Making Money and Avoiding Prejudice: Asia’s Parsis

  • Michael Backman


There are probably fewer than 140,000 Parsis worldwide. About 80,000 live in Mumbai, a city of 14 million people. Like the Jews of Europe or the Chinese of Southeast Asia, the Parsis of India and Pakistan are a distinct but exceptionally successful commercial minority. India’s biggest conglomerate, its biggest software company, one of its biggest construction groups, one of its biggest textile exporters, and, worldwide, the second biggest name in tea bags, Tetley Tea, are all in Parsi hands. As much as half the real estate in Mumbai has been in Parsi hands, and probably a similar proportion in Karachi. Wander around Mumbai’s financial district and you will see that many of the large, older buildings have noticeable Persian-style design features that betray the Persian heritage of their Parsi owners. Importantly, the Parsis have achieved all this without attracting envy and prejudice.


Business Family Pomegranate Juice Eighth Century Tata Group Bombay Stock Exchange 
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© Michael Backman 2005

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  • Michael Backman

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