By Coonoor Kripalani
THE IDEA OF MARRIAGE AND FAMILY —In India the words “joint family,” “arranged marriage,” and “dowry” are shorthand references to a wide spectrum of social norms that apply almost universally throughout the country, regardless of religion. Living as a joint family is generally understood to be three or four generations living under one roof in a family home. While nuclear families are increasingly the norm in the metros, the joint family offers protection of wealth and property for large business families, former royal or aristocratic families, and a scale of economy for poorer rural families, agricultural workers, and less socially-advantaged urban families. These families are generally headed by a strong patriarch, and involve compromise and tempering of individual desires from each member, male or female—for the well being of the social unit.