Parsis to get govt stimulus for raising their numbers

Under the minorities’ bonanza plan, couples to get Rs 5 lakh for infertility treatment

Author: Aditi Tandon Source: Tribune News Service

Ahead of elections, the Congress-led UPA government is all set to unveil a bonanza for the minorities with the launch of two unique schemes this Monday. The first, “Jiyo Parsi”, will pay the infertility treatment bill of the Parsi community to help them raise its dwindling numbers.

The second, “Seekho aur Kamao” will bear the cost of imparting skills to the youth (14 to 35 years) of all five centrally notified minorities (Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Parsis) at the rate of Rs 25,000 per beneficiary. Both schemes will be 100 per cent centrally funded and will run through the 12th Plan period.

“Jiyo Parsi” is the first of its kind scheme in the world where a government will intervene to stabilise the population of a listed minority whose numbers have fallen from 1.14 lakh in 1941 to 65,000 today.

A Ministry of Minority Affairs note justifies the idea. “Only one Parsi family in nine today has a child below 10 years. Total fertility rate of the community has plummeted below 1 meaning an average Parsi woman in her child bearing age has less than 1 child; 31% Parsis are over 60 years and more than 30% are not married. There is need for the government to arrest the declining population of Parsis,” it says. This scheme will be open only to Parsi married couples of child bearing age who want medical assistance for infertility treatment. They are free to seek assisted reproductive technologies, including in vitro fertilisation and intra cytoplasmic sperm injections, which will be paid for. Parsi adults and adolescents wishing detection for diseases resulting in infertility will also get money.

While Parsi married couples will be covered up to Rs 5 lakh per couple or the actual treatment cost whichever is less, Parsi boys and girls (up to 30 years of age) suffering from treatable clinical problems resulting in infertility will get assistance up to Rs 15,000 and Rs 25,000, respectively. Rs 20 crore have been earmarked for the scheme this fiscal.

Asked why an affluent community like the Parsis should get Central funding for infertility treatment, the ministry points out: “Many Parsi families are from the lower economic strata and can’t afford infertility treatment. Even middle class couples can’t afford repeated treatment cycles.” At the heart of the scheme is evidence that 90% modern-day infertility is treatable.

The scheme will operate through hospitals the Minorities Ministry empanels in consultation with the Health Ministry. Officials, however, caution, “It’s not about endless funding of infertility treatment cycles. Majority cases with curable infertility will be paid for.”

Under the “Seekho aur Kamao” scheme, the Centre will pay Rs 25,000 per minority youth (aged 14 to 35) to acquire soft, technical, traditional and life skills. NGOs, companies with experience in imparting skills can apply to the Centre and operate the scheme. Such companies will get 5% of the project cost as incentive for successful operation. The scheme will ensure job guarantee for minority youth.

Jiyo Parsi: The community concern

  • ‘Jiyo Parsi’ is the first-of-its-kind scheme where a government will intervene to stabilise the population of a listed minority
  • This scheme will be open only to married Parsi couples of child bearing age who want medical assistance for infertility treatment
  • They are free to seek assisted reproductive technologies, including in vitro fertilisation
  • Adolescent Parsis will get Rs 25,000 each for infertility screening

Learn & earn

The Centre will pay Rs 25,000 per youth (aged 14 to 35) belonging to five centrally notified minorities (Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Parsis) for acquiring soft, technical, traditional and life skills