India is a country known for its rich heritage and composite. Indian culture is unique in the sense that it is a mix of different customs and traditions. These customs and traditions make our country stand out from the rest of the world as a diverse but unified nation.
Our well known motto, ‘Unity in Diversity ‘ is based on the strength of our institutions. These institutions hold an important place in our lives to this day. They form the bedrock of our civilization. A true Indian’s life would be incomplete without institutions as his whole life revolves around them. In fact, man cannot survive without it. In our case, they occupy all the more importance.
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Social Institutions: Family and Marriage
Human society is made of groups. The most important groups are family and marriage. Institutions like marriage and family contribute to the Indianness of our culture. These are ancient institutions around which deep rooted and powerful sentiments and traditions have developed.
They give a distinct touch to it. If marriage is the legal sanction given to the union of two adults, then family is its completion. Family is a group as ancient as man. It is a multi-functional group which satisfies basic needs of an individual.
It gives a finishing touch to the beauty of marriage. Values and qualities namely, love; devotion, cooperation and sacrifice are the factors that form the foundation of a family. And according to our culture, when children are born, they are said to make it complete.
The breakdown of our Institutions
As I mentioned before, marriage is a legal contract signed by two individuals in mutual understanding. In most societies, marriage is regarded as a permanent life-long and sacred union.
It is the forerunner to family. When we go through numerous scriptures, we see many passages that support the view that marriage is union made by God himself and hence none should break it.
In the Holy Bible, it is written: ‘Man must not separate, then what God has joined together.’ In Hindu texts, it is considered to be an unbreakable, sacred union – a union that is immortal and eternal. It is the forerunner to family.
In spite of all these factors, there are some factors that weaken the stability of marital relations. Our social institutions are experiencing a slow breakdown in recent times. Numerous changes in family ties have contributed to this downfall.
Other institutions like religion and education can overcome this as they are founded on the strength of communities. But institutions such as family and marriage are based on strong personal relationships.
These institutions have to be nurtured well in order to prevent its deterioration. Values like love, care patience and tolerance have to be practiced so as to have good family relationships. Without these values, a marriage can end up in divorce in no time.
Divorce – the Enemy of Social Institutions
If marriage is the union of two adults given legal validity, then divorce is the exact opposite of it. It is the legal breakdown of a relationship created through the institution of marriage. It is the turning away of partners from each other. It truly is a complete turn from the way of life the couple had so far.
Divorce is also viewed as a modern concept for dealing with marriage failure. Through divorce, the separation of two individuals is made official. A divorce can destroy the sanctity achieved through marriage. It not only destroys a marriage but also destroys relations established through the marriage.
It has far-reaching consequences with regard to persons, social institutions and communities. In India, this is felt a lot more than in western countries as we give great importance to family ties. They are considered to be the benchmark of our nation’s happiness.
In such a case, a divorce can shatter many lives in the process. Although divorce rates in India are much lesser compared to the west, it is questionable considering the huge importance attached to it. Statistics of different states show that divorce rates are growing at alarming rates in India.
The total divorce rate for the country was 0.24%. There are higher rates of divorce in the northern states of India than in the south. This sure doesn’t give us a pretty picture of the present state of affairs in our country.
Reasons for the rise in divorce cases
A divorce can happen for numerous reasons. Sometimes, they happen due to trivial reasons. At times, a quarrel between a husband and his wife is enough to make them take the ultimate action i.e. Divorce. However, not all divorce rates are of that sort.
They can also happen due to grave causes like domestic violence, alcoholism, infidelity, sexual exploitation etc. Modern education has given Indian woman a sense of her own identity.
Most divorce cases in India occur because of this reason. Women are the worst victims although recent reports suggest that men have also suffered through a failed marriage when their wives engage in offers or black mail them over false reasons.
Divorce and Separation – the difference between the two
If divorce is an official statement that a man and a woman no longer live together, separation on the other hand refers to a husband and wife living apart from each other although they may not have legally separated by filing a divorce case in court. This is what mostly happens in India. It is a temporary action. The divorced may remarry but the separated cannot.
This is also done in order to prevent the nagging questions they may have to face from their family and also to prevent the society from judging them for their actions. It also shows their inner desire and hope to be with each other when the problems have been solved.
Divorce – An indirect indication of women empowerment
The rising number of divorce rates in India is indeed shocking at first sight. But they are also a slight reference to the fact that women facing abuse in their family are now brave enough to break away from the marriage by filing a divorce case.
It would help women to gain freedom and be independent. Instead of suffering through a miserable family life, they feel that it is better to secure a divorce.
It indicates that a male-dominated society can no longer have excessive control over women and their wishes. Women no longer occupy a weaker position in the family. This is true for the urban areas.
It also shows that women are aware of their rights. Thus, they have the ability to question whenever they feel that their rights are being violated.
Laws that allow for divorce and separation has far-reaching consequences in any society. In fact, it has widespread consequences in itself.
This is felt more so, in a country like India where no divorce was permitted by law, as Indians led a traditional life. The first and foremost is that it leads to the breakdown of relations.
Another consequence is that it leads to numerous broken families where children are stuck between their mother and father.
Children cannot understand why their parents cannot continue to live together in one home. Either they have to live with their mother or father. But it can never be a complete family. This creates a huge mental conflict for children.
Divorce proves that social institutions in India are gradually declining. This is a serious problem that has to be resolved.
Institutions are the most sacred traditions of our culture. They are the binding force of our nation. It brings together families. Marriages are meant to be a celebration of relationships.
This should not be destroyed. A mutual respect for one another in a relationship should be maintained so that a marriage truly remains a match made in heaven.