Thursday, July 18, 2019
Merits and Demerits of Joint Family System in India
The joint family system has persisted in India through the Vedic age to the present day. Many advantages can be attributed to joint living in the Hindu family. Some of the advantages of joint family system may be discussed below.
Joint family secures the advantages of division of labour. Here the work is distributed among the members on the basis of age and sex. Every member in the family is given work according to his abilities. Every phase of family’s life is managed by all members including women and children.
A joint family avoids the unnecessary expenditure of separate house-hold establishment. Savings are possible in the joint family since the household purchases are done jointly. As joint family requires large quantities of commodities for its consumption, they can be purchased at a time at lower prices and thereby money can be saved.
Another important function of the joint family system has been the protection from division of family property on land holdings. Fragmentation and division of land holdings has been responsible for the small output of agricultural products as we find them today. But the joint family system held the property in common and as a result of this the economic utility of joint holdings was much higher than it is today.
The joint family provides social security to the weak, aged, sick, infirm, the disabled and such other needy persons. An individual’s life from cradle to cremation is looked after by the joint family. In times of accidents, crisis and emergencies, one can rely on one’s joint family for the help.
Similarly, for the people such as orphans, widows, the deserted, divorced, separated and the neglected the joint family provides protection. It gives them food and shelter.
By living in the joint family, a person is provided with all his basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing irrespective of the fact that he is an earning member or non-earning member. The family sees that no member of the family goes without food and shelter.
The ideal place for the upbringing of children is the joint family. The joint family not only consists of young couples but also the old and aged persons who live together. The old and aged persons have a rich experience of life. As a result of this, the grandfather and the grand mother always look after the children of their sons and daughters and the older generation is capable of inculcating the best of the family traditions and wisdom in them.
Joint family fosters great virtues like sacrifice, affection, cooperation, spirit of selfless service among its members and makes the family a cradle of social virtues. Under the care of elders the undesirable and anti-social tendencies of the young are checked and they are prevented from going astray. All family members learn to obey family rules and respect the elders.
The joint family by exercising control over the behavior of its members acts as an agent of social control. The individuals are taught to subordinate their individual interests to the group interests. The elder members of the family keep a close eye on the activities of every individual. Therefore, deviant behavior normally is not to be found among the members of the joint family system.
The socialistic pattern has been the age-old heritage of Hindu joint family. The ideal of the Hindu joint family was “each according to his necessity and each according to his capacity,” which means that a person got the benefits according to his wants and worked according his own personal capacity. Thus, we find that socialistic values were followed and maintained by the joint family system.
It provides opportunity for leisure to the members. Since the work is shared by all the members on the basis of age, sex and experience, they get more leisure time. More people can finish the work with limited time and provide enough leisure to the members to relax.
The joint family is an ideal place of recreation for all the members. Social and religious ceremonies in the family bring pleasure for the family members. The joint family plays the role of modern club without any adverse effects.
As Kapadia has remarked “the joint family system has been a potent factor in the continuance of cultural traditions.” It is the primary duty of the head of the family that cultural traditions are observed by all the members even under the changed conditions. Thus, the joint family system has been responsible for the continuity of the age-old traditions and values. It has promoted collective and joint living and has not allowed individualistic tendencies to grow.
Any social institution comes into existence around a cluster of useful activities and we find that the joint family system performed some very useful functions. But, with the passage of time and due to socio- economic changes, the original advantages of the joint family system started decreasing and many demerits of the system emerged. The main demerits of joint family system may be mentioned as below.
Joint family is a home for idlers. Since all the members are assured of their basic necessities of life, many members do not take interest to earn their livelihood. When a person can eat comfortably without exerting himself, he is unlikely to indulge in any strenuous activity.
In joint family there is very little opportunity for the fostering of individual autonomy or self-dependence. The whole environment of the family is not congenial for the growth of individual because he is bound by the minutest rules and regulations framed by the head of the family who looks upon men and women as children even when they attain adulthood.
In a joint family, all the members are required to pool their earnings into a common fund and everyone of the family has an equal share in this fund irrespective of his earning capacity. As such, there is no correspondence between one’s efforts and his reward. As a result a member, even if he is capable of doing hard work, does not do so. Because he knows that he is capable of doing hard work, does not do so. Because he knows that he is neither going to get all the benefits of his neither hard work nor he is going to be rewarded for his hard work.
The joint family is a hot bed for tensions and dissensions because there are varying degrees of interests which clash with each other and result in quarrels. Frequent quarrels among women and between elder and younger members are a common feature of many joint families in India.
In a joint family, privacy is denied to the newlywed couple. The invariable presence of other family member’s ashames the bride and she cannot freely talk to her husband. Any natural love between husband and wife is prevented from blossoming. Over-crowded houses are also found to have harmful effects on children as well.
The joint family is not favorable for accumulation of capital. When one has to share one’s income with a large family, it is not possible to save much. There is no inspiration for the accumulation of capital and investment. Lack of capital accumulation hinders economic development.
The condition of joint families is found to be poor. Poverty is mainly due to idleness of some of its members, lack of incentives for hard work, absence of any scope for initiative and enterprise and high birth rate.
An important feature of the joint family system is the low status of women. During childhood, a woman is subordinated to her father, during youth to her husband and during old age to her son.
This low status has meant several disadvantages to the women folk have no right over family property. They lead a very miserable life because they are generally harassed by in-laws, particularly mother-in-laws. On the other hand they have to work hard for others.
Another result of joint family system is the uncontrolled reproduction. The joint family system is found to be associated with higher birth rate. A Hindu is supposed to have a male child to support him during his old age and to offer him Pinda.
Even if a person has large number of daughters and does not have a male child, he does not stop reproduction till a son is born. Besides this, since the joint family takes the responsibility of rearing of children, nobody feels the necessity of restricting the number of issues.
Another evil influence of the joint family system has been the practice of child marriage among the Hindus. Old and aged people want to see the marriage of their grandsons and granddaughters in their life time. This has resulted in the evil practice of child marriage.
The joint family is based on conservatism. Since it is based on traditions, it does not normally allow its members even to accept or encourage healthy social changes.
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