Why the erosion of the traditional Indian family is worrying

Source: The post is based on the article “Why the erosion of the traditional Indian family is worrying” published in the Indian Express on 17th May 2023.

Syllabus: GS 4 – Role of family society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

Relevance: About traditional family system.

News: Recently, the world celebrated International Day of Families on May 15. But the constant weakening of the traditional family system is a cause for worry.

What is the importance of family?

The family has been a foundational institution of society in most parts of the world, particularly in India. India swear by Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. Kutumb or family has traditionally acquired primacy in human interpersonal-social relationship dynamics. Transparency in relationships is the bedrock of mutual trust. It is this trust that provides a strong foundation for families.

It is an institution where consolidation of interpersonal relations naturally evolved while living under one roof, sharing thought processes, participating in collective actions and developing emotional bonding. It also helped its members to withstand innumerable onslaughts from a globalised world.

This is the reason, so far, no social scientist has been able to advocate any alternate unit better than family.

What are the challenges in implementing reforms in the family system?

Family is not a creation of any government. So, one cannot go to governments to introduce reforms. They need to be society driven. A new set of challenges are emanating from the changing social conditions in our society.

Almost all the reforms in the family start with the state of dialogue within homes. So, lack of quality conversations in most families might create several new crises. This made families united outwardly, but fragmented from within.

Excessive emphasis on individualism: In most relationships, dialogues between family members are rare. For example, candid and heart-to-heart dialogues between husband-wife and parent-children are becoming rare. They have become too formal and superficial. This is due to the excessive emphasis on individualism. This also prevents occasions to gather insights about each other.

Excessive Formalisation: From birthdays to weddings and house-warmings to condolence meetings, everything is being made into a formal event. This disregards the beauty of informality. This creates the “crisis of authenticity” of our interpersonal feelings.

External factors like peer pressure and exhibitionism have further complicated the family structure.

What should be done to revive India’s traditional family system?

Focus on collectivity: Indian society will pay a huge price if we continue to ape Western societies and emulate mindless individualism. A traditional Indian family is like what Krishna Yajurveda Taittiriya Upanishad says.

Note: It said, “May we work together with great energy and finally may there be no hate among us”.

Ideas like privacy and private space are too important to be ignored. But that should not be at the cost of collectivism, partnership and the value of sharing. The joy of sharing leads to a commonality of ethos, likes and dislikes.

Recognise the contributions of women: India needs to have women-led families as a starting point for the implementation of the PM’s call for women-led development. To make this happen, men will have to rise above the traditional male mindset and ensure equality of security, opportunities and respect.

Woman-led, child-focused and elderly-sensitive families are the need of the hour

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