The trend of nuclear families in India is increasing but still there is a sense of oneness
From dawn to dusk the living room of Parikshit Sharma is full of energy and endless chatters of the family members and delicious meals served together. The three brothers have been living together with their parents in the same house for 30 years in Sultanpuri at North West Delhi. Here, every day seems to be an occasion, a celebration. “There are ten people in my house. My mother wanted all of us to stay together. Money was never an issue in our house as we earn together from our family business. Life is more stable and there is no fear” says Sharma.
The International Day of Families annually held on May 15 celebrates the importance of families. Notably, the year 1994 was proclaimed as International Year of Families by United Nations.
In an interesting interview in the year 2009, Oprah Winfrey asked the Bollywood icon Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan that ‘Both of you live with your parents. How does that work?’ Abhishek asked Oprah, ‘Do you live with your family. No, how does that work?’ His response convulsed the audience with laughter. However this conversation also shed light on the inevitable reality that the joint family system is still flabbergasting for most of the individualistic countries, where if you aren’t living on your own at 25, shows something is wrong with you.
The 2011 Census highlights that in Delhi, 69.5 per cent of the household have only one married couple and less than 6 per cent of all Indian households have nine or more people living in them. Nuclear families are on rise due to job relocation, growing real estate market and changes in cultural attitudes.
Perhaps, family is the ideal scenario where everybody lives together eat together and grow together. But there has been an apparent transformation in that structure too, as the concept of modern joint family is replacing the old joint family system.
Interdependence between the family members in large families has been replaced by independent living and self-sufficient approach. Moreover, changing gender roles, greater employment opportunities and technological advance has brought tremendous change in our family structure.
Living Refined Life
Anita is 30 year old primary school teacher living in Indore. Her husband Manish is a financial analyst in a reputed MNC. Together they earn around 90,000 every month. Their daughter Yashvi studies in English medium CBSE School. They all are busy in weekdays but weekends are leisure time for them. The income may not seem a lot but certainly for Anita it’s a big leap as her parents belong to a lower middle class. She grew up in a joint family in small town in Shivpuri. Her father was a clerk with a public sector bank and mother is housewife. Her mother is an illiterate but she made sure that Anita would complete her graduation. Yashvi’s dream is to attain the highest degree and become a lawyer. This is not just the story of Anita but millions of Indians whose lives have ameliorated a generation ago in education, income and better standard of living.
Since last decade there has been a considerable shift as consumption Economic growth and urbanisation are rapidly expanding the affluent middle class in India. With 10 million people moving to urban areas each year and incredible growth in service industries, particularly technology, telecommunications and business process outsourcing, India has a vibrant affluent middle class. New global research reveals distinct motivations and attitudes amongst this group which go beyond traditional demographic and geographical boundaries.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development expects this group to increase from 1.8 billion in 2009 to 4.9 billion by 2030. This expansion is global but the pace of change is particularly fast in China, Singapore, India, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.
Rise middle affluent class
Since 1990s, there was a notion that middle class will rise in a span of time but it could never be the largest segment. However, by 2025 affluent consumer segment will become the largest segment accounting for about 40 per cent of consumption up from about 26 per cent in the year 2015. This section resembles global middle class consumer that indicates considerable growth of middle class for the first time in literal sense.
Beyond the basic spending
Over the past few years there have been apparent changes in spending patterns of Indians. There is considerable rise in total amount spent on education, leisure and telecommunication which are driven by greater demand and change on supply side. From food to consumer durables there is demand of greater high priced things.
Expanding Urban Segment
India’s rate of urbanization has been very different from most other countries as it is not confined to few cities, like Indonesia or Thailand, not as fast as in China and it is not as dispersed as in the US. It has been uniquely Indian. It is estimated that about 40% of India’s population will live in urban areas by 2025, accounting for more than 60% of the total consumption.
nuclear family set-up
There are multiple factors behind the rise of nuclear family which has been slow and steady phenomenon. Today, nearly 70% of Indian households have a nuclear construct, representing a 13% increase over the past two decades. While this has many social implications, from a pure consumption point of view, it presents a unique opportunity for the same income level; nuclear families spend 20-30% higher per person than joint families.
Undoubtedly, any social structure goes through its own thesis, antithesis and synthesis, as per the abstract term of the German Philosopher George Friedrich Hegel. It will be prejudiced to be on one side of the hedge and criticizing the other side. Significantly, joint family and nuclear family has its own pros and cons when it comes to lifestyle, outright development and sense of responsibility among the family members.
“The spirit of togetherness with mutual respect is far better than living together under the same roof with bitterness. It is how you conduct relationships that matters most,” says Bhawna Malik, a counselor in Mata Sundari College.
Maya Angelou, the American poet, memoirist and civil right activist has rightly said, “Family isn’t always blood, it’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are, the ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.”
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