Monday, August 15, 2011

Double Income No Kids (DINK): A modern necessity or a choice?

 The skyscraperized modern tenements we observe in the ever-expanding metropolitan cities in India are testament to the fact that India is moving and growing fast. As the facades of ancient architectures are fast being replaced by modern sleek designs, young India too is heading towards a contemporary westernized lifestyle. Joint families are being replaced by compartmentalized nuclear households carrying two or three members. The powers of opinion, freedom, and of course the independence that comes from monetary stability, especially in the case of women who heretofore have been puppets in the pantry, seem highly attractive to the present generation. The wish for this freedom-oriented existence is propelling the ambitions of the young people such that they now prefer to walk away from traditional roots and opt for self-sufficient, pleasure driven lives.

The apparently humorous moniker given to self-sufficient couples with no kids— DINK, has deep inner meanings. Notwithstanding the momentary advantage, the contingencies that are tailed to this acronym are too grave to ignore and must be appraised thoroughly. It is surprising that the traditional Indian family with impleached customary ancestral rituals is lying in a moribund state, its survival being threatened by the questioning mind of young adults who (un)wittingly have come to hold everything ancestral as unnecessary. A modern Indian youngster generally considers her career high and places the need to establish a family and have kids lower down her list of priorities. And even if she chooses to marry, the prospect of a childless household—an anachronism in the quintessential Indian mindset— is usually more attractive to her.

Even though Indian society seldom acknowledges such livelihood, the increasing percentage of couples with no kids in metropolitan cities proves that such an existence is very much in vogue. The ample joys of singledom, the pleasures of financial independence as portrayed in films and in commercials add on to the overall sheen of this kind of modus vivendi by making its prospect seem not only acceptable but highly desirable. Also the lack of time needed to nurture children, concerns regarding over-population, memories of abusive childhood, the perpetually unprepared feeling are among several other factors impelling young couples to choose a twosome households.

The sofalizing Generation Y has been accused of being the laziest generation preferring Facebook to face-to-face interaction and virtual world to the physical one. The prevailing millennial attitude is that taking breaks for fun at work makes people more, not less, productive. Likewise, they accept that their work will bleed into evenings and weekends. And having no kids to take care of more or less, in their opinion, adds to the productivity at work. “Today’s young people are much focused on trying to work hard and to get ahead,” said Carl Van Horn, a labor economist at Rutgers, USA.

An interesting survey by the Associated Chamber of Commerce & Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) on “Changing Consumption Patterns of Delhi” shows that DINKs are high spenders.  Living solidly on the present, DINKs generally follow the Horacian Carpe diem and usually prefer to nurture self and spouse to kids. An average of thirty-five percent of couples (in metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore) spend more than half a lakh on travel and travel-related expenses every year. Forty five percent of them spend about Rs. 5,000-10,000 on non-essential items while sixty-five percent are fully aware that it is being without a child which is giving them the financial freedom. Their stats compared to the stats of households with kids show a marked difference.

It is dubious, however, if a twosome, self-sufficient household has any long-term benefits. It cannot be said with surety if people opting for twosome households will be equivalent in their happiness level with people with children, or whether in future they would crave for children and perhaps have them anyway. In many cases young couples not so much disown the wish of having kids as postpone it on account of practical necessity. Yet we can hardly disagree that priorities of the Millennials are different that the primacies of their antecedents such that there is often a culture clash when the old and the new put forward their arguments for or against twosome livelihood on the table.

Nevertheless it is an accepted fact that social life bred in the jorum of generations has certain positive elements that refresh and rejuvenate office-oriented corporate livelihood. Man is a social animal, he is the begetter, the nurturer and such tendencies come naturally and nonchalantly, and it is hardly feasible to repress the natural urge of a complete family life based on in-fashion societal preferences. Couples opting for a twosome childless lifestyle must undergo a thorough self-appraisal and judge preferences before taking any decision. They may keep in mind the fact that several couples with kids have successful careers and that leading a childless existence has generally lead to lonely adulthood. Rebellious iconoclastic notions generally cease to sway the mind when it had matured, hence any hasty decision taken during early life based on societal judgment should better be avoided.