Jiyo Parsi is a scheme to arrest the decline in the population of the Parsi-Zoroastrian community in India. The scheme, supported by the Government of India, comprises of two components: the Advocacy component and the Medical component.This project is a joint effort of Parzor Foundation, Government of India- Ministry of Minority Affairs, Bombay Parsi Punchayet and Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
Since its initiation about a decade ago, the Jiyo Parsi Programme has assisted 680 couples and 230 live births, including twins and triplets.
Where there is a will one can always find a way!!!
Many couples who have always dreamed of becoming parents but could not do so have been blessed with babies. The advocacy programme through the press, talks and workshops have made an impact. The community has started sitting up and take notice, thinking and discussing about the dwindling numbers.
What is the Jiyo Parsi Programme?
The Government of India, Ministry of Minority Affairs has for the first time in the history of the country started a scheme for arresting the decline of a particular minority community The Parsis. It was named as the Jiyo Parsi scheme as the government wants the Parsis who have contributed so much to their adopted motherland to continue living (Jiyo in Hindi means to live) and growing here. The objective of the scheme is to arrest the rapid decline in the Parsi population caused mainly due to infertility, late age of marriage, no marriages 30% of the Parsi population has never married etc. It takes a multi- pronged approach the two main aspects being- medical intervention and advocacy through print media , counseling, lectures and workshops.
Financial assistance upto Rs.5 lacs is provided for treatment as well as detection of fertility issues. The applicant is free to choose any doctor that he/she wishes, anywhere in India. Reimbursement is provided for detection, treatment as well as medicines required for solving the issues related to fertility. Medical intervention includes Assisted Reproductive Technologies like IVF, IUI and other procedures needed to establish clinical pregnancy.
The programme aims to influence the mind-set which the community currently has to marry late, have small size of families, postpone having children etc. If modern society could change from having a norm of having large joint families to small nuclear families with single child due to media and social influence surely the Parsi community’s attitude could also alter in the coming generations towards having reasonably larger families.
The Jiyo Parsi team is working hard to spread the message of the programme and create awareness about the funds available for detection and treatment of fertility issues. Various workshops, programmes and talks have been organized with the aim of improving not only the quantity but also the quality of the community. They have been supported whole heartedly by many organizations. Many other activities like workshops for students, programmes for grandparents, counseling sessions for the youth are in the pipeline. The programme aims to encourage the youth to be self – reliant, marry early, have children while they are young enough to have them and in case of difficulty in conceiving seek early assistance.
Jiyo Parsi: A Ray of Hope
About 2 dozen couples have benefitted from the scheme. The cost of treatment for infertility is very high and many middle class Parsis find it difficult to continue bearing the expenses. Jiyo Parsi has been a boon for many such couples. One such couple was Rustom and Pari (names changed to protect privacy) who had undergone IVF treatments multiple times and had exhausted their savings. They had almost given up hope of ever becoming parents when their friend told them about the Jiyo Parsi scheme. With a lot of counseling and encouragement, they decided to try one more time. The financial pressure was reduced due to the assistance provided by the Jiyo Parsi programme. The day they received the good news of Pari being pregnant is a day they will always remember. A similar kind of hope has shone in many couples lives after knowing about the programme.
The Parsis have always been small in numbers but have great achievements to their credit. All things are possible if enough people start believing it to be true. The need of the hour is to focus on what can be done instead of lamenting about the statistics. Jiyo Parsi is an initiative which can get the community united, working towards a single goal growth and improvement in the quantity and the quality of the Parsi population.