Most parents in India get their sons and daughters married expecting happiness. But these days the concept of nuclear family is catching everywhere. It is not just the metros and the big cities in India. Even small towns in India are moving towards the nuclear family. Many a times it has been seen that after marriage the daughter in law makes demand to stay separately with husband. If that demand is not met than it leads to matrimonial problems in the house. And in extreme cases it also leads to divorce or filing of false cases like 498a or Domestic violence cases against the boy’s family. Along with the husband the most severe sufferers are his parents. Most parents will be above the age of 60 and in many cases the parents had lost their life due to tension and stress.
Breaking of the Indian family system is a big blow to welfare of the elderly. The society has become very short sighted and robotic-ally aping the western model. They are unable to see the experiment the west has done over the last few decades and has failed. This is very evident in the rate of relationship failures they had. We need to strengthen our model and make it better. The Indian family system is symbiotic. It provides benefit both the younger ones as well elderly ones.
Lets take a hypothetical example of a family which has father, mother, son, daughter in law and one children. Say both husband and wife works. In cities these we need in most cases four hands to work to sustain. Given the pressure to perform and stay with job, it is very difficult to maintain work life balance. The parents come as a great help in taking care of the child while allowing the parents freedom to work. Parents are also a support system. But the craze of individualism and selfishness are breaking families. Elderly persons goes through trauma when a marriage breaks and many a times even end up losing their life. Umpteen news of such cases have come to light. I know of people who had to sent their parents away due to fear of harassment and false cases. Parents brought up their children and at this old age they expect and need support from their children. But phenomenon of matrimonial problems are targeting their very support system.
The matrimonial laws are not gender neutral. It do not consider the husband’s side anyway. The elderly parents has to go through a lot of abuse and stigma. They are unnecessarily dragged in various court cases. The government need to take note of this so that elderly persons are not harassed by such laws. When there is a matrimonial problem in the house and if the husband and wife has irreconcilable differences then they should work towards amicable exits. It is not wise to cage two people who are unable to get along. This will create even more problems. If wife do not wants to stay with husband she can file for divorce, rather than damage everything around it. Same way husbands also should be allowed to file divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. A lot of elderly issues will reduce if the family system can bee maintained and they are not unnecessarily dragged in to matrimonial court cases.
Recently there was a debate conducted by Vikram Chandra on Big Fight – No country for seniors? It discussed the various aspects of elderly people’s welfare. Good representation by Anil Lakhani from Save India Family Foundation, Rahul Eswar activist from Kerala, Rina Dhaka, Fashion designer etc. Watch it yourself.