URBANIZATION AND SECULARIZATION
URBANIZATION AND SECULARIZATION
In the urban areas caste norms have been flexible with regard to the selection of mates. There have been increasing opportunities for the free mixing of young men and women. Again the voluntary associations have encouraged inter-caste marriages. As a result there have been more inter-caste and inter-religious marriages in the urban areas than earlier.
Though it has been pointed out that joint families are breaking down in the urban areas, studies conducted in several parts of the country also suggest that joint families do exist in the cities among certain castes like Khatris of Delhi and Chettiars of Madras.. It is usually assumed that the process of urbanization leads to decline in family size, weakening or family ties and break up of joint family system into nuclear families. This assumption presupposes that joint
family, as it is found in India, is an institution of rural India associated with agrarian economy. But as a matter of fact joint families are found in urban areas as well. The correlation of “joint” family with rural areas and “nuclear” family with urban is not tenable. Sociologists have gathered ample proof that joint families are as common in urban areas as in rural and that in both rural and urban areas a family may undergo a process of cyclical change from nuclear to joint and back to nuclear within a period of time.
When we observe the household dimension of family in urban India, the studies by K. M. Kapadia, I.P. Desai, A. M. Shah, R. Mukherjee, indicate that there is no correlation between urbanization and ‘separate’ unclear households. Assumption that ‘Indian urbanites live in nuclear households’ and ‘urbanization leads to breaking up to joint families’ cannot be sustained.
Some studies show that not only kinship is an important principle of social organization in cities but also that there is structural congruity between joint family on one hand and requirements of industrial and urban life, on the other.
Recent studies show the important role of family and kinship ‘networks’ for the rural based boys seeking new avenues in the urban setting leading to growing urbanisation. They also show how the elders negotiating with urban institutions like banks, the administration, or the polity, ask for the help of their young relatives in cities.
This does not however suggest that there have been no changes in the family structure. Some of the changes, which call attention to the gradual modification of the family structure in urban India, are:
Diminishing size of the family, owing to the increasing awareness of family planning measures;
Reduction in functions of family as a result of relegation of certain educational, recreational and other functions previously performed by families to other institutions; and
Relative equality in regard to status and rights of women as a consequence of more and more women seeking employment resulting in economic independence
The phenomenon of inter-caste, inter-communal and inter-regional marriage no matter how infrequent, in cities point to the changing attitudes of the urban individual. Similarly one can see the change in the selection pattern too. In selection for their bride, a higher proportion of men from urban middle class background tend to favour urban educated, preferably working girls
The evidence also suggests that the new concept of wifehood, i.e., emphasis on conjugal relationship, in India is associated with urban living. There has also been some evidence of increase in age at marriage in urban areas. Simplification of rituals at marriages and incidence of court marriages in the cities reveal a gradual separation of the institution of marriage from its sacred religious complex.
Attitude of Indian urban youth towards marriage reflects willingness to depart from the traditional practices but often they are not able to put it in practice due to traditional sanctions and moral pressure which have retained their rigours to an appreciable degree in cities
Still there is a general preference for arranged marriage, marriages within one’s caste group and dowry. The increasing incidence of bride burning or dowry deaths as they are called clearly shows the increasing emphasis on dowry both in terms of cash and goods like colour television sets, cars etc. In this regard, value of the college
educated urban youth of India has increase in the matrimonial ‘market’