Noshir Dadrawala’s Open Letter to Jam-e-Jamshed Weekly

Below is an open letter by Noshir Dadrawala, a current trustee of the Bombay Parsi Panchayet, addressed to the Jam-e-Jamshed newspaper

Open Letter to the Editor of Jam-e-Jamshed Weekly

They say, for those who believe, no explanation is needed and for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.

Despite every single trustee of the BPP expressing his/her view on the so-called ‘Ban’ in public, Jam-e-Jamshed continues to fan the flame of self-induced-martyrdom!

The front page editorial states: “Seeing the community’s backlash, the ‘majority’ trustees are now trying to backtrack on the word ‘ban’ – claiming the word was never used”.

No Question of Backtracking

Madam Editor, there is no question of backtracking on the word ‘ban’, for indeed that word was never once used at any meeting of the Board of Trustees. Our word on this should suffice. However, even in the minutes of the meeting which are recorded by the administration (the CEO, Mr. Cawas Panthaky and the Deputy CEO, Mr. Aspi Sarkari) nowhere is that word used. All that was decided was discontinue advertising in Jam-e-Jamshed due to the high cost of advertising.

The Chairman’s statement

The Editor, questions: “Then why did BPP chairman Yazdi Desai write to the Jame Editor (and subsequently print that very email in the Free Press Journal and the Parsi Times) wherein he categorically states in his own words: “I proposed the ban and I am grateful that 3 of my co-trustees saw merit in the proposal and supported the ban”

To reiterate, no ban was proposed. Trustee Mr. Zarir Bhathena who keeps a watchful eye on all receipts and payments drew the Board’s attention that BPP had spent about Rs. 1.5 Lakhs in Jame on advertisements concerning flat allotments. Trustee Viraf Mehta said, since the Editor was his “friend” he would request a discount. For a few weeks, despite reminders there was no breakthrough. We were finally told that the Jame would not offer the BPP more than the standard 15% trade discount. At which point the chairman proposed that in that case BPP should discontinue advertising. The matter was put to vote and passed by the majority. 

There was absolutely no discussion regarding banning Jame. No one had even thought of, let alone said anything about not allowing Jame to attend BPP meetings or functions or any ban on sending the newspaper any Press notes or Press releases.

The truth is and the fact is, the meeting ended as usual around mid-night and the very next morning a certain notorious Whatsapp group went viral about a so-called “ban” on Jame. Absolutely no prizes for guessing who could have leaked this twisted untruth!

That term “Ban” first appeared on WA not in the BPP Board room.

The Editor then wrote an email to the Chairman on June 30, 2016 stating: “Since yesterday WhatsApp messages and Facebook posts are referring to a so-called ‘BPP Ban on the Jam-e-Jamshed.’”. 

I would agree that the Chairman who was already upset with all the falsehood being spread around responded stating: “I proposed the ban and I am grateful that 3 of my co-Trustees saw merit in the proposal and supported the ban.”

The Editor’s attention, however, is drawn to the statement of the Chairman just before that line wherein he states: “This message of mine is exactly what I feel and I have not consulted any of my co-trustees.”

The last elections

The Editorial goes on to state: “Is it not obvious that the venomous attack on the Jame and its Editor is simply because the lady candidate supported by these trustees lost the elections”. How, pathetically weak is this argument!

In any case, Madam Editor appears to have forgotten that as a sitting trustee of the BPP, I, Mr. Noshir Homi Dadrawala had followed a self-imposed code of conduct not to support or oppose any candidate. I stayed absolutely neutral both in private and public. In fact, inspired by what Justice Kathawala had stated in his Chambers, I decided not to even vote.

Presstitution

The Editorial states: “If the Jame Editor could be silenced, then no platform would be available for aggrieved community members to voice any criticism of the BPP.”

No, my dear, how can the Jame Editor be silenced? Impossible! The “platform” is available for anyone to write anything that he or she likes for payment. The policy since years has been “pay & publish”. Noted American journalist Geral Celente had coined a term for this, he called it ‘Presstitution”.

Pervin Mistry’s question

Mrs. Pervin Mistry who always showers me with praises when I write something that she agrees with and condemns me whenever I write anything that she does not like, states: “Has Noshir Dadrawala forgotten that he too used to write for Jame and did Jame ever turn him down, even after Shernaaz  Engineer took over from Rusi Dhondy?… Has Jame ever been unfair to him? I think not and maybe the community will agree with me”.

My response would be, no I have not forgotten that I have been writing for Jam-e-Jamshed since 1980 when dear Adi Murzban was the Editor. And, it’s wrong on Pervin’s part to state that I “used to write for Jame”. I still write for Jame whenever I find the time to.

I was, I am and I will be always remain loyal to Jame the Institution. But, that does not mean I owe any allegiance to the Editor or owner of the newspaper or his or her policy.

Since, Pervin has specifically asked if Jame has “ever turned him down”, I would unhesitatingly say, yes …. and several times. But, I take it in my stride and move on. I had sent a response regarding Munchi Cama’s resignation more than three weeks ago. It has not been published.

In the year 2010 when I was a trustee and the previous Board under the Chairmanship of Mr. Dinshaw Mehta was hounding me with paid advertisements in Jame I tried to respond and this  same Editor told me that I would have to pay Rs. 25,000/-. I agreed. But, guess what, I was told: pay NOW, only then we will publish. I have preserved that correspondence, including the bill charged to the man who writes gratis for this paper for decades. But, yet, despite all this, did I stop writing for Jame. The answer is NO. Because, to my mind, Jame the Institution is greater than my ego and the behavior of the Editor.

The same was the case when I contested the 2015 elections … pay before Thursday 3 pm or else we will not publish. But, despite winning, did I gloat or avenge myself? No I humbly continued to write for Jame as if nothing had happened.

All this while, for years, I have stayed silent and I have held my peace. Mrs. Mistry, don’t push me to say more than what I have already stated.

Areez Khambatta

Areez Khambatta is now Jame’s new hero and Areez is all for Jame. But, he forgets that around May 2005 he had called me and three other friends of mine over to the Trident and asked me to be Editor of a new newspaper he wanted to bring out because he thought back then that Jame was “a rag”. I had of course refused and ever since I have been in Mr. Khambatta’s bad books including several scathing emails when I had contested in the year 2008.

On Principle

One Hutoxi Desai writes: “a trustee, who preferred to give up his trusteeship last time on principle, supported such a vindictive ban.” Madam Desai, I have not supported any ban, vindictive or otherwise. Like you said, “on principle” I agreed to discontinue advertising.

This controversy has been ‘Engineered’ (sorry, but, pun is intended).

Communicate instead of condemning

Madam Editor, instead of playing to the gallery and seek sympathy, find the courage to talk to the Board. Come over to the BPP for a cup of tea and some free and frank discussion. There is no ban on your entry. Our doors are wide open and so are our collective minds and hearts.

Also, we have no ego and if visiting us is inconvenient some of us will be happy to come over and see you.

This is not just a mindless, but, a needless controversy! Sit across the table and discuss it with us. Give BPP a fair and good discount and we could perhaps reconsider our decision, despite all this bad blood created by those who are sworn to keep the Board embroiled in controversy.

I am writing this on my own and without consulting or discussing my response with my colleague trustees. I have been forced to write and break my silence on several issues because there seems to be a concerted effort to target me over the past several weeks.

Without malice towards anyone and respect for one and all!

Yours sincerely,

Noshir Homi Dadrawala