President concerned at declining Parsi population

Mumbai, Dec 27 : President Pranab Mukherjee Friday expressed concern at the declining population of the Parsi community which has contributed immensely to the country in every sphere.

"Zoroastrianism, which was once the religion of millions in pre-Islamic Persia, now has less than 140,000 followers in the world and one-third of this number is aged above 60. This is certainly a phenomenon that needs to be addressed - very pragmatically and sensitively," he said.

Inaugurating the 10th World Zoroastrian Congress, being hosted in Mumbai for the first time in 23 years, the president recalled the significant role of the Parsi community across all social, cultural and political sectors over the centuries.

Mukherjee said that in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17), the Indian government has initiated several measures to protect and promote the interests of minorities, including the Zoroastrian community in the country through the 'Jiyo Parsi' programme.

At the international level, in 2010 the UNESCO initiated the Preservation of Parsi Zoroastrian HeritagePARZOR, and the UN General Assembly recognized Parsi New Year - March 21 - as the International Day of Novroz.

It has called upon all countries to honour this festival's significance by promoting peace and goodwill and Novroz is registered officially by the UNESCO as an "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity", the president added.

Mukherjee expressed optimism, that despite statistics indicating a decline of 10 percent per decade in the Zoroastrian community in the country, the trend could be arrested.

Earlier, the president paied tributes to the Parsis who have excelled in various fields including Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, Admiral Jal Cursetji, Air Chief Marshal Aspy Engineer and Air Chief Marshal Fali H. Major, Jamshetji Tata, Madam Bhikaji Cama, Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Asian to be elected to the House of Commons, Homi Bhabha, J.R.D. Tata and others who have reached the highest echelons of achievement and success.

--IANS (Posted on 27-12-2013)

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