The number of births among Parsis in the city is seeing a downward trend. The latest figures provided by the BMC to the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) reveal that the number of births among city Parsis has fallen from 201 in 2012 to 174 in 2013, a decline of 13.43 per cent. The deaths stood at 735 in 2013.
The number of deaths has far exceeded the number of births in the community over the past decade. The birth-and-death ratio was nearly 1:3 in 2002 when there were 858 deaths in the community compared to 300 births. In 2007, the ratio was a staggering 1:5. The most number of deaths were in 2010 when 926 Parsis/Iranis passed away. In 2002, there were 300 births, the highest in the last decade. The least number of births (147) were in 2008.
Jehangir Patel, editor of Parsiana, a community magazine, is not surprised. “The birth and death rates have been declining for the last 30-40 years. I feel this trend will continue and the community is unable to reverse it. Around 25 years ago, there were 400 births,” he said. Patel’s dejection at the low birth rate is largely because various community schemes to change the demographic pattern haven’t worked.
Despite various programmes by the BPP, including in vitro fertilisation and priority over others in housing schemes if Parsis get married within the communtiy, the birth rate among Parsis continues to be abysmally low. The central government, too, recently sanctioned Rs10 crore for the community.
“The number of people in the reproductive age is very small. We are an ageing community. The number of people who can have children is very limited. We also lose out on women who marry outside the community. And no government in the world has been able to reverse a declining population,” Patel told dna.
While the BPP agrees that late marriages and low birth rate are major reasons for the declining population, the community is divided on the issue of people marrying outside. “This is a controversial issue. It is for the high priests to decide on mixed marriages. In case the father is a non-Parsi, he too wants his children to follow his religion,” said Dinshaw Mehta, chairperson of the Punchayet.
Mehta said another reason for low birth rates was no marriages in the community. “Thirty per cent Parsis, both men and women, do not marry in the community,” he said.
Rs3,000 per month given to every second child born to a Parsi/Irani till s/he completes 18 years of age
Rs5,000 every month to every third child born till s/he turns 18
IVF bill paid to couples who opt for it. No specific limit
Year Birth Death
2009 182 846
2010 210 926
2011 195 786
2012 201 765
2013 174 735