The University of Cam has organised a fantastic Indo-Pak online exhibition for 70 years of ambition. I came across this chap called Ian Stephens, who was a Kings College Cambridge, who stayed on in Pakistan after Partition. In fact he wrote a fascinating book called Pakistan in 1963. I’m ordering the book but it’s perhaps one of the most incisive readings I’ve ever read on the “ideology of Pakistan”. He speculates on why Pakistan has never had “good press” from the beginning of it’s inception:
“But over one big matter there is divergence. For something distinct from religious and cultural spirit infuses Zionism; it is inspired, too, by a sense of race, by beliefs about a chosen people; and in this, with grim irony, it bears some resemblance to its appalling former foe in Europe, German Nazism. Islam, on the other hand — the creed from which the Pakistan-concept takes origin — agrees wholeheartedly with Communism in being without qualification and emphatically raceless, a brotherhood open for all mankind; which means that, unlike Judaism, it remains, potentially at least, a proselytising force, bent upon enlarging itself — as it so formidably did in past centuries. Here we have a fresh fact of major importance, and one which does much to explain the peculiar obstacles and prejudices which the idea of Pakistan, from the time of its first becoming active` in the 1930’s, has met not only from Hindus, but also, though less consciously — so this writer at any rate reckons — from Christian people in the West.”
Our ancestors, Persia’s first-born, preserved their ancient faith in the underground warrens of Yazd. Zarthushti houses had to be on a lower level to Muslim homes so that if it rained the water of infidels couldn’t contaminate that of the believers. It is only fair that for the sake of those ancestors who have sacrificed so much that at least some of their descendants should go on to light the sacred fire for the generations to come.
Imagine a khap panchayat in rural Haryana – a kangaroo court of village elders – launching a slick ad campaign encouraging members of their caste to marry (each other) and rapidly multiply to increase their dwindling numbers.
(Disclaimer: I had my Navjot when I was nine, despite having a Hindu father.)
Anahita Mukherji is a US-based journalist who has a quarter-Parsi son with a full-Parsi name.
The author’s father is a Bengali Brahmin and she herself married out of the Parsi caste. Anahita’s only sop to her mother’s identity is to give her son a Parsi name.
Now she’s the designated American voice of the (liberal) pushback against those Indian Parsis who understandably want to preserve Zoroaster’s bloodline for posterity. If the Parsi community were to follow Anahita’s personal example; they’d be extinct in a generation.
She has every right to lead her life as she sees fit but it is unacceptable to hector others to follow her PC non-solutions. When it comes to the Parsi community there are simply no lemmings left to fall of the cliff.
Good luck Jiyo Parsi!