Parsi New Year 2023: Parsi Businessmen Who Changed India's Business Landscape – Entrepreneur

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By Kabir Singh Bhandari
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Today is Navroz, which is celebrated as welcoming in the New Year for the Parsi community. Parsis decorate their home on this day and pray for prosperity, inviting their friends over to celebrate.
Their community has been responsible for ushering in India’s industrial revolution. They are followers of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster and are descendants of Persian Zoroastrians.
Here are Parsi businessmen and entrepreneurs who helped changed the business landscape in India:
1. Ratan Tata
The man who sows never gathers the fruit. It is left to somebody else at some remote date to make the tree bear the fruit- Sir Dorabji Tata
Mention Parsi businessmen of India, and the first name that shall undeniably come on everyone’s lips are the Tatas. Through their contributions to society, they have left an indelible mark on India’s landscape.
Jamsetji Tata was the founder of the Tata Group, also known for establishing the city of Jamshedpur. Regarded as the ‘Father of Indian Industry’ he was so influential that even Jawaharlal Nehru had referred to him as a One-Man Planning Commission.
“When you have to give the lead in action, in ideas – a lead which does not fit in with the very climate of opinion – that is true courage, physical or mental or spiritual, call it what you like, and it is this type of courage and vision that Jamshedji Tata showed. It is right that we should honour his memory and remember him as one of the big founders of modern India.” —Jawaharlal Nehru
Ofcourse, the most well-known Tata in the current context would be Naval Ratan Tata, former chairman of Tata Sons, one of the most loved Indian industrialists. He served as chairman of the Tata Group for 22 years from 1990 to 2012, and from October 2016 to February 2017 was the interim chairman. Currently he continues to head the company’s various charitable trusts. His contribution to Indian society in its various forms can be seen by the fact that he is the recipient of India’s highest civilian honors, the Padma Vibhushan (2008) and Padma Bhushan (2000).
2. Ardeshir Godrej
Born in 1868 in Mumbai to a Parsi-Zoroastrian family, Ardeshir was a law student, but as he wasn’t interested in the profession he began working as an assistant in a chemist shop, and took an interest towards manufacturing surgical instruments, which became his first business. The name Godrej is one which every Indian is familiar with, having used its varied products at different times in our lives. Safes, one of the products which he had started producing, had become so popular that the Queen of England had used one during her visit to India in 1912, according to an article in The Hindu.
3. Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Esq.
Philanthropist Sir Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Esq was one of the most renowned Parsis who is responsible for setting up a lot of educational institutions in Mumbai. Byramjee Jeejeebhoy College (Mumbai) and Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Medical College (Pune) are two colleges which he had established. Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Properties Limited is one of Mumbai’s top five largest landowners.
4. Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry
Shareholder value gets lost when things are done illegally, when corporate governance is not adhered to, when cohesive action is not taken- Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry
Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry was an Indian-born Irish billionaire construction magnate, who was the chairman of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group and also a significant shareholder of the Tata Group. Born on June 1, 1929 in Bomba, the Mistrys own a major construction company, Shapoorji Pallonji.
5. Nusli Neville Wadia
Chairman of the Wadia Group, his company is involved in various industries such as FMCG and textiles. In 1962, Nusli entered Bombay Dyeing as a trainee, and was appointed managing joint director in 1970. In 1971 when he came to know that his father had plans to sell the company to R. P. Goenka, aged 26, Nusli with help from his relatives and friends began gathering 11 per cent of the company shares. He went on to persuade the employees to combine their savings and buy shares so that the sale could be prevented. He then flew down to London where his father was involved in the deal and convinced him against selling the company. In 1977 Nusli succeeded his father, becoming chairman of the company.
6. Cyrus S. Poonawalla
As a teenager, I developed a great interest in not only horse breeding but also horse racing and used to bet based on red-hot tips. I realized that becoming a bookmaker would be very lucrative, but Dad put his foot down, saying it was an inappropriate career- Cyrus S. Poonawalla
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