Countering ‘Parsi Darshan’ in Mumbai Samachar:
Our small and erudite community has seen many communiqués projecting specific viewpoints, which have, over the years, been institutionalized. For eg., The WAPIZ Page espouses the traditional viewpoint; The Parsee Voice promotes the Kshnoomist viewpoint; ‘BPP Connect’ in Parsi Times, which projects the BPP viewpoint in keeping with its commitment of transparency and accountability to the community, is on its way to being institutionalized.
Over the last few weeks, Munchi Cama has allocated a page in his prestigious paper, Mumbai Samachar, under the column titled ‘Parsi Darshan’. Although the newspaper’s disclaimer disowning the viewpoints and information of this column are in place, this communiqué fails to project any specific viewpoint. In fact, this media platform is being misused with derogatory and false content, probably engineered by Dinshaw Mehta, to attack the BPP and its present Board of Trustees, because they refuse to toe his line and are unafraid of exposing how he has betrayed the community in his rather nefarious past. Personally, I welcome constructive criticism as it helps keep us all in check. But constant badgering, without neither justification nor verification of any facts, does not justify support from an august publication like Mumbai Samachar, which has an immaculate legacy spanning over 175 years!
On my part, through the BPP Connect, I will attempt to clarify legitimate issues raised in the Parsi Darshan and also counter any vilification. I am grateful to Parsi Times for this platform
As is now common knowledge in the community, the 4 majority Trustees – Kersi Randeria, Noshir Dadrawala, Zarir Bhathena and I – have chosen to complete all pending documentation enabling the possession of flats to all deserving beneficiaries whose housing allotments had been approved and fitments finalized.
My two co-Trustees, Viraf Mehta and Armaity Tirandaz, continue maintaining their non-cooperative stand of not signing any Leave and License agreements unless Munchi Cama’s (who resigned in June, 2015) name is included and his signature obtained – leading to unfortunate delays and roadblocks in BPP’s endeavor towards providing housing to the community, much to the dismay and anxiety of deserving beneficiaries. Yet again, I appeal to Viraf Mehta and Armaity Tirandaz to see the illogicality and disservice of their stand.
I have been legally advised that if Munchi Cama’s signature is taken on the Leave and Licence Agreements, then subsequently if it is held that he was not a Trustee at the time of signing these Agreements, it’s possible that the agreements may not be legally valid. Even without Munchi Cama’s signature, should the Charity Commissioner later rule that Munchi Cama has not resigned, the L&L Agreements would still stand valid and unchanged, because they would have been signed by the majority of trustees – in line with the BPP Scheme and in line with various judicial pronouncements!
WhiIe appealing to Viraf Mehta and Armaity Tirandaz, I quote from a letter written on December 10th, 2016 by Parsi Times reader, Ratan Mir, “This is a social charitable institute so those two elected members of the Punchayet should understand that this is not an industrial unit where you show your distant apathy. They should forsake their personal egoes, and work for the institute. If they have personal conflict with other members they may please resign. To show such apathy is not a good reflection when you work for the cause of a charitable institute.” Viraf and Armaity, this is a community member echoing the voice of the community and I sincerely pray and hope that you will heed it.
Manager for Doongerwadi:
Earlier in the BPP Connect dated August 2016, I had informed the Community that by December 2016, we would bring in a new professional manager to take care of our Doongerwadi Estate. In response to an Advertisement published in the Parsi Times and Jame Jamshed (November 2016), fifteen applications were received by the BPP. Taking into account the requirements of this sensitive position, the position has been awarded to Vistaspar Mehta who commands years of corporate experience and boasts of a past of selfless service to the community through various community organisations. Being a Scout and based on his evident love for the community and his staunch belief in the system of Dokhmenishini, Vistaspar was selected for the post. It needs to be mentioned that in 2015, when there was the possibility of our Khandias and Nassesalars going on strike, Vistaspar was one of the few Parsis who volunteered to step in, if such an eventuality occurred. Vistaspar will join the BPP on February 1st, 2017. We look forward to working with Vistaspar for the betterment of our Dokhmenishini system.
Caterer at Gamadia Colony Boys Hostel:
To counter what has been falsely reported in Mumbai Samachar’s ‘Parsi Darshan’, I must state for the record that the previous caterer, Keki Darji had signed a valid, legal contract with the BPP in February, 2016, after fully understanding the new terms which included among other things, a retrospective reimbursement of the electricity charges for the exorbitant consumption by Keki Darji (since he was cooking for and supplying more than 500 tiffins as his personal commercial venture daily for outsiders), and a security deposit of Rs. 2 lakhs, which was allowed to be paid in 2 installments (Keki Darji ultimately paid only 1 lakh). The fact that these new terms were approved and negotiated by the new BPP Board nails the lies written in ‘Parsi Darshan’ accusing Khojeste Mistree and me of having made Keki Darji a scapegoat because of our alleged animosity towards Dinshaw Mehta. When Keki Darji resigned on his own and left abruptly (because another kitchen was made available to him at Elphinstone Cricket Club, which is now controlled by Dinshaw Mehta), the Board realized how much damage he had caused to the hostel premises. The repair and cleaning of this mess has cost the BPP over Rs. 2 lakhs, while we have the surety of only a lakh of Rupees deposit to fall back on!
After Keki Darji’s exit, the BPP Trustees spoke to various Parsi caterers, all of whom expressed their inability to take up this contract. Subsequently, the BPP had to choose from the available non-Parsi caterers, but Viraf Mehta sabotaged all of them and insisted that we should get only a Parsi Caterer. Mumbai Samachar’s ‘Parsi Darshan’ dated 1st January, 2017, yet again, does not give a true picture of the efforts made by the Management and the Trustees, especially Trustee Kersi Randeria, for negotiating and trying to bring in a new caterer as early as possible for the boys in the Hostel. The earlier caterers – Prakash Caterer and Bappi Caterer (who had served the Hostel for 15 and 12 years respectively, with Bappi Caterer’s contract being unceremoniously terminated by Dinshaw Mehta to bring in Keki Darji) were contacted. With Bappi Caterer almost everything was finalised and he was willing to start almost immediately when Trustee, Viraf Mehta intervened that a non-Parsi Caterer was not acceptable to him and he promised to bring in a Parsi Caterer. Advertisement asking for a Caterer was given in the Parsi press. Khorzad Bhesadia was finalized, but he backed out as he could not get out of his earlier contract at some other place.
When the Board expressed concern about food not being available for the boys of the Hostel, Viraf Mehta gave an assurance to the Board that he would not let a single day pass without providing food for the hostel boys. That was on 22nd July, 2016. To this day, we still do not have a caterer for the Hostel. Neither has any food been provided by Viraf Mehta, nor have any arrangements been made by him for over 170 days now. The BPP will try and finalise a new caterer for the Boys’ Hostel within the next one month.
Repairs and Maintenance:
In what I term as a direct attack on the BPP Trustees, it has been mentioned in Mumbai Samachar’s column, ‘Parsi Darshan’, that the present BPP Trustees are liable to be imprisoned for not doing their duty of repairing old buildings in BPP colonies. And to dramatise this issue, a case, reported in the Times of India dated 23rd December 2016, is mentioned where “the Sessions Court had upheld a lower Court order sentencing the landlord to three months jail for refusing to repair the dilapidated building despite repeated notices from the BMC.” Let me set the record straight by categorically stating that there are no dilapidated buildings in any BPP colony lying unattended, despite repeated notices from the BMC. The two Godrej Baug buildings referred to in the Mumbai Samachar may be termed as old buildings but they are definitely not in a dilapidated condition and no Notices have been received in respect of these from the BMC. In fact, during the term of the previous Chairman, the flooring of 2 flats in Khareghat Colony actually caved in and it was God’s grace that there was no injury or loss of life, and yet the previous Chairman has still to see the inside of a jail. So the Community would be well advised to not fall prey to and believe the false propaganda published in ‘Parsi Darshan’.
Yes, the occupants of two buildings in Godrej Baug had come with the repairs proposal to the BPP on a 50:50 basis and because of the present liquidity mismatch in the BPP, the occupants were requested to pay for the full repairs and the BPP would repay them the 50% when the next tranche of FD interest came into the BPP. The occupants understood the situation and graciously agreed. The occupants are the beneficiaries and an integral part of the BPP, and I feel such an arrangement is a civil and mutually beneficial solution.
The ghost writer of the column, ‘Parsi Darshan’ in Mumbai Samachar (who I suspect to be Dinshaw Mehta) has raised the bogey of building repairs to justify introduction of the Refundable Deposit Scheme (RDS) which was introduced by Dinshaw Mehta in the 1990s, and has unfairly targeted my colleague, Trustee Kersi Randeria, as being the only opponent to this scheme. Kersi Randeria has a viewpoint and I agree with it – the RDS was being used as a means of providing subsidized rates for the rich Parsis, who can afford a flat for 10 crores in cosmopolitan buildings, but are offered a similar sized flat, in a heavenly Parsi colony for only 2.5 crores! If this is not subsidizing for the rich, what is?? By this reasoning, Kersi is right and he supports and protects the cause of Parsis who are truly in need. Also, it is surely not what the venerated Jerbai Wadia envisaged when she built these beautiful Wadia Baugs for the poor and needy of our community! What would be advisable is for my Board to come up with a judicious mix of free allotments and a few on Security Deposits, and definitely not the rampant selling of flats advocated and followed by Dinshaw Mehta.
I wish my beloved community a Very Happy New Year. Here’s wishing for wisdom to dawn in on all of us in 2017, so as to enable us to serve our community in the best way possible!