London: The first-ever all party parliamentary group of Zoroastrians has been launched in the British Parliament to promote relations between India and the UK.
The Zoroastrian All Party Parliamentary Group launched here last night will be headed by leading NRI entrepreneur Lord Karan Billimoria.
Describing Zoroastrians (Parsis) in India and the UK as "high achievers", acting Indian High Commissioner to the UK Virendra Paul said, "Parsis have dominated not only in business but excelled in several other fields including defence, medicine and technology."
Lord Swaraj Paul, the Chairman of the Caparo Group of companies, while lauding the outstanding contributions made by Zoroastrians in various fields both in India and the UK, said, "I have had a long relationship with you (Parsis) not only in India but also in the UK. One of the largest suppliers to Caparo is the Tatas in India. We all admire what Zoroastrians have done both in India and here."
Eric Pickles, MP and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, wondered why it took such a long time to form the Zoroastrian All Party Parliamentary Group since Dadabhai Naoroji was the first Indian MP in the UK.
He appreciated Zoroastrian nature to "give back to the community whatever they could", saying it has a "nice gentle and civilising influence."
Lord Karan Billimoria recalled that Dadabhai Naoroji, a Zoroastrian, who was the first Indian elected to the British House of Commons, Sir Mancherjee Bhownagree and Shapurji Saklatvala were the second and third Indian MPs respectively.
"Together these were the only three Asian MPs elected before India`s independence in 1947. They represented the Liberals, the Conservatives and the Communists (with Labour support) respectively. So an All Party Group would certainly be in keeping with Zoroastrian political history," he said.
Lord Navnit Dholakia, Liberal Democrat peer and Deputy leader of the House of Lords, lauded the contribution of Parsis not only to Indian culture but also in socio-political and economic fields.
He praised the contribution of Tatas in rescuing the steel and auto industries in the UK.
Others who spoke included Rt Hon Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, Barry Gardiner, Chairman of the Labour Friends of India, Gareth Thomas, MP and Lord Dolar Popat, Chairman of the Conservative Friends of India.
Two Zoroastrian high priests, Dastur Dr Firoz Kotwal and Dastur Dr Kaikhusroo were also present on the occasion.