I am a Parsi and I feel offended when I see concern turn into sheer stupidity. Just read this: ‘Be responsible, don’t use a condom tonight’.
This is an advertising campaign aimed at boosting the dwindling Parsi population. There are only 50,000 Parsis left in India today, and unless the collapsing number is arrested, we’d soon be classified as an extinct community!
We are an extremely proud lot, and while the intentions of the Government and general public may be pious, we don’t need to be told that we are fading away. We especially don’t want to be told not to use condoms; it is an insult to the Parsi Zoroastrian community to hear such disdainful ideas. They want our women to conceive like mindless animals so that our numbers could grow. Don’t they know that the biggest reason for the falling number is infertility?
The UPA Government had declared financial assistance towards the problem of infertility, but nothing is being done on the ground. It is easier and much less taxing for them to just ask us to have sex without protection. Parsis are not primitive people. Politicians are not concerned because 50,000 Parsis don’t matter as ‘vote-banks’. They have forever remained inconsequential in the larger scheme of things.
Under the new regime, the ‘Jiyo Parsi’ scheme is likely to carry on. Perhaps, there would be a difference this time around since Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a soft corner for them.
The Jiyo Parsi scheme pays for in-vitro fertilisation. Couples who can’t conceive, and are incapable of paying the medical bills, get monetary help. Also, Parsi boys and girls of marriageable age are given Rs 25,000-Rs 30,000 for treating infertility, if required.
In any case, we do not believe in having many children. Just because our numbers are falling, we will not go all out, having indiscriminate, unprotected sex. What if some sexually-transmitted disease takes over?
We know what is happening to us. We will do what we need to do about it. Any help is welcome, but we are not losing our sleep over it.
In conclusion, I would like to address the issue of how Parsis send off their departed.
We believe in Green. We believe in playing our part in preserving the sanctity of our environment. We leave the dead bodies of our loved ones in the Tower of Silence to be picked apart by scavenging vultures. The greenest way to dispose of a human body is not through burial or cremation.
It is a centuries-old tradition. The motive behind this apparently insensitive practice is to safeguard the elements – air, earth, fire and water. It will also help the vultures, who are on the verge of extinction because of over-exposure to veterinary drugs, revive.
We may be in trouble today, but we believe we will resurrect ourselves from this precipitous fall.
Across the world, a few human communities face extinction even as many more continue to go forth and multiply at an alarming rate. There are tribes in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands that are down to two-digit figures. But the Indian government has not, as far as I am aware, provided money or dreamed up regenerating schemes to increase their numbers.