UN project gives Parsis hope of swelling numbers
Ketan Tanna | TNN
Mumbai: It was a casual request from Bombay Parsi Punchayat chief Minoo Shroff that resulted in gynaecologist Anahita Pandole taking on the assignment of helping Parsi couples battling infertility.
Three years down the line, she has handled 200 cases of whom 80 women have conceived. One woman had triplets while 10 others bore twins.
Thirty-four-year-old Anahita Hakim is one such mother of twin girls — Katrina and Karina. ‘‘For the last five years, I wanted children. I had even thought of adopting children before I came to Dr Pandole who helped me have Katrina and Karina,’’ says Hakim, 34.
The fertility treatment did not come cheap and Hakim had to spend between Rs 6 and 7 lakh. The initial consultation was free and the treatment tab was picked by the Bombay Parsi Punchayet. For those who cannot pay, donors within the community pay for the fertility treatment.
Pandole’s project is part of United Nations-backed project called Parzor, which is headquartered in New Delhi. The Parzor project, since 1999, has undertaken research in various fields, working towards the promotion and preservation of the Parsi Zoroastrian heritage.
The demography project, under the larger aspect of Parzor, has thrown up interesting facts about the declining Parsi population. According to the 2001 census, India’s Parsi population had fallen to 69,601 from 76,382 a decade earlier. According to the 2001 census, the child-woman ratio, which is a key indicator of fertility, is 578 per 1,000 in India. Among the Parsis, it is 85 per 1,000.
Meanwhile, in Delhi, a study on Delhi Parsis concentrated on Parsis married to Parsis, intermarriages, unmarried and the youth. The demographic profile of the Parsis in Delhi tends to appear more in favour of the 30-50-year working group rather than the ageing picture seen elsewhere. In view of the fairly unique position held by the Delhi Parsis, a study was proposed to inquire into their migratory history, their current situation, and record their views and attitudes pertaining to various issues and problems facing the community.
According to Shernaz Cama, honorary director at Parzor, it was a qualitative study based on interviews.
An interesting aspect of the study revealed that the demographic profile of the Parsis of Delhi tends to appear more in favour of the working group of 30-50 years rather than the ageing picture seen elsewhere.
All those interviewed realized that the community is in flux and that someone must do something. However, very few were willing to be that someone, the study rued.
The study’s findings include:
— 40% of those interviewed had intermarried.
— Since 25 years, there has been an attempt at inclusiveness in the Delhi Parsi Anjuman.
— Youth of mixed marriages are predominantly closer to customs and lifestyle of the father’s faith.
— Among children of mixed marriages, the study found cultural differences caused confusion and led to contradictory religious identities.
— The exclusion of the non-Parsi parent from the Agiary has led to a decline in the zeal about their Parsi roots.