Plan to boost Parsi numbers falters

A central scheme for sponsored fertility treatment among Parsis to arrest their dwindling numbers has found no takers, prompting plans for a new strategy that includes taking the help of community leaders.

According to the 2001 census, India has around 60,000 Parsis, among whom the death rate is three times the birth rate. In Calcutta, their numbers have dwindled by more than half in three decades, from 1,600 in the 1980s to around 700 now.

Under the scheme, the government pays for the treatment for childless married couples if both husband and wife are Parsis.

But not a single couple has come forward to avail of the much-hyped scheme — the first such plan for any community in the country — since its launch last year. Parsis live mostly in Mumbai, Gujarat and Calcutta.

“Not one Parsi couple has shown any interest in the scheme. We had expected a good response,” said a senior official of the minority affairs ministry.

The Planning Commission had cleared the scheme last October and made allocations for it under the Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2012-17). A sum of Rs 2 crore was set aside for the first year (2012-13).

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