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Monday, November 18, 2019


The son of all parts


He is central to some of the most intense behavioural churning in the family; can he tread carefully?
SAURABH KUMAR | Issue Dated: May 13, 2007
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The son of all parts So much depends on a male child in the Indian family that the son has come to bear the weight of a million expectations, and a zillion behaviour corrections. Made to feel for centuries that he has is a cut above daughters, simply by means of gender, the son is in the midst of a massive makeover. He is expected to be caring, thoughtful, supportive and, yet, strong and aggressive if necessary. He is expected to be following in his father’s footsteps and chart out an independent path if need be. That is quite a load.

“My father’s reputation gave me the initial push,” says Congress Lok Sabha member Jitin Prasada, whose father Jitendra Prasada was erstwhile Congress vice-president. Not everybody has that kind of luck. The pulls and pressures on the son in India can confound even the most balanced, producing a mix of emotions that can alter the personality of the son. Consequently, this can influence everyone in the family.

There is a possibility that the son may experience some or all of these feelings. He may have trouble saying no even when he knows he should. This is an everyday effect, and distorts perceptions in the family. He might, in the name of peace, try to avoid talking about problems. He might usually feel that other people’s needs and opinions are more important than his. He might thus be driven to apologise often and would rather give in than make someone mad. He could, of course, be the opposite kind and have a hostile temperament. There’s just no way of knowing.

All we do know is that these are only a miniscule percentage of the emotions that may run through a son. This has in no way dampened the enthusiasm of Indian families for sons. The desire for a male child has adversely affected the status of girls. Female foeticide and infanticide have become so rampant that the gender equation has altered. Says social scientist Saibal Gupta, “The role of girl child will change in the coming years. In certain pockets of India, the population of girls is so less that the fabric of a society is at stake. This shall lead to course correction. The desire for a male child will take a beating.” Maybe.

The future may be different in another way. After the economic liberalisation of the 90s, more and more parents are finding solace in old age homes than in the homes of their sons. The rapid metro lifestyle does not have space for the old and the slow. The ever rising aspirations of the middle class require money for fulfillment. In such a scenario, parents are seen as a financial burden. The son drives the Indian family. How he thinks, feels and acts in the coming years will tell on all of us.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017