Presents and Futures: The Trust and Obligation's Asymmetries
Chapter 2 explores issues of temporality through charitable giving with the story of Jerbai Wadia, the widow of a hugely wealthy family. She endowed several plots to the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) as communal housing for Parsi beneficiaries. While greatly benefiting her coreligionists and encouraging Parsi migration from rural areas to the city, Jerbai's communal beneficence came from partially disinheriting two of her sons, who had converted to Christianity. Her descendants are now in a battle over the management of her charitable gifts with the BPP. The chapter will examine how the trust troubles the giver–receiver binary of reciprocity in terms of the obligations owed and the temporality of those obligations. The trust structure (the tripartite settlor, trustee, beneficiary) reorganizes religious giving into an intergenerational relation of obligation and accountability and challenges assumptions of the centrality of reciprocity to social life.