First citizen gives pat on the back of 'first immigrants'

Saturday, 28 December 2013 - 12:14pm IST | Agency: DNA

President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday was all praise for the Parsi Irani Zoroastiran community. Mukherjee was in city to inaugurate the 10th World Zoroastrian Congress being held at the NSCI ground in Worli. He spoke at length about the community, its arrival to India and their contribution.

“Foreign colonialist never failed to exploit India’s people and its rich resources. On the other hand, Parsis are the first immigrants, who have not only retained their identity and culture but also have uniquely merged with India’s social, cultural and political identity and contributed significantly to it,” said Mukherjee to a thunderous applause from around 2,000 delegates.

The President said, “The strength of Zoroastrinism lies in its underlying philosophy that humankind is designed to evolve towards perfection through a good conscience cultivated through good thoughts, words and good deeds. It is no wonder that when the first Zoroastrians settlers arrived in India their beliefs found resonance in our own Hindu dharma.”

Recalling the pride prominent Parsis took in their Indian nationality, he emphasised the contributions by Parsi women too. Amongst them was Madame Bikhaji Cama who fearlessly in 1907 unfurled the “Flag of Indian Independence”. Dadabhai Naoroji’s statement who famously stated in the British Parliament that “he is above all an Indian”.

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi often repeated quote on Parsis – “unsurpassed in charity and philanthropy” – Mukherjee said that the community leaders gave India many institutions.

“We are all aware of the significant contribution of Dr Homi Bhabha, first chairman of our Atomic Energy Commission, Dr Homi Sethna under whose leadership India developed her indigenous civil nuclear energy and J R D Tata who gave India its first commercial airline,” he said adding the contributions it made even in the defence of the country by giving people like Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw of the 1972 Indo-Pak war fame.

Commenting on the issue of the declining population of the Parsis by 10 % every decade, he said, “I am optimistic that they will arrest this trend and a community that has such high literacy, talent and discipline will continue in the path of advancement and growth.”

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