Edited by Guðný B. Eydal and Tine Rostgaard
Chapter 21: Family policy in India: contradictions, continuities and change
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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