Claiming to have succeeded in encouraging more births and more marriages, the Parsi community launched the second phase of the ‘Jiyo Parsi’ campaign on Saturday.
The ‘Jiyo Parsi’ (Live Parsi) campaign was launched three years ago in 2014, to address the issue of dwindling population of India’s Parsi community.
In its second phase, the advertisement campaign will continue to encourage young Parsis to marry at an early age and couples to have more children. However, unlike the ‘cheeky’ phase I campaign, the second one will have a serious tone.
The concept of the campaign was conceived and promoted by Parzor foundation, Bombay Parsi Punchayet, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and the federation of Zoroastrian Anjumans of India. It urged Parsi couples who were facing difficulties in conceiving, to get medical help under the Jiyo Parsi scheme.
For phase II, the 12 ‘Jiyo Parsi’ ads feature young couples with their babies and persuade young Parsis to get married and have children for a balanced life. It will further stress on the importance of family.
Advertising veteran Sam Balsara, founder of Madison Advertising, has designed the print ad campaign.
“For the first time in the world, there has been an ad campaign to save a community. The first Jiyo Parsi campaign was mildly controversial, but it helped us grab attention and convinced many. We thought of keeping the second phase a little serious. This time on we wanted to point it out from an individuals perspective rather than a community’s. The campaign was a challenge for us as it meant trying to intrude into someone’s private life. Talking openly about one’s personal choice. But it worked,” he said.
The campaign has been credited with adding 101 babies to the otherwise declining community over the last three years.
The last 2011 census put the number of Indian Parsis at 57,264, dropping from 114,000 in 1941. “Population of Parsis declines by around 10 per cent every decennial census. Going by the births and deaths, there are 800 deaths for every 200 births and the main culprits are low fertility rates, caused by late or no marriages, single-child families, immigration, intermarriage and divorce,” said Dr Shernaz Cama, director of the UNESCO PARZOR Project, which is implementing the Jiyo Parsi scheme along with TISS and a number of other community organisations.
“Having 101 babies in three years is an 18 per cent rise over the birth rate of 200 per year. As we enter our next phase, we look beyond our 101 babies and countless community endeavours to carry the community ahead,” she added.
Besides the ad campaign, the scheme also counsels Parsi couples on the importance of having multiple children at a young age and urges them to diagnose and treat infertility, besides convincing singles to get married at the “correct” age. “It is very difficult at times to convince couples who have tried IVF and failed. We have to encourage them to continue the treatment and not lose hope. Convincing singles to get married, and young couples to have more than one baby is challenging too. We organise events where we invite successful, famous parsis who are married and have children. It takes time to influence minds of these people, Jiyo Parsi has been successful in doing it so far,” said Pearl Mistry, counsellor, Jiyo Parsi Programme.
Meanwhile, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Minority Affairs & Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who was the chief guest at the Jiyo Parsi II campaign launch, said, “The Parsi Community has given many great people, who have contributed a lot towards the freedom struggle and nation. It is disheartening to report declining number of the community. However, it is good to know that the community has not lost hope and is battling the issue and was successful to some extent.”
“Parzor Foundation was an important link between the Parsi community and the government in the success of “Jiyo Parsi” scheme. The ministry of minority affairs will continue to provide financial as well as moral support to the community in its fight against declining population,” he added.