July 27, 2016 9:30 pm
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 69,601 we are now 57,264 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 Counselors, 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 fulfillment and successful professional work. Most importantly we must collectively and consciously realize 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