SHERNAAZ ENGINEER's blog on the Parsi community

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Dinshaw Mehta, Chairman of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, with Arvind Mayaram, IAS, Secretary - Ministry of Minority Affairs, at a meeting with Parsi representatives in Mumbai on November 20, 2014

The will to live

“Do you have the will to live?” asked Arvind Mayaram repeatedly. 

The very erudite and insightful Secretary of the Ministry of Minority Affairs (MOMA), Government of India, was met members of the Parsi community earlier last week in Mumbai to understand why the population crisis afflicts the community so.

As he kept repeating the above question, at strategically timed intervals, it struck us that he needed to repeat it so often because affirmation wasn’t entirely forthcoming.

The will to live ought to be pretty elementary. But, for the Parsi community facing extinction, is it really so? For if it were, would we be on a suicidal path?

What the Parsis appear to have is the will to fight – with each other and to the finish! We also have the will to disgrace ourselves with ugly spats that the mainstream media preys on with relish.

We have the will to exult in our eccentricities, feast on our bhonu, live lives of reasonable privilege in our Baugs and bask in the glory that being Parsi bestows upon us by virtue of birth.

But do we have the will to excel with integrity and without compromise the way our forefathers overwhelmingly did?
Do we have the will to contribute to the nation and pursue a philanthropic mission that encompasses all deserving causes?
Do we have the will to steer the young on the propitious course of marriage within the fold at an early age, in order to prioritise family life?

Do we have the will to make the right decisions that will not precipitate our multifarious crises?

In short, do we really have the will to live? This is a question that merits much soul searching.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why We Love The Jiyo Parsi Campaign

Self deprecation is a good thing. Self flagellation isn’t! Somehow, we’ve become so adept at whipping ourselves into a public frenzy, often over nothing in particular, that it’s tedious and draining.
Look at the extreme reactions to the Jiyo Parsi advertising campaign – to be released in print soon. Instead of taking a few moments to understand, perhaps even applaud, the enormous effort and well meaning intent behind this significant mission, callow community members are hurriedly tearing it apart.
It’s easy to be overcritical, cynical, defensive or even offensive. We are a community of self opinionated and largely self centered individuals who put personal gratification at a premium.
Larger issues like the survival of the community and the sacrifices needed for it count for very little. This is precisely why we’re in such a sorry state that the Government of India needs to step in and bail us out with Jiyo Parsi.
You would think this would make us happy, grateful and eager to make the most of the Rs. 10 crore grant and the opportunity to reboot and recharge.
Alas, it’s merely another excuse to crib and carp! Well, life is too precious to be wasted wallowing in niggardly nit-picking. So, we’re going to list the reasons why we love the Jiyo Parsi advertising campaign:

1.Its central message that Parsis should marry within the community and beget children before slipping into dotage is priceless. Staying single, inter marrying or delaying parenthood is not good for the community, even though it may serve our individual interests. We need to have the wisdom to understand this – and remedy it as best as we can. 
2.The campaign, comprising over a dozen piquant ads, uses humour and parodies Parsi eccentricities with elan. Even with serious issues at hand, it helps if we can share a laugh. That’s the charm of being Parsi! 3. Many of the ads encourage introspection by reinforcing stereotypes such as boys being overly attached to their mothers and girls having unrealistically high expectations. Instead of taking offence and getting huffy, it would help if we reexamined the premises around which many of us live our lives. 
4.The campaign spells out the template for happiness and fulfillment in wholesome terms: marriage, parenthood, togetherness, work-life balance, fun and family bonding. In our excessively ambitious and career-driven age, maybe this is the wake-up call our community needs to shift the focus from Me to We. 
5.Finally, what we appreciate is that this is a determined effort to see the silver lining. Here’s an all-Bawa ad campaign that celebrates hope. Despite our number crunch, with the latest fertility treatments, a change in mindset and wholehearted help from the government, we could see results if we just get on with it! 
To all those who are being negative about Jiyo Parsi, we humbly suggest: drop your defenses and raise a toast. Cute Parsi babies are waiting to be born!