Monday, March 09, 2009

From past to present - reasons for divorce rate to increase in India

I and Saurabh were discussing about the factors behind increasing divorce rates - influence of "western" culture",women's liberalisation, break up of joint family when Saurabh came up with this insightful point of view.
Earlier we had an agriculture based society. From there came the concept of settling down. More the number of children, more number of hands to work. Hence an average family had 6-7 children. Assuming that a woman needs to devote atleast 2-3 years of her life right from pregnancy to post-childbirth caring for the kid it would mean 12-14 years of her life. Assuming the average life to be around sixty, 45-50% of her post puberty life would be 100% dedicated in rearing children. That means a woman's role in the society was to have kids and take care of them and hence they were home bound. She needed the man to take care of her financially so apart from love, she had strong economic dependence on her spouse. Also, in tradition hindu society, the kids stick to mother (see from mahabharata - kunti's kids though born from different men belonged to her). For a husband, kids also meant helping hands at work and a heir. A man without kids had no social or economic standing. Hence for a man, it was not easy to abandon his wife and kids for another woman as that would leave him alone to begin with and in a way also guilty of abandoning the kids.

In metros today, there are maximum 1-2 children per family. A woman has to spent far lesser dedicated time (6-7% ) to take care of the kids. Also these days rearing a child is way more expensive. The economic demands are such that both woman and man has to work. Hence both of them are financially liberated. As against olden days where there was both love and economic necessity to stay together, today there is only love needed for people to stay together. And ofcourse, love can be fickle and hence the increase in divorce rates.
Though lots of people say that it is against our tradition to have divorce, the economic framework on which our tradition was based has changed. Hence the increase in divorce rates and the society should as well accept it.


kakkajee said...

When you say "earlier" (at the start of your discourse), do you mean before 1955? Divorce as an option for hindus to terminate a marriage came into being in 1955 with the hindu marriage act. To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing in hinduism/vedas regarding divorce. Why? It may be partly explained by the economic necessity argument, but I believe there are other (more spiritual) reasons as well.

Siddhesh said...

I agree with Saurabh. At a macro level, women are a lot more independent now. With or without kids, they have jobs, they have a life outside the boundary of their homes, and that gives them the exposure, and many times, the need, to break free.

I would dare say that the divorce rate is much higher where the women have their own careers, and probably as low as before in the villages and in cases where women have no jobs!

Amit said...

All the reasons mentioned here are true and I agree with them. But I think above all of them and most fundamental reason is the mindset. Earlier, a woman will accept his husband as The Final man in her life. She believed that this the only man I have to live with (willingly or unwillingly), this is the only husband I have got for this life. This mental block would have been the major reason for not even thinking of anybody else (or any way out of it). On the other extreme is American attitude that "why should I suffer?" is the prime reason for not compromising in any relation.