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Are We Witnessing The End Of Joint Families In India’s Metropolitan Cities?

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According to a survey, it has been found that the concept of joint family has been almost demolished in metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon and Bangalore. What is the reason behind this? Who is to be blamed, the younger generation or the older generation?

In my opinion, the difference of attitude between people of different generations, leading to a lack of understanding—is the main cause of the rise of nuclear families. Both the generations don’t want to compromise if case they are financially sound and not interdependent for their various needs like food, clothing, and shelter for their survival.

The lack of emotional dependency between parents, their children, and the spouse of the children results in nuclear families. Some scholars have argued that growing individuality amongst women is also responsible for the decline of the joint family. The young and educated women, being fully conscious of their rights and status in society, are not prepared to submit themselves meekly to their in-laws. As a consequence, conflicts crop up and end up in the disintegration of the joint family. In addition, a woman who has a good-paying job might want more freedom in many respects, and might not like to remain ‘submissive’ under the tight grip of the joint family. 

L.P. Desai and A.D. Ross have highlighted how modern education works against the joint family in two ways. One is by emphasising the individualism it puts before the people, the concept of the type of the family which is contrary to the joint family system and it prepares the people for occupations which cannot be found in the native areas. As a result, people themselves are separated from the ancestor family and live in areas which provide them occupations suited to their education.  

In the course of time, these people lose contact with their family. They follow a new way of living and thinking, which are inimical to the joint family sentiment. The 18th-century ideas of liberty and equality resulted in individualism. A tendency to consider material achievements and physical comfort as more important is also the cause of the decline of joint families.  

The problem of accommodation in metropolitan cities also makes it difficult to live together. A small house leads to loss of privacy and lack of adjustment and understanding among the people of both generations. Hence, they are forced to establish separate households. People have become more and more mobile due to the rapid development of the means of transport and communication which is also the cause of a decrease in traditional families. 

Conflicts regarding the family property, its income, expenditure and unequal distribution of work at home develop in personal conflicts and lead to the breakup of joint families. Mental uneasiness in a joint family is sometimes unavoidable. Due to its large size and sometimes because of economical strains it results in a growing desire in young men and women to live far away from their families.

I have seen many senior citizens, who want to spend a peaceful life, are not comfortable in joint families due to the responsibilities of kids and household chores they have to do in order to support their working daughter-in-law. They have to compromise a lot to maintain peace and good relationship with the new generation. Sometimes it doesn’t work and joint families convert into nuclear families. Both generations start living separately to avoid personal clashes. 

Joint family is based upon love and understanding between the different generations otherwise it is really horrible to live under one roof with lots of fights every day. It depends on the choice and comfort level of both the generations, what do they prefer to make them happy or to feel complete in life.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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