Joint family in the true sense means a group of people belonging to the same line of descent staying together as one unit. The genesis of this system dates back to the Aryan period, when the feudal system was prevalent. This provided an effective way to combat natural calamities and also safeguarded them from the onslaught of enemies. It acted as an umbrella, shielding the old and the infirm, demonstrating the concept of “strength in unity”. However, such a family system has outlived its use in the modern times.
Today this concept of a family system is neither plausible nor practical. The reasons for this are very obvious. With the increasing population, it is no longer viable to cultivate and subsist on the marginal landholding. People are therefore compelled to migrate to cities and towns seeking employment opportunities. Life in the cities are not conducive to the joint family system where it is not economically viable to sustain a large family.
With the increasing education and awareness level of people has come the desire to be independent, this is also in keeping with the democratic setup in the country where everyone has an equal right. This is contrary to the concept of a joint family system that thrives on an authoritarian setup, where the “karta” or the family head takes all the decisions. It therefore stunts the growth of young minds and acts like an impediment in their development. In an age where initiative and ideas command a premium such a family system is obsolete.
Socially too a joint family system is now impractical. The society has become one great family, where there is a tremendous opportunity for people from different caste and creeds to come together. The boundaries of cast and creed are fast crumbling as we see more and more of inter caste marriages taking place. This is possible because of an open society where there is complete freedom of thought and action. Moreover the internal squabbles and unpleasantness that are inherent in a joint family system, are unheard of in the nuclear family system. On the other hand, it increases love and affection between family members as “absence makes the heart grow fonder”.
The joint family system notwithstanding its advantages is a misfit and has lost its relevance in the modern age. It is no longer possible to live in such a system which is completely out of tune with the time when there is emphasis on excellence and not consensus.