The dwindling population of Parsi community nationwide has long been a cause of concern and was the primary motivation for the Jiyo Parsi scheme.
Funded by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, and conceived and promoted by Parzor Foundation of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the federation of Zoroastrian Anjumans of India, its primary aim was to aid Parsi couples facing difficulties in conceiving with IVF treatment. After a sluggish start, it has finally gained ground in Gujarat, where as opposed to just one birth two years ago, the number has now risen to around 12.
In the past four years, a total of 168 babies across the country have been born under the Jiyo Parsi scheme, considered to be an achievement by the team working on this programme. Unfortunately, Ahmedabad has only had one baby till date. “Infertility is still a taboo in Ahmedabad. Also, most Parsis are quite well off to approach us seeking financial and medical help.”
“However, the response from Surat and Navsari has been quite good. We are also trying to reach out to gynaecologists across the state, requesting them to direct Parsi couples visiting them, to us so that we can help them,” says Pearl Mistry, counsellor, Jiyo Parsi in Gujarat.
At present, the Jiyo Parsi programme is in the second phase that aims at getting Parsi men and women to rapidly marry and procreate in significant numbers. Last week, a Parsi matrimony meet was held in Ahmedabad, in which nearly 90 Parsis participated.
Under the scheme, a couples opting for IVF get reimbursement of nearly 8 lakh, covering expenses till the child is born. However, the biggest challenge is to counsel the couple as distraught couple lose patience as IVF can take multiple cycles. “Even as we encourage couples to opt for a second baby, we offer them Rs 4,000 per month for it to help cover cost of crèche for the first eight years.”
“The scheme is aimed at increasing the shrinking population and does not see a good response as most Parsi couples do not aim to have children. It is important to overcome the mindset and make them see reason. Only then there will be a change and they will go for early marriage and early kids,” says Rashna Daruwalla, manager, admissions, Anant National University, adding, “For every 200 new born, there are 800 dead. These figures are equally responsible for the decline.”
12 Births And Counting
- In Gujarat, as opposed to one birth two years ago, it has now gone up to around 12
- Over the past 4 years, 168 babies born across the country under the scheme
- Couples opting for IVF get reimbursement of nearly 8 lakh per child till birth