Understanding Parsi Population Decline
As many of you know, I recently gave at talk at the Nehru Centre in Mumbai on the topic of “Understanding Parsi Population Decline: A Historical Perspective.” This talk, similar to the talk that I gave in Houston in December 2010, consults the scholarship of professional demographers in order to clear up popular confusion in the Parsi community over why, precisely, our population figures have been declining over the past few decades. It highlights the fact that ALL professional demographic studies show that intermarriage, or migration to the West, is not the prime reason for population decline. Rather, the defining reasons are late marriage and non-marriage in the Parsi
community, and the resultant few number of children born. This has translated into smaller and smaller generations of Parsi youth, and a larger proportion of aged persons, something starkly obvious here in Mumbai and elsewhere in India.
Thanks to Kainaz Amaria, a US photojournalist currently based in Mumbai, this talk was videotaped and is now posted online in three different parts:
In particular, I would like to direct you to 33:23 of Part 3, where Dinshaw Mehta, chairman of the BPP, acknowledges the seriousness of the demographic problem and pledges that the BPP will give it the attention it deserves. I have been in touch with Mr. Mehta since then.
The chairman of the BPP has acknowledged our demographic crisis. Now it is time for those of us in North America — who face additional challenges caused by a geographically dispersed population — to give this critically-needed attention, support, and funding. This really should be the #1 priority of FEZANA, and the later that we put off decisive action, the greater our number of lost opportunities, and the smaller and weaker our future community will be. All other issues and concerns pale in comparison with the stark reality that we are currently not doing enough to ensure a robust “next generation” for the community. The seriousness of this crisis is readily apparent from the “Promoting Marriage” survey report I sent around late last month.
A PDF copy of my Nehru Centre talk, with graphs and figures, is also attached here. Please feel free to forward it, along with the links to the videos, to anyone who might be interested.
It is time to move from talk to action.
Ph.D. Candidate, Modern South Asia
Department of History
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