Zoroastrian men have character and are clever and charismatic.

Whether they have been in politics like Dadabhai Naoroji, Britain’s

first Asian MP in 1892, or Shapurji Saklatvala, the sole Communist in the House of Commons in the 1920s; held the highest position in the Indian armed forces like Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw; helped build metropolitan cities such as Mumbai, Karachi, Aden and Hong Kong; inspired us with their art, music and writing; taken care of our health and our bank balances; they have done it with imagination, integrity and industry.

Freddie Mercury, born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, the rock legend and lead singer of the band, Queen, continues to be voted one of the greatest singers in the history of popular music. Queen's Greatest Hits is the highest selling album of all time in the UK, with headlines proclaiming ‘The Kings of Rock are Queen’. A larger than life Zoroastrian, Mercury was ranked 58 in the BBC list of 100

Greatest Britons.

The conductor of the Three Tenors during the 1990 Football World Cup, Zubin Mehta is the Music Director for Life for the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. Despite being Indian, he was voted the 117th greatest Israeli of all time.

Meher Baba, born Merwan Sheriar Irani, was a mystic, spiritual master and avatar. Pete Townshend of The Who dedicated the rock-opera Tommy to him, and he was the inspiration for the award-winning song Don't Worry, Be Happy.

Zoroastrian men have worried but have also made many people around the world happy. They have used their talent to create enterprises that still flourish today, and had the vision to use their wealth for legendary charity, benefiting not only Zoroastrians but the wider community. No wonder there is a saying,

‘Parsi, thy name is charity’.

The first Indian baronet, Sir Jamshetji Jeejeebhoy, started life washing and selling bottles, and ended it as one of the greatest philanthropists who ever lived. Jamshedji Tata was the father of India’s industrialisation and his descendants have established social, scientific and artistic centres. Today the House of Tata is

a global conglomerate, and the leading manufacturing employer in India and Britain.

Lowjee Nusserwanjee Wadia founded the dynasty of master shipbuilders and textile magnates. He defiantly carved on the frigate, HMS Cornwallis, ‘This ship was built by a damned black fellow. AD1800,’ as a protest against the racism of some officers in the Royal Navy. It was on the HMS Cornwallis that the Treaty

of Nanking was signed, ceding Hong Kong to Britain. Another Wadia ship, the HMS Minden, achieved fame when in 1812, Francis Scott Keys wrote the American national anthem, The Star Spangled

Freddie Mercury

(1946 – 1991)

Freddie Mercury, born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, rock legend and lead singer of Queen, continues to be voted one of

the greatest singers in the history of

popular music. During the millennium

celebrations, his song We are the

Champions was voted the most popular

song of all time. Queen’s Greatest Hits is

the highest selling album of all time in

the UK, outselling even the Beatles.

Mercury was ranked 58 in the BBC list of

100 Greatest Britons broadcast by the

BBC, and in Japan he was voted the 52nd most influential hero of the world.

Mercury’s death from AIDS was a turning

point in the history of the disease. The

Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for

AIDS Awareness was broadcast live to 76 countries and had an estimated audience of one billion people.


Adi Godrej

(1942 –)

Adi Godrej is the President Designate of

the Confederation of Indian Industry and

one of India’s most successful and

wealthy industrialists. He is the chairman

of the Godrej Group, comprising seven

major companies in more than sixty

countries, with interests in real estate,

industrial engineering, appliances,

furniture, security and agri care. Under

his leadership, the conglomerate has

been a leader in philanthropy and

corporate responsibility. A major

supporter of the World Wildlife Fund,

India, he had the vision to develop a

green business campus in the Vikhroli

township of Mumbai, which includes the

preservation of a 150-acre mangrove


Mancherjee Bhownagree

(1851 – 1933)

Sir Mancherjee Bhownagree was the

second non-white politician to be

elected to the British parliament in 1895,

as a Conservative MP for the London

constituency of Bethnal Green. He

championed, with Mahatma Gandhi, the

cause of Indians in South Africa. He is

remembered as one of the organisers

and benefactors of the Commonwealth

Institute in London, opened in 1893 with

a Bhownagree Gallery named after his

only sister. He strongly advocated that

British industry should not exploit India

and emphasised that it was the moral

duty of the British Government to invest

in scientific and technical education.

Dadabhai Naoroji

(1825 – 1917)

Dadabhai Naoroji was the first non-white

elected to the British parliament in 1892.

He represented the electorate of

Finsbury in London, and was also the

voice of India, then around 250 million

people (now 1.2 billion). A founding

father of the Indian National Congress,

both Gandhi and Jinnah called him their

Dada. His unwavering commitment to

the need for Indians to play a role in

government led Naoroji to become

known as the Grand Old Man of India.

He championed women’s education and

suffrage, supported pensions for the

elderly, and argued for the abolition of

the British House of Lords as

undemocratic. Naoroji’s strength of

character and selfless devotion to justice

marked him out as one of the few saints

in British politics.

Jamshetji Jeejeebhoy

(1783 – 1859)

Sir Jamshetji Jeejeebhoy was the first

Indian baronet and a legendary

philanthropist. Orphaned shortly after

birth, he made his first trading voyage to

China at the age of sixteen. He endowed

hospitals, schools and charitable

institutions as well as financing the

construction of wells, reservoirs, bridges

and causeways. By the time of his death,

he was estimated to have donated over

£230,000 to charity, a fortune in today’s

money. He was knighted in 1842 and

conferred with a baronetcy in 1858.

Soli Sorabjee

(1930 –)

Soli Sorabjee was Attorney General of

India from 1998 to 2004. He served as

Solicitor General of India from 1977 to

1980. Sorabjee was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest award, for his defence of the freedom of expression and the protection of human rights. He was appointed an Honorary Member of the Order of Australia for service to Australia-India bilateral legal relations.

Three Cricketers

Rusi Surti (1936 –); Polly Umrigar (1926 –

2006); Nari Contractor (1934 –)

The legendary cricketers played for India.

Rusi Surti played 26 test matches from

1960 – 1969; Polly Umrigar captained

India and played 59 test matches from

1948 – 1963; Nari Contractor captained

India and played 31 test matches

between 1955 and 1962. The first Indian

cricket team to tour the UK were the

Parsi’s of Bombay, whose club was

founded in 1848.

Jamshedji Tata

(1839 – 1904)

Jamshedji Tata was the founder of Tata

Industries and is known as the Father of

India’s industrialisation. Tata devoted

himself to four key ideas – establishing

an iron and steel company, a world-class

educational institution, a hydro-electric

plant and a unique hotel. The Taj Mahal

Hotel in Mumbai was inaugurated the

year before his death, and the other

projects were realised by his

descendants. Today the House of Tata is

a global conglomerate and the leading

manufacturing employer in India and


Sohrab Godrej

(1912 – 2000)

Sohrab Godrej was the chairman of

Godrej Industries and one of India’s

most unassuming philanthropists.

Passionately committed to the cause of

environment and wildlife conservation,

he was the founder president of WWF

India and Population Control. His love of

culture, travel, and exploring took him to

over 160 countries, including Antarctica.

He was a friend of numerous heads of

state, top scientists, artists, musicians,

industrialists and politicians, including

Indira Gandhi, Prince Philip and Jacques

Chirac. He was unique.

Ardeshir Cowasjee

(1926 –)

Ardeshir Cowasjee is admired for his

fearless newspaper columns that expose

corruption. He has spared none, from

those at the pinnacle of power to the

lowest stooges who serve their

purposes. He is the Chairman of the

charitable Cowasjee Foundation and is

known as the 'guardian' of the city of

Karachi. In 2011 he received the Jinnah

Award for his outstanding services to


Bailey Irani

(1924 – 2004)

Bailey Irani, Zerbanoo’s father, was the

Founder President of the World

Zoroastrian Organisation, a trustee and

president of the Zoroastrian Trust Funds

of Europe, and the youngest president

of the City of London Lions Club. He

was loved for his great sense of humour,

generosity of spirit and charisma.

Zubin Mehta

(1936 –)

Zubin Mehta is the Music Director for

Life for the Israeli Philharmonic

Orchestra and despite being an Indian,

was voted the 117th greatest Israeli of all

time. He has been director of the New

York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles

Philharmonic and the Montreal

Symphony Orchestra. Mehta was the

musical director of the Bavarian State

Opera and honorary conductor of the

Munich Philharmonic. He was seen by

billions of people during the 1990

Football World Cup when he conducted

the Three Tenors. He is known as the


The Engineer Brothers

Minoo (1921 –92), Aspy (1912 – 2002) and

Ronnie Engineer (dates unknown)

These three brothers were all awarded

the Distinguished Flying Cross. Another

brother, Jangoo, who is not in this

photograph, made his mark in civil

aviation as well. Minoo received more

awards than anyone else in the Indian Air

Force. Aspy became the Chief of the Air

Force and later Indian ambassador to


Edul Dhatigara

(1923 – 2010)

Edul Dhatigara was commissioned into

the Royal Indian Air Force in 1942. Among the many honours he received for his initiative, courage and flying skills were the Kirti Chakra and the Param Vishist Seva Medal. Revered by his men, he became Air Marshal, and was the Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force when he retired.

Edulji Dinshaw

(unknown – 1914)

Edulji Dinshaw was a legend in the

history of Karachi. He started life as a

contractor of supplies to the British

army during the Second Afghan War

1878-81, later diversifying into real estate,

becoming the largest single land-owner

in Karachi. He set up hospitals and

dispensaries and his extensive charitable

trust continues to serve the community


Farhang Mehr

(1923 –)

Farhang Mehr was the Deputy Prime

Minister of Iran, governor of Iran in OPEC

and President of Pahlivi University. After

the Islamic Revolution of 1979 he

emigrated to the United States and is

now Professor Emeritus of International

Relations at Boston University. Founder

of the ‘Ancient Iranian Cultural Society’,

he is a renowned Zoroastrian author and


Pallonji Mistry

(1929 –)

Pallonji Mistry is an Irish construction

tycoon and described as the richest

Zoroastrian alive. A mogul of real estate

and the largest shareholder in India's

biggest conglomerate, the Tata Group,

his wealth is estimated at nine billion

dollars. His second son Cyrus is heir

designate of the $83 billon Tata Group.

Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata

known as J.R.D Tata

(1904 – 1993)

J.R.D Tata was the founder of Air India

and the director of Tata and Sons, the

largest industrial group in India. Under his

leadership Tata became a conglomerate

of 95 enterprises. He helped establish

Asia's first cancer hospital, the Tata

Memorial Centre for Cancer, Research

and Treatment, the Tata Institute of

Social Sciences, the Tata Institute of

Fundamental Research, and the National

Centre for Performing Arts. Awarded the

French Legion of Honour in 1954, he had

to wait until 1992 to be awarded India's

highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna

– a rare occasion when the award was

granted during a person's lifetime. In the

same year, he was also given the United

Nations Population Award for his

crusading work in family planning. On his

death, the Indian Parliament was

adjourned, an honour usually given to

prime ministers.

Mehraban Zartoshty

(date of birth unknown)

Mehraban Zartoshty is known as one of

the greatest living Zoroastrian

philanthropists. With his brother

Faridoon, he established a Chair in

Zoroastrian Studies at SOAS, London

University. They were also the major

donors of the Zoroastrian House in


Boman Desai

(1950 –)

Boman Desai worked as a farmhand,

bartender, dishwasher, cook, secretary,

musician, bookstore clerk, telephone

operator, auditor and teacher before

becoming a respected author of four

novels. His novels have varying settings

and themes, ranging from life in Bombay

to the American Depression and the

musical genius of 19th century Germany.

Feroze Gandhi

(1912 – 1960)

Feroze Gandhi was an investigative

journalist and publisher of the National

Herald. He was an Indian patriot and a

member of the Lok Sabha, the Lower

House of India's parliament. In 1942 he

married Indira Nehru (later Prime

Minister of India 1966–77, 1980–84). They

had two sons, Rajiv Gandhi (also later a

Prime Minister 1984– 1989) and Sanjay

Gandhi. Feroze was a prominent force in

his own right, fighting against corruption

and having the courage to criticise the

government of his father-in-law,

Jawaharlal Nehru, who was India’s Prime

Minister from 1947 to 1964.

Nadir Godrej

(1951 –)

Nadir Godrej is an industrialist, the

president of the Alliance Francaise de

Bombay and author of the collection of

English and French poems, ‘Life and

Other Poems.’

Cyrus and Zavaray Poonawalla

(1941 –) (1943 –)

Cyrus and Zavaray Poonawalla are

brothers who had the vision to start the

Poonawalla Group, including the Serum

Institute of India, which supplies

vaccines to half the newborn babies in

the world. They own the Poonawalla

Stud Farm, and are leading race-horse

breeders. Both are leading lights of the

Royal Western India Turf Club and are

known for their charitable work.

Kaikhosrov Irani

(1922 –)

Kaikhosrov Irani is Emeritus Professor of

Philosophy at the City College of New

York. He studied at Princeton University,

where he was taught by Albert Einstein.

His original field of teaching and research

is the Philosophy of Science, for which

he has received numerous awards. He is

also an acclaimed expert on


Cyrus Bharucha

(1941 –)

Cyrus Bharucha is Professor of

Communications and has been in the TV

and film industry for over 40 years,

working for the BBC and CNN, as well as

being the Chief Executive of TV Asia. In

the 1983 he made On Wings of Fire, a

unique epic film covering the history of

the prophet Zoroaster and his people,

the Parsis of India.

Rohinton Mistry

(1952 –)

Rohinton Mistry is considered one of

Canada’s greatest writers. He was

awarded the Neustadt International

Prize for Literature, one of the most

prestigious international literary prizes.

Like the Nobel, it is awarded not for any

one publication, but for an entire body

of work, including his seminal work, Such

a Long Journey, as well as A Fine Balance,

and Family Matters.

Ardeshir Irani

(1886 – 1969)

Ardeshir Irani was the Cecil B DeMille of

India. He was a writer, director, producer,

actor, film distributor, film showman and

cinematographer in the silent and sound

eras of early Indian cinema. Renowned

for making films in Hindi, Telugu, English,

German, Indonesian, Persian, Urdu and

Tamil, his work was the forerunner of


Zane Dalal

(1964 –)

Zane Dalal was awarded an Organ

Scholarship to the University of Oxford,

where he held the position of

Choirmaster and Organist at Oriel

College Chapel. In 1994 his acclaimed

performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth

Symphony with the American Youth

Symphony in Los Angeles was hailed by

the Maestro, Zubin Mehta, and the

musical world. He has served as the

resident conductor of the Symphony

Orchestra of India since 2007.

Cyrus Todiwala

(1956 –)

Cyrus Todiwala is an award-winning chef

and restaurateur, who regularly appears

on television and radio. Born and

brought up in India, he was awarded an

OBE in 2010 for his services to the

hospitality industry in Britain. He is also a

Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London.

Zarir Cama

(1947 –)

Zarir (Zed) Cama is one of the leading

lights in HSBC bank. He became the first

Asian to head the bank in Malaysia and

retired as one of the bank’s top

executives in its London headquarters.

He has been at the forefront of the

Hong Kong Shanghai Bank’s global and

community programmes. Zed’s

passionate belief in the preservation of

architectural heritage and conservation

of the environmental has marked him

out as a leader in the field of corporate


Jimmy Engineer

(1954 –)

Jimmy Engineer is an artist, stamp

designer and a social crusader for the

blind and orphaned children. His soughtafter art work has been exhibited around the world and is held by many private collectors. Proceeds go nearly exclusively to his charitable work, for which he is famous.

Jehangir Ruttonjee

(1880 – 1960)

Jehangir Ruttonjee was a Hong Kong

philanthropist. He is famous for founding

the Ruttonjee Sanatoriums and helped in

the establishment of the Hong Kong

Anti-Tuberculosis Association.

Cyrus Mistry

(1968 –)

Cyrus Mistry is the youngest son of the construction magnate, Pallonji Mistry, and the Chairman designate of Tata’s 114 companies that include Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Technologies, Tata Tea, Tata Chemicals, Titan Industries, Tata Power, Tata Communications, Tata Sons, Tata Teleservices and the Taj Hotels.

Meher Baba (1894 – 1969)

Meher Baba, born Merwan Sheriar Irani, was a mystic, spiritual master and avatar. From 1925 to the end of his life, he maintained silence, communicating by means of an alphabet board or by unique hand gestures. Baba said, ‘The goal of life is conscious realisation of the absolute Oneness of God inherent in all animate and inanimate beings and things.’ ‘The purpose of reincarnation is to provide the opportunity for liberation from illusion.’ His travels and teachings influenced devotees worldwide, including Pete Townshend of The Who, who dedicated the rock-opera, Tommy, to him. Bobby McFerrin's 1988 Grammy Award-winning song Don't Worry, Be Happy was inspired by a popular quote

Jamsheed Marker

(1922 –)

Jamsheed Marker has the distinction of having been ambassador to more countries than any other person and the world’s longest serving ambassador. Among his postings, he was Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington and helped negotiate the Soviet military withdrawal from Afghanistan. He served as chair of the United Nations Security Council and was the UN special envoy to East Timor in 1999, where he helped bring about a resolution to the conflict and the independence of that nation.

Sam Manekshaw (1914 – 2008)

Sam Manekshaw was the first of only two Indian military officers to hold the highest rank of Field Marshal in the Indian Army. His legendary leadership during the Indo – Pakistani War of 1971 helped to establish the new country of Bangladesh. His is fondly known as Sam Bahadur, literally ‘Sam the Brave’.

Jehangir Sarosh (1938 –)

Jehangir Sarosh is the co-moderator of the European Council of Religious Leaders. An Interfaith champion, he is an Executive member of both the Interfaith Network for the UK and the World Congress of Faiths. He was awarded an OBE in 2012 for his services to the Interfaith movement.

Ratan Tata (1937 –)

Ratan Tata is the chairman of the Tata Group, which includes Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Power, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Tea, Tata Chemicals, The Indian Hotels Company and Tata Teleservices. He was responsible for the acquisition of Tetley, Jaguar Land Rover and Corus, which turned Tata from a largely India-centric company into a global conglomerate.

Ardashir Vakil (1962 –)

Ardashir Vakil is an author and lecturer in creative writing at Goldsmith’s University, London. His first novel, Beach Boy, won the Betty Trask Award, was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Prize. It has been translated into ten languages and established him as a rising star in the field of literature.

Rusi Soonawalla (1928 –)

Rusi Soonawalla has delivered tens of thousands of babies and designed 12 gynaecological instruments. He is a legend in his field and is one of only seven doctors to be awarded the Von Graffenberg Medal in Germany.

Shapurji Saklatvala (1874 – 1936)

Shapurji Saklatvala became the third non-white and third Zoroastrian to be elected to the British parliament in 1922, as a member of the Labour Party. After the General Election of 1924 he left Labour over the issue of Indian independence. He returned to parliament as the only Communist MP and joked that his was the only party which always spoke unanimously. Nicknamed Comrade Saks, his fiery speeches led to his being imprisoned after a rally in Hyde Park supporting the working man in the General Strike of 1926.

Matthew Amroliwala (1962 –)

Matthew Amroliwala is a BBC Newsreader who has covered many major news stories, including reporting extensively from Northern Ireland and from Bosnia on the fall of Srebrenica. He also presents the BBC’s Crime Watch.

Homi Sethna (1923 – 2010)

Homi Sethna was the guiding force behind the first peaceful nuclear explosion, Project Smiling Buddha, in India on May 18, 1974. He then became the chairman of the Atomic Energy  Commission. He received the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian award in 1975.

Jamshyd Godrej (1949 –)

Jamshyd Godrej is the Chairman of Godrej and Boyce. A member of the World Economic Forum, he is one of Indian’s most respected industrialists. He is a past President of the Confederation of Indian Industry and has also headed the Indian Machine Tool Manufacturers Association. He is the President of World Wide Fund for Nature – India and a leading environmentalist.

Karan Bilimoria

(1961 –)

Karan Bilimoria was the first Zoroastrian life peer, taking the title of Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea. He is the founder and chairman of Cobra Beer, UK Chairman of the Indo-British Partnership and the Chancellor of Thames Valley University.

Asted Deboo

(1947 –)

Asted Deboo is a pioneer of modern dance in India and has performed with the greatest dancers in the world. Trained in Indian classical dance, he has created a dance form that is unique to himself.

Nani Palkhivala (1920 – 2002)

Nani Palkhivala’s name is a by-word in India’s legal world. He was the Tagore Professor of Law, senior advocate of the Supreme Court of India, and associated with several industrial and business houses. His book, The Law and Practice of Income Tax, and his defence of civil liberties made him a household name. Every year, India had two budget speeches, one by the Finance Minister and the other by Nani Palkhivala. Palkhivala’s speech was always the more popular. He spoke without notes and was able to reel off facts and figures for over an hour, keeping his audience in rapt attention. He was also Indian Ambassado to the United States 1977–79.

Shapoor Mazda

(unknown – 1964)

Shapoor Mazda left his home in Yazd, Iran, as a teenager with two friends. They walked to British India, where they were free to practise their Zoroastrian faith. He was a purveyor of fine foods and drink and became one of Kolkota’s bestknown tycoons. He was given the title Khan Bhadur for his philanthropy, which was centred on women’s empowerment in Iran and the sinking of wells and provision of pure drinking water.


Homi Bhabha (1909 – 1966)

Homi Bhabha is the father of India’s nuclear programme. He was the founding director the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the Trombay Atomic Energy Establishment, now named the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. He gained international prominence after deriving a correct expression for the probability of scattering positrons by electrons, a process known as Bhabha Scattering.