In recent days, there were two serial reports which made new revelations on the dark world that is spreading in the social life of Kerala. One was on the deep identity crisis faced by the elderly, and the other was on the irreversible plunge into the narcotic trap by Kerala's adolescent and youth population. The facts in both in effect give the message that the transformations in family structure and value system in Kerala's society, have led the state to a social crisis that calls for immediate attention and early solution. For, our homes have become unsuitable for parents and children to live together. We get convinced that the prediction has come true about the first impact of the rat race engendered by post-globalization milieu being on the fabric and values of the family.
Kerala is a state with a predominant old age population. In about 28 per cent of households, there is one to two senior citizens, most of them suffering from the hardships of ill-health and thus in need of care and sympathy. Kerala is also a state with clear policies and law ensuring the welfare of the aged, with welfare schemes numberingn over forty. Still the number is on the increase of people who opt for suicide because of inability to face old age, and who are so unable to bear the torture by children and relatives as to take refuge in legal institutions, is on the increase. Most of them live in the agony of being left in the silence of the inner precincts of homes, left desolate by children and grand children busy in their own world. They bemoan their state of frustration that their life has become meaningless. And as per a study conducted by Centre for Development Studies (CDS), a collective notion that the aged are a liability is gaining strength in Kerala.
If home is becoming prison-like for the aged due the lack of care and attention they wish for, the new generation feels that home has become a dull place deprived of the love and regard they need. The more the teenagers dislike a return from the street to home, the more they plunge into the trap of drug mafia. It is not only that the inclination towards intoxicants is on the rise in the student community, but also that they become their carriers. And most of the adolescents fall into the net of narcotics via social media. The police has confirmed that in Kochi, students join the youth in increasing indulgence in crime, mostly to earn money for drugs. And in the year 2017, the number of those who kill their parents under the influence of narcotics or to find money to buy it, is higher than in previous years. Studies based on the experience at de-addiction centres tell us that parents mostly fail in detecting teen agers straying into narcotics. Thus the situation in Kerala has reached a tragic phase in which the same state of being 'busy' with no time to nurse the parents, also leads to their losing their children.
We cannot shirk responsibility with a dictum that this is a natural feature of modern households where children and parents cannot enjoy peace of mind. There is no two opinion that the government and law and order machinery have to be more efficient and vigilant. At the same time, the social machinery of the government has to work with greater co-ordination in organizing creative common fora of the aged and in raising the value orientation of students. But if homes fail to be places where love, care, agonies and concern are shared and radiateed, and togetherness becomes a wholesome experience, the blame is not on government but on us. And a society where old age homes and de-addiction centres become a profitable industry, is a sign of social insecurity. The increasing number of people seeking admission to both and registering for it in advance, only betrays a family structure with a hollow inside.