A Zoroastrian Educational Institute



HomeArticlesAuthorsBook ReviewCommunityLibraryProminentsRegisterStoreArticle SubmissionAbout Us




Dinshaw Framroze Joshi (1926-2003)
A North American Zarathushti of Distinction


















Dinshaw with Jawarhalal Nehru the first Premier of Independent India in early 1960s. (above)

Dinshaw with premier Mrs. Indra Gandhi of India in late 1960s. (above)

Dinshaw and wife during Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and queen Farah's visit to India, 1970s. (above)

Dinshaw and wife during French Premier's visit to India. (above)

Dinshaw as chairman of FEZANA subcomittee presenting an award to Dr. Farhang at the North American Zoroastrian Congress in Chicago, July 2002. (above)

November 1926 was a month of great joy in the Joshi family, in Bombay. Framroze and Dinbai had been blessed with their first son. They named him Dinshaw. But not in their wildest imagination did they dream that someday he would become the first Zarathushti recognized as a world authority in the field of telecommunications, or a towering community figure in far-away North America. By the time their son died in November 2003, he had fulfilled that tryst with destiny!

The young Dinshaw became a man determined to be an engineer. He preparing himself for that at Elphinstone College's Royal Institute of Science, and then won admission for mechanical and electrical engineering studies at India's premier engineering faculty at the time, Poona Engineering College. As always, Dinshaw topped all candidates while earning his Bachelor of Engineering from Bombay University as well as in the all-India public service exams which led to his selection to India's vast Post & Telegraph Authority (P&T). He began as a Divisional Engineer, in its Telegraph Engineering Department. He thus launched a professional career of national and international eminence in the-then nascent field of telecommunications.

Its evolving technology fascinated Dinshaw. He absorbed it like a proverbial sponge. Recognizing his brilliance, P&T first sent him under a UN Technical Assistance Fellowship to Germany, Switzerland and UK to hone his expertise in advanced telecommunications and later, to other courses abroad. He was also sent to others to enhance his managerial talents, including to the National Academy of Administration and the National Defense College in India. As Dinshaw began proposing far-reaching changes to modernize India's archaic telecommunications system and ways to realize them, his rise in P&T was spectacular. He pioneered technical improvements en route, including in multi-exchange telephone systems for which he held a Joint Patent in India & the UK.

While he occupied positions of increasing responsibility, P&T assigned Dinshaw at the same time to visiting foreign dignitaries such as Eisenhower, Khruschev, Queen Elizabeth, the Shah of Iran and Jacqueline Kennedy. At a young age, it appointed him the General Manager of Bombay Telephones - India's largest telecommunications system that cried for technological and managerial modernization. His success there, led to the pinnacle of Dinshaw's P&T career when he was named its Deputy Director-General. He thus became the  first Zarathushti to reach that level in the field of telecommunications, anywhere in the world. By then, Dinshaw was also recognized world-wide as an authority on "switchgearing" which, in the early 70s, was at the cutting edge of telecommunications technology. A Zarathushti has still to achieve world pre-eminence in this field.

Dinshaw's professional successes went hand in hand with his marriage in 1956 to his beloved life partner, Goolcher Kotwal, and the birth of their adored daughter Shehernaz. Motivated perhaps as much by his desire to open better opportunities in life for them as to place his world-acknowledged telecommunications expertise on a broader international canvas, he accepted the invitation to join the World Bank in 1973.

In his 20 years in this pristine world development institution, Dinshaw master-minded technological and institutional improvements in the telecommunications systems of many countries, including Egypt, Kenya, Nepal, Tanzania and Thailand. In turn, that spurred the growth of their economies and improved the quality of life for their millions. Even through his profession, he lived by the Zarathushti precept of giving of oneself to improve the lives of others.

Unlike some who achieve pre-eminence and toot their horns all the time, Dinshaw refrained  from doing so. He remained modest and self-effacing, wearing his world honors lightly on his shoulders. Indeed, a hallmark of true greatness. His professional pre-eminence was matched by fierce devotion to living according to the principles of his faith, whose navar he had became when 12. Despite the demands of his career, he always had time to help those who sought it, and to serve the community wherever he lived - India or North America.

After resolving a long-festering dispute between community groups in Delhi, Dinshaw was among those at the forefront who shaped the Delhi Anjuman's constitution on a forward-looking basis and later, built its agiary. Soon after coming to Washington DC, he was drawn into the creation of the Zoroastrian Association of Metropolitan Washington (ZAMWI). Its far-sighted constitution and practices, which welcomed a person of any ethnicity who believed in the faith into the Association, owe as much to Dinshaw's broad vision as to those of its other founders. Elected Founder-Vice President in 1978, he served as ZAMWI's President from 1982-84.

He then turned his focus on the wider canvas, the North America's Zarathusti community. Drawn into its bi-national body, FEZANA, Dinshaw served it with great devotion and fervour from 1987 until he died. Besides participating in many of its committees, he chaired its Welfare Committee from its inception until recently, and its Awards Committee from 1995 until his demise. The community acclaimed him for setting transparent standards and rigorous selection processes for Awards given at FEZANA's bi-annual North American Congresses. In tribute, he was asked to head the Awards Committee of the 2000 World Zoroastrian Congress.

What is less publicly known is, that Dinshaw's sagacity and ability to give sound advice based on true Zarathushti values, made him a valued counselor to successive FEZANA Presidents. They frequently turned to him for counsel on most North American community matters. He got no public recognition for his imprint on them. Yet, it is a measure of his greatness, that this mattered not one bit to him. What fulfilled Dinshaw was, that he could give of himself for the benefit of the community he loved. That was his true passion. Unknown to them, North American Zarathushtis are better-off because he silently played this beneficial role for years. 

The North American and the global Zarathushti community became poorer when this great - yet modest - Zarathushti died in November 2003. By then, he had fulfilled his destiny of  professional and community greatness which Framroze and Dinbai had never dared to dream  for their eldest son, Dinshaw Framroze Joshi.