Saturday 4 January 2020

Dissecting society's underbelly - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

A time was when the joint family system in Indian society took care of the elders of the family, there being always some siblings who would take care of the aged parents. After the nuclear family emerged in the society's industrial and post-industrial phases, the children, after receiving childhood education, necessarily drifted apart from their parents to settle in the new places of employment, leaving the elders severely alone. In metropolises like Kolkata, there are innumerable cases where the children either earn their livelihood at faraway places like Bangalore or have moved abroad, giving rise to a severe social problem: that of urban loneliness.

One solution to this malady has been a chain of usually ill-kept "old age homes" where the deserted parents would move to live in a brand new habitat, enlivened by generally rare social visits by the now estranged siblings at their own convenience. In cases where parents - normally with strong willpower - stuck to continue in their own homes, the siblings would not hesitate to milk them if they have any marginal utility left still. Alternatively, the new-age "promoters" would hover round them almost like vultures and attempt uprooting them, to grab the property for raising multi-storied structures. The ace director Sima Mukhopadhyay has looked at some of these vulnerable situations with great empathy and gifted the Kolkata viewers two 'clinical' studies done with an unerring scalpel.

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