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The Parsis are fast disappearing. There are now only around 50,000 members of the community in all of India. But since their arrival here from Central Asia, somewhere between the eighth and tenth centuries, the Parsis’ contribution to their adopted home has been extraordinary. The history of India over the last century or so is filigreed with such contributions in e very field, from nuclear physics to rock and roll, by names as Dadabhai Naoroji, Dinshaw Petit, Homi Bhabha, Sam Manekshaw, Jamsetji Tata, Ardeshir Godrej, Cyrus Poonawalla, Zubin Mehta and Farrokh Bulsara (aka Freddie Mercury). In this engaging, accessible, intimate history of the Parsis, senior journalist and columnist Coomi Kapoor, herself a Parsi, pores through the names, stories, achievements and the continuing success of this tiny but extraordinary minority. She delves deep into both the question of what it means to be Parsi in India, as well as how the community's contributions—from tanchoi silk to chikoos—became integral to what it meant to be Indian. In Kapoor’s hands, the story of the Parsis becomes a rip-roaring, incident-filled adventure: from dominating the trade with China to being synonymous with Bombay, once, arguably, a city defined by its Parsis; from the business success of the Tatas, the Mistrys, the Godrejs and the Wadias, to such current contributions as the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines by the Parsi-founded Serum Institute of India.
‘This well-researched and informative book brings out in vivid colours the saga of a microscopic community to which the author and I are proud to belong… [Coomi] is hopeful that a religion that has survived for so long despite all odds, will somehow manage to survive in spite of the declining number of believers, the “indomitable spirit” of the community not being easily snuffed out. This book is a must-read for whoever is interested in the trajectory of this microscopic community in India, and the amazing and remarkable success that it has achieved in this country and all over the world.’
FROM THE FOREWORD BY JUSTICE R. F. NARIMAN
Coomi Kapoor is a pioneer political journalist who was the first woman chief reporter and female bureau chief in Delhi. She has been in the profession for nearly five decades, and has worked with The Indian Express, India Today, The Sunday Mail, The Indian Post, The Illustrated Weekly of India and The Motherland. She is at present consulting editor at The Indian Express, where her popular column, ‘Inside Track’, appears on Sundays. Her earlier book, The Emergency: A Personal History, was a bestseller.