The End of the Parsis

Dean Nelson reports in the Daily Telegraph that India’s Parsi population is dying out.

Their numbers have declined from just under 115,000 in 1941 to 69,601 in 2001 – the last fully published census. The numbers are believed to have declined further since then. In Mumbai, the heart of India’s Parsi community, there are now only between 40,000 and 45,000.

It’s because they are wealthy, marry late, the women have careers, and few children.

Parsis are descended from the ancient Zoroastrians, who left Persia a millennium ago to escape Muslim persecution. It would be a great shame if they dwindled away.

What is to be done? The Indian government is giving $250,000 to fertility clinics – which hardly seems decisive. More effective might be the Social Democratic option: generous maternity leave and good daycare facilities. (Though in India they probably have plentiful servants.) That’s the sort of thing that makes it easier for professional women to have more children.

Another thing: the most famous Parsi? Probably Freddy Mercury.


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Filed under demography

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