Concerned over the dwindling number of Parsis, one of the five notified national minorities, Government has launched a scheme to arrest the trend of decline in their population.
The Central Sector Scheme is one of the four new projects to be implemented by the Ministry of Minority Affairs during the current financial year.
The population of Parsis has been declining over the years, reaching just 69,000 in 2001 from 1,14,000 in 1941.
The scheme for containing population decline of Parsis is to be implemented during 2010-11 and a budgetary provision of Rs 1 crore has been made for this purpose, an official statement said.
The scheme is currently undergoing the process of formulation, appraisal and approval by the competent authority, it added.
The government’s move came as the National Commission for Minorities pressed the panic button after a thorough survey among the community.
After its survey, the NCM suggested that the community should reverse the trend of late marriages or no marriages. The NCM survey also took note of the fact that the average birth rate in the community was coming down every year.
“Proportion of those not marrying is highest among the Parsis, especially among Parsi females,” the study had said.
From 223 births in 2001, it came down to 174 in 2006. In all these years, the average birth ratio remained below 200. Till August 2007, the total number of births in the community was just 99.
The survey had also pointed out a large number of Parsis are aged. Thirty per cent of the total population are above 50, while the number of adolescents and children remained just around 12 per cent.
Around 18,000 Parsis, who are Zoroastrian by faith, had fled to India from Persia during the Arab conquest over 1,000 years ago and settled in Gujarat. Over the years, the community has made a name for itself in entrepreneurship.