Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Shernaaz Engineer on the BPP Elections

The below is an article circulated on a newsgroup. It makes interesting reading with the BPP elections in the near future, as the subject matter.

With a heavy heart and a poignant pen, SHERNAAZ ENGINEER chronicles the current mess within the community – and appeals for unity

Was technology invented for us to use, or was it invented to use us? Right now, going by the spate of ‘stink mails’ doing the rounds, it would appear  to be the latter. We seem to be inadvertently allowing ourselves to be used  and abused by the Internet, as unwarranted emails land in our mail box,  forwarded by misguided friends.

Dishing the dirt on one probable BPP candidate after another seems to have become the community’s pass time. Or ‘time pass’, if one wants to be a wee  bit vernacular! What it essentially is, though, is an utter and shameful waste of time. And the fear is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. That as the election date draws closer, and the contest gets more  capricious, the daggers, which are already drawn, will dig in deeper still – and the wounds will be more vicious.

Even the US Presidential elections, keenly as they are being contested  around causes as contentious as race and long-held, painful prejudices, will appear like a gentle garden party compared to our street-fight style of ballot battling.

What a pity, isn’t it? Increasingly, one is becoming disappointed by our lack of grace. For years, one has held steadfast to the notion of all that  we stand for – integrity, impeccable public conduct, personal decorum, a  value-based upbringing that isn’t violated by opportunism, and respect for  others.

All of that seems to have been subverted in the last few years, as a slew of Acrimonious Acronyms slug it out for power. Whether it’s AZA, WAPIZ, ARZ,  BPP, AIMZ, PRG, WZO, AFP, and whatever else, all of them have been embroiled  in petty politicking and desperately trying to outmanoeuvre each other,  whilst simultaneously attempting to manipulate the community into supporting their ideology and actions.

The result is that we are today so fractured, so faction-ridden, so frayed that we have lost the very essence of who we are. And each one of the Acrimonious Acronyms has played its part in the process. In trying to grab  their slice of the community cake, all they have left behind is heap of  crumbs.

The average Parsi is really not concerned with the perennial warring that is being waged between various groups – and publicly at that. While ideologies can be debated and points of view countered, petty personal attacks are pointless. They serve only to sully the ethos and atmosphere of the entire community, filling minds with mistrust and hearts with misgivings.

Today, there is not a single leader, or possible leader, amongst us, who has  not been shred to shards. One isn’t suggesting that dissenting voices be  muffled, or criticisms silenced. But the manner in which it’s being done, week after week, has weakened the morale such that there’s now a surfeit of scepticism amongst us all.

Nobody trusts anybody any more, least of all if the person is proposing to stand for elections. Because the minute even the apprehension of that is apparent, the attacks are launched, fast and furious. This leaves the community confused, cantankerous and crushed. After all, if you cannot trust anybody to lead you, what purpose are the forthcoming elections going to serve?

As it is, nobody gets along with anyone. If the final Trustee Board is going to be a ‘coalition government’, with differing ideologies and personal egos pulling in very contrary directions, with the Trustees themselves having been fatally discredited by their detractors in print and on the Net, what are we thrusting the apex organisation of the community into – irretraceable chaos? 

Perhaps, all those who are whipping up passions like egg whites in a badly  set soufflé need to understand that we’re all falling flat. What we need more than ever before is cooperation and communion. Differing points of view have their place. But not at the cost of our unity. There will have to be give and take, and no issues are so irresolvable that illumined minds cannot sit together and work a way out.

Even if there, sadly, no way out, mutual respect will have to replace rancour and disruptive rivalry. There are far too many issues we need to focus on for our very survival as a community today, and these are far more crucial than our differences. We need Trustees who understand this, and inspire faith in the community that they can collaborate effectively to resolve the issues that assail us. We can sometimes agree to disagree. But to be disagreeably disagreeable all the time is defeating.

May the New Year bring us the unity we so desperately need to hold ourselves together, and the leadership to take us ahead in times to come. Saal Mubarak!