The Dadar Athornan Institute (DAI) established in 1919 by the Athornan Mandal, Mumbai is the only seminary that provides Zoroastrian youth from Athornan families completely gratis training in religious rites and rituals and arranges for their secular education in a school of repute. Athornan youth who pass out from DAI are trained to become Yozdathregar Mobeds – future torchbearers of performing religious ceremonies during all occasions, providing spiritual guidance to the laity and evolving into respected personage who would be looked up to.
Unfortunately, the number of Athornan Children at the DAI have been reducing in numbers, a sign that does not augur well for the community. With a view to motivating parents of Athornan boys to enrol their children into DAI, Neville H. Sarkari, ‘Founder Trustee of Zarin Neville Sarkari Foundation’, situated in Denver, USA, along with his co-Trustee Jehangir Shroff from Houston, have in collaboration with Trustees of The WZO Trust Funds, formulated a scheme that would incentivise parents of Athornan boys to enrol them into DAI as boarders for the duration of their religious and secular education studies, up to completion of secondary levels.
The incentive scheme to encourage boarders to join DAI will cover existing boarders as also new boarders who join from June 2023. The features of the scheme are:
FOR BOARDERS WHO JOIN DAI FROM JUNE 2023 ONWARDS: An amount of Rs.60,000 per annum will be invested yearly. Upon leaving DAI, after completing the full term of studies, they will be eligible to receive the amount plus compound interest accrued over the years.
Example: A boarder, who enrolled in June 2023 in Std 1, upon leaving DAI after completing the full course of studies up to Std 10 (SSC), will receive:
- i) 6,00,000: (Principal amount @ Rs.60,000 per annum),
- ii) Rs. 2,30,947: (Notional interest compounded @ 7.05%per annum).
TOTAL OF Rs. 8,30,942/-
|[It is to be made abundantly clear that once a student has enrolled at DAI, they are eligible to receive their share provided they have completed their full tenure at DAI. Boarders leaving DAI midway will not be eligible to receive any amount from this scheme.]|
FOR EXISTING BOARDERS AT DAI: For the scheme to be equitable for existing boarders, the Trustees of the Zarin Neville H. Sarkari Foundation have ensured the existing boarders receive a proportionate share of the incentive scheme as follows:
- a) For students who have joined during years 2012 – 2016, 75% of Rs. 60,000 per year, for number of years from the year of joining till year 2022.
- b) For students who have joined during years 2017 – 2019, 50% of Rs.60,000 per year for number of years from the year of joining till year 2022.
- c) For students who have joined during years 2020 – 2022, 25% of Rs.60,000 per year for number of years from the year of joining till year 2022.
|[Existing boarders will not be eligible to receive any interest on their incentive fund
till December 31, 2022.]
It is earnestly hoped that parents of young Athornans will take full advantage of the scheme and participate in creating a number of educated and articulate young Mobeds, who will serve and lead the spiritual and secular needs of the community.
|The WZO Trust Funds,
Dinshaw K. Tamboly,
Dasturji Khurshed K. Dastoor,
|Homiyar F. Madan,
Managing Trustee (Mumbai)
|Ramiyar P. Karanjia,
Parsi Times catches up with Mr. Dinshaw Tamboly to answer a few related queries:
PT: As the scheme to incentivize parents of Athornan families to encourage enrolling their boys to Dadar Athornan Institute is very long term, can you share some details of the funding and how it will be administered?
Dinshaw Tamboly: Ever since getting acquainted with Mr. Neville H. Sarkari, in mid-2015, during one of his frequent visits to India, he has always had our community’s welfare at heart, and been a regular donor to WZO Trust Funds for various causes including medical support, education, financial relief, support for Atashbehrams, Agyaries, Mobeds and pursuit of Mobedi.
For the current DAI initiative, he has donated Rs.20,000,000 (Rupees twenty million / two crores) to WZO Trust Funds as a corpus donation, the income from which will be used to support the present and future DAI students. The scheme will ensure that young Mobeds who complete the full DAI tenure will receive handsome returns. Completing the full tenure of 10 years at DAI would also have instilled int them devotion for Mobedi as a profession and will hopefully help increase the number of Mobeds.
PT: What you mention is inspiring, but will the return on Rs.20,000,000/- be adequate to look after additional boys who join the DAI?
Dinshaw Tamboly: Considering the present numbers at DAI (17 students), the interest amount will be adequate for up to 20 Mobeds undergoing training at DAI. Mr. Sarkari has also committed to making additional donations up to Rs. 1,000,000 (Rupees one million / ten lakhs) per student for up to 10 additional students who joined DAI after the students have completed their first year here. WZO Trust Funds will also make efforts to raise additional funds once the total number of students at DAI have reached 30.
PT: What are the other substantial charities done by Neville Sarkari through Zarin Neville Sarkari Foundation?
Dinshaw Tamboly: The D. N. Mehta Sarvajanik Hospital at Navsari has also been a beneficiary of his largesse. In 2017, Mr. Sarkari contributed Rs.12,750,000 for purchasing a CT Scan unit, and Rs.2,500,000 for helping indigent Parsis of South Gujarat who could not afford to avail of initial IVF treatment under the Jiyo Parsi Scheme. He recently contributed Rs.22,500,000 to set up a Neurosurgery unit. In fact, he had also contributed Rs.2,500,000 in 2021 to Mumbai’s Parsee General Hospital to set up a dialysis Centre.
PT: It’s wonderful that Parsis living abroad care so much for Mobeds and our religion. Could you share a brief background of philanthropist Neville Sarkari and the Zarin Neville Sarkari Foundation for our readers?
Dinshaw Tamboly: Mr. Neville Sarkari has risen from very humble beginnings in India, living from a young age at Karani Widows Chawl with his mother, Homai, who was widowed at the young age of 38, and siblings. After completing his studies with the assistance of various community Trusts, Neville did all sorts of odd jobs including 4 years as Chasniwala (Anjuman and Wadiaji Atashbehram during Muktad days), delivering milk early morning to Cusrow Baug residents, worked as peon for a summer at Hindustan Ciba Geigy and at Taj Hotel Trade & Travels; 8 months with Mr. Cama.
In 1982, he did book-keeping as an undergraduate, under Er. Master, Secretary, Dadar Arthonan Madressa office, at Navsari Chambers. Post this, he went to USA at age 21 to complete his MBA and CPA license, and started practise as a CPA. Seeing his Gujarati clients earning handsomely from their business of running Motels, the entrepreneurial urge in him blossomed and he took to establishing Motels… there’s been no looking back since.
Neville was happily married to Zarin from Bilimora. However, fate dealt Neville a very cruel blow when his loving wife Zarin passed away in 2011 at age 44 due to cancer, metastasis to the liver, lungs, and thyroid. At this unfortunate stage in his life, Neville read the book, ‘Beyond The Last Blue Mountain,’ by Rusi M. Lala, highlighting J R D Tata and history of the Tata family. He was deeply impressed by their donations towards setting up Cancer and Cancer Research Hospitals. He was also encouraged by his friend, Jehangir Shroff (Houston) to establish his own foundation and contribute towards various worthy causes. Thus was registered the Zarin Neville Sarkari Foundation in USA, in 2011.
Since its inception, the foundation has donated (not counting their present largesse) US$1.5 million to various Foundations, Hospitals and Trusts in USA & India and individuals in India towards treatment of cancer and other ailments, supported Mobeds and religious institutions.
It is Neville’s desire to give back to his Parsi community much more than what he received and he has been doing exactly that. His message to those like him who have migrated to foreign lands from financial support received from various Trusts in India to study and then settled overseas is to never forget their roots and pay back to the community in India far more than what they received. Mr. Neville Sarkari is indeed one of God’s good men, a rare human being whose heart beats for the community, the likes of which are very rare to find in these times. His life should serve as a role model and be an inspiration to our youth.
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