ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Parameters of Family Policy in India

Parameters of Family Policy in India A M Shah The government in India at present has policies for different elements in the family structure, such as children, women and the aged. This paper attempts to look at these policies in relation to one another and in the context of the family system and the society and to indicate the parameters of a more comprehensive family policy IN whichever of its three or four different senses the word 'family' is used, the family in India has to be viewed, first of all, in the context of the enormous ethnic diversity of the country. According to the 1981 Census of India, of the total population of 685 million, 82.64 per cent was Hindu, 11.35 per cent Muslim, 2.43 per cent Christian, 1.96 per cent Sikh, 0.71 per cent Buddhist, 0.48 per cent Jain, and 0.42 per cent other (including tribal) religions. Inter-religious marriages do take place in India and there is a law to enable them, but they are extremely small in number. For the vast majority of the people, marriage is always within one's religious group, and the family also therefore prevails within it. These religious groups have evolved since the turn of this century as legal,,and some even as constitutional, entities, and this has important consequences for the nature of marriage and family in each of them. Although one of the directive principles of state policy laid down in the constitution is that "the state shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India", there is as yet no uniform law of family and marriage for all religious groups. Not that the actual family life of people is governed by legal prescriptions. There is enormous social and cultural diversity, hence gap between law and custom, within each religious group. However, the legal prescriptions survive as symbols of the unity of the group.

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