NEW DELHI: The government has launched a new scheme to arrest the dwindling population of Parsis, one of the five notified national minorities in the country.
The Fertility Support Scheme for Parsis and Zoroastrians is one of the three new schemes to be implemented by the ministry of minority affairs during the current financial year.
The government’s move comes after the National Commission for Minorities pressed the panic button following a survey which found that the population of Parsis has dropped to 69,000 in 2001 from 1,14,000 in 1941.
“This is a unique scheme and aims to work towards arresting the decline in population of Parsis,” the Minority Affairs Minister, Mr Salman Khurshid told PTI.
It includes running awareness campaigns, providing the community members medical help, if necessary, and other support programmes.
The scheme will be implemented during 2010-11 and a budgetary provision of Rs 1 crore has been made for this purpose.
After the survey, the NCM suggested that the community should reverse the trend of late marriages or no marriages. “The proportion of those not marrying is highest among the Parsis, especially among Parsi females,” the study says.
The NCM also took note of the fact that the average birthrate in the community was coming down every year. From 223 births in 2001, it came down to 174 in 2006. During 2007, the total number of births in the community was just 99 till August.
The survey has also pointed out that a large number of Parsis are aged. Thirty per cent of the total population is above 50 years of age, while the number of adolescents and children remains just around 12 per cent.
Around 18,000 Parsis, who are Zoroastrian by faith, had fled to India from Persia during the Arab conquest over 1,000 years ago and settled in Gujarat. Over the years, the community made a name for itself in entrepreneurship.