NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 14, 2006: With the joint family concept on the decline, a study has shown the dwindling acceptance of the elderly by their families with the overriding concern being lack of respect, regard and love. Even as the fragmentation of the family has been linked to the economic condition, the largest number of nuclear families (67.6 percent) belong to the upper class bracket, says a study by Helpage India. Rural India continues to remain largely unaffected with most (64.5 percent) opting to stay together, though financial security at 92 percent appeared as the biggest factor among rural families. Financial independence and giving advice only when sought are two other factors which largely influence the position occupied by family elders, according to the study that also states that those with means to contribute command a higher standing and connect better with the next generation. Acceptance is taken to be the highest when the aged do not interfere in family matters and respect the independence and space of others at home. From the perspective of the elderly, says the study, the most sought after thing by them is respect and regard from their families. While 90 percent of senior citizens from middle-class families appear to be the most neglected emotionally with lack of respect, regard and affection, 80 percent in the upper income group, 74 percent in the lower class families and 91 percent among rural areas have the same complaint, the study said.
Comment: When I arrived in Britain in Dec 1970 – the Educational establishment wanted an essay from me of my impressions of Britain. One of the social issues that bothered me then and still does was of incarceration of the older people into Older People Homes. I wrote then hoping that Asians would not change from their duty to look after their elder parents and grand-parents.
Looking back, I think to myself – how ‘short-sighted’ I must have been not to foresee the imminent decline of moral and social fabric of all social structures. May be I am of the ‘old school’ – my parents’ ‘sravann’ – a fabled young son who carried his blind parents on his shoulders in a bamboo lath with slings at both ends to carry his parents to the once-in-the-lifetime pilgrimage of holy places.
I am certainly not happy to read of deterioration of social, moral, ethical and hereditary values especially in India. this is not progress in any sense of the word. This is not civilisation. You will remember that I chose not to use the word ‘civilisation’ to describe the local culture here. It is because of actual deterioration of what was held as ‘decent values’ in society. I am deeply saddened by this revelations.