Trying to boost the dwindling population of the Parsi community, the Ministry of Minority Affairs in November 2013 had initiated the Jiyo Parsi scheme. However, the scheme — that provides financial assistance to married Parsi couples for fertility treatment and also focuses on programmes to generate awareness about its lowering number —have seen no takers from Ahmedabad.
Detail in this regard was received from the Jiyo Parsi programme. The scheme is launched in association with Parzor Foundation and Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Acounsellor and representative of the Jiyo Parsi scheme, Pearl Mistry, had recently conducted a workshop at the Parsi sanatorium wherein she spoke about the reasons why Parsi married couples do not come forward to avail the benefits the scheme provides. “There are approximately 100 Parsi families in the city. However, we have not received any application under this scheme.
This is mostly due to lack of awareness among the community members. There are multiple reasons why young couples do not come forward. One of the reasons is that they feel embarrassed and hesitate to talk about their infertility or inability to conceive a baby. Such couples feel that availing this scheme would all the more highlight their issue,” Mistry said. The Jiyo Parsi scheme has been allotted a budget of Rs-10 crore, which is to be spent over a period of four years to improve the community’s population. The scheme primarily aims at providing financial assistance to Parsi couples for IVF or other fertility treatment.
The finance is granted even in case of failure of an IVF treatment. Under the scheme, a couple with an annual income of around Rs-10 lakh, Rs-10 to 15 lakh, Rs-15 to 20 lakh get 100%, 75% and 50% coverage respectively. “The cap of Rs-20 lakh of annual income creates a problem as most of the Parsi couples are affluent and in case both husband-wife earn, the income naturally goes above Rs-20 lakh,” the counselor added. Community leaders have been conducting awareness workshops, counseling sessions and discussion forums for Parsi couples to spread awareness about the scheme.
While the scheme found no takers in Ahmedabad, it found 120 Parsi families from Surat, Navsari, Pune and Mumbai availing the benefits. “I am focusing more on creating awareness by organizing workshops in Ahmedabad. The purpose is to encourage city couples to bear at least three kids. I have two daughters and a son. But most of the Parsi families do not think beyond their first child,” said Mistry. As per the data received from the Parsi Panchayat in Khamasa, while two deaths are reported every month, only six babies’ birth are reported on an average every year. There are several factors which have been identified for Parsi’s poor population such as late marriage, no marriage at all, fertility decline, marriage outside the community etc.