Government of India today said that 233 babies were born to Parsi (Zoroastrian) couples in India under the ‘Jiyo Parsi’ scheme.
Under the scheme, the government provides financial assistance to Parsi couples for Assisted Reproductive Technologies such as In-vitro Fertilization and Intra Cytoplasmic Injection, including surrogate pregnancies.
Jiyo Parsi scheme was started in 2013-14, and has so far spent about Rs 15 cr.
Besides financial assistance for assisted reproduction, the scheme also includes counseling for couples.
The counselling sessions focus on topics such as fertility, marriage and family. Sessions are also organized for the elderly, including workshops on relationship management, parenting, drug awareness etc, said minister for minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today.
Jiyo Parsi scheme also provides creche and child care support, senior citizen honorarium for child care, assistance to elderly and so on.
The scheme was conceived off in 2013-14 to help stabilize the population of Parsis in India.
Parsis, who reached India 1,400 years ago to escape persecution by Muslims in Iran, are largely an urban community.
Highly educated and urbanized, Parsi men and women have been known to enter into marriage very late in life, affecting fertility rates.
The number of Parsi Zoroastrians fell to just 57,264 as per the 2011 census from 69,601 ten years earlier.
Besides the government initiative, Parsis — who are mostly found in Gujarat and cities like Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad — have also started initiatives within the community to address the issue of shrinking population.
Children of Parsi women who marry non-Parsis are not admitted to the community. However, children of Parsi men who marry non-Parsi women can be admitted, provided they agree to abide by the Zoroastrian religion.
Despite being few in number, Parsis have contributed enormously to building India, both by playing prominent roles in politics and the freedom struggle, as well as in business and commerce. They are also known for their honesty, hardworking nature, enterprise and philanthropy.
Tatas, Godrejs, Wadias, Mistrys and Poonawallas are among the most prominent business families from the community.
Besides Parsis, there is another group of Zoroastrians in India called Iranis, who migrated to India much later.