Jaitley: Parsis have a tradition of success and leadership

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said India needs more business leaders from the Parsi community emulating Ratan Tata and Dr. Cyrus Poonawala, if it wants to emerge as the fastest growing economy in these adversarial global conditions.

“You mentioned about India trying to grow faster than any other country. The global situation is adverse. India is trying to grow and for that, we need a lot more of you (Parsis),” he said.

Paying rich tributes to the community at the concluding ceremony of the three-day Iranshah Udvada Utsav in coastal town of Udvada, Mr Jaitley said, “The most remarkable aspect of the community is the desire to strive for excellence and achieve it in an ethical way.” He said the credit of throwing up “role model leadership” squarely belonged to the community. He mentioned former Solicitor General of India Soli Sorabjee as his “ethical guru” for his sense of fairness and ethics.

Jaitley felicitated Tata and Dr. Poonawala, chairman of the Serum Institute of India, for their contributions amid applause from more than 3,000 Parsis.

Dressed in the traditional Zoroastrian attire of white ‘dagli’ and red topi, Mr. Tata said he was overwhelmed by the community’s decision to honour him. “It only humbles me when I am in the midst of all of you. It is an honour I shall not forget,” said an emotional Tata.

“The Parsi community has a tradition of success, leadership and contribution to the society. I look forward to the community continuing to be a contributor to the development of the country,” he said.

Replying to his felicitation for sponsoring the three-day festival that brought Parsis from across the world to Udvada, Dr. Poonawala broke down with the memory of his wife Viloo to whom he dedicated the festival. “Viloo kept asking me for more money, and I thought she was blowing it at the racecourse. I later learnt that she was involved in philanthropic work in Udvada, and that’s why when Dasturji (the high priest of Udvada fire temple) asked me for sponsorship, I readily agreed,” said Dr. Poonawala. His Serum Institute of India is one of world’s largest suppliers of vaccines for tetanus, flu, meningitis, hepatitis B, rotavirus, and has been accredited by the World health Organisation.

Zoroastrian high priest Khurshed Dastur Kekobad said the Gujarat government had assured the community that the Iranshah Udvada Utsav would be organised biennially, and the second such festival will be held on December 23-25, 2017. “In 2011, Narendra Modi became the first ever Chief Minister to visit Udvada, and now Arun Jaitley has become the first Union Cabinet Minister to visit us. I am sure Prime Minister Modiji will visit soon,” he said.

Published on The Hindu