was not the case..cause then you really feel that the likes of Madame Cama, Naoroji and so many many many more Zoroastrians were betrayers of india just because they were rich or were abroad..Ironically that wud also put all the other faith in the same picture…