Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Munchi Cama Speaks on the Parsee General Hospital Issue

The following is an op-ed by Munchi N. Cama, past Trustee of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet.

Manchi writes…

11406770_916276258434751_3782913997450456626_n_thumbI have read a recent mail comparing the B.D.Petit Parsee General Hospital in Bombay with The Ruby Hall Clinic in Poona. Since the cowardly author of that mail, needless to say, anonymous, has sought to do so, to belittle the B.D.Petit Parsee General Hospital and its management. I am writing to put things in their correct perspective.

First of all, The Ruby Hall was a property gifted to late Dr.Grant personally and it was his personal fiefdom. Late Dr.K.B.Grant was a perfectionist and a workaholic as are Aban and Homa Petit of the B.D.Petit Parsee General Hospital, but, whereas the Ruby Hall was not meant for charity and had support from Government, it did not have the restraints of the B.D.Petit Parsee General Hospital. What is generally perceived as the Ruby Hall Hospital, is not one unit, but a cluster of entities.

The B.D.Petit Parsee General Hospital was meant for charity and to help the indigent and poor of the Parsi Zoroastrian community. It was never established as a corporate hospital, which The Ruby Hall has now become. The Ruby Hall is cosmopolitan from the very beginning and today, despite its excellent facilities, most Poona citizens find it very expensive and it is out of reach for the average citizen of Poona, let alone for Parsees, who go to more affordable institutions.

The Ruby Hall is run on corporate lines for profit. Late Dr.Grant took bank loans on personal guarantees, which he was free to do, to ensure speedy expansion of the hospital. It is run as a corporate investment and not as a charity hospital.

Poona is an ever expanding city, whereas the Parsi Zoroastrian population of Bombay is shrinking. Honoraries here in Bombay at the Parsee General Hospital are required compulsorily to treat poor patients free – no such compulsion in Poona.

Diagnostic facilities – a revenue earner for hospitals cannot be sustained by a charitable and communal hospital. However, many diagnostic facilities are available to the Parsi Zoroastrian poor of the Parsee General Hospital at neighbouring hospitals, free of charge to the poor, including conveyance to and fro, as the Parsee General Hospital picks up the tab.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no other hospital where deserving patients are treated free – free hospital bed, free food, free doctors, free treatment, free diagnostics, other than the B.D.Petit Parse General Hospital. Even municipal and Government hospitals charge for these. The Masina hospital has also been cited as an example having embarked on a massive renovation project where nothing is free.

Why the venomous hatred towards Homa Petit? He is a very hardworking workaholic and honest beyond measure. He does not need to siphon off funds from anywhere. By nature, instinct, DNA and choice he is an honest man with a simple lifestyle. He has slaved with his urge to serve the hospital at times even to his personal detriment. It is only Aban and Homa who took the plunge and maintained the B.D.Petit Parsee General Hospital as a medical institution serving the poor and middle class, and which is the pride of the community and the envy of others. It is only their personal track record of honesty and hard work and the integrity of the other members of the Executive Committee, that brought in the millions to make this possible.

If the new project does not take off, imagine what it will be like for the poor of the community? Will they just have to suffer till they die a miserable death in neglect and abject dejection? What happens if the B.D.Petit Parsee General Hospital is forced to make a cy pres and go cosmopolitan? Will that satisfy the present objectors and make them happy that theirs was done? And for those who think that this is not possible, I suggest, they read up on their law.

The recent episode of the Parsee Lying-In Hospital has scared off donors. Despite this, can you imagine the Shroffs have come forward with their largesse from their personal funds, out of sheer love for their community and to continue to make the poor well looked after. And then disgustingly, to be accused of trying to siphon off funds? This is disgusting beyond belief. The Shroffs have come forward from abroad with money from their private coffers and not from charity trusts. No Indian donor has come forward because the Parsee Lying-In Hospital perhaps still strikes a strident warning bell to keep off.

A few decades ago, Parsi Zoroastrian schools which were only for Parsi Zoroastrian students had to go cosmopolitan to survive – those that did still exist – those that did not vanish. However, in the case of the B.D.Petit Parsee General Hospital, the New Hospital will be a separate structure and the present Hospital will continue for Parsees only, with its “Parsipanu” – best of both worlds !

The present agreement between Parsee General Hospital / Medanta has received the approval of some of India’s best legal brains – Parsees and non-Parsees – former Judges, Solicitors and Senior Counsel. Are we as a community so stupid as to ignore them and follow the ramblings of a few obstructionists in the community?