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12 - Lessons and future directions for caregiving research in India

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 October 2022

Ajay Bailey
Affiliation:
Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands
Martin Hyde
Affiliation:
Swansea University
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Summary

Introduction

When discussing this book with colleagues and students, people were generally excited by it and said that there was a real need for such a book. Almost everyone, particularly those in the UK, had a fairly similar argument for why this was important which went something like this: i) the family has traditionally been the main source of care for older adults in India, ii) tradition mandates that daughters-in-law will move in to the family home with their husband and assume caring responsibilities (for all generations), iii) modernisation and migration are destabilising these traditional living arrangements as adult children, in particular women, move for education and/or work, iv) in the absence of any old age social security programs older adults will be unable to get the care that they need and instead face years of disability, depression and loneliness. There is definitely more than a kernel of truth in this accepted narrative about changing living arrangements and care for older adults in India. Families are mandated to take care of their older members through the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act of 2007. This act empowers any ‘senior citizen including parent who is unable to maintain himself [sic] from his [sic] own earning or out of the property owned by him [sic]’ to apply for support from their relatives who are then obligated ‘to maintain a senior citizen … so that [they] may lead a normal life’. Failure to do so can result in fines or imprisonment. This Act is often taken to underscore the centrality of the family in India and seen to represent the government's attempt to shore it up in the face of challenges such as migration and modernisation. Again, such concerns are not without merit. As has been noted earlier in the book the scale of internal and international migration in India is staggering. There are estimated to be 450 million internal migrants within India and a further 18 million Indians who live abroad (De, 2019; UNDESA, 2020). Alongside this, as the data presented by James and Kumar (Chapter 3) and Rajan and Sunitha (Chapter 5) show, around a fifth of older adults do not live in households with extended families. For many older Indians this represents the decline of traditional values and is something to be lamented.

Type
Chapter
Information
Care for Older Adults in India
Living Arrangements and Quality of Life
, pp. 227 - 238
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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