The extended Indian family: A new cultural marker of modernity

Sumant Bhattacharya
Grey India

India, traditionally, has been one of the strongest bastions of the joint family. For a very large part of the past, the joint one was the dominant family unit for most of the population. A typical family in India consisted of an elderly couple, their brood of children and the grandchildren.

The reason constituted a mix of religious and socio-economic factors working in tandem.

  • Socio-Religious: In traditional Hindu scriptures, ideas like Compassion, Charity, Forgiveness and Tolerance preach an enlarged form of social brotherhood while those like Restraint, Humility and Tolerance reign-in the self. Pithy philosophical sayings like “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” emphasise the entire word as ones family. To stay close and take care of elderly parents is outlined as a religious duty of for adults.
  • Economic: The miserable poverty also forced a move towards collectivism that enabled pooling and sharing of resources. The collectivism lessened the harshness of deprivation.