Saturday, 9 November 2013
Why New Gen India is Going Childfree…(The Free Press Journal)
DIGANTA BISWAS says that increasingly couples are not having children. Here he explains why.
Samrat and Debasree Roy are “happily” married for almost five years and both well established in their respective employed life, but are going childless, better to say childfree, thanks to multiple challenges thrown out by the fast urban life in the national capital region.
“It is very important to be ready mentally, physically as well as financially to have a child. But in today’s fast life, we don’t have enough time to pamper ourselves, and so, it is better not to think about others,” says Samrat, holding a responsible position with an IT company. “The lifestyle is definitely a major problem that is discouraging us to extend the family,” supports his better-half.
Now, take another working couple, engineer Amitava and Deblina Nandi. They were blessed (or some say, burdened) with their first child, Adhisree, just two months back, more than five years after tying the knot, and are ruling out a second child. “Lack of support system in today’s nuclear family is a major problem not only during pregnancy period but also after having the child. A non-working mother does not help her child much. Giving proper care to the new born especially in the initial months becomes challenging for working mothers like me,” says Deblina, holding managerial post with an IT firm. “A second child is out of question.”
Welcome to the world of DINK (double income no kid) and DISK (double income single kid), a new trend increasingly making its presence felt in Indian metro cities. If some couples are not ready to shoulder the “burden” of child, others are not really thinking beyond one child. But it was not the situation a couple of decades back.
Changes in Indian family system have been under sociological scrutiny for some time, both in terms of its size as well as relationship among members, but as far as this trend is concerned, no defining study or statistics are available. Be it growing financial independence of women or lack of family back-up, greater employment opportunities resulting into higher ambition or fast and expensive lifestyle, it is undeniable that family extension is taking a backseat today faster than ever thought.
The increasing trend, specialists say, has even started “unknowingly” contributing towards population stabilisation in the urban areas in particular and India in general, though in an “undesired” way.
“The scenario is definitely playing a role towards population control. The young and working couples, leading fast and competitive life in metro cities, are unknowingly helping the cause. But it is not a desirable situation where people are curbing their paternal or maternal instinct. In long term, this can hamper the supply of workforce as is the case in Japan or many European countries. Career ambition is a big factor today as both spouses, especially the women, try to curve out good professional career and as a result they keep delaying child birth,” says Delhi-based psychologist and special educator Ripan Sippy.
“However, loneliness is not good as human has inherent social instinct. True, many couples are trying to remain free of responsibilities come with a child, but it has been noticed that when these couples meet their counterparts those are into parenthood, the former fall prey to depression. So they sometimes try to help other children through orphanages or NGOs to fulfil their maternal or paternal instinct,” adds the psychologist with 17 years of experience.
“Spread of educational and employment opportunities are quite effective factors. For women, employment opportunities are growing and many women are holding responsible positions in corporate sector, in some cases they even outnumber their men colleagues. It gives financial independence and the working couples, especially women, opt for a burden-free life and delay the first pregnancy. This is in positive direction as far as population stabilisation is concerned,” says Dr Syed Zainuddin, Associate Professor in Department of Sociology and Social Work, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
“The corporate sector jobs demanding limitless working hours from the professionals. It is true for both husband and wife, and so there happens communication gap between the spouses. Availability of various technological birth control measures is encouraging to delay pregnancy. We can see a lot of live-in relationship also,” according to Dr Zainuddin, a life-member of Sociological Society.
Apart from a few scattered initiatives to track down spending habits of DINKs and DISKs, there has been a dearth of organised research in order to ascertain, or at least anticipate, the impacts of this growing trend in Indian urban society in the days to come.
“We are constraint of making any value judgment. There must be some research and thesis in university level to understand the situation better. More research is required. Only research will help us formulate a suitable policy in future,” thinks Dr Zainuddin, also associated with Jamia Milia Islamia in New Delhi.
A few years ago, one such study by the Associated Chamber of Commerce & Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) on “Changing Consumption Patterns of Delhi” reportedly found DINKs to be high spenders who eat out more than the DIWK (double income with kid) couples and unmarried, that is understandably because they don’t have to shell out money to ensure quality education or healthcare for children.
And here comes another factor, sky-rocketing living expense in metro cities. “Everyone is trying to provide best of the facilities available to their child. Money play important role in ensuring proper upbringing of a child. But if the wife takes break during pregnancy, family income comes down while the expense never does. It creates financial insecurity among the couples,” says a Delhi-based journalist, who has a working spouse and is without child nearly four years after marriage.
However, it is observed, many DINKs fail to withstand Indian society’s judgmental attitude and turn into DISKs with time.