Arun Jaitley lauds Parsis, says though few, they don't feel they are minority

The smallest community in India, the Parsis, have never regarded themselves as minority, a "mindset" that has allowed them to emerge as a "role model" for others, Union Minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday.

PTI| Updated: Mar 19, 2016, 14:23 PM IST

New Delhi: The smallest community in India, the Parsis, have never regarded themselves as minority, a "mindset" that has allowed them to emerge as a "role model" for others, Union Minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday.

Speaking at an event organised by the ministries of Minority Affairs and Culture, the Finance Minister lauded the "liberal and large-hearted" Parsis for their contribution in diverse fields.

"I think what stands out is the fact that the smallest minority in India has really never felt that it is a minority. It has never regarded itself as a minority. It is this mindset that has enabled it to be, in many standards, the role model for the rest of the country," Jaitley said.

Parsis came to India from Iran in somewhat adverse circumstances, Jaitley said while noting that they have preserved their culture and also exhibited the ability to reach the top whether it be industry, armed forces, legal profession, architecture or the civil services.

Jaitley proposed that the town of Udvada in Gujarat, where the Parsis had landed centuries ago, should be developed as a global cultural centre. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken an initiative for developing the town when he was the Gujarat Chief Minister, he said.

Union Ministers Najma Heptulla, Mahesh Sharma and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi attended the event along with eminent members of the Parsi community, including British parliamentarian Karan Bilimoria.

Jaitley also noted that although the British Parliament has a Parsi member, the Indian Parliament does not.

Heptulla expressed concern over the slow growth of the Parsi population. She said that while she has worked extensively for population control, with regard to Parsis, it is otherwise.

She lauded the community saying the measure of its contributions is disproportionate to its size and it has never sought any favour from the government.

Bilimoria said Parsis are ahead of everybody else in terms of per capita achievements but this was possible because the community prospered in India.