Leaders from the worldwide Zoroastrian diaspora met for the annual Global Working Group meeting at the Banaji Atashbehram Hall on December 20th, 2017. The meeting was chaired by Yazdi Desai, the chair of the Trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, the hosts for this meeting.
The meeting began with a benediction by Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastur, ater which Yazdi welcomed all the attendees. The minutes of the last Global Working Group were read and approved by those present.
Rohinton Rivetna (USA) and Neville Shroff (Hong Kong) presented the code of civil conduct that has been the underlying guideline for all GWG Meetings.
Neville stressed on the importance of this committee working in harmony and in unison for the betterment of the worldwide Parsee community.
Rohinton also gave a brief history of the various movements that have led to the current Global Working Group being formed.
Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastur and Dinshaw Tamboly of WZOT India updated everyone of the Mobed Upliftment program and urged those gathered to address the issue with ideas and funding to support an overall support system for mobeds in India.
Firoz Pestonjee, (Australia) Chair of the 11th World Zoroastrian Congress Perth gave a Congress update. Over 160 people have already registered in the early bird phase and Firoz asked those gathered to advertise the Congress further in their regions.
Katayun Kapadia (USA) gave a brief update of the 7th World Zoroastrian Youth Congress to be hosted in 2019 in Southern California, USA. She then invited Adil Minocherhomji, Vice-Chair of the 7WZYC gave a brief update of the Congress planning.
The Global Working Group had invited bids for hosting the 12th World Zoroastrian Congress 2022. Astad Clubwala, President of the Zoroastrian Association of Greater New York made a bid presentation.
ZAGNY a member association of FEZANA (Federation of Zoroastrian Association of North America) has been selected to host the 12th World Zoroastrian Congress in New York in 2022.
For the World Zoroastrian Awards, Meher Bhesania (UAE) updated every one of the overwhelming number of entries they received. The entries are now in the judging stage and the awards will be given at the 11th World Zoroastrian Congress in 2018 in Perth, Australia.
Meher Bhesania presented an update on the Arts and Culture activities worldwide. A book on the Life of Zarathushtra is in the works and will be launched at the 11WZC in 2018. There were discussions about future exhibitions and potential museums for exhibition Zoroastrian culture, religion and life.
Rustom Engineer (USA) and Rohinton Rivetna (USA) spoke of the need of infrastructure development especially in the diaspora. Rustom elaborated on new initiatives currently happening in North America, including the very first Atash Kadeh in Houston.
Yazdi Tantra (India) spoke about entrepreneurship initiatives by the World Zoroastrian Chamber of Commerce. He announced a new investor fund that has been set up jointly with WZOT India to help young entrepreneurs in setting up or building their businesses.
Farrokh Rustomjee briefed the gathering about new initiatives taken by the R D Sethna Trust and others in the field of educational aid and addressed some of the current issues facing students going abroad for studies. Behram Pastakia (USA) offered to help connect students with professors in the USA and Canada who can help mentor these students.
Arzan Sam Wadia (USA) gave an update on the youth activities worldwide. Besides the update on the 7th World Zoroastrian Youth Congress in 2019, Arzan informed the gathering about the first ever World Zoroastrian Young Leaders Forum organized by Zerbanoo Gifford and Sanaya Master at the ASHA Center in UK and asked global leaders to nominate youth candidates for the 10 day program to be held in March 2018. Arzan also announced that the 4th trip of the Zoroastrian Return To Roots Program, which he helps coordinate will be starting on Friday 22nd December. 25 Zoroastrian youth from over 6 countries are in India for a 13 day trip. Arzan showcased RTR as a project that every single diaspora organization has come together to support.
Behram Pastakia spoke about the Zoroastrian Youth Without Borders program that is run by FEZANA and encouraged youth worldwide to apply for the grants from this program.
On the issues of Agiaries and Mobeds, Sam Balsara (India) said that a scientific study was necessary to completely evaluate the issue on a countrywide scale, in which Neville proposed forming a small subcommittee to provide possible solutions at the next GWG meeting; which was subsequently adoptedArdaviraf Minocherhomji (USA) expressed the challenge faced in North America was to retain the youth and their services as Mobeds once they went off to college.
Dinshaw Tamboly announced that a book on the Parsi Zoroastrian military heroes authored by Marzban Giara shall be launched during the upcoming Iranshah Udvada Utsav over the weekend.
Rohinton RIvetna updated everyone about the setting up of a network to aid the settlement of Zoroastrian refugees all over the world. Homi Gandhi (USA) informed everyone that FEZANA had nominated two individuals to help coordinate this effort in North America.
Dinshaw Tamboly updated everyone on the initiative to provide liturgical implements to new Dar-E-Mehrs all over the world.
Rohinton Rivetna tabled a proposal for an organizational structure for the Global Working Group to consider. After a discussion, Neville Shroff, chairman of trustees of the Incorporated Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Hong Kong Macau and Canton was appointed as the non-executive Chairman of the Global Working Group for a 6 year term. Neville shall oversee all aspects of GWG administration and coordination with the various committees and the global diaspora bodies.
Rohinton urged BPP Trustees to consider an option of setting up an International House for Zoroastrians in Mumbai, where Zoroastrian youth and adults alike, could come and stay for short durations at reasonable costs.
Dinshaw Tamboly thanked the global diaspora organizations for all their efforts in raising medical aid for Aspi Sepoy and updated everyone on Aspi’s progress and the plan for his aid in the future
Vada Dasturji Khurshed informed everyone about the setting up of a Global fund to aid the Iranshah Udvada Atashbehram and its mobeds with a fundraising mechanism. This is a project that was initiatited by Meher Amalsad and shall be launched at the upcoming Iranshah Udvada Utsav.
The meeting ended with a vote of thanks to the Chair and the hosts for a terrific organizational effort for all the attendees.