Handbook of Family Policy
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Handbook of Family Policy

Edited by Guðný B. Eydal and Tine Rostgaard

The Handbook of Family Policy examines how state and workplace policies support parents and their children in developing, earning and caring. With original contributions from 44 leading scholars, this Handbook provides readers with up-to-date knowledge on family policies and family policy research, taking stock of current literature as well as providing analyses of present-day policies, and where they should head in the future.
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Chapter 21: Family policy in India: contradictions, continuities and change

Rajni Palriwala and Neetha N.


With Independence, the promise of development, equality and social justice for India’s citizens encompassed women’s equality and child development. The growing dominance of a neo-liberal framework led to reconfigurations of children – from the nation’s responsibility to the nation’s future and thence to a development resource. The importance in official policy and discourse of the Indian family is repeatedly signalled, though there has been no explicit family policy. After a brief discussion of ideas and everyday practices of familial life, this chapter by Rajni Palriwala and Neetha N. draws out the implicit family model and family policy in Indian state policies and programmes – based on an ideology of gendered familialism. The policies discussed include those pertaining to wages and women’s employment, population control, child welfare and development, laws on child labour and education, and maternity and childcare provisions. Contradictions between ideas of family and intentions in policy statements and the divergence between these and programmes on the ground are evident. This not only reinforces socio-economic inequalities among families with young children, but acts to the derogation of children’s rights, gender equality and the caring relationship.

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