Part of Jiyo Parsi, financial boost to care for elderly expected to encourage couples to start their own families. 30% of community is unmarried, while 31% are aged

The Jiyo Parsi scheme is all set to provide monetary assistance to couples, to help them look after the elderly in their families. The people behind the government-supported scheme, which was launched in 2013 to arrest the community’s declining population, hope that the financial boost will encourage young couples to start thinking of starting their own family. The move has been triggered by the findings of a 16-yearlong study on Parsi families conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Parzor Foundation.

Dr Shernaz Cama, director of the UNESCO-supported Parzor project, said that the study, which was published late last year, found that the dependency ratio in the community is abnormally high. “A couple looks after a minimum of four elderly people. Also, 30 per cent of the community is unmarried and 31 per cent is over the age of 75, so they also take care of uncles and aunties in the extended family. The dependency ratio on that young couple becomes extremely difficult for them to handle emotionally as well as financially,” said Dr Cama.

She said that while the emotional health of the elderly was being taken care of by counselling and workshops at Masina Hospital, it was imperative to also focus on the financial aspect. “Medicines, home care, etc. are expensive. The government, through the ministry of minority affairs, has added a component called the Health of Community, which looks into the emotional, psychological and financial wellbring of any group,” said Dr Cama.

Pearl Tirandas, a Jiyo Parsi programme co-ordinator, told Mirror that financial aid would be aimed at couples keen on having children. Her colleague Dr Katy Gandevia said that couples eligible for the scheme — especially those with age on their side — will get Rs 4,000 per parent/relative. “Ultimately this scheme will help families have more children. So, if a couple is taking care of two sets of parents, they will get Rs 16,000 per month which will encourage them to plan a family of their own,” said Gandevia.

The couples will be chosen by a panel that will include an official from the ministry of minority affairs, representatives from the Parzor Foundation, the World Zoroastrian Organisation and Jiyo Parsi. The panel, said Jiyo Parsi officials will call for applications by placing advertisements in newspapers, and the interviews would be held in Mumbai and Gujarat.

A Jiyo Parsi counsellor will check on the beneficiary family on a trial basis for six months, said Gandevia.

If a child, either the first or its sibling, is conceived, the monetary provisions for the elderly will continue for the duration of the life of the elderly, as long as the scheme exists.

Published on Pune Mirror