Xerxes Dastur: I'm here to restore BPP's credibility
Fresh off his induction as BPP's new trustee, Xerxes Dastur tells mid-day bringing in transparency between the organisation and the community is his top priority
Earlier this week, Xerxes Dastur emerged victorious in the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) election to become the new trustee, beating Anahita Desai, the wife of BPP president Yezdi Desai, by 89 votes. On Thursday, he was welcomed into the committee. Speaking to mid-day, Dastur discussed the dipping credibility of BPP, and how there is an urgent need for increased transparency between the functionaries and the larger Parsi community.
Everyone knew you and Anahita were strong contenders, what did you do differently that helped you win?
I spoke about the what my plans are for the future and where I think the community should go from here on. We need to have transparency, accountability and a merit-rated system that involves the community more by placing prominent members of the community on housing and legal committees.
Isn't the housing committee a BPP function though?
Yes, but we have to get outside parties involved as well. In the past, community elders used to be on all these committees. Senior community members have to be brought back into the fold of the BPP—they have to guide us. People like ex-trustees can give useful advice. Why should BPP only be restricted to the trustees? It is a community organisation and should be run by the community. It was this approach of mine that made it different than hers (Anahita's) and resonated with the voters.
What is the number one thing on your list after becoming trustee?
It is [to bring] transparency between BPP and the general community, get our accounts in shape and give everyone a clear statement. We need to get some systems in place and publish policies regarding housing and legal matters more clearly. I don't think the community knows about these things properly.
Trustees would say they're autocratic and just want to get things done, since they know better...
My way is that even if you're autocratic it's okay, but let the rules be same for everybody. Today, we live in different world and this election has proved that the community is very active on social media— so let's use that to our advantage as well. Why should be it be active only to bash people?
Is there anything else you'd like to say?
I think this is the time when the community has come to a reflection point. The low voter turnout shows the lack of confidence the community has in the BPP and its election process. I think that the BPP needs to work hard to restore its credibility with the community. I am here to restore that credibility.
Did you know Narendra Modi once wanted to become a monk?