Getting the ‘child factory’ running

“Be Responsible: Don’t use a condom tonight”.

A mass media message like this from the government would fly in the face of any population control measure. However, for the city’s Parsi community, it raises questions of survival.

A series of print ads launched last week as part of the ‘Jiyo Parsi’ campaign, which is supported by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs, targets unmarried youngsters and married couples from the Parsi community, conveying to them the threat of the community’s extinction.

This it does through seemingly amusing messages. One message targeted at young single men asks, “Isn’t it time you broke up with your mom?”

“The problems of the community are real and numbers are rapidly declining. In Hyderabad every year, only four children are born while 18 die. In the erstwhile Nizam State, there were Parsis in other districts. Now they are present in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam,” said O.M. Debara, a community elder and social activist, adding that the community’s dwindling numbers is a matter of grave concern. Hyderabad is now home to about 1,200 Parsis.

The reactions from the community to the ads – most visible on the social media – are mixed and show a clear generation divide.

Questions raised

Young members of the community, specifically women, are not amused. They feel issues of marriage and birth are personal and assertion of religious identity is not essential in today’s world. On the other hand, older members of the community feel the campaign is timely.

Some of the tongue-in-cheek comments on social media liken Parsis to endangered species, while others question the community’s motives of thrusting its survival on younger lot.

How they react

Fifty-three-year-old chartered accountant Jehangir Bisney said he is aware of the reactions, and believes the community can laugh off the words of the message, which is clear.

“If these advertisements were not catchy in their form, they would not have conveyed the message. The effort is sincere, but whether it would achieve the intended objective is a question. Also, the campaign has restricted to giving birth and has not addressed other issues that concern rearing children,” he said.

Mr. Bisney, who administers a community page for the Hyderabad Parsi community, said the ads have become a talking point on the Internet.

Beyniaz Edulji, 53-year old advocate and writer, had similar thoughts.

“Many have chuckled after seeing the ads while others have taken offence. If it serves the purpose of making youngsters aware about the situation, it is ok,” she said.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 1:14:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/getting-the-child-factory-running/article6605467.ece

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