published in Asian Voice 16 August 2019

In his article on , ‘ Gandhi and Parsis ‘ published in Asian Voice, Lord Parekh tries his very best not to credit the majority Hindu community for welcoming the Parsis to Gujarat and giving them total freedom to follow their religion and way of life. The article is from a speech he delivered to the Zoroastrian commodity in London.He brushes away the story of how the Parsis arrived and how they communicated with the Hindu king by mixing sugar with milk, indicating that they would mix with the people of India. He says this story is a myth. This incident has been recorded in History and indeed Malcom Deboo president of the Zoroastrian Trust has often sited this incident in his talks. What proof does Lord Parekh have to refute this part of Parsi history? For Lord Parekh it was no big deal that a host country welcomes a persecuted people. By highlighting a local difficulty in Mumbai Lord Parekh cannot bring himself to acknowledge that over the last 200 years Parsis have lived fearlessly in India. Lord Parekh  says the Parsis thought Indian’s were not ready for independence. Unless he can prove this claim Lord Parekh will have misrepresented the Parsi community. He also went on to say that the Parsis feared Gandhi’s mass movement and collective action. Parsis had no cause to fear. They had no doubt that under an independent India they would have every opportunity to aim for the skies. And History has proved that right. Lord Parekh claims that the Parsi community did not see why they should remove traces of Western influence from their own ways. Gandhi’s campaigns were not to remove any Western influence but to gain India’s independence. The Jewish people have lived in India for over 2,000 years and they proudly claim that they have never faced any persecution. In the middle of the city of Delhi there is a beautiful Baha’i temple. Another persecuted minority that have found a safe home in the Hindu majority India. Respect for all religions has been in the DNA of Hindus well before the West coined the term Secularism. In his zeal not to acknowledge any Hindu values Lord Parekh has misrepresented the Parsi community. All it does is question the professionalism as well as the bias of an academic. The grudge some Indian origin people hold against the land of their birth is breathtaking.

Nitin Mehta

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