Race to save dwindling Parsis

Facing extinction, the Parsi population has something to cheer about. The Planning Commission has granted sanction to set up fertility clinics for the Parsis. The Minority Affairs Ministry will now organise camps for IVF treatment of the community to spiral up their dwindling numbers.

By Rakesh Singh | Pioneer

According to the 2001 census, there are around 60,000 Parsis living in India and their numbers have been declining over the years.

A survey conducted by the Minority Affairs Ministry revealed that late marriages, reducing fertility levels and migration were the major

reasons behind the decline in the Parsi population.

According to the survey, the average number of births per year in the Parsi community has never crossed 200 since 2001. About 30 per cent of the Parsi population remains single, while another 30 per cent is above 60. And to make matters worse, the death rate in the community is three times the birth rate.

“One of the major problems with the community is that if a Parsi girl weds outside the community, her child is not included in the fold. On the contrary if a Parsi boy weds a non-Parsi girl, their child is accepted as a Parsi,” an official said, elaborating the cultural reasons behind their dwindling numbers.

Granting approval to the proposal for setting up of the IVF clinics, the Plan panel has asked the Minority Affairs Ministry to submit a detailed roadmap for execution of the scheme.

A Minority Affairs Ministry official said the Ministry is now planning to conduct an awareness programme within the community to adopt IVF techniques for increasing fertility.

When contacted by The Pioneer, Minority Commission Chairman Wajahat Habibullah welcomed the move and said initiatives should be taken in right earnest by the Minority Affairs Ministry in conjunction with the Union Health Ministry to set up such camps.

This is the first time the Plan panel has cleared a scheme to sponsor fertility treatment for the Parsi community and has also made allocation for the 12 Five Year Plan.

Under the scheme, the Government will now bear the cost of fertility treatment for the Parsi community members concentrated mostly in Mumbai, Gujarat and Kolkata.

“The

scheme was approved last week and the Planning Commission has made a budgetary provision of Rs 2 crore in the first year of the ongoing 12th Five Year Plan. The commission has given a go-ahead to arrest the dwindling numbers of Parsis after a long deliberation,” an official said.

Earlier this year, Minority Affairs Ministry had sent a proposal to the Plan panel seeking its approval to fund fertility treatment for the community members as part of the 12th Plan.

The panel’s 41-member steering committee on “Empowerment of Minorities” headed by Sayeeda Hameed comprising officials from Minority Affairs Ministry and experts from different fields, also submitted a report in May this year recommending allocation of funds for fertility treatment of the endangered community.

The Plan panel had rejected a similar proposal in 2010 saying it could set a precedent for other groups to make similar demands.

“The Parsis are serious about the problem and had sought IVF facilitation for improving fertility within the community. We will approach health ministry to seek their cooperation in implementing the scheme.” an official said adding, health camps will be set in Parsi concentration areas to identify the beneficiaries.

  • Ardeshir

    Fertility treatments will not increase numbers since fertile couples in the community are not sufficient. The only way to “save” the community in the short run is to accept children of mixed marriages who voluntarily wish to embrace the religion. Do not be surprised if many do not wish to join the Zarathusti fold. But the door should be opened to them. Better to have a half Parsi child become a Parsi than to have no Parsis left at all. A day will come in the not too distant future when the agiaries will have very few worshipers and will have to close down, the various baughs will have empty flats with locks where owners descendants living abroad, and Parsi properties in great danger of being encroached upon starting with other parts in India and then Mumbai. The BPP instead of wasting community money on ill-concieved vulture aviary at Doongerwadi should form a high-power committee to look into the matter of safe-guarding community property for as along as possible. Also, Parsis from Pakistan may want to come to India.

  • Ardeshir

    Fertility treatments will not increase numbers since fertile couples in the community are not sufficient. The only way to “save” the community in the short run is to accept children of mixed marriages who voluntarily wish to embrace the religion. Do not be surprised if many do not wish to join the Zarathusti fold. But the door should be opened to them. Better to have a half Parsi child become a Parsi than to have no Parsis left at all. A day will come in the not too distant future when the agiaries will have very few worshipers and will have to close down, the various baughs will have empty flats with locks where owners descendants living abroad, and Parsi properties in great danger of being encroached upon starting with other parts in India and then Mumbai. The BPP instead of wasting community money on ill-concieved vulture aviary at Doongerwadi should form a high-power committee to look into the matter of safe-guarding community property for as along as possible. Also, Parsis from Pakistan may want to come to India.

  • Aban

    Adoption of Parsi children should be encouraged by allowing Parsi couples who are wiling to do a favour by producing children and giving them as gifts to childless couples, to do so. A Committee should be set up to encourage such wiling couples by rewarding them handsomely for making the childless couple happy. Rich childless couples will very willingly reward the biological couples whose identity should not
    be revealed by the said committee.

  • Aban

    Adoption of Parsi children should be encouraged by allowing Parsi couples who are wiling to do a favour by producing children and giving them as gifts to childless couples, to do so. A Committee should be set up to encourage such wiling couples by rewarding them handsomely for making the childless couple happy. Rich childless couples will very willingly reward the biological couples whose identity should not
    be revealed by the said committee.

  • Phiroze

    While the suggestion is noteworthy however I do not agree to the handsome reward part.

  • Phiroze

    While the suggestion is noteworthy however I do not agree to the handsome reward part.

  • nari

    Bpp must do something on top priority for living human beings than wasting Rs 25 crores in ten years for aviary project. Even Rs 2 crores received from govt. of india for fertility treatment will not be utilised properly because there are hardly any young couples left (might be 100 of them who will need this treatment in mumbai.)

  • nari

    Bpp must do something on top priority for living human beings than wasting Rs 25 crores in ten years for aviary project. Even Rs 2 crores received from govt. of india for fertility treatment will not be utilised properly because there are hardly any young couples left (might be 100 of them who will need this treatment in mumbai.)

  • Barak Aga

    Ha! What a joke. The Mighty Persians infertile? Can we be sure that these were the same folks who were rulers of ¾ of the known world? It turns out they are limp. That explains why they are such cowards. Ahura Mazda – not too pleased with their antics – has neutered them. May be some more lascivious calendars from the Dhongidox could fire the libidos of our limp lumpens. The government should also be requested to sponsor the WAPIZ STRIPTIZ

  • Barak Aga

    Ha! What a joke. The Mighty Persians infertile? Can we be sure that these were the same folks who were rulers of ¾ of the known world? It turns out they are limp. That explains why they are such cowards. Ahura Mazda – not too pleased with their antics – has neutered them. May be some more lascivious calendars from the Dhongidox could fire the libidos of our limp lumpens. The government should also be requested to sponsor the WAPIZ STRIPTIZ