The Centres Jiyo Parsi scheme,launched on September 23 in the 12th five-year plan for containing population decline of Parsis in India,was conceived in 2009 when the programme director Zinobia Madan and Parzor Foundations director Shernaz Cama were discussing a Harvard study that claimed that infertility was a major cause of the dwindling Parsi population across the world.
A dedicated plan was necessary to preserve our community. Later,we presented the plan draft to the Ministry of Minority Affairs, said Madan,who is now in charge of implementation of the scheme across the country.
There are over a lakh Parsis across the world. The 2001 Census said India had a population of 69,001 Parsis. However,according to research by Parzor,a UNESCO recognised organisation for preservation of Parsi Zoroastrians,the number of Parsis in India has dipped to 60,000.
The concentration is in few cities like Mumbai (which has 90 per cent of the total Parsi population in India),Surat,Ahmedabad,Navsari,Hyderabad,Chennai,Kolkata and Delhi. The 200 Parsi births in the country are negated by 800 deaths in the community every year, said Cama on the basis of data collected.
Among several causes of dwindling Parsi population such as late marriage,no marriage,emigration and divorces,infertility is a major factor.
Infertility among Parsis is not a biological phenomenon born out of marriages within the community but a social phenomenon arising out of late marriages, said Cama.
Of the Rs 10 crore allotted for Jiyo Parsi scheme,Rs 1.35 crore will be used for advocacy to reverse the declining trend of the community. We will start in Mumbai and Surat where youngsters will be counselled to marry early and free Assisted Reproductive Technologies like invitro-fertilisation and intra cytoplasmic sperm injection will be provided. The scheme will spend Rs 5 lakh on each couple, said Dinshaw Mehta,chairman of Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP).