BPP Elections

Why I am standing for BPP Elections: Change (The only constant)

By Viraf D. Mehta

Over the last several months I have contemplated whether I should contest the forthcoming BPP elections. My well-wishers, friends and many elders have made it amply clear that I should contest the prestigious BPP elections if I believe in the value system of our great Parsi society.

They pointed out that social service has been an integral part of the Mehta family. My family have been the longest serving Corporators of the BMC Ward 210 for the last 5 decades, my Grandfather the late Rusi Mehta (5 terms), followed by my kaka (Uncle) Mr. Noshir Mehta (3 terms and current) and my kaki (Aunt) Mrs. Anahita Mehta (2 terms).

For the last 21 years I have seen my father selflessly dedicate himself to the needs of the community. I have seen him sit every weekday at the BPP office meticulously reviewing all papers and documents. I have seen controversies haunt him and seen him assiduously fight those allegations. The truth of the matter remains that there is no one apart from my father that I know who has dedicated major part of his life towards our community’s service.

From what I have imbibed from my father is that the post of a Trustee is no longer that of an ‘akabar’. Now a Trustee is as much a member of the community – elected by the community under the Adult Franchise Scheme introduced by the late Mr. Rustom Tirandaz and my father. The role of a Trustee is one who requires dedication of his time and effort in working towards the betterment of the Trust, its people — old and young — and managing the Trust’s properties. With the grace of Ahuramazda I have been successful at what I am doing and attained the post of Vice President at CLSA (Asia’s leading and longest running investment and brokerage group) by the time I hit 30.

Post work hours I dedicate my time to affairs that need my attention. With time on hand, over the last few years, I along with a few others have been instrumental in setting up ZYNG – the youth group of the BPP. Leading from the front, ZYNG today has over 4000 members and conducted over 100 events in the last five years. ZYNG has become the sole platform for the youth to meet and intermingle with like-minded boys and girls with a hope that they form a lifelong bond with one another.

Today, our community affairs are at a low. Over the last 3 years, the infighting amongst the Trustees has brought the already slow progress to a grinding halt. Housing has been stayed by the Charity Commissioner because of the infighting, and hence funds have dried up, with a resultant effect that welfare schemes have been stopped. What more! Our community has been ridiculed in the media – local and cosmopolitan. I am not the one to shy or deny from the fact that my family has been part of in-fighting with some co-Trustees. However that battle ends and from hereon there will be change. With age and time on my side I want to work towards the welfare of the aged of our community as well as the youth who I know are full of untapped potential.

The BPP is the second largest landlord in the city with around 4,700 flats. Managing this property with the current systems in place is daunting. The old board of Trustees, including my father believed in a closed door manner of managing the trust’s assets and properties. I, for one, believe in total transparency. The community has all the right to know about the happenings of the BPP before it gets controversially reported in the press. There is no sense in withholding information from the members who elect you. The current mood is filled with lack of trust and many feel cheated and deceived by the outgoing Board. The board has stagnated in its role as leaders and instead allowed personal differences affect community service. The first task of the new Board whoever the community choses will be to assure, in no simple terms that they work together for the next term and not let personal differences affect the role they were entrusted with. In the corporate world, the Boards of Directors or Management Teams always have clashes of opinions with each other. However the same does not spill into personal acrimony. You learn to accept differences of opinion and work towards a common goal. The culture of consensus building, accommodation, transparency, individual accountability, decentralization, responsibility et al needs to be inculcated in the BPP Boardroom.

Frankly speaking, we need a new set of trustees who work in tandem with each other, who work in unison, who work for the genuine good of our community, who stick to promises made during their campaign, who religiously attend all board meetings and are up-to-date with matters.
The proposition of contesting this election has been daunting simply because people expect me to be like my father. Surely people assume I am contesting this election to fight the cause of my father. Whilst I definitely want to carry on the good legacy of the service he has offered the community, I wish to emphatically state that my father and I are two very different individuals. Whilst we are traditional in our beliefs as well as passionate about the community, our systems of management and operations are pillars apart. I have embraced technology and transparency and wish to collectively bring about a sea of change in the operation of the affairs of the BPP.

We need to close the door on the past and take from it nothing but a huge learning curve. One that makes us realize that no matter what label you adorn, orthodox and/or reformist – personal religious views of a Trustee play no role in his capacity as Trustee of the BPP. This 300 year-old trust is not a religious body; and the trustees who constitute it are not religious figures. Their role is outlined in the Trust Deed and all matters other than those that fall within the purview of protecting land and assets for the sole befit of the beneficiaries of the trust, are not within their control.

New faces will be introduced to the helm of our community and it is for the new board to work in unison and learn from the glaring mistakes over the past few years. In the coming weeks you will receive my manifesto which will lay out my mission statement, my view and my goals and how I intend to achieve them. I like to stay focused, work hard, genuinely help others, and work as a team member rather than for personal glory. I humbly solicit the support of one and all and their blessings. Should you ever wish to directly speak with me feel free to call me on 9820146244 or email at viraf@viraf.com