Extinction is one of the biggest concerns of the Parsi community in India, given their rapidly dwindling numbers. But the Parsis of Surat have bucked the trend.
In the last six years, the community here has added 200 more members, registering a substantial six per cent increase in population. This had made the Surti Parsis the forerunners in the battle for survival with even the Bombay Parsi Panchayat (BPP) looking at Surat for clues.
A report of the Surat Parsi Panchayat (SPP) says the population has gone up from 3,500 in 2004-05 to 3,700 in 2010-11. SPP believes its scheme of luring young Parsi men and women into wedlock early by offering them two-room flats in the city at a throwaway monthly rent of Rs 200 has paiddividends.
Since 2005, 36 couples were given the flats. They are proud parents of 65 children today. "Many Parsis married late because they did not have their own home," said Darayas Master, president of SPP.
"Others did not find the right match in the miniscule community, which had contributed to dwindling numbers. Now, they have a flat and a golden chance at shaping the future of the community. Even BPP has decided to emulate our flat scheme."
As many as 105 children in the age group of one to nine years have been added in the 2010-11 SPP census compared to 2004-05.
"I was engaged to my fiancee, but could not marry as I did not have a house of my own," says Eric Dutiya, 34, working with a private bank. "The moment the SPP started the flat scheme, I tied the knot with Yasmin."
He is the proud father of a oneand-a-half-year old Khoreman and five-year-old Jessica. Hosang Vesuna, a senior manager with an auto finance company, adds, "I was inspired by the efforts of our community leaders to arrest our dwindling population and decided to get married seven years ago. Today, I have two children."