PT: In the past few weeks, there’s been a flurry of messages gone viral on whatsapp and Facebook. Some of these included part rebuttals from you as well. What is your overall take on these controversies?
Trustee Noshir H. Dadrawala: There are two main contrived controversies that have been whipped up by a small but vociferous group of persons, for whom acrimony and dissension is a way of life. They thrive on engineering and orchestrating controversies regularly with the intent of gaining cheap political mileage. Ironically they portray themselves as ‘Defenders of the Faith’ or ‘Defenders of Charity’, when in truth, they are neither. The credentials of these rabble rousers are highly questionable. No one knows what most of them do for a living or what their source of income is. No prizes are offered for guessing who feeds them with falsehoods and finances them into filing frivolous cases in the courts from time to time…. It’s a pity some persons simply cannot learn to retire gracefully!
CONTRIVED CONTROVERSY No. 1: The decision to allot a flat to Dr. Farokh Master was UNANIMOUSLY taken by all the six trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet at the meeting of the Wadia Committee of Management, held on 23rd March 2016, where Mr. Nusli Wadia and his son, Ness were present.
The very next day Mr. Nusli Wadia wrote to the Board: “I just wanted to express my appreciation for the prompt decision taken by all of you to allot a flat (No.D-4) in Cusrow Baug to Dr. Farokh Master, the most deserving Parsi, on the recommendation of Mr. Fali Nariman and myself. His great service to the community as also to the underprivileged and less fortunate beings in our world, is outstanding. It manifests itself to treating most of his very unfortunate patients without remuneration as also teaching the less privileged who cannot afford to complete their MD courses. He has been world recognised in his field of Homeopathic medicines be it US, Europe or the Far East. It is unfortunate that, that level of recognition has not taken place in India, yet! I therefore again wish to express my appreciation for considering such a deserving case so promptly.”
In response, Trustee Mrs. Armaity Tirandaz wrote on the very day: “Rustom was a close friend of Dr. Farokh Master, and he was instrumental in getting Farokh a post in KEM hospital for alternative medicine many years ago, and as far as I am aware, very respected and successful, and I pray that it continues as long as possible.”
The Leave & License Agreement has been signed by all six trustees and duly registered. Therefore it is very surprising and intriguing that Trustee Viraf Mehta has suddenly become very uncomfortable and his father Dinshaw Mehta has suddenly become so vocal in the public domain, after more than three months!
CONTRIVED CONTROVERSY No. 2: A decision was taken by the trustees, by a majority vote, at their meeting on Tuesday, 28th June 2016, to stop advertising in the Jam-e-Jamshed as the rates were not affordable and the Editor was not willing to give BPP any more than the standard 15% trade discount. The matter came up for discussion when Trustee Zarir Bhathena – who being a chartered accountant, keeps a sharp eye on the accounts – pointed out that so far the BPP has spent almost Rs. 1.5 Lakhs on housing related advertisements in Jam-e-Jamshed. But, no sooner this decision was taken, the very next morning a certain whatsapp group went viral about a so-called ‘BAN’ on Jam-e-Jamshed. Once again, no prizes for guessing who fed contrived information to that same vocal group.
So, what is a Ban?
A ‘ban’ is what the previous BPP Board had imposed on certain community publications and reporters. All that this Board has decided, is not to advertise in Jam-e-Jamshed unless the Editor or the owners decide to make advertising affordable for the BPP, especially at a time when it is faced with a huge financial crunch!
At no point of time has this Board even intended, let alone ‘Ban’ the Jame from receiving press releases or invitation to various meetings or functions of the BPP. Hence, it is important for the rumour-mongers to first understand the difference between ‘suspending advertisements’ and ‘banning a newspaper’. The fact, of course, is they fully understand the difference. But, their intention is to whip up differences and cause dissensions and disrupt the peace that was prevailing for several months since the new Board took over. They were simply waiting for an excuse to drive a wedge and disrupt the harmonious functioning of this Board. Being personally associated with Jam-e-Jamshed since over three decades, it has not been easy for me to take this difficult decision. However, as a Trustee, I have, along with my colleagues, exercised discretion as a man of ordinary prudence should. It’s nothing personal. I will continue to have the same regard and respect for Jam-e-Jamshed, the institution, as I’ve always had.
In his paid advertisement in Jame last week, Dinshaw Mehta has not just personally attacked Dr. Farokh Master but also his two daughters. He has also made several other sweeping and misleading statements which made disgusting reading. Previously, did one hear even a murmur from any one of these “Defenders of Charity” about huge flats allotted to close friends at highly subsidized rates and that too on tenancy? Collectively the rabble rousers all seem very concerned about “loss to charity” and a flat worth Rs. 3 crores given to the good doctor. Incidentally who has determined the value of this flat and based on what formula? In any case, where were all these activists when the previous regime under the chairmanship of Mr. Mehta blew up Rs. Three crores to ban just one so-called “renegade priest”? Was that not loss of charity? Where were these unemployed activists when Rs. 20 Lakhs was mysteriously found in cash in a cupboard at BPP? Simply put, this paid tamasha is engineered by one who simply refuses to enjoy his retirement even after a stint of 21 years.
Even with regard to the so called ban on Jame, the front page of Jame stated: “Muncherji Cama was the first to respond with a polite one-liner: “I have not heard any such news of a ban.” Of course he would not have heard any such news! He has resigned as a trustee since months
and has not attended a single meeting since his resignation. What a source to go to for information! Laughable, to say the least!
The question to ask is: “Has any trustee of the BPP personally benefited from making this allotment (Dr. Farokh Master) at the recommendation of Fali Nariman and request of Nusli Wadia?” The answer would be an emphatic NO. However, ask this question about the man who has orchestrated this controversy and you will find the answer blowing in the wind!
Look at the ‘Positives’: As a general rule only controversy grabs headlines. All credit worthy happenings gets relegated as footnotes. Newspapers thrive on negativity and the uncontrolled and unregulated social media is every arm chair critic’s platform to spew venom. Allotment of a flat to Dr. Farokh Master has grabbed headlines thanks to “Paid Propaganda” and “News for Sale”. For the information of our community, here’s a gist of the new Board’s achievements since October 2015, under the able Chairmanship of Yazdi Desai:
1. Vacated the CC’s Stay Order within two months.
2. Allotted 75 houses — 15 under the ‘homeless’ category, 28 under the ‘married’ category and 22 under ‘congestion’ category.
3. Settled 20 of the 220 pending litigations
4. Approved projects at Bharucha Baugh and Nirlon.
5. Amicable (near-complete) Resolutions reached by BPP including a 30-year dispute with Aderbad Society; and the Union.
6. Trustees spend over 14 hours every week meeting innumerable community members to personally address and solve their grievances.
7. Plugging a number of revenue leakages.
8. Regularised Financial Audit and Filing of Returns (neglected by the last Board).
The Commitment is so high that Criticism will be unable to scale itself high enough to dampen it. The Board has been functioning effectively and decisively. It has also enjoyed harmony and much of the progress which has been made has been thanks to the peace that has prevailed so far. There is yet so much to do. The fiscal deficit for last year is about Rs. 3.5 Cr. The road ahead is not easy. But, the new Board is also a tenacious and determined one. It will neither be daunted by criticism nor buckle under empty threats in the print and social media.
Detractors will only see Darkness. But, as elected leaders, we shall lead the community only into the light. Our Integrity precedes us. Our work speaks for itself. And the facts and figures are for all to see.