Lauding the contribution of the Parsis to the country's development, President Pranab Mukherjee today said that they have "sweetened" the Indian society.
"Successive generations of Zoroastrians have sweetened our society," the President said after inaugurating the 10th World Zoroastrian Congress here this evening.
Expressing concern over the dwindling Parsi population, which he said is now less than 1.40 lakh, the President expressed optimism that the decline of "10% per year" in their numbers could be arrested.
"Mumbai has been home to the largest and most vibrant Zoroastrian community in the world. Zoroastrians have reached higher echelons of success in business, industry, art and culture, defence, as well as science and technology," he said.
"They have merged into India's socio-political fabric," he said.
President Mukherjee recalled the contribution of Parsi stalwarts like Madam Bhikaiji Cama and Dadabhai Naoroji in India's freedom movement.
He also lauded the contribution of nuclear scientists Homi Jehangir Bhabha and Homi Nusserwanji Sethna, besides industrialist JRD Tata and Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw. He described Maneckshaw as "hero of the 1971 Bangladesh War who won the hearts of soldiers".
"In Mumbai, it is acknowledged that it is the Parsi community which laid the foundation of industry," he said.
The President also praised Parsis for their role in charity and philanthropy. "This was acknowledged even by Mahatma Gandhi," President Mukherjee said.
"It is significant but not surprising that in a recent function organised by a television channel, to honour 25 Indian global icons, three were Parsis," he said.
The government has taken measures for the welfare of minorities, including Parsis, he said.
The President also welcomed delegates from abroad who came for the event.
"I specially welcome delegates from Iran and other countries. We have a warm place for you in our hearts," he said.