Traditions In Transition: Society Of Generation Next

Dr. S. K. Ghoshmaulik


Abstract Women’s Liberty
Introduction Management of families
Objective, Subject, and Method Sign of marriage
Marriage Future trend
Conjugal life Conclusion


Advancement in global techno-economic environment initiated many changes in socio-cultural life of educated segment of Indian people. Many traditional values stumbled down and many more became modified. The last two decades of twentieth century experienced huge changes at so rapid rate, that elderly generation often falters to understand the visionary world of upcoming next generation. Indian value system and thought process are result of complex and ancient cultural heritage. This treatise reveal interesting facts from empirical data gathered from a cross- section of young students of Orissa on various aspects of life. Their views are analysed to assess bisexual variation in understanding traditional practices and their response. It gives an insight into the future form of society. The results are presented with interpretation.

Key Words : Tradition, marriage, conjugal life, family management, change

1. Introduction

Highly improved communication system has helped in escalation of knowledge through globe. The Western world is epicentre. Electronic media has reached nook and corner of developing countries. Economies of such countries have undergone sea change along with the spread of education and utilization of technology. The last quarter of twentieth century has witnessed the power of cyber world along with rapid increase in urbanity in India.. The families rooted in rural areas, have branched out to urban areas for livelihood. Their children are brought up in modern cultural environment, yet an undercurrent of traditionalism flow in the families. With exception of some ultra –modern families, most middle-class people, especially in Orissa, subscribe to a view of life, which is partly liberal and partly conservative.

Those parents born around mid-twentieth century grew up in orthodox social environment under joint economy system. But this system since then gradually began disintegrating. Their children born in the eighth decade of the last century had begun breathing in the atmosphere of consumer economy. That was the period when information technology was becoming ubiquitous. . Multiplicity of television channels was becoming visible and they were pouring in globalized ideas and invading stipulated study hours of children (Liebert and Sprafkin, 1988). For this filial generation, born around 80s in the last century, and which was grown up in the closing years of second millennium A.D., got exposure to various career options irrespective of their gender. This young generation, that earned the sobriquet ‘Generation Next’ or ‘Gen-Next’, could make themselves free from many age –old inhibitions, which their parental generation failed to do. Many senior citizens do lament over vanishing traditional conduct in Gen-Next. But it is meaningless to argue in defense of traditional continuity. The Gen-Next would carry the society into twenty first century with outlook of their own. . So The present study is undertaken to assess such outlook against the backdrop of societal transformation in an environment of techno-economic transition.

2. Objective, Subject, and Method

With the Intention explained above, a study was initiated with co-operation of student population, during the end of 1999. The reason was present author’s temptation to have a glimpse of the mental attitude of the young persons who would enter into the reality based life with responsibilities within a few years into a new century as well as a new millennium. The line of demarcation is purely arbitrary, perhaps meaningless for scientific purpose.

A well-structured questionnaire covering various aspects of professional information, social life, was prepared and distributed among the youths of Bhubaneswar, Odisha. These respondents (nearly 400) were of between 20-23 years during data collection in 1999, and were pursuing higher studies at post – graduation level in general and technical courses. The questionnaire contained forty questions each split into some part questions with the following note:

‘’ We are crossing over to a new millennium where people of your generation will lead. Being born and reared in Indian culture, you are nurturing an attitude, which is often ambivalent. We try to recognize the upcoming tune of our future society. Read each item carefully; delete or tick the answer, which comes from your mind. Your view is your own and secret. Realistic assessment depends on your ‘honest’ and ‘bold’ answer. No name or signature needed. Answer yourself at one sitting, put in envelop and gum it. Do not consult anybody for answer.’’

Preliminary analysis of a portion of data was done in 2000. The work was suspended with intention to conduct the study on a larger sample, which could not be done due to compulsion of situation. Sometime later when the author had to shift out of Bhubaneswar, a good portion of his academic materials was lost, which included these data records. Only a few sheets containing analyzed information of a portion of the sample could survive. In utter dejection, the work was abandoned. After a decade, the author decided to release whatever information was available in the form of percentile frequency for the benefit of future scholars to undertake similar study with much larger sample

This paper deals with information obtained from only 97 young boys and 118 young girls (all Hindu). Admittedly this is a small sample for any generalization, but when such investigation involving socio-psychological and to some extent physical parameters are still lacking; hopefully, the findings will help in future studies. In this discourse, the terms ‘’sex’’ and ‘’gender’’ are occasionally used with the understanding that ’sex’ is a biological category of male and female, while ‘gender’ denotes cultural attribute of masculine and feminine identity. Several information on social parameter like the natal family type, sib-size, view on future of joint family, post-marriage relation/residence with parental family etc. have been dropped from consideration due to incomplete analysis of data. All decimal fractions are rounded.

3. Marriage

3.1 Necessity of marriage

73% of male respondents and 72% of female respondents feel that marriage is a necessary. Only less than 5% in both the categories opine that it is not necessary. Rest prefer not to answer. On the question of ‘live in’ relationship, the respondents are found to be confused

3.2. Marriage versus career

More than a quarter of boys and girls, are not very keen to tie nuptial knot, rather they wish to pursue their career. In western societies, those who initially disagree to marry, ultimately do so at late age (Stein,1989). The main reason is opening of many career-building opportunities especially for the girls, particularly after boom in IT (Information Technology) sector in nineties of the last century. The boys are hesitant about stability in income that would be sufficient to manage an independent family. So long in traditional families, parents were burdened with the responsibility to arrange suitable match for their daughters, and if a suitable groom was found, parents of girls did not hesitate to fix it sacrificing the girls’ educational career. The new generation girls have begun thinking differently on this issue.

3.3 Domain of Marriage: Religion, Linguistic group and Caste

In traditional Hindu families marriages, it is expected that the marriages should take place in the same religion, same linguistic group and in same caste. It is interesting to find how the present generation responds to these three requirements.

It is found that while 95% amongst male respondents prefer to marry in the same religion, this proportion is 96% amongst female respondents. This high percentage drastically falls in case of marriage in the same linguistic group or in the same caste. 62% boys and 82% girls support marriage in same linguistic group and 62% boys and 74% girl like same caste marriage. Thus inter-religion marriage is supported by 5% boys and 4% girls; inter-linguistic group marriage is supported by 38% boys and 19% girls; intercaste marriage is supported by 38% boys and 26% girls. Thus it is quite revealing that while in settling the marriage, the traditional importance is given on religion, language and caste in decreasing order, it is the boys who are more against the social shibboleths than the girls.

3.4 Choice of life partner

Arrangement of marriage of adult children was so long proud responsibility of the parents or family elders. The future generation would like to relieve them of that privilege. Among the respondents, it is found that while 51% boys and 57% girls would leave the choice of their life partners to their parents, 36% boys and equal proportion of girls, wish to select their own spouses. Only 7% boys and 7% girls want a consensus selection. The parents have to accept their choice and arrange wedding ritual to maintain social prestige.

3.5 Criteria of spouse selection

In spouse selection of the various criteria the most important ones presently are the age of the spouse, the age gap between the spouses, height, educational qualification and employment status. The following is the response of the respondents covered in the present survey

3.5.1 Age
  1. 51% boys and 57% girls suggest that men to marry between 26 years to 28 years.

  2. 38% boys and 63% girls suggested women to marry between 23 years to 25 years.

  3. 62% boys wanted women’s marriage age should be bit lower, 20-22 years

3.5.2 Age gap

More than 76% boys liked to marry girls, five years (5) younger, only 12% boys supported equal age and interestingly 7% boys agree to marry older girls, if necessary. An overwhelming majority (86%) of girls considered husbands should be senior to them by three - years (3) and 11% girls wished equal age. The rest respondents did not express any view.

3.5.3 Height

Height difference among the couple was given more importance than physique and skin colour (highly variable). The opinions show bisexual bias. Taller husband liked by 89% girls and only 6% girls’ supported equal stature. Rest gave no views. On the other hand, 40% boys wanted brides should be shorter than groom, but 60% wanted bride of equal height.

3.5.4 Educational Qualification

Among the respondents 53% girls want husband’s educational qualification higher than wives. This view is corroborated by 69% boys. Equal qualification is desired by 9% girls and 4% boys but 9% girls and 20% boys would accept higher qualification of wife. To 7% boys and 29% girl’s parity in educational qualification is not much important. Girls do not like to marry men with lower-than-them qualification, which the men do not mind

3.5.5 Employment of Spouse

47% boys and 41% girls donot favour a jobless husband depending on an earning wife, 42% boys and 21% girls however accept such marriage. A good proportion (38%) of girl’s and11% boys have remained indecisive.

The response above on the criteria of spouse selection broadly confirms the view of Money and Erhardt (1972) that women like to accept such men as their husband who would be superior to them not only in age or stature, but wiser and dependable on all respect. It is therefore that boys who are friends and impressive, yet are not chosen as husbands.. The girls want their husbands to be ‘unique.’ Boys hardly understand this feminine feeling. The girls preference for taller men as observed by Feingold (1990) have deep roots in psyche like seniority in age and superior qualification. Fascination for tall wives is expressed by the desire to marry girls of equal stature (reasonably tall in local standard). A crave for tall stature among persons was observed by many evolutionary human biologists. It is also quite interesting to observe that the new generation girls seem to have overcome the age-old inhibition to look upon husband bearing the sole economic responsibility. Another interesting scenario emerges when it is found that the boys and girls differ in their degree of emphasis on the traits like educational status, Wealth of the family, Physical beauty , Reputation of family, Nature/ temperament of the spouse. While the boys give emphasis on ‘educational status’ of the bride, followed by her ‘physical beauty’; then ‘family reputation’ and lastly ‘wealth ‘, the Girls give emphasis on ‘education status ‘ of the groom, followed by ‘nature of the groom’, then his family ‘wealth ‘ then ‘family reputation’ and lastly ‘beauty ‘. This response reveals that while both boys and girls give maximum emphasis on the educational status of the spouse, the ‘physical beauty’ of the spouse is emphasized by the boys as second most important while it is least important for the girls. For girls, ‘nature of the groom’ is the second most important feature. For boys, ‘wealth’ of the bride’s family gets the least emphasis. The psychic variation of men and women is believed to be result of heredity and environment. While men are enthused by beauty of wife, women want security in life (nature, wealth, family background), home-making environment and raising offspring (Hyde, 1990). Women are more concerned about protecting their home and hearth.

3.6 Dowry

Dowry or bride-wealth is an undesirable aspect of Hindu marriage but so deep rooted that despite a prohibitory law, it still prevails. The respondents, in the present survey, who are well educated and belong to the middle-class, hold mixed opinion on the matter of dowry. On categorizing the dowry as (1) demanded (2) voluntary (given by brides parents without demand)

the response sought to them reveal the following:

  1. 65% girls and 33% boys decry compulsory dowry, but 15% boys and 3% girls support, 32% girl and 52% boys prefer silence.

  2. The opinion changes in case of self- given wealth by bridal family. Only 37% girls and 23% boys oppose the matter, while 29% girls and 53% boys agree. Others gave no opinion.

The response above, where a larger proportion of boys vocally as well as with their intriguing silence favour dowry, be it compulsory or voluntary, only indicates that eradication of dowry system from Hindu marriage remains a distant dream.

4. Conjugal life

4.1 Sex education

In Indian families the word ‘’sex’’ is tabooed in discussion. The girls at puberty are advised by their mothers only to tackle monthly periodic problems. The educated girls gather some knowledge from popular magazines. The boys have no proper knowledge of sexuality. Attempt was made to asses this and the outcome is disappointing. Only 17% girls and 22% boys admitted having half baked idea and the rest are ignorant.

This is a revelation that educated young adults awfully lack proper knowledge of their own body functions. Overwhelming majority of those surveyed, who were modern educated young men and women, were found to have incomplete or absolutely no scientific knowledge about sex. The lack of such knowledge causes many gynaecological/ psychological problems due to random use of anti-pregnancy medication or conjugal frustration.

For quite some time, debates are going on the issue of imparting sex-education at school level. Intellectuals are divided in their opinion citing various reasons. This question was put before the young students surveyed.. Over 71% among boys and 69% among girls opined that such education would be very helpful whereas some expressed their apprehension about misuse of knowledge or occurrence of embarrassing situation, if not introduced in careful manner.

The incomplete and faulty knowledge possessed by the young educated people indicate the ignorance of a vast population who would procreate the future generation.. Sex-education is generally misconstrued as guidance to sex-act and thus faces strong opposition from society. That these two issues are quite different and proper learning would minimize perverse behaviour, is not even appreciated by educated people.

4.2 Durability of conjugal life

Conjugal happiness is the most desirable matter though it is often punctuated with verbal duel. The respondents were asked to give opinion on their future married life. An overwhelming majority (91% boys and 87% girls) opined that the couple should remain devoted towards each other. On being asked which of the factors viz., (a) economic adjustment, (b) physical pleasure, (c) establishing mental relation, (d) tolerating each other and (e) sharing domestic responsibilities, is important for durability of conjugal life, an overwhelming majority (80%) of boys and girls specified that ‘building up mental relation’ between the spouses as key factor. 60% boys and 63% girls held ‘sharing domestic responsibilities’ is important, whereas for 38% boys and 62% girls ‘economic adjustment’ is also important. Interestingly ‘physical pleasure’ was given lesser priority by all, yet more boys than girls considered physical satisfaction as important.

4.3 Attitude towards inter-sex interaction

Contemporary Indian society is increasingly softening orthodox attitude to inter-sex interaction. Girls are now attending co-education schools and colleges and exposed to young boys from early age. Such free-mixing occasionally cross the prohibitory limit and result in sexual adventure. Educated urban youth are more prone to this than their rural counterparts. In cases of excess, the parents of urban areas compromise with the situation, but the parents of rural areas are very critical and even cruel to their adolescent offspring.

As the respondents in the present survey were brought up in environment of mixed value, some questions on pre-marital and extra-marital sex relation were put before them to understand their mind and conjecture future behaviour.

4.3.1. Pre-marital sex

The questions asked are the following:

  1. Whether the experience of pre-marital sex is beneficial/harmful/no impact on happiness in future conjugal life, and

  2. Whether pre-marital sex should be liberally accepted

The answers are as follows:

  1. 55% boys and 73% girls consider such relation as harmful 17% boys and 4% girls consider beneficial 27% boys and 17% girls opined no impact. Only 6% girls and 1% boys opted not to answer.

  2. 73% boys and 83% girls oppose liberal acceptance, 27% boys and 12% girls plead for acceptance while only 5% girls did not answer.

The response of these young men and women is riddled with ambivalence. The boys exhibit greater fluctuation in opinion on two inter-related questions. Girls’ opinion is much steadier against pre-marital sex and its acceptance. Human attitude to sexual intimacy is not consistent over time. Romance and sex in youth are often transitional and incidental for which individuals might be repentant after words. Those who are less emotional might take the experience as easy.

4.3.2 Extra-marital sex

Pre-marital male-female sexual adventures and post -marital romantic involvement with other man/woman stand on different axes. The former is impulse of immature mind, but the latter is infidelity to marriage contract. Like the former, this extra-marital romantic affair is increasing with modernization. The reports in public domain represent tip of iceberg, because such relations are extremely secret. Assuming these young respondents might have to negotiate with such situation in future conjugal life; the following questions were put to:

  1. Do you approve extra-marital sex-relation by: Husband: Yes/No; by wife: Yes/No.

  2. What you will do if your spouse is involved in sex relation with other person (tick any one): ignore/ mutually settle/ tolerate/protest/ divorce/ take revenge.

The answers are as follows;

  1. 89% boys and 87%girls disapprove husband’s involvement in extra-marital affairs .

  2. 76% boys and 67% girls disapprove wife’s involvement in extra-marital affair.

  3. 18% boys did not answer on wife’s involvement in extra-marital affair, whereas 6% boys kept mum on husband’s extra-marital affair.

  4. 27% girls avoided answer on wife’s affairs while 4% girls did not answer on involvement of husband with other woman.

  5. Interestingly some respondents supported extra-marital affairs. Over 5% boys supported such affairs by any of the partners or both. 6% girls supported involvement of wife and 9% girls approved affairs by husband.

As per prevalent belief, men are notoriously prone to entering into extra-marital relation with other woman (married/ unmarried). But the new generation respondents expect reverse situation. Wife’s involvement with other men is more expected (by both boys and girls) than affairs by men. It indicates that marriage is no more that sacred bond laden with high moral values. Each of the spouses has equal liberty to stray out for romantic reason. They understand that no moral fencing can prevent spousal infidelity. Reaction to extra-marital sex

The reactions to extra-marital sex can manifest as to ignore/ mutually settle/ tolerate/protest/ divorce/ take revenge. Of these six options, among respondents

  1. Girls in majority (36%) would like the matter to be mutually settled, but 29% boys would take this course.

  2. 30% girls would protest against their erring husband, but in case of wife’s involvement, 24% husbands would do this.

  3. More boys (36%) would optto divorce such wives, but lesser (20%) girls prefer divorce.

  4. Much lesser number of respondents (4% boys and girls) would be tolerant and ignore such matters and continue conjugal life..

Some respondents would like to be revengeful. However small might be their proportion, such actions indicate violent end to misadventures. Further analyses reveal that 46% girls and 35% boys want to bury the scandal and amicably settle the matter. 30% girls and 24% boys would like to protest for rectification. Usually they do not favour separation and in this matter girls show more tolerance than the boys. 24% girls who disapproved such affairs of husband, avoided to answer on extra-marital love affairs by women. 20% boys did not answer because they are not ‘sure about nature of women’. Most hypocritical view was expressed by nearly 4% boys, who approved extra-marital relationship by husbands only.

The views presented above expose very interesting gender-specific attitude. Although high majority of these sampled men and women display good morality, the non-conformists nurture innate desire of concealed romantic affairs. Both pre-marital hetero-sexual physical intimacies are rooted in the mind, which is subject of investigation by the socio-biologists. The gender-difference is debated. Many studies on this topic suggest that men are motivated more by desire for physical pleasure, but women are inspired by their emotional drive (Weiten, 1989). In tender age, girls are more likely to get involved with peer group boys but more allured by senior men with their affluences. Socio biologists assert this mentality as of evolutionary significance raising it above cultural contribution. It is suggested that in civilized society, women accepts such male partners who are well educated, ambitious, and have have good income with status,. Even after marriage, they may be drifted towards such men. Men are typically fond of women with feminine beauty, who are passionate and caring at the same time admirer of man’s calibre. Like other species, men have tendency to enjoy sexual pleasure with multiple partners without being emotionally involved. Extra-marital affairs by men are probably motivated by such innate tendency (Thompson, 1983).

It is noteworthy that the young generation is candid enough to discuss any extra-marital relation between the spouses, and attempt settlement without breaking away. Also they appear to be less intolerant to future deviation of their partners from conjugal integrity and devotion.

4.3.3 Re-marriage

It has been a common experience in Indian society that when any of the spouses face separation by death of one partner or by divorce, it is the woman, who suffer most. Even though a woman is still youthful, she finds it very difficult to get married once again. Society frowns upon such marriages, though legally approved. Notwithstanding reform movements of nineteenth century, society did not liberalize its views with expected pace. Widow or widows or divorcee persons are still not considered for first marriage under normal condition. The respondents covered under the present survey on being asked to give their views, . 56% boys and 50% girls supported remarriage, while 44% boys and 36% girls did not agrre to remarriage. Only 14% girls could not decide. Many expressed some conditions, particularly relating to the children, should be considered. In case of separation by divorce or death of husband, , in most likelihood, the children remain with their mothers. But in cases of death of wives, children if any, live with their fathers. These factors have bearing on the decision to marry a ‘separated’ person. Most respondents expressed their reservations about marrying separated person for first marriage.

4.4 Child bearing and rearing

In older generations, there was no intentional restriction on procreation. Children were born out of natural cohabitation and died due to lack of medical care. Family planning programmes initiated by government was making very slow progress till eighth decade of last century. Even educated persons were reluctant to abide by the instructions due to cultural bias. Most of these respondents themselves are with multiple sibs and their parents are moderate to highly educate. The views of such respondents are of much significance for family formation of coming generation.

These young people are much conscious about their family responsibilities and rearing of their children in appropriate manner. The spousal partners (both) are often engaged in economically gainful profession. For them procreation could no more be a casual matter, rather has to be planned beforehand. According to 89% girls and 80% boys, the husband and wife should together decide how many children they should have and when. Only 3% girls and 6% boys left this decision on husband alone.. That the wife should decide was supported by 2% girls, the reason being it is the wife who bears the child.. The rest did not comment.

On the number of children, 53% girls and little over 46% boys expressed their option for one child, 43% girls and 49% boys for two children and only 3% girls and 5% boys expressed desire for three children.

Opinions on sex of children runs counter to the common view that preference for male child dominates Indian society. Because among the advocates of one child, majority (50% boys and 53% girls) liked to have their only child as daughter.. Among the advocates of two children, majority expected at least one child to be a daughter. Adding the number of sons and daughters separately, it is found that son-daughter ratio turns out to be 1:1.3, which shows tilt of preference towards female child. Those who wished three children wanted at least one boy child. Should these views become universal, the demographic imbalance of sex ratio in India will be distant memory. It is really significant that more boys amongst the respondents liked to sire more daughters than sons.

On feeding the newborn, overwhelming majority (96% boys and 97% girls) among respondents supported breast feeding of babies for proper development of immunity. Only 3% girls rejected the practice and 4% boys’ did not respond.

Family limited to husband , wife and children only, has become quite common in the contemporary society. In such nuclear families, when both husband and wife are working, rearing children poses a great problem. It is a reality that the number of nuclear families with husband and wife working is increasing. On being asked to give their opinion on this issue of rearing children, 58% boys and 57% girls of the respondents covered in the survey, preferred to bring up their kids themselves, though many of them expressed the desire to associate their parental families. But 40% boys and 43% girls expressed their wish to rear children among their families at least with grandparents. Perhaps, this type of arrangement is preferable to managekids in a better way, especially when the couple have more than one child and both are on job. There is no denying of the fact that grandparents in modern situations are almost marginalized. But they are the vectors of traditional teaching of values and behaviour specific to their culture. Presence of grandparents or other family elders, prevent the children to grow up as self-centered persons.

5. Women’s Liberty

With advancement of technology-based civilization, women got more opportunities for taking up outdoor white-collar jobs. But in third –world countries, due to traditional orthodoxy, availing such opportunity had been quite slow. But since the eighth decade of last century, the traditional orthodoxy has been losing its rigidity and more and more women are found to be opting for outdoor white-collar jobs. This is the manifestation of women’s liberty. On being presented before the respondents the features of women’s liberty as (a) expressive dress, (b) smart talking, (c) protesting attitude, (d) care-free temperament (e) not submitting to men (f) independence of thought (g) passionate attitude and (h) financial independence and being asked to identify such features in order of preference, the respondents expressed their opinion in the following manner. ..

  1. Independence of thought: 78% of girls and 70% boys gave it highest preference

  2. Financial independence: considered as second preference by 63% girls, but only 32% boys consider this.

  3. Smart talking ability: considered as mark of liberty by 32% boys, but not so by the girls (20% only)

  4. Ability to protest any wrong considered as quality of liberated mind by more (23%) boys than girls (17%).

Boys and girls differ in their views on ‘care-free temperament’ and ‘non-submissive nature’. While girls give scant importance to these features, 26% boys give importance to care-free temperament and 23% boys give importance to non-submissive nature. Interestingly, girls give scant importance to the wearing of expressive attire.The views of young women, who would within a decade enter into shouldering responsibilities in the mundane world, are important. They do not understand meaning of liberty in a superficial sense. As our survey reveals, majority of the girls emphasise on the capacity to think independently and financial freedom as the two most important aspects of women’s liberty.. Unless mind is free of any bias , fear or apprehensions, no one can gather enough courage to raise voice against wrong or injustice. Ability to work as per own thinking would not be possible unless there is financial freedom. Economic dependency on men, had restrained many efforts by women. Now women are getting more opportunities of working in organized sector and becoming free of economic dependency.

From the responses, it appears that boys are quite influenced by the outward behaviour of women in evaluating women’s liberty. They, next to giving maximum importance to the independent thinking capacity of women as a characteristic of women’s liberty, consider smartly talking ability, care-free behaviour as manifestation of women’s liberty. . Men usually implant some behavioural qualities on woman and label them as feminine qualities. Patriarchal administration does not appreciate women to be argumentative and non-compromising in nature. So those woman who defy prevalent code of conduct in social matters, are branded as ultra-modern. But surprisingly the women respondents differentiate the – ‘protesting’ ability from ‘non-submissive’ attitude, and ‘smartness ’ from care-free’ behaviour, notwithstanding similarity between the terms in each pair. Emancipation of women would be a very important issue in coming decades of twenty first century. Hopefully the next generation would make it possible in appropriate manner.

6. Management of families

Each man and woman initiates a new family after marriage, sometimes embedded in parental family after marriage, sometimes as independent nuclear unit. Females, as in many species of higher animals, are instinctively homemakers. Human culture teaches them perfection in that art under variable conditions. Parents or natural guardians play tutelary role directly or indirectly for some period. Under changed situation in India, young couples often have to live away from their natal families due to economic engagement. Occasionally the young couple has to stay apart for service reasons. They manage their household by themselves. Some questions were put before these young respondents regarding decision-making, expression of authority in family management. The answers would help in understanding the future trend. Bisexual variation in answers is interesting.

  1. Decision making (in major matters): 93% girls and 86% boys supported joint decision. That would minimize conflict. Only 4% girls and 4% boys’ opined in favour of husband, while 3% girls and 8% boys wanted to leave the matter to wife.

  2. Control of finance: 73% girls and 58% boys favoured joint control. 10% girls but 25% boys thought husband to control. 12% girls and 16% boys wanted the wife should be entrusted.

  3. Authority (overall) of the household: 64% girls and 43% boys thought joint authority would be best. 27% girls and 49% boys considered husband to be in authority. Only 7% girls and 7% boys preferred wife to be in authority.

The above opinion signals the end of male supremacy in family management. In future neo-local families would mostly be of ‘double income’ type, where family coffers would be equally shared. Also in cases of ‘single income’ families, educated wives would perform much more assertive role, than in traditional way of masculine management. Still 49% boys would vote for husband’s authority. The trend of change does not appear to be uniform in all matters.

A recent study report by scholars of North Western University, through meta-analysis, reveal that, society still does not rely on feminine capacity of leadership. For that reason women find difficulties in management and authority in all spheres. But cultural stereotype is changing (Eagly, 2011).

7. Sign of marriage

In traditional Hindu culture, marriage initiates a lot of change in woman’s life (in variance with women of other religious communities). A woman not only leaves her natal family, but also her ‘gotra’ and maiden surname. She has to accept the, husband’s family identity, bear certain marks on her appearance and even change her dressing pattern. These, of course vary (among Hindu) as per regional sub-culture. Men are exempted from such changes. Rationality of these ‘must-wear’ markers as insignia of marriage is steadily on the wane. It is argued that such social customs were introduced in the past, as a deterrent to ‘other ‘men getting attracted to others’ wives. Some moral values were added to fortify the practices. Married men enjoyed exemption with some moral warning. Following are the interesting opinions offered by the respondents.

  1. On the questions of changing surname after marriage, 60%girls and 67% boys opined that wife should change her maiden surname and assume that of husband. But those 32% girls and 22% boys did not support it. The rest left the matter as optional.

  2. As regards bearing prescribed signs of a married woman (e.g. vermilion, toe- ring, bangles, or mangal sutra etc.), 84% girls agreed to wear which 60% boys supported. Nearly 8% girls and 25% boys rejected the custom. The rest opined these as ‘personal choice’.

  3. Whether a married woman should follow the traditional prescription of dressing or continue maiden pattern,(including hair style), the girls were divided in opinion, whereas 47% girls supported change, 45% did not agree. But 69% boys showed conservative view, 16% wanted relaxation and 15% left it to the women’s choice. Some girls did not give it importance.

As the above-mentioned issues are related to women, the views of the girl respondents weigh more than those of the boys. While 60% girls supported changing their maiden surname 47% girls would stick to traditional dressing pattern. In fact many married women now have not discarded their parental surnames for the sake of convenience in service career, and many of them have simply added husband’s surname to their maiden title. Now dressing pattern has become almost global or culture-free on the pretext of enhancing beauty. But wearing some signs of marriage, like putting vermilion on head, conch-shell bangles or glass bangles, toe-rings or ‘magal sutra’ are endowed with value of husband’s well being. Loosing ‘mangal sutra’ or breaking conch-shell bangles are considered ominous for a married woman. For such value- ridden custom, overwhelming majority of girls, however modern they might be, has expressed support.

The views of the boys regarding these customary practices are varied. More (67%) boys wished the married women to switch over to surname of husband, but much lesser (60%) boys favour wearing marriage marks and again much more (69%) boys would like their wives not to dress like an unmarried girl. On many issues views of the two sexes differ. These young boys do not give much importance to such customs, which the girls are afraid to discard, though in statistical majority, boys also like traditional customs.

8. Future trend

On scrutiny of the responses of this sample of young boys and girls on various socio cultural parameters, the trend of departure from tradition can be observed.

Still majority wished their marriages to be settled by their parents in same caste and same linguistic group. But quite good proportion (42% boys and 36% girls) expressed self arranged marriage. In such situations, they might marry in different caste, different linguistic group and some even might cross religion bar. However, the future generation does not want to remain confined within own group. Though they mostly agree to tie nuptial knot, a good proportion does not feel haste about it, probably to develop own career and gain financial independence before entering into marital life.

In spite of liberal views on self-independence, they are not very candid in opposing dowry or about the transaction of wealth in marriage. It appears that this social evil would not be eradicated easily. Strangely the girls also extend passive support.

The young generation likes to select their spouses on certain criteria, where educational qualification is of utmost importance. Establishing mental relation between the spouses and sharing of responsibilities are identified as important factor for durable conjugal life. In neo-local residence, which is becoming more prevalent, sharing responsibilities and domestic work is very crucial. Berardo and co-workers (1987) reported from western society, that even employed wives had to do 69% of household work, which becomes a cause of unhappiness. This young group seems to believe in equality of status of conjugal partners. In family management, most of them like joint decision, though separately considered, men favour authority of household to remain vested with husband.

The future families would mostly have only one child, with no sex preference. They have opined against the selection of male babies and in emerging overall picture, female babies are preferred. This is a great shift in traditional value. Also, the future couple have freed themselves of many cultural compulsions of married women.

Though majority stress the sanctity of institution of marriage and oppose clandestine sex affairs, a minor proportion, advocates liberal acceptance of premarital and extra-marital encounters. At the same time they admit utter ignorance about scientific (proper) knowledge of sex. Most want sex education through institutional system of teaching.

Extra-marital affairs were almost monopoly of men in past, where wealthy house-lords had concubines. Now the situation has reversed. These respondents are careful to expect such situation in future. They disapprove this but are prepared for eventuality. They would like to compromise such romantic liaison, through mutual discussion and not by taking extreme steps. Easy tolerance to spousal betrayal of marriage contract would mark future conjugal life. Boys seem to be less tolerant than girls.

The educated future generation originating from traditional middle class, perceive their plight of finding locus in rapid-paced civilization. They neither like to discard age-old tradition nor totally digest all western customs. They churn out their own way with amalgamation of values. They identify their role as free-minded person capable of finding solutions to problems of diverse types without bothering senior family members. Women liberty is understood as freedom of thinking, freedom of augmenting financial capability and taking responsibilities without masculine hegemony and social restriction. The provocative display of physical wealth and arrogance are rejected as sign of liberated women. The men would like ‘passionate’ women with intelligence and extrovert nature.

9. Conclusion

This type of partial analysis is not expected to lead to any conclusion for two reasons. Firstly, the size of available sample is inadequate and represents one religious linguistic section of population; secondly all the variables could not be treated with proper statistical tools (e.g. multivariate analysis). As the sampled young group were born and nurtured in Hindu tradition, and in middle-class families, they are not expected to abandon the age-old practices and ideas. Yet non-conformist views were not negligible. Some of these are summed up as follows:

  • Self-arranged (and consensus with parents) marriages.
  • Caste, language no bar.
  • Educational status as most important.
  • Favour joint management of family and decision to have children.
  • No preference for boy child.
  • Equal height of couple, equal education standard and equal age or very less age difference.
  • Marriage of separated persons (widow/divorce) accepted.
  • Liberal view for pre-marital sex encounter.
  • Extra-marital affairs to be compromised amicably,
  • Changing surname of wife and wearing culture-specific insignia by married women not accepted by many.
  • Divorce disliked unless all efforts fail.
  • Sex education in syllabus is supported.

Some orthodox traditionalists could not decide outright and refrained from answering many question. This was most marked in case of dowry or wealth transaction in marriage. Many respondents denounced ‘demanded’ dowry, but opted silence in ‘offered dowry’ – a sign of clash between convention and conscience. Cultural traditions flow through the channels of social system. Through passage of time, techno-economic and political environment change, which inevitably influence cultural ethics and even moral values are re-interpreted. There is often clash between generations on such values. It is extremely difficult to measure the possible rate of change of many traditional customs, yet worthy of attempt. The upcoming generation is going to build a society, which is based on knowledge. Economic engagements would, arguably, be prime determinant of life pattern. Many traditional beliefs and practices would continue in new jacket.


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Former Professor, Anthropology, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar. Address: 'EKAMRA', Sonajhuri pally, Goalpara Road, Shantiniketan – 731235, West Bengal, India, Ph. : 03463 261112