At a time when the state is witnessing political mobilisation by caste and religious groups demanding reservations in jobs and education institutions, the only Parsi-Zoroastrian in the Congress party leadership at the national level has said that the miniscule community should get reservations too.
Hoshedar Elavia, a resident of Cusrow Baug, Colaba, who was recently selected to the All India Congress Committee (AICC) as National Co-ordinator for minorities, said Parsi-Zoroastrian youth were leaving the country in large numbers and one of the reasons was the lack of opportunities in education and jobs.
Elavia, 56, was General Secretary (South Mumbai), before being selected to the national committee. He said that his work will involve working for the welfare of minorities, particularly for Parsi-Zoroastrians.
Parsi-Zoroastrian Stance on Reservations
Parsis have never asked for reservations though big endowments from Parsi business families have created institutions like Tata Institute of Fundamentalist Research (TIFR), Tata Institute of Social Studies (TISS) and Tata Memorial Center, to name a few.
"We never asked for reservations, but there was a level playing field earlier. Demands for quota is increasing from new groups, and there seems to be no end to this. Marathas and Muslims are asking for reservations. Our students can get over 90% in schools but are being denied access to good colleges," said Elavia. "This is one of the reasons for the exodus of our children to other countries. They ate brilliant and their decision to migrate is disastrous for both our country and community."
Elavia, former head of the cargo operations of an international airline, gave the example of his only child, a son who has got Permanent Residency in Canada. "He is studying there in one of the best colleges where students are picked up from the campuses for jobs."
Hoshedar Elavia's Social Work
Elavia is now a social worker, with a special focus on senior citizens. He is actively involved in the activities at the 'Parsi Ward' at Sir J J Hospital in Byculla and the home for senior citizens at Khareghat Colony, Hughes Road.
Though once active in Mumbai politics, with stalwarts like Sir Pherozshah Mehta who was a member of the municipal corporation, the Parsi community's political presence in Mumbai has declined. The last senior political leader from the community from Mumbai was Marzban Patrawala, who was the Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Colaba in the 1990s. The Rusi Mehta family has provided a line corporators who represents a Mumbai Central ward in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.