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Hey India! Where are your Parsis going?

A huge number of usually independent and modern Parsis pursue late marriages or not marry at all which causes a decline in birth rate

They are rich. They are famous. They are influential. They are Parsis who have made a considerable contribution to the development of India. From Jamsedji to Ratan Tata, from Godrej to Wadia, from Homi Bhabha to Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw and from Polly Umrigar to John Abraham, the Parsis have their names in every field.

But the billion dollar question is where are the Parsis going? Why is there a continuing decline in the Parsi’s population in India? Reports coming from Gujarat suggests that cities like Ahmedabad are known for Parsis have witnessed 24% decline in Parsi population which means a reduction of 1/4.

The Centre even launched ‘Jiyo Parsi’ programme to ensure a steady growth of Parsi population but in vain. Their population in Ahmedabad decreased by 400 in the last three years. That’s a huge number considering the fact that there were only 1,770 Parsis in the year 2013, which has declined to a mere number of 1,350.

On the other side, the whole nation has witnessed a total decrease of 18% in 16 years as the Parsi population has declined to 57,264 in 2011 from 69,601 in 2001.

The sudden change in the birth and death ratio is considered to be the main reason for the decline. According to the president of Ahmedabad Parsi Panchayat, there are only 9 to 10 births against 24 to 25 deaths per year.

The ageing population is another reason behind infertility. Besides, ideas of intermarriage and conversion have not been supported by the community in case of daughters which results in a huge decline everytime someone marriages outside the faith.

In case any daughter chooses to marry an outsider, they and their children are ousted from the community and are not even allowed to enter fire temple. However, men do have the liberty to marry a non-Parsi and still have Parsi children.

Besides, a huge number of usually independent and modern Parsis pursue late marriages or not marry at all which causes a decline in birth rate.

The Jiyo Parsi programme is making positive attempts for the cause but apparently, no success has been achieved. The scheme comprises two components — advocacy and medical component. Workshops are held to create awareness about the decline in the population which means to advocate them to contribute. On the other hand, medical assistance is provided to boost community’s population via Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART).

However, according to the president of the Ahmedabad Parsi Panchayat, the programme has not induced any effect as no changes have been observed in the statistics. He said that no couple of Ahmedabad is interested in the scheme.

Meanwhile, Dr Shernaz Cama, an associate of the scheme said changing the views of the community in matters of marriageable age, bearing children is important for a population growth.

Published on India Samvad

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