Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Parsi charity needs overhaul: Study

TISS Report Advocates Home-Based Services For Senior Citizens From The Community

Manthan K Mehta I TNN

Mumbai: A study on Parsis has recommended a complete overhaul of the charity aimed at the community as the elderly comprises nearly 31% of its population, most of them staying alone. More organisations should come forward with daycare services to help such elders lead a comfortable and safe life, suggested the study.

Prof S Siva Raju, of Tata Institute of the Social Sciences, conducted the nationallevel survey on 886 elderly Parsis living in rural as well as urban areas, including old-age homes to understand their living condition. The study, which was sponsored by Parzor Foundation, New Delhi, said several factors, including lack of interest in marriage among the younger lot, disinterest in procreation and migration by the youngsters are to blame for the dwindling population and the elderly staying alone. So, time has come for the community to review its practices and start services that will help these old people lead a more comfortable life.


Based on the feedback of those surveyed, the study emphasised, “The community’s strategy will have to shift from sinking money in brick and mortar. Instead, they should direct service to the senior citizens of the community who need home-based services.’’ Parsi organisations should aim at providing services like upkeep of the house and personal care such as helping the elderly with their baths, meals, shopping, banking, investments, income tax returns and medical emergencies, suggested Raju.

The study suggested such community-based services can be started by setting up an organisation through the various Parsi punchayats and anjumans in different locations. Volunteers, who might be senior citizens themselves, can be involved to  run such a service. Those who can afford it, can pay the entire amount, while others can avail of varying levels of subsidy.

According to the report, many Parsis are single—both men and women—and stay alone, lacking social support in old age. The younger married ones can hardly look after their ageing parents and relatives staying separately and those living abroad or elsewhere in India can visit them only once or twice a year. “The working adult children, single or married, having ageing parents, whether living with them or away, are willing to pay for their parent/s’ care if social service organisations offer good services to help them and take care of them.’’ Advocting the need for homebased services backed by community organisation, Raju said, “The increasing rate of crimes against the old in large cities, like Mumbai and Delhi, further prevents them from hiring unknown people.’’

To start such services, Raju said, it was necessary to collaborate with institutions, such as TISS or College of Social Work at Nirmala Niketan, to train the para-professional and professional staff in elderly care.

To deal with health problems like poor vision, hypertension, diabetes, tiredness, cardiac trouble, osteoporosis, depression, anxiety, joint pains, respiratory trouble and other psychological problems, Raju said, “Arrangements can be made for areawise medical practitioners to pay regular visits. For those who are too old to even go out, a system should be in place so that blood tests can be conducted at home as well as check-ups on eyes and hearing aids.’’ Besides bringing nice food, special recreation and hobby facilities, involving youngsters, should be built at the Parsi colonies so that the members of the community are not bogged down in depression and loneliness.