A baby bump for Parsis




A new ad campaign seeks to encourage more members of the dwindling community to marry and have children

Mumbai: To all baug bachelors cracking jokes about married couples and kids, one day soon you’ll turn 60 and still be alone.


“I’d rather have a dog than a baby”. The really cool ones have both.


Honda Sedan. 1 lakh salary per month. 2BHK in Napean Sea Road. Wait to check all boxes and you may check into an old age home. Alone.


A tongue-in-cheek advertisement campaign pushing Parsis to get married and have babies launched on Saturday. Aimed at boosting the Jiyo Parsi programme, a government-funded scheme to help infertile couples from the community become parents and thus boost their dwindling population, the advertisement campaign in its second phase has now changed its tone from ‘fun’ to ‘slightly more serious yet worthy of a chuckle’.


Parzor, a community organisation that aims to preserve Parsi Zoroastrian heritage, runs the Jiyo Parsi programme, which started in 2013 with ₹10 crore of funding from the Ministry of Minority Affairs. It offers a number of infertility treatments to Parsi couples, including in vitro fertilisation (IVF), artificial insemination (AI). The five-year project aims at adding at least 200 babies in the community. So far, 104 babies have born under the scheme with more on the way.


The advertising campaign shows real Parsi community members instead of models, though the couples who have benefited from the scheme have refrained from coming in to the public. “It is a matter of privacy for them,” said gynaecologist Dr Anahita Pundole who handles the medical aspects of the scheme.


Sam Balsara, Chairman and Managing Director, Madison Communications, whose team worked on this campaign as well its predecessor (in 2014), pro bono, said that the first campaign, “because of the nature of the subject, received a lot of media attention and went viral. It was mildly controversial and thank god it was. It got the due attention.” The campaign, he says, is the first of its kind in that it aims to protect a community. “The objective was creating awareness and letting the community accept the problem.” On the new campaign, he said, “We focus on advantages of getting married from an individual’s perspective.”


The new campaign is not without controversy. One of the ads shows a lone man sitting on a chair and says, “After your parents, you’ll inherit the family home. After you, your servant will.” A community member said that the ad shows domestic helps in a derogatory light.


Mehrnosh Padgiwala, 37, who came for the event, said that the ad campaign has changed many minds. “I have many friends who have changed their minds about marriage and having kids. One has to understand that nothing changes after that. You can party, work and have fun simultaneously,” he said, adding that he had a daughter two years after marriage, and life and been extremely good.


Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi who was present at the event, said that he would offer all help to the community to prosper in numbers. Consul-General of Iran Masood E. Khaleghi, who was also present, said that the many community members earn in millions. “Companies like Tata, Godrej, Shapoorji Pallonji and others should also take responsibility of this initiative.”


Published in The Hindu .