WORLD OF WOMEN
By Mridula Sinha
About one decade back when I was studying the then social problems and their solutions, old-age homes for adults and crèches for children drew my attention. I visited old-age homes and crèches and found that the elder people were not happy there and the kids too were not comfortable in crèches. As we all know that the first and third generations of the same family are neglected only because the middle generation especially the women are going outside houses to earn money or are engaged in some other works. Earlier, the young women used to take care of the elder and the kids also. First generation could take care of the third generation. Kids were more comfortable with their grandparents. Moved with the pitiable condition of elder in old-age homes and youngsters in crèches, I, as Chairperson of Central Social Welfare Board, had advised the then Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee not to promote old-age homes at district level also. There should be few old-age homes in metro-cities, but small cities and district towns should not have old-age homes. Serving elders is the duty of youngers. The government should not perform the duties of every individual. It is not possible for the government also to do the works, which are supposed to be done by individuals. We always criticise the government for not discharging its duty properly. Where government has failed in maintaining law and order situation in the country and providing good infrastructure for the people, it is not proper to expect it to perform all the household duties of individuals.
The old-age homes are not proper alternative arrangements, for the elder’s who are not getting proper care in their own houses and homes which they have built and nursed with their own hands and heart. They are not happy and comfortable in old-age homes. I along with Smt Sushma Swaraj and other senior women leaders of BJP visited an old-age home in Nasik (Maharashtra). The organisers of the home had arranged a meeting. The inmates of the house were sitting in front of us. We all decided that only Sushma Swaraj would speak a few words. Requested by the secretary of the institution to give blessings for the homes, Sushmaji said, “I wish the old-age homes should be closed. Elderly people should live with their grandchildren, not separated from them.” The eyes of all the inmates were full of tears. Only after that incidence I got an plot for my story “Adopted father”, a feature film Adopted was produced by NFDC and was appreciated by the viewers especially NRIs.
I suggested voluntary organisations and the government agencies to combine old-age homes and crèches together. To make a home outside the original home where three generations, will live together—I gave a slogan—“When the three generations live together, the family prosperity touches the height.”
Some emotional people have started the homes where they are trying to provide facilities to elderly people and the kids to live together. ‘Vatsalya Gram’ in Virindavan, run by Didi Maa Sadhvi Ritambhara, follows this ideal only. Once Ritambharaji said, “I put one child in the lap of deserted or widow woman. She is engaged in that kid. What else can one person or government give to a woman? A child is sufficient for her one life. Abandoned child also luckily gets such an affectionate lap.”
I also met some older ladies in that campus. Ritambharaji introduced them: “These women are called Nanis.” I pipped in their eyes and could suck happiness from them.
This is the speciality of a living and vibrant society and culture. In India, the problem of elder ones came two decades before only. The society and government are also in search of solutions.
Recently there was a news in Times of India revealing the bravery of an Indian youth, fourth-year student of IIM, Ahmadabad. He is going to open kindergartens, where kids will listen the stories, get lessons on value-based education from the elder people of society. He has disclosed his innovative idea. Congratulations to Chundresh Mathil for his innovative idea of bridging the gap between the past and the future. He believes that there should be transfer of traditional knowledge and values from the old generation to the young.
This has been happening practically in our families. By informal education we have been successful in transferring our cultural values generation to generation. That is the secret of the survival of our culture. Kids get all the knowledge from their grand parents which make them sensible human beings. We have seen the kids imitating their grand parents. One can find that the people from one family mostly behave alike. Even their voices resemble.
I am of the opinion that our elderly people should live with their children only. In special cases only they should be moved to old-age homes. Crèches should be attached to old-age homes.
We have the story of Shravan Kumar in our history. Whenever I hear or see the apathy of older people I warn, “If we will not remember the lesson of Shravan Kumar and try to follow it in the behaviour, America will get a chance to get it patented. They are in hurry to learn something about our traditional family life. On other hand we are not listening to our traditional valuable things.”
I am surprised to see that the Development Authorities of every city and metro cities are building only two rooms for one middle class family. One for husband and wife and another for kids. There is no space for elder people. What is this? Government has made the law to protect the rights of elderly people and have a check on the duties of children. The problems arose with the urbanisation of the society and the feelings of “My own life” have ruined the feelings and behaviours which used to inspire us to behave properly with our parents.
There was a saying, “If you earn one rupee, you must invest one-fourth over your parents (past) one-fourth over children (future). Only fifty per cent of your income is left for you.”
These stories and sayings had great effect on our behaviours. One could hear all these things from his grand parents only. One can observe the differences between the child living with grandparents and another only with his parents or in hostel.
It is appreciable that our younger one likes Chandresh Mathil has started thinking in a right direction while searching solutions to the problems of the society. Only by thinking and behaving in the right direction the problems of the past, present and future will be solved.