The Planning Commission’s scheme to arrest the decline among Parsis has received mixed reactions from the community.
A budgetary provision of Rs 2 crore has been made for the scheme, which aims to address the issue of population decline through fertility treatments and awareness campaigns, in the current fiscal.
Dr Anahita Pandole, who runs a fertility clinic for the Bombay Parsi Punchayat, said: "It’s an initiative started by the Bombay Parsi Punchayat ten years ago. Young Parsi couples can take advice and treatment which is done at a concessional rate in our clinic. When there is Assisted Reproductive Technology, the chances of twins and triplets are also higher. Every child born is a reason to celebrate. This will encourage young Parsi couples to take advice and start families."
However, one of the major issues behind the dwindling Parsi population is the inability to find housing at affordable rates. Soli Khodaiji a resident of Lalbaug said, " Rs 2 crore is not a big sum for the community. I’m not sure how it will be channelized. The fertility aspect for which they are paying will affect the younger group. But youngsters do not marry early. They try to go through the Punchayat to help them buy flats. The process is tedious," said Khodaiji.
Khodaiji said that in the past, the old timers had built Baugs especially meant for poor Parsis. "Many people thought it was below their dignity to live in baugs. But now the attitude has changed as rich people owning four cars have homes in baugs and do not want to vacate them. So the genuine poor are at a disadvantage. Regarding the Census data, a lot of Parsis have immigrated and this data needs to be ascertained," said Khodaiji.
"A sum of Rs 2 crore will not address the real issue. The biggest problem is housing and late marriages. By the time they get married, the child-bearing age is nearly over. How do they hope to increase the population by pumping in Rs 2 crore?" asked D Pantaki of Dadar Parsi Colony.