the book, 'The Thread of God in my Life' authored by
After I finished the book, "The Heartbeat of a
Trust" I was offered the position of Executive
Officer in the Trust with the understanding, that in
a couple of years the incumbent would retire and I would
take over as Director.
I took over in May 1985. Soon after at a seminar of
the Ford Foundation I observed that the Centre and State
Governments were issuing contradictory instructions
on investments permitted by Trust and one could be penalized
for breaking the law of the Union Government. While
even hairdressers had their union, there was no one
to represent Foundations that gave millions in charity.
The observation was picked up by the Ford Foundation.
They arranged for a group to visit to South East Asia
and Japan to study philanthropy and consulted me on
who else to invite. On my recommendations a party was
selected. We returned in August 1986. To pursue my objective
of a centre for philanthropy that would facilitate the
starting of Trusts and provide information on running
I had been Director for only 18 months. I needed a reputed
personality to support it and I found him in the late
Mr. H. T. Parikh, founder of the HDFC (Housing Development
Finance Corporation) who shared our conviction. We held
a meeting in the Boardroom of Tata's headquarters. A
small cross section of Bombay's industrialists, Chambers
of Commerce and social workers was present. The idea
found favour. The ball was now in my court. I needed
an Executive Secretary and a man who knew Charity Law
and Income Tax Law to advise charities. The big ones
like Tatas, had the best brains but the medium sized
foundations and small foundations needed help even with
registration and to apply for tax benefits. To widen
the circle of philanthropy we needed an organization.
The first ray of light came when I met Mr. R. R. Chari,
a reputed Income Tax Commissioner who was just retiring.
He was to serve for the next 20 years. The second was
my discovery of a young man, Noshir Dadrawala, who was
collecting information on Parsee charities. The personalities
to build on were there but where was the office space?
Just then, Darius Forbes, a good friend who was on the
trip with us to South East Asia, offered a tiny office
gratis to us. Just when I thought we were launched the
young man disappeared for a higher paid job. Mercifully
he soon realized where his true calling lay and returned
to work with us.
The young man blossomed since beyond expectations. My
main job was to give him freedom to grow and he grew
to be an international figure in philanthropy on the
Boards of International Associations of Philanthropy
and still gives his heart and time to the Centre for
the Advancement of Philanthropy. He feels he owns it.
It was such a strength to get the support of Mr. J.R.D.
Tata who wrote to 10 Tata companies to be patron members.
And with that our finances began.
When you start an organization you do so because it
is right and needed. You do not foresee the end of the
road. This initiative has resulted in starting the teaching
of philanthropy as part of a couple of MBA colleges.
Foreign experts who visit India give the benefit of
their knowledge at seminars. Sessions are held for advice
on matters of taxation and other laws. And for 20 years
all relevant information for charitable institutions
has been given in print in a magazine six times a year.
Hundreds of queries answered and contacts drafted, the
way to tax exemptions shown . Large corporations are
also encouraged and advised to start their foundations.
The dream has been realized thanks mainly to the young
man discovered 20 years ago who has grown with the Centre
and made it grow. You never know where one small step
Five years after it had started H. T. Parikh wanted
to step down and recommended me as Chairman. I stalled
him for two years but once at an Annual General Meeting
he proposed my name. After 15 years in office at 80
on health grounds I stepped down in 2008.
An institution goes stale till new blood comes in -
though the Centre for the Advancement of Philanthropy
has got kudos, it has to move to the next stage. My
bowing out clears the way for its future growth.
The Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy (CAP)
was set up on November 7, 1986.
CAP is registered as a not-for-profit organization
under section 25 of the Indian Companies Act. CAP enjoys
tax exemption as a charity under 12A & donations
are eligible for 50% deduction Section 80-G of the Income
Tax Act. It is also eligible for foreign contributions