Generation Gap And Shrinking Families: Have We Lost More Than We Gained From Modernization?

Posted on June 22, 2013 in Society

By Lovish Gidwani:

To borrow the famous American slang and to present it with a little ‘desi’ touch, it would in no way be wrong to say that most of us, if not all, want to live the coveted “Indian dream”. The Indian dream, much like its American counterpart, includes ‘the opportunity and prosperity for success and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work’. The ethos that surrounds this is one of an opulent and prosperous life. Here we all want to metamorphose into a self sustained, thriving, technologically advanced and dynamic civilization. Our belief in this dream has helped us make the transition from villages to towns; towns to metros. It seems that we all want to have a piece of “the great Indian pie” and it would in no way be an exaggeration to concede that most of us ended up tasting the pie.

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To assume that it’s all hunky-dory would paint a very wrong picture. In the process of the so-called ‘modernization’ we ended up challenging our very own culture and civilization. We, in the very fundamental sense, accepted the ‘city’ way of life. One where ambitions run high. Protocol and discipline, which formed the very basis of the Indian joint family, vanished, social interaction slumped and generation gap became apparent.

Modernity’ seems to have proved perilous in more ways than one. Shrinking families and generation gap are now overtly recognized as the byproducts of modernization. According to the 2011 census, the total fertility rate has gone down to 1.8% in comparison to the figure of 2.2 % in the decade before. Sociologists and social experts incriminate factors like career, economies of house hold, overall cost of raising a child, stress at work and various commitment issues on part of parents for this change in the child bearing practices. They further add that this has now become a matter of circumstances than a mere matter of choice. The side effects of which would become more and more evident in the times to come. Firstly, the decrease in fertility rate without any improvement in the sex ratio is bound to aggravate the latter even more. Secondly, low fertility rate coupled with the ageing phenomena in a longer run would inherently skew our demographics leading to a larger burden on the government to provide social security in terms of health benefits and pensions.

Well, generation gap turns out to be the second unwanted byproduct of modernization. With already skewed demographics, we are left with two generations who are poles apart in terms of their ambitions, how they think and how they perceive their ideas of life. And as of now, we fall short of any solution that would appear to bridge this gap.

Indeed modern India has seen a surge in its ambitions and, with nearly a decade of sound growth, most of them even have been served to their liking. But how we have forgone our cohesive identity in exchange for a self centric one is a matter of grave concern. The impact of which would in no be malleable. It’s on us now to accept responsibility or else wait for this thin ice to eventually break.

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