Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Centre will help Parsis to boost count

By Vineeta Pandey / DNA

Concerned about the dwindling Parsi population in the country, the ministry of minority affairs is trying to come up with a concoction to reverse the trend.

Minister Salman Khurshid said that they are soon going to meet Parsi leaders in Mumbai to figure out a plan to stop the extinction of the culturally rich community.

The current Parsi population in India is about 69,601 (33,949
males and 35,652 females) compared to 76,382 (37,736 males and 38,646 females) during the 1991 census. According to the 2001 census, the child-woman ratio, which is a key indicator of fertility, is 578 per 1,000 in India. Among the Parsis it was 85 per 1,000.

The 2001 census report called for an urgent intervention. The report said that fertility improvement initiatives rather than fertility control measures adopted by the community so far are possibly the need of the hour.

“It is expected that this loud and clear message from 2001 census awakens the country and the Parsi community from the deep slumber it is possibly in and have a beneficial effect,” it added.

The ministry, while making it clear about their no-interference policy in the religious and community matters, said they are working out plans which may include providing them financial help for healthcare. This support could also be for fertility-related treatments.

“Besides population, the Parsi community has been coming to the government with various other problem, including cremation, shortage of priests, property disputes, etc,” said Vivek Malhotra, secretary, ministry of minority affairs.

“There are also concerns about their children not getting admissions in schools and not enough people being left to take care of their properties.”

However, a few of the community members believe there is no reason to panic. “Our community is not destined to be obliterated from the face of earth,” said Khushru Panthaki, principal of MS Cama Athorna Institute.

“We have to encourage marriages within the community. Alien elements will destroy the genetic characteristic of our community.”