Elderly couple’s lawsuit demanding grandkids highlights woes of Indians who select to be childfree


In the opening minutes of the Netflix film Private Life, Rachel, performed by Kathryn Hahn, ponders the morality of bringing a brand new life into this world. “Having a baby is an immoral act,” she tells her husband Richard, performed by Paul Giamatti, and proceeds to checklist a few of the causes: “Overpopulation, climate change, rise of neo-fascism”.

This trade takes place whereas Rachel is getting ready for a process at an vitro fertilisation clinic and her outburst is clearly supposed to be rhetorical. If there’s one fixed within the film, it’s Rachel’s conviction that she needs to be a mom. It is a conviction that Sanjiv and Sadhana Prasad wished was shared by their son and daughter-in-law.

Just a few weeks, media shops had been abuzz with experiences of a lawsuit filed by the Prasads, an aged couple primarily based in Haridwar, towards their son and daughter-in-law for refusing to provide them with a grandchild.

The aspiring grandparents have demanded Rs 5 crore as compensation for the “mental harassment” of not having their twilight years spent baby-sitting a grandchild (who will in all probability overlook about them post-puberty).

For these questioning why the non-existent grandchild has been valued at Rs 5 crore, it seems that was the quantity the senior Prasads spent on their son’s upbringing, schooling, marriage ceremony, honeymoon and so forth. That is some huge cash spent solely to acquire a plaything that would alleviate the humdrum of their retired life.

Changing alternative

Levity apart, this weird litigation has stoked dialogue round a development that’s quick gaining social foreign money: the choice to be childfree. Over the previous decade or so, the choice to be childfree has been gaining adherents internationally.

Nearly half of the members responding to a 2021 Pew Research Centre survey within the United States mentioned that “it is not too or not at all likely that they will have children someday”. An identical survey within the United Kingdom from 2020 discovered that of the members who weren’t already dad and mom, greater than one-third did not want to have children. China and Japan are grappling with inhabitants crises and plummeting start charges as properly.

In 2020, a paper revealed within the International Journal of Sociology analysed the choice of some Indian adults who had chosen to be childfree. Some of the observations had been predictable: the topics for this research had been professionals from city, center or upper-middle-class households.

Although the pattern measurement for this research was fairly small – 18 “heteronormatively married.. couples” – its findings are noteworthy. Getting married and having youngsters, ideally in that order, has lengthy been thought-about the one path to a cheerful and fulfilling maturity.

But now, this map for adulting is slowly being eschewed by individuals who wish to chart a special course.

Money, local weather change

The determination to be childfree could stem from quite a lot of elements. It could possibly be environmental altruism – some research present that having one fewer baby may scale back an individual’s carbon footprint by 58.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide yearly. It may emanate from considerations concerning the high quality of life the kids could have, as local weather change continues to wreak havoc on our planet.

Considered from a monetary perspective, elevating a baby is an costly affair and requires cautious planning and realignment of priorities. Also, the method of childbirth itself takes a large toll on the bodily and psychological well being of girls, which many could not wish to endure.

Truthfully, there’s additionally the matter of pure self-interest. Being a dad or mum means making elementary modifications to the best way you reside. These modifications have all the time been accepted as a pure, the truth is, crucial a part of life. But many are starting to query this norm.

As the Prasads’ litigation demonstrates, such a predisposition remains to be fraught with battle. The findings of the International Journal of Sociology analysis paper referred to above are primarily based within the city milieu and can’t be handled as consultant of Indian society typically.

In truth, even inside so-called city and liberal society, expressions of the choice to be childfree are virtually invariably met with shock and disdain.

Women, as with the whole lot else, must cope with a bigger share of unwelcome insights about their organic clocks, their function in a household and the genetic crucial to breed.

Indian society nonetheless considers it uncommon for an individual to not be married by a specific age, as if dwelling alone should essentially equate to being incomplete in a roundabout way. Naturally, a married couple selecting to be childfree is inconceivable to many.

In the face of this overwhelming societal conformity, those that select to be childfree could, on events, be assailed by doubts. No matter how robust one’s convictions, it’s not straightforward to swim towards the tide.

In these moments of uncertainty, one can solely take consolation from understanding that each determination we take is the one which feels proper and crucial at the moment, and belief that our future selves would agree. And hope, after all, that our dad and mom won’t sue us.

Rohan Banerjee is a lawyer in Mumbai.



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