GIV, Arbāb ROSTAM (b. Yazd, 1267 Š./1888; d. San Diego, Calif., 15 Mehr 1359 Š./7 October 1980; Figure 1), Majles representative, senator, president of Anjoman-e Zardoštiān (q.v.) of Tehran, businessman, and philanthropist. Born to Bahman and Ḵerman Ḵānom in Yazd, he studied at Kayḵosrowi high school of Yazd and also attended Madrasa-ye morsalin of Yazd to improve his knowledge of English. After graduating from high school in 1908, Giv moved to Tehran and engaged in international trade, first in company with his brother Giv Šāhpur and a few years later in the Yagānegi company. He quickly established himself as a resourceful, energetic businessman. Soon, however, he turned a good part of his energy to charitable activities. In 1940 he paid for the construction of two spacious water reservoirs (āb-anbār, q.v.) with pipeline facilities in Yazd, one for the use of Zoroastrians and the other for Muslims. (Some Muslims would not have shared a water reservoir with Zoroastrians.) In 1953, he created the Rostam Giv Charitable Foundation (Sāzmān ḵayriya-ye Rostam Giv) for the promotion of the education and welfare of the Zoroastrian community. In the same year, he encouraged his brother’s heirs to endow an elementary school for girls in Tehran (Ošidari, p. 400). He also built sixty low rental houses, equipped with modern amenities, for needy Zoroastrians in an area of 25,000 square meters named Rostam Bāḡ at Tehrān Pārs in the suburbs of Tehran.
In recognition of his commitment to the welfare of the Zoroastrian community, Giv was elected in 1312 Š./1933 to the Anjoman-e Zardoštiān of Tehran. Two years later he became vice-president, and, in 1319 Š./1939, president of the organization, a position he held for twenty-two years (Huḵt, p. 11; Ošidari, p. 399; Āẕargošasp, n.d., pp. 146-47). In 1320 Š./1941 he was elected to the Fourteenth Majles as the representative of the Zoroastrian community, a position he held for five successive terms. Since he believed that, as a relatively small religious minority, Zoroastrians should stay clear of the turbulent post-war political scene, he routinely voted with the majority in support of the incumbent government. Giv’s low political profile in the years of burgeoning leftist radicalism and xenophobic nationalism cost him his presidency of the Anjoman. In 1962, the younger generation opted for a more politically-minded leader, willing to demand the removal of the legal and customary restrictions on religious minorities. Notwithstanding, in 1342 Š./1963 he was appointed senator by the shah and served in that position for four years.
In 1962, Giv took up residence in a small three-room house in Rostam Bāḡ to demonstratefurther his commitment to the cause of the underprivileged. There, he began to implement the large-scale charity scheme he had designed in 1953. He donated funds for the construction of two places of worship (one for Zoroastrians and one for Muslims), and for the building of two elementary schools, one for boys (Dabestān-e Ostād Pur-e Dāwud) and one for girls (Dabestān-e Ostād Ḵodābaḵš). He also donated a plot of 15,000 square meters (worth $2 million) to the Ministry of Education for the establishment of an educational complex in Tehrān Pārs (Huḵt, p. 12). He developed farms in the village of Kowhan in Damāvand and built a health clinic and an elementary school for the benefit of the farmers and their children (Āẕargošasp, n.d., p. 148). His other charity works include the donation of a funeral home in Kāḵ-e Firuza Cemetery (Ošidari, p. 400), the renovation of the Kayḵosrowi High School in Yazd and the Irānšahr High School in Kermān, and the donation of 20,000 square meters of land in the village of Akbarābād to the Anjoman-e Zardoštiān of Tehran. In 1350 Š./1971, he donated all his real estate to the Rostam Giv Charity Foundation, whose cash value in 1977 was estimated at 100 million dollars. After the Revolution of 1978-79, however, all his property in Persia was confiscated.
A few months before the revolution, Giv and his wife, Morvārid (see Figure 1), emigrated to the United States, where he continued his charitable works. Responding to the needs of Zoroastrians in diaspora, he set up the Rostam Giv Charity Foundation in the United States and donated over $4 million for the creation of Zoroastrian centers around the world. With financial contributions from other Zoroastrians, the Trust established four Centers in the United States, two in Canada, and one in Australia. Arbāb Giv was well-known and highly respected by all who knew him, particularly by his fellow Zoroastrians, who greatly benefited from his commitment to the education and welfare of their community.
Ardašir Āẕargošasb, Marāsem-e maḏhabi wa ādāb-e Zartoštiān, Tehran, n.d.
Idem, Bozorgān-e zartošti, Tehran, 1352 Š./1973.
Jahāngir Ošidari, Tāriḵ-e Pahlavi wa zartoštiān, Tehran, 2535 (1356) Š./1977.
R. Ṣarfa, in Huḵt 28/12, Tehran 2536 (1357) Š./1978, pp. 9-13.
Originally Published: December 15, 2001
Last Updated: February 9, 2012
This article is available in print.
XI, Fasc. 1, pp. 3-4