Shraddha Walkar was murdered. She had a strained relationship with her father; her mother was deceased & had walked out of the house to ‘live in’ with her partner Aaftab. This gruesome murder story reminds this society, seeped in traditional philosophies, to relook at the dramatically changing family concepts of the last few decades.
Regrettably, the individual in a family is becoming more demanding of convenience’ driven in the name of ‘rights’, totally discarding the learnings of many millenniums of human wisdom. Many speak up as though civilized lifestyles started only from the time of their birth. The last 2-3 decades have witnessed a colossal decay in familial bonds & which is the main reason for such depressing news appearing.
Family is the most important social unit of our country. It had bonded over the last century when we faced the plummets of economic wealth distribution. However, from the mid-90, when the economic rise started, the Family has been under considerable strain & with the primary target being women’s upliftment. While there is no conflict in the concept of women being given opportunities without restrictions, the idea has also brought an attitudinal change that intensely alienates individuals from the strong bonds families had not too long back.
The market economy mode made any aspirational youngster believe that ‘money alone makes success’. Worse, it also made people think that ‘lack of money is a failure. This concept is opposed to the familiar philosophical idea that pursuing worldly life alone is a sure ticket to disappointment. Of the Dharma, Artha, Kama & Moksha being the guiding path to a fulfilling life, there is an equal balance between materialistic pursuits in Artha & Kama and non-materialistic, as in Dharma & Moksha. I am afraid I might drift into the provinces of philosophy to explain this further, but our purpose is different.
In the early 90s, India had not heard much of beauty pageants’ nor did most urban women know about beauty tools. However, a populous country like India had to be tapped. India’s Beauty and Personal Care Market is estimated to be USD 24.53 Bn in 2022 and is expected to reach USD 33.33 Bn by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 6.32%. India is ranked fourth globally for generating the highest revenue from the beauty and personal care market in 2021. So, how was India tapped to create an industry that was non-existent 30 years back, with women contributing the most?
1994 saw, for the first time, a Miss World & a Miss Universe that made India feel so proud & the two winners became the role model to emulate for every aspirational woman. The beauty market instantly started from there, and as it grew, India kept winning more beauty shows till 2000, and by which time the call was penetrated deep & well. And then the silence began. Only in 2017 India saw another crown.
Indian women were sympathized for having undergone untold tortures & they were constantly told that their time to stand up & be yourself is now. The philosophy is correct, but the ego pampering had had a vast & often untold miserable other side. Divorce rates have peaked & habits considered avoidable are common. The market economy push had a substantial negative impact on the Family with a loud cheer encouragement to women with revolting attitudes. It is also considered crude & uncivilized to comment on this change of mindset and is a fad to see such women as only aspirational.
Men have traditionally been subservient to women in our country, but with a very healthy complimentary arrangement. Our Sastras reveal that a woman is well aware that her man is not up to her abilities by intellect or emotion. However, to keep the woman from looking down upon her man, she was titled a ‘Dharma Patni’, a wife to a person of Dharma. I also told her that her way to Moksha was only through her man ‘Pati Parameshwar’.
Today, the market economy syndrome alienated the individual from the Family & this can be termed a cultural invasion. How India dressed has undergone an unbelievable change in the last 3 or 4 decades. Women in Petrol bunks are forced to wear trousers, and so are the street scavengers. With turmeric wash on her face, a women security guard supervisor is standing uneasy in a full suit western outfit outside an IT company. Turning around the street, one could notice a saree-clad labourer carrying a heavy load on her head, working with all clothed dignity.
The ego-pampered individual who pursues life without a care for those who brought them up is now living on the demand of comfort & convenience and not based on duty. Thousands used this nation’s infrastructure to learn well & end up elsewhere in the world having a healthy financial life, but where is the innate obligation to give back to the society & to the people who were such a supportive eco-system for his growth?
The urbanization of the population, the nuclearization of families & and uneasy exposure in the name of civil liberty are shaking a small but significant percentage of an urban class to make our society look confused & alien.
What makes this Nation special?
(i) Diversity – Every 50-100 km or so, the accent of the language spoken would change. Grama Devatha and Kula Devatha would remain localized & keep obtaining various names. Could find small community Groupings of one caste and Intricate subcastes everywhere. But all of them worship Nature, Animals & Human, as a manifestation of that One Supreme Being.
(ii) Thyaga or Sacrifice
(iii) Dharma –Dharma is a natural & very obvious expectation rather than a demand. The now widely prevalent ‘I, Me, Mine’ narrowness is known as ‘Adharma’.
(iv) Philosophy of Family Life – is an honest introspection to find a deeper meaning to the Interconnected, Interdependent & Interrelated web that all of us are in.
So, despite losing this National perspective, we should be thankful that even now, families observe the rituals, traditions and teachings, keeping many hereditary practices out of an emotional connection with their inheritance intact. We need to remind these were initiated as we had the duty to keep the country & society together. The purpose of many practices was based on a national theory. This purpose should be re-gained again.
Fortunately, OneNess, Thyaga, Dharma & Philosophy of life – is still there. We have deviated from the ‘Family for the Society’ cause.