Parsi - Sociopolitical Organization

The relationship of Parsis to the state of India has always been one of loyalty, since as a minority their survival depended on accommodation to the political authority. The Zoroastrian ideal state is one that is just and tolerant toward the practice of religion. The British enhanced this loyalty by elevating a number of Parsi families to noble rank: out of four hereditary barons in British India, three were Parsi. For a long time Parsis played a dominant role in local government, particularly in the Bombay municipality. They were also instrumental in forming the Bombay Presidency Association, which hoped to influence British policies in India. Later, with the movement for Indian independence, Parsis were a moving force in the Indian National Congress. In independent India Parsi political influence has waned somewhat, although eminent Parsis are still to be found in all branches of government, especially the judiciary. The internal affairs of the community relating to questions of membership, religious practice, and use of community funds are governed by Parsi panchayats. These are local bodies (of which Bombay's is the most Important) made up of priests and wealthy laypeople. The juridical powers of the panchayats have slowly been yielded to Indian civil authorities, and the panchayats today are primarily involved in welfare activities and management of community trusts.

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