NEW DELHI: The Centre on Thursday informed Parliament that 233 babies were born to Parsi (Zoroastrian) couples in India under the ‘Jiyo Parsi’ scheme for which the government has spent around Rs 10 crore since its inception in 2013-2014.
Under the scheme, the government provides financial aid to Parsi couples for Assisted Reproductive Technologies such as In-vitro Fertilization and Intra Cytoplasmic Injection, including surrogate pregnancies.
The objective of the scheme, implemented by the Union Minority Affairs ministry, is to contain the population decline of Parsis in India. The number of Parsi Zoroastrians fell to just 57,264 as per the 2011 Census from 69,601 ten years earlier.
Besides financial help, the scheme also includes counselling for couples on topics such as fertility, marriage and family.
Sessions are also organised for the elderly, including workshops on relationship management, parenting, drug awareness etc, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said in the Lok Sabha while responding to a question by TMC’s Mala Roy.
The scheme also provides creche and child care support, senior citizen honorarium for child care and assistance to the elderly.
Responding to a question on the funds allocated and spent so far on the Jiyo Parsi scheme, Naqvi said a total of Rs 19 crore was allocated and Rs 10.08 crore has been released for the scheme since 2013-2014 till 2019-2020.
While Rs 2 crore was allocated for the scheme during 2013-2017, the amount was increased to Rs 3 crore during 2017-2018 and budget allocation was further increased to Rs 4 crore for the last financial year and current financial year of 2019-2020.
Besides the government initiative, Parsis — who are mostly found in Gujarat and cities like Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad — have also started initiatives within the community to address the issue of a shrinking population. Parsi women, who marry non-Parsis, are not admitted to the community.
However, Parsi men who marry non-Parsi women can be admitted provided they agree to abide by the Zoroastrian religion.