The Parsis are an immigrant community, coming from Persia. This small religious community believes in Zoroastrianism faith, which is one of the world’s oldest religions based upon the teachings of Iranian prophet Zoroaster. Zoroastrianism has more than thousand years of history in India as most of the Parsi community had settled in India after migrating from different parts of the world towards India. Let us look into the history, impact and challenges of the Parsi community in India.
Zoroastrianism had its presence in Persia for over a thousand years. The arab invasion of Persia led to overthrew Zoroastrian king Yazdagird III in 651 a.d. Religious persecution led the Parsis to leave Iran and immigrated: to China and India. But by tenth century, the Parsis has disappeared in China due to mass executions during Guangzhou massacre
In India, they immigrated safely in 936 a.d. The Parsis first landed on west coast of India in Sanjan, a small town of Gujarat. The Hindus hosted them by giving them marginal amount of land. Many of them had moved to Surat, in the 15th century, to work in the trading factories established by the Portuguese, the British and the Dutch. During 1640, a large majority of the Parsis came to work in Bombay to work as ship builders. Today, the Parsi community is mainly concentrated in Mumbai.
If we go through the history of India, we will find that the Parsis have immense contribution to the Indian society. The Tatas and the Godrejs came forward to set up modern industry in India. The country also became a nuclear power holding the hands of Homi Bhaba. Bhicaji Cama and Dadabhai naoroji are some significant names in the history of India’s freedom movement. Many of the top lawyers of the country are from Parsi community, including Nani Palkiwala, Soli Sorabji and Nariman. Some of the finest bollywood stars including Boman Irani and Farooq Sheikh belong to the parsi community.
One of the challenges they face as a community is the dwindling population. Parsis comprise of less than .02 per cent of India’s total population. Their population has now dropped to merely 69,000 according to 2001 census which was earlier 1,14,000. Their birth rates have also dropped. In 2013, Parsi community had 195 births in entire country and 950 deaths.
What people said
“Muslims are not the minorities, Parsis are” – Najma Heptullah, Minority Affairs Minister
“I think what stands out is the fact that the smallest minority in India has really never felt that it is a minority. It has never regarded itself as a minority. It is this mindset that has enabled it to be, in many standards, the role model for the rest of the country,” – Arun Jaitley, Union Finance Minister
The Logical Indian is proud of the contributions made by the parsi community to India and the world. They are as successful as they are patriotic and they have set high standards in all walks of life, for which they command respect from all of India and the world.
Even at 76, Pradip Burman, the zestful chairman of Mobius Foundation radiates a contagious enthusiasm when he is talking about sustainability. The environmental crusader, better known to many as the great-grandson of Dabur founder Dr S.K.Burman, has devoted substantial attention towards promoting the concept of sustainability in all aspects of life. He refuses to conform to the convenience and comfort in today’s world which ultimately adds on to the adverse effects of climate change.
Talking to The Logical Indian, Burman emphasised why sustainability as a concept is indispensable for us. “We ought to be aware of what lies ahead of us. Soon we will finish the oil, iron, tin, and coal, and our next generations will be left with nothing. Recycling, banning plastics, stop felling trees for paper… This should become a part of everyone’s lifestyle,” he urges.
Traditional wisdom and modern research
A mechanical engineer from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, Burman had always nurtured a keen interest in helping the society, as evident from his graduation project of designing a sonic aid for the visually challenged, which detected obstacles in the way using ultrasonic wave signals.
As an executive for the nature-centric company Dabur, Burman has always opted for natural alternatives to solve his everyday problems like taking Ayurvedic medicine to cure his Arthritis. He later launched the veterinary wing for Dabur – Ayurvet – which provides nature-friendly solutions for animal health care.
A patron of the ancient scientific wisdom of India, Burman always hailed the confluence of “traditional knowledge and modern research”, which he advocated as the Ayurvet motto.
As part of the CSR initiative of Dabur, Pradip Burman founded SUNDESH (Sustainable Development Society) which has been tirelessly working for last 25 years in remote villages for uplifting the rural communities in an environmentally sustainable way.
An advocate of sustainability
Burman believes that sustainability is the indispensable mantra for the world at present. Due to uncontrolled utilisation of the planet’s resources by human beings, the world today stands at a juncture of destabilisation. Today the human race has reached the pinnacle of progress but the advancement is happening in a very unsustainable manner.
Through energy-efficient use of everyday essentials like transport, communication, altered habits of diet, clothing and daily living, some crusaders of sustainability try to reduce their carbon footprint. Pradip Burman’s Mobius Foundation is one of the forerunners toward sustainability goals.
Mobius Foundation aims to change the sustainability dynamics
In 2015, Burman paved the way for the start of Mobius Foundation, focused on sustainability. Named after 18th-century German mathematician August Ferdinand Mobius, the famous Mobius strip has an important philosophical significance. The extraordinary shape symbolises balance and union.
Similar is the essence of Mobius Foundation which wishes to enhance the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” principle to a widespread basis in India, helping generations to come.
Founder Pradip Burman wishes to achieve notable development in education, population stabilisation and renewable energy projects.
A dream school in the making
At Coorg, Pradip Burman’s Mobius Foundation is constructing the World Environment School, Coorg (WESc) where the curriculum will surpass the boundaries of books and classrooms, with a special focus on hands-on learning in close collaboration with the environment. Amidst the pristine natural beauty of Coorg, the school will nurture young minds to grow up into future green leaders. As of now, the school will be open to teenagers, welcoming students from standards 6 to 12.
Needless to say, World Environment School will be the first-of-its-kind not only in India but also in entire South Asia. The school is expected to start from March 2020.
The school promises to nurture the responsible behaviour of citizens of our future.
The Sustainability Conference of 2019
In 2019, the Mobius Foundation has planned an international conference, on the lines of the celebrated earth summits over the past decade. The 2019 International Conference on Sustainability Education (ICSE 2019) aims to bring together environmental activists, practitioners of sustainable development as well as climate change experts to help develop a sustainability-focused curriculum.
It is surmised that the conference will give a platform to innovative concepts of Sustainability Education including an essential change in the existing education system ensuring a wholesome personal development for a student.
The Sustainability crusader
The Mobius founder strongly believes that it is high time to sprout sustainability awareness among a society drowning in consumerism and unknowingly doing irreparable harm to the planet, every second. The best way to achieve this goal is through education which is available to all. At present, the education system is predominantly career-oriented, making the learners a victim of materialism, and thus, their dreams are also outlined in those colours.
Living beyond the limits
When asked about his wish to attain the age of hundred, he strongly asserts that more than becoming a centurion, he wishes his life and work continue to better the society even in his absence. “I have lived my life. I wish that whatever I start before I go, will continue – for the betterment of my country,” says Mr Pradip Burman.
He is also a trustee of the Climate Reality Project – India (affiliated to Mr. Al Gore of the Climate Reality Project Foundation, USA). Climate Reality Project, India, has been actively engaged igniting the spark and spreading the message of climate change amongst educators, policy makers and civil society. The India branch looks after more than 500 trained Climate Leaders, and more than 900 volunteers spread all over the country.
In his journey, Pradip Burman has been a beacon of hope for millions, motivating many to join the movement for sustainability. We wish he continues his tireless efforts for promoting sustainability awareness and inspire generations to come.