GWG Holds 15th Annual Meeting

Razvin Namdarian

The 15th Annual Global Working Group (GWG) meeting was held on 8th January, 2024, at the Banaji Atash Behram, as numerous community stalwarts from India and across the globe gathered to discuss important community matters and chart the way forward, or in the words of moderator, Meher Bhesania, “grow, glow and shine together.”

Commencing on the auspicious note of a benediction by High Priest Vada Dasturji of Iranshah Udvada – Khurshed Dastoor, the meeting comprised four sessions. Though Chief Guest – Kersi K Deboo, Zoroastrian (Parsi) Member, National Commission for Minorities was unable to attend, he sent his congratulations to the GWG and lauded them for their, “great work for the benefit of Zoroastrians around the world.”

Outgoing Chairman, Er. Dr. Burjor Antia, gave the welcome address, sharing the vision of GCZT – providing support to Zoroastrians worldwide, “from the womb to the tomb.” He recapped that in the GWG meeting last year, Advisory Boards were appointed on four prominent issues plaguing the community – Support for the Aged and Poor; Support for Mobeds; Youth Empowerment; and Health and Wellness.

Neville Shroff was unanimously appointed the new Chairman. He lauded fellow trustees for their efforts resulting in the formalization of the GCZT – the only global body representing all Zoroastrians, spanning ten regions worldwide. He reiterated its commitment to “deal with pressing global challenges to achieve a more equitable and sustainable future… for which one must leverage our resources, believe in the power of innovation to drive change and collaborate with like-minded people to amplify impact.” He outlined the core values of the GCZT as being – Integrity, Respect and Teamwork.

Yazdi Tantra, Secretary – GWG, presented the report highlighting the appointment of settlors and advisors to the GCZT in 2023. Treasurer – Sam Balsara was pleased to announce that the Trust had an initial corpus of Rs. 1,20,00,000/- (of which Er. Dr. Burjor Antia contributed Rs. 1 crore) and its interest (Rs. 12 lakhs) with no expenses incurred as most of the work was done gratis by members. Er. Dr. Burjor Antia and Neville Shroff were then felicitated amidst much praise and admiration expressed by all for the great work done.
Global representatives – including FPZAI, BPP, Iran, FEZANA, ZTFE, Australia, Pakistan, Dubai, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa and WZOT – then presented reports from corresponding regions and accomplishments over the past year.

Newly instated BPP Chairman, Viraf Mehta, shared BPP’s plans to create funding for the asset-rich but cash-strapped BPP via flat-auctions and redevelopment of some buildings; and provided a report about reduced litigations, doles, medical and educational aid for the needy and setting up of a Kathi fund. FEZANA’s President- Arzan Wadia, representing North America, said it was a busy year for Zoroastrian organisations with various events organised through the year, including participating in the UN Water Conference, Parliament of World Religions, 8th World Zoroastrian Youth Congress, inaugurating a Dar-e-Mehr and working towards setting up a mobed liaison with local associations alongside NAMC.

Rusi Dalal, Trustee – Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe, shared how the community was thriving and making an impact in the UK despite being just 5,000 in number. Meher Bhesania threw light on Dubai’s Zoroastrian community. Representing Australia, Firoz Pestonji and Farida Irani spoke about various social and religious activities undertaken and plans to form a federation. Allayar Dabestani joined from Iran on Zoom, expressing the need to focus on strengthening healthcare and invest in education, cultural programmes and creating employment. Representing Singapore’s 350-people strong Zoroastrian community, Homiyar Vasania extolled their 200-year history and the establishment of a Zoroastrian museum, in 2022. There was not much news from South Africa, with barely a dozen Parsis. Representing Pakistan, Avari lamented the dying community there, expressing an urgent requirement for mobeds and nassesals.

ZYNG shared plans for the 2027 World Zoroastrian Youth Congress to be hosted in Mumbai, with enthusiastic discussions by Zenia Pavri, Sanaya Mehta, Jenifer Batliwalla and Burgis Zaveri impressing GCZT members who provided valuable feedback. Next, reports were submitted by various standing committees, for Arts and Culture (Meher Bhesania); Youth committee (Arzan Wadia); Infrastructure (Rohinton Rivetna, Rustome Engineer); Entrepreneurship (Percy Master, Yazdi Tantra for WZCC); Education and Zoroastrian Faculty Network (Furrokh Rustomji); Mobeds in India (Vada Dasturji Khurshed); and North American Mobed Council (Er. Tehemton Mirza).

The launch of the website: (by Operations committee members- Neville Shroff, Meher Bhesania, Yazdi Tantra and Rohinton Rivetna) was announced. In the final session of the meeting,

GCZT advisors shared their vision presenting a roadmap for the Trust across the four main areas of focus via presentations by the four Advisory Boards: Mobeds and Agiaries (Dinshaw Tamboly and Noshir Dadrawala); Health and Wellness (Dr. Rati Godrej and Homi Katgara); Senior Care and Support For Weaker Sections of the Community (Dinshaw Tamboly and Adi Jehangir); and Youth Empowerment (Homiyar Madan and Arzan Wadia). While all four areas needed urgent support, the issue of scarcity of Mobeds, the dwindling overall population and the need for the youth to be more invested in community interests took centre-stage. A vote of thanks concluded the meeting.

Pic Courtesy: Sarosh Daruwala

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