I have just received the Census results of 2011 and while we expected the 10 percent decline , it is sad to see a 20 percent decline . From 69,401 we are now 57,000 only.
It is for this reason that Parzor had approached the Ministry of Minority Affairs ,many years ago ,for a Scheme to help the Parsi Zoroastrian community from demographic extinction . The Planning Commission had been briefed by us, but it was only in 2013 that MOMA kindly supported the Jiyo Parsi programme.
We have had , as predicted by ICMR, two thirds of the births of this Programme through Advocacy by efforts ,both of our dedicated team at TISS , Dr Katy Gandevia , Pearl Mistry and Binaifer Sahukar ,as well as the great pro bono ad campaign of Madison BMB which went viral across the world.
To this we add the medical component , led by the totally dedicated Dr Anahita Pandole of Jaslok hospital , the interventions of other caring doctors at the B.D Sarvajainik hospital in Navsari , others in Surat , as well as Hyderabad and several cities . With the help of surrogacy , supported over the limit fixed by MOMA , we have 2 healthy children. The total today is 71 births , with 3 happening recently on a single day in July 2016 .
We , as a country and community , need to help this team and take the Parzor MOMA message to every couple as well as young Zoroastrians . Wherever we have had Workshops , on parenting, child management , grand-parenting , marriage counselling , we have had so many questions and anxieties raised and then resolved , to the best of our teams abilities . This shows that there is a deep psychological change needed in mind sets.
We now have 2 films on Jiyo Parsi , one short for general viewing, and one which touches on delicate and detailed medical issues . We need Anjumans to invite us for longer sessions where we can work with for several days , in depth with the community .
We have good things happening : couples and only children declaring on video , after seeing the Ads and hearing our Counsellors , that they are determined to break this mindset and have a second child. We have celebrated the first birthdays of our JP children and even a few second birthdays .
But with the Census results out we all have to work much harder and encourage as well as support and help our young to find partners , encourage a balance between personal life fulfilment and successful professional work . Most importantly we must collectively and consciously realise the urgency of taking responsibility to save a precious world heritage from disappearing .
Let us all re commit ourselves to this task so that at the next Census we can look forward to better news and higher numbers.
With best wishes ,
Dr Shernaz Cama
Director, UNESCO Parzor