This year marks the 75 years of independence of India and is being celebrated throughout the country as “Azadi ka Amritotsav”. It was on this day, back in 1947, that India took its first baby steps to become one of the largest democracies in the world, overcoming a plethora of challenges to earn global recognition. India has come a long way since, leaving behind a string of landmarks that define its journey from the agony of Partition to a strong and powerful nation.
In its 75 years of independence, India has added countless achievements to its credit. It has built a modern economy (second fastest growing economy), remained a democracy, lifted millions out of poverty, has become a space and nuclear power and developed a robust foreign policy. Despite all that we have achieved in the past years, we seldom hear that the young generation has lost the love for the nation. Through this post, I’d like to address what the Indian nation truly stands for.
“India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters. I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage.”
When we say we love India, and someone asks us, “What exactly do you love?” What’ll your answer be? Beyond the area marked on a map, what does India mean to you? How do you communicate it to, let’s say, a Dutch national? How do you communicate it? It is quite possible that your answer is masala dosa. Maybe you have a few other things, like Bollywood, the bhangra, the cow—the cow sitting in the middle of the highway that is—the monkey riding the elephant, peeing by the roadside, no? You’d say, “Mahatma Gandhi!” or you’d probably talk of the colours of Holi, or you’d probably talk of the Diwali lights. These are all good, nice, vibrant images of the Indian landscape. Can you fall in love with these? I mean, it’s not so easy loving masala dosa, or is it?
A nation at its root represents a community of people united through certain values. For someone to really love our nation, it is important that we firstly know what those values are. Those values must be worth loving, and even more fundamentally, cannot be just theoretical, ideals on paper.
When we say that youngsters of today have lost love for the nation, what exactly have they lost love for? Do they know what the Indian nation stands for, and do they know what is worth loving?
A nation does not become admirable or respectable or lovable just by its geographical boundaries and political governance. There are nations that have been founded on hatred towards a group of people? They exist because of a certain dislike towards something. We have had nations in history that existed just to obliterate other nations, and we have had nations where the connecting thread is as fragile as a shared language, shared ethnicity, shared food habits. So, a nation is not necessarily lovable on its own. I’d like to quote some words from Swami Vivekanand’s speech here:
“Civilizations have arisen in other parts of the world. In ancient and modern times, wonderful ideas have been carried forward from one race to another…But mark you, my friends, it has been always with the blast of war trumpets and the march of embattled cohorts. Each idea had to be soaked in a deluge of blood….. Each word of power had to be followed by the groans of millions, by the wails of orphans, by the tears of widows. This, many other nations have taught; but India for thousands of years peacefully existed. Here activity prevailed when even Greece did not exist… Even earlier, when history has no record, and tradition dares not peer into the gloom of that intense past, even from until now, ideas after ideas have marched out from her, but every word has been spoken with a blessing behind it and peace before it. We, of all nations of the world, have never been a conquering race, and that blessing is on our head, and therefore we live….!”
– Swami Vivekanand (Indian Philosopher)
It is not our Geographic boundary, the LOC, and the ruling parties that make India a nation, it is the people who live here and the beliefs that we all share. Any attempt at defining our nationhood in terms of dogmas and identities of religion, region, hatred and intolerance will only lead to dilution of our national identity. There are several founding principles or common values that makes India, India. Some of these values include:
• Tyaga, which is renunciation
• Dana, which is liberal giving
• Nishtha, which is dedication
• Satya, which is truth
• Ahimsa, which is non-violence
• Sehensheelta, which is forbearance (the quality of being patient and sympathetic towards people, especially when they have done something wrong)
Respect is an extremely valued component of the everyday life of people in India. Children are taught from a very young age to always respect their elders. Even as adults, the elderly are still at the top of the totem pole. Children take care of their parents once they are adults, and their parents will most likely live with them until their lives have ended.
Family is also an extremely important component of Indian culture. Families are valued highly and are a part of an individual’s life until death. Often when people get married, they take in their older relatives and other relatives and provide support of them.
We as Indians seek harmony throughout life, and we all share these values in our everyday lives. These are the values that make us fall in love with our nation.
Today Western influence is rising on the Indian society by leaps and bounds and its intensity is rising with the passing of each year. The Indian values which is one of the oldest and richest culture is under threat as western culture is establishing its strong base in India and gradually wiping out the Indian culture. Slowly all our values for which India has its pride are vanishing. People are following the western culture without knowing its consequences.
The concept of joint families is abating. Western food is replacing the Indian food which has increased the rate of obesity in India. Children are affected by this westernization as they are not getting the care and love from their grandparents as they have moved to the old age homes.
There is no harm in taking good things and gaining knowledge about other cultures and traditions. No doubt western culture is versatile and has taught us to be self-dependent but this does not have to happen at the expense of centuries old values.
We should feel proud that we are Indian and have such a rich cultural heritage which is rare. Mahatma Gandhi once said,” The culture of a nation resides in the souls and the hearts of its people”. The Indian values do not require protection, but it requires practice. Each of us should commit ourselves to this cause and spread these values through practice. Do as much as you can, and do things wisely. Don’t get identified with it, don’t become its patriot. Share as much as you have experienced and understood. Existence will take care of everything.
Associate Professor, Government Degree College, Muwani, Pithoragarh
The greatest event of world history in the 20th century has been the event of decolonization, which began just after the Second World War. The world-wars in quick succession had weakened the colonial powers and they were finding it hard to stretch their resources to far off lands. This allowed the colonized countries to break the bondage, not to say about the nationalist movement which was encouraged by the western concept of liberty, equality, and right to self-determination. Colonialism ended in the traditional sense but it continued in various forms i.e. neo-colonialism, imperialism, ideological hegemony, etc. It is in this background that we need to understand our culture and rich heritage.
We need to prevent colonial influence while studying India; we should rather focus more on what happened in the last 5000 years rather than just the 19th century. Did you know that in 1661 the islands of Bombay were given in dowry to King Charles II of England when he married Catherine de Braganza of Portugal? It was only in 1920 that women in the U.S. earned the right to vote & contest, whereas Indian women were given a higher status long before. Orientalists might also have been the agents of colonial projects. These studies do not necessarily mean that they came here to know about our societies but also to interpret the society in a way that suits colonization. The imperialist had essentially based their modus-operandi in governance and administration on the pursuance of their colonial interests.
Two centuries of colonial rule has left an indelible impact on our Indian society ranging from the way people walk, talk, and dress to how society is regulated by rules, laws, and directions. Foreign rulers redefined India’s social, cultural, and political landscape. As a result, we, the followers of Dharma have become defensive on certain issues and importantly several misconceptions have arisen in our minds. Because of this, we are forever measuring ourselves against western concepts without knowing and understanding the Indian one.
The fact that today English is the lingua franca of India shows the influence that the British had as the colonial rulers of India. The education system right from KG to PG was patterned based on the report of Lord Macaulay. Many laws that regulate the lives of Indians today were formed during the colonial rule ranging from the Indian penal code to the constitution and the criminal penal code. The political system prevalent in India is also a reflection of colonial influence. India’s founding fathers were trained in parliamentary politics and hence found it comfortable to follow it after independence.
The British governance and administration gave birth to a new middle class, who were educated and trained in colonial culture. These people were Indian in blood but British in thought. This elite culture continued even after independence because we were unable to dismantle British laws and administration. Civil-services are still holding strong and running the government. It is still a dream job for every aspiring student. The exploitative administration which was put in place by the Britishers continued as we were unable to provide any indigenous system as an alternative. Feudalism which impeded the growth of our spiritual and cultural ethos continued in a new form.
Now the question arises what went wrong with us in our development that we lost the initiative of the ancient era to the western world. We need to be careful while analyzing our past and comparing it with the civilizations of the western world. Till the advent of the Renaissance in Europe India and the western world were more or less at par with each other. The medieval period which symbolized feudalism and primacy of religion impeded the growth of new energies and thought and thus old structures remained entrenched.
Renaissance in Europe released the mind of its old fetters and destroyed many idols that it had cherished, a new spirit of objective inquiry was making itself felt, a spirit which not only challenged old established authority, but also abstraction and vague speculation. On the other hand, Asia has become dormant, exhausted, as it were by its past efforts. Europe, that was backward in many ways, was on the threshold of vast changes. It is here where India lost its inner vigor and was slowly overpowered by the Britishers.
One of the reasons for India’s limited progress is that post-independent India is at odds with its true nature. It is a Dharma Yudh between secular /colonial India vs Dharma/Bharat. From time immemorial, the great aim of human endeavor in India was Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha (roughly translated as righteousness, wealth, worldly pleasures, and salvation). While Artha has a much wider significance than merely wealth, making profit was never a dirty word. What mattered was how the wealth was earned and spent.
When a nation of human being behaves in a manner i.e. alien to their inner nature, long term progress is impossible. The day Indians are guided by Indian thought will be the day when India will be truly free. I am inspired by these words of swami-Vivekananda,”India must conquer the world and nothing less is my ideal”. Our eternal foreign policy must be the export of the Shastras to the nations of the world. One of the reasons for India’s downfall was that she narrowed herself, went into a shell, as the oyster does, and refused to give her treasures and jewels to the other races of mankind outside the Aryan fold.
We need to seek our identity in our past that is the Vedic era. This past is something not to be contemplated but to be felt, not only in their thinking but should also reflect in their writings. The past should be dug up with all its roots and then felt in the bloodstream. Our country has three names, Bharat means the land of Knowledge, Hindustan means the Hindi speaking areas of the Indian subcontinent, the word ‘India’ is of Greek origin, who probably gained their first idea of India from Persians, dropped the hard aspirate and called Hindus ‘indoi’. Dr. Radhakrishnan wrote ‘The people on the Indian side of the Sindhu were called Hindu by the Persians and the later western invaders’. The term ‘Hindu ‘ according to Dr. Radhakrishnan had originally a territorial and not a creedal significance. It Implies residence in a well defined geographical area.
When we say knowledge it means about the inner self and its relationship to the external world. (Hindustan, Hindu, and Hindi). Western democracy is based on the rights and duties of man. It cherishes ideas of freedom, equality, and fraternity. Dharma is the Indian conception of the way of life and conduct. In Dharma rights and duties lose the artificial antagonism created by views of the world, which makes selfishness the root of action and regains their deep and eternal unity.
Dharma is the basis of democracy which Asia must recognize, for in this lies the distinction between soul of Asia and soul of Europe. Democracy is here to stay in India but what is needed is a change in attitude. Most interpret the meaning of world “right” as what is in it for me. Dharma is about practicing righteousness at all times. It is where rights and duties lose their relevance. Instead, then it is a transformation from asking what you can do for me to what I can do for you. When one removes I and Me from one’s mind, one eliminates ego and hatred towards fellow human beings.
What is religion? Sri. Aurobindo wrote, “There is no world as plastic and uncertain in its meaning as the word religion.” Religion is a Semitic concept, believing in a historical prophet and living by a holy book. Thus a combination of Jesus and the Bible or Mohammed and the Quran establishes the distinct identity of Christianity and Islam. According to them, salvation is possible only if you accept the authority of their prophet and holy book.
Conversely, Hinduism does not have a prophet or a holy book and does not claim that one can achieve self-realization through only the Hindu way. Open-mindedness and simultaneous existence of various schools have been the hallmark of Indian thought. We are so influenced by western thought that we created religions where none existed. Today Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism are treated as Separate religions when they are different ways to achieve self-realization. We need to disengage ourselves from the western world. We shall not let our culture to stand like an accused in an alien court to be tried under alien law. We shall not compare ourselves point by point with some western ideal, to feel either shame or pride —we do not wish to have to prove to anyone whether we are good or bad, civilized or savage (world —– that we are ourselves is all we wish to feel it for all we are worth).
During the independence struggle, Gandhiji was largely successful because he did not descend from the top, he seemed to emerge from millions of India, speaking their language and incessantly drawing attention to our rich philosophical and cultural heritage. He was essentially a man of religion, a Hindu to the inner-most depth of his being, and yet his conception of religion had nothing to do with any dogma or custom of ritual. Indian ‘culture’ he wrote is neither Hindu, Islamic nor any other, wholly. It is a fusion of all. Again he said ‘I want the culture of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to live in other peoples house as an interloper, a beggar, or a slave’. Influenced by modern thought and current, he never let go of his roots and clanged to them tenaciously.
He thus set about to restore the spiritual unity of the people and to break the barrier between the small westernized group at the top and the masses, to discover the living elements in the old roots and to build upon them, to weaken the masses out of their stupor and static condition and make them dynamic. In his single track and yet many-sided nature the dominating impression that one gathered was his identification with the masses, a community of spirit with them, an amazing sense of unity with the dispossessed and poverty-stricken not only of India but of the world. Even religion as everything else took second place to his passion to raise these submerged people.
A semi-starved nation can have neither religion nor art nor organization. Whatever can be useful to starve millions is beautiful to my mind. Let us give today the first vital things of life and all the graces and ornaments of life will follow. I want art and literature that can speak to millions. These unhappy dispossessed millions haunted him and everything seemed to revolve around them ‘for millions it is an eternal vigil or an eternal traces his ambition he said was ‘to wipe every tear from every eye’.
Gandhi challenged the western world and colonial ethos by digging deep in the roots of Indian culture and philosophical values, mending and changing them according to the demand of time. He discarded castes based society and other dogmas prevalent in India at his time. He was not an idol worshipper yet he was deeply religious. Religion means purity, spiritualism, right means, detachment, and sacrifice. Western concept of secularism, industrialization, atheism, and economic development never appealed to him. He gave his concept of secularism, economic development, cottage industry, society, and religion. He not only preached Indian culture and values but practiced them in front of the world and in the process, he broke the hegemony of colonial ideology and western superiority and subdued them with the Indian concept of detachment, truth, self-belief, and renunciation.
Muslim women suffer from challenges comprising education, livelihood, health care, etc. They lag behind in almost all key socio-economic indicators of development. Additionally and very importantly the Indian Muslim women face hardship in marriage and family emanating from the rampant misinterpretations of Quranic tenets related to marriage and divorce. Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) reported that since 2007 they have come across numerous cases of verbal talaq rendering Muslim women destitute. BMMA has been working on numerous accounts of Muslim women being divorced overnight and separated from their children as their husbands chose to unilaterally say ‘talaq’, ‘talaq’, ‘talaq’. In most cases, the husband’s mindset as well as the action is dictated by a commonsensical understanding that the husband enjoys the ‘right’ given by Islam to divorce his wife just by saying ‘talaq’. Hardly there is any awareness about Quranic injunctions or the real meaning of ‘talaq’. However, the Indian Government has criminalized the triple talaq by an act of parliament on 1st August 2019.
The practice of instant triple ‘talaq’ (uttering ‘talaq’, ‘talaq’, ‘talaq’ at a time) to divorce a woman by her husband is the misinterpretation of Quranic guidelines. ‘Talaq’ (divorce) should be the last resort of believing Muslims if there is serious marital discord. Nowhere in the Holy Quran, it is mentioned that triple ‘talaq’ at a time will be considered as ‘talaq’. The Prophet said, “The most hateful permissible thing in the sight of God is divorce” (Abu Dawud: 1863). But when the situation is such that the couple can’t stay together, then the ‘talaq’ is desirable. Quran (3:34) advises the husband to reason out (Faizuhunna) with his wife through discussions. If differences persist the couple is directed to keep sexually distance themselves (Wahjuruhunna) from each other in the hope that this temporarily physical separation may encourage them to reunite. And if it fails, the husband is said to once again explain (Wazribuhunna) to his wife about the seriousness of the condition so that there is a possibility of reconciliation. If the differences persist, the Quran (4:35) instructs the matter to be put before two persons (arbiters), one from the family of each spouse to provide reconciliation efforts.
After the failure of the above mentioned four attempts to unite them together, the Quran allows first ‘talaq’ to be uttered and followed by a waiting period of the three months. This waiting period is called Iddah. Not more than tow ‘talaq’ can be pronounced within this period. If the husband and wife are unable to reconcile during Iddah, the final ‘talaq’ can be pronounced in the presence of two witnesses but only after the expiry of the Iddah. Even after the Iddah has lapsed, the Quran offers the challenging parties a chance to reunite, provided the final talaq has not been pronounced. Once the final ‘talaq’ has been pronounced the break up in the marital is taken place and the parties are considered as divorced.
Religious Freedom versus Universal Rights in India
Since independence, India is staggering with the issue. Our constitution has enshrined both universal rights and religious freedom. Article 15 of the Indian Constitution says “the state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them. Article 26 of the Indian Constitution has given the people the freedom to manage their respective religious affairs. It (Art. 26- b) says “subject to public order, morality, and health, every religious denomination or any section thereof shall have the right to manage its affairs in matters of religion”. We have a plurality of faith and belief and the plurality of cultures amongst us. Seeking to accommodate multiple faiths, India’s law for marriage, divorce, and inheritance related matters are deemed to be ‘Personal Law’ and are left largely up to the respective religion. The practice of instant triple talaq simply violates the fundamental rights of the Indian constitution as the constitution does not allow women to be treated differently. According to Yusuf Muchhala, a lawyer of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, the religious freedom nowhere means a free license to the male of the Muslim community to subjugate the woman.
Triple Talaq and All India Muslim Personal Law Board
The practice of triple talaq is illegal in many Muslim majority countries, but in India, it was permitted (before 1st August 2019) under the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937. According to this Act, in matters of personal disputes, the state will not intervene and religious authority will instead pass the judgments. (Al Jazeera, 2016). All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has been set up in 1973 as a custodian of Muslim Personal Law. It wants to impose the Shariat laws on the Muslim community in India and the focus of this organization is to educate the Indian Muslim and built awareness on the protection and application of Islamic laws. This law has made the Muslim community stuck in a time warp and the subsequent laws like the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act of 1939 and the Muslim Women (Protection of Right on Divorce) Act of 1986 had not been able to move the community away from discrimination shown to Muslim women (The Hindu, 2016).
Instant triple talaq in the Muslim community is malpractice to give divorce to a woman by her husband arbitrarily. This type of one-sided divorce without any effort to reconcile is neither formulated in the Quranic guidelines nor supported by the Indian Constitution. It is due to the misinterpretation of Quranic guidelines by some clerics, the Muslim women are facing great adversaries in their marital as well as natal lives. Indian Muslims do not have codified Shariat Laws that adequately address all aspects concerning marriage and family matters. The conservative sections are unaware and unconcerned about the issues of Muslim women and therefore they cannot continue speaking for them. By recognizing only the conservative religious voices the democratic state has also failed in enabling fair representation for all sections of the population including women. Regarding marital disputes, the triple talaq is banned in several Muslim majority countries. Therefore, in India, the practice of instant triple talaq as a means to divorce cannot continue when the era is confronted by modern conceptions of justice and rights, and the ideals of universal human rights, equality, and personal freedom.
Dr. Shivani Rawat (Assistant Professor, History Department, D.S.B.Campus, K.U. Nainital)
Uttarakhand’s state movement arose with the problems of poverty, backwardness, tough routine of the folks of the hilly areas and the total ignorance by the government. The demand for the state of Uttarakhand was not instantaneous, in fact, it had to pass through a long chain of a struggle for its existence. Although the geographical complexities presented some obstacles in the expansion of various movements, nevertheless it did not affect the political and social awakening among the people. During the British period, a voice was raised against this exploitation from time to time. After the independence, many hardworking and active personalities proved themselves in the field of politics while contributing their leadership but the development of the complex geographical, economical and social circumstances of the region could not be done.
The demand for the separate state of Uttarakhand was important not only for its unique cultural & geographical status but also for the regional development in education, health, agriculture, trade and industry, the areas of which remained untouched by the Lucknow Government. The intellectual class of this region who had struggled their way through these difficulties demanded for the first time, the establishment of a separate state in 1923. A letter addressed to the governor of Joint Province plead that the region of Uttarakhand should be recognized as a separate unit. In 1928 the Nehru committee recommended that the division of the states should be based upon the choice of the public and on the basis of their geographical, economical & financial concepts.
A special political conference of the Congress was held on 5-6 May 1938 in Srinagar Garhwal. In the conference, the demand for a separate political arrangement for this hilly area was raised and it was suggested that the hilly folks should be given the right to flourish their cultural values. In 1948, the Dur Commission presented a report regarding the terms and conditions to be obeyed for the establishment of a new state. The terms included factors such as geographical continuity, financial independence, the possibility of development in the future and the concept of similar language.
In 1952 the minister of the Communist Party P.C. Joshi pleaded the Indian government establishment of a separate state. On the basis of this plead the question for the establishment of a separate state was discussed while also taking into account the Karachi session (1931 AD ), wherein Jawahar Lal Nehru had also given his consent. P.C.Joshi is therefore considered as the first person who took an initiative to demand a separate state.
On 24-25 June, there was a huge public gathering in Ramnagar under the leadership of Lakshman Singh Adhikari. In this session a proposal for the establishment of a separate administrative unit was passed and an organization named as “ Parvatiya Rajya Parishad” was established. Daya Krishna Pandey was elected as the President and Govind Singh Mehra was elected as a Vice-president of this Parishad. On 14-15 October 1967, Uttarakhand development seminar was organized at New Delhi. In this seminar Manvendra Shah projected about the ignorance of this state and raised the demand to confer the state as a union territory. He said that while making plans, the hilly and the plain areas should be seen as a single unit. In 1967 when Chandra Bhanu Gupta became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, he established Parvatiya Parishad and people started believing that the Parvatiya Parishad will lead to the development of the inhabitants of Uttarakhand. However, this was also a false hope.
Through these pleads, the demand for the separate state of Uttarakhand was going at a slow speed. The people of Uttarakhand had no other option other than to follow the policies, planning & administrative arrangement implemented in Lucknow. The plans, lost in corruption, never turned into reality and were limited only to the files only. Water resource projects were initialized in many regions but water supply did not reach their respective destinations. Power transmission systems were established just as a formality. In some cases, only electric poles were set up while in the other cases only the electric lines were laid down. The people, however, were made to pay the bills regularly. It was crystal clear that without proper leadership, the demand of a separate state could not be conveyed to the policymakers.
Finally on 24-25 July, there was a conference organized in Mussorie for (Parvatiya Jan Vikas) Hill Public development. Reporter Dwarika Prasad Uniyal was the convenor of this conference. People like Indra mani Badoni, Nityanand Bhatt, Dr. D.D.Pant, Devendra Sanwal, and Veer Singh Thakur participated in this conference. The conference ended in one single opinion that the people of Uttarakhand had to be united as a single political organization, for the formation of a separate state. The thoughts expressed in this conference resulted in the formation of “ Uttarakhand Kranti Dal” wherein Dr. Devi Dutt Pant was elected as the President. The state movement finally got a direction and conditions under the umbrella of Uttarakhand Kranti Dal. In order to fulfill their objectives, Uttarakhand Kranti Dal organized demonstrations, protests, rallies, adhesion & Road Blockades. Meanwhile, in December 1993 the government of Mulayam Singh Yadav with the support of Bahujan Samaj Party was formed, which implemented a reservation of 27% for the backward classes in government services. On 17th June 1994, an arrangement of 27% reservation of the backward class was implemented in order to give admission in the educational institutions, As a result, a huge Public gathering took place on the roads protesting against the reservation policy.
On 2 August 1994, 8 members of the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal started a hunger strike in Pauri for the demand of a separate state and against the reservation policy of the then government. The administration arrested these people on 7th August 1994 and this lead to an outburst in the entire region of Uttarakhand. A horrifying incident took place in Khatima on 1st September 1994. The Police had started firing on the revolutionaries who were demanding for a separate state and protesting against the reservation policy. Seven people were killed and many others injured. As a reaction of the Khatima incident, the people in Mussorie carried out a procession on 2 September but again the Police used lathi-charge on them, resulting in the martyrdom of many revolutionaries. The brutality crossed the limits when the revolutionaries who were going to attend the rally organized by the Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti on 2nd October 1994, were open fired upon and many women were molested. This incident marks a black day in the history of the state movement.
On 3rd June 1995, the Governor of Uttar Pradesh expelled the Mulayam Singh Yadav Government. After this, Bahujan Samaj Party prominent leader Mayawati with the support of Bhartiya Janta Party became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. The Cabinet of the then Prime Minister H.D. Devgaura finally accepted the demand of Uttarakhand state on 13th August 1996. The dream of a separate state became reality on 15th August 1996 when the then Prime Minister of India, H.D. Devagaura announced the establishment of Uttarakhand State from the Red fort and certified the decision of the Indian Government. In 1998 a bill related to the state was sent via President in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative assembly. On 11th August, the Lok Sabha passed this bill with a majority, After the consent from the President of India on 28 August 2000, the state of Uttarakhand came to its existence on 9th November 2000. On 3rd June 1995, the Governor of Uttar Pradesh expelled the Mulayam Singh Yadav Government.
Dr. Priyanka N. Ruwali (Assistant Professor, Deptt. Of Sociology, DSB Campus Kumaun University Nainital, email: email@example.com)
Social change is a natural phenomenon. New conditions emerge and to meet new challenges a society adopts, adjusts and changes. After 67 years of independence, we cannot expect Indian society to remain static and completely traditional. Among the institutions that have shaped human civilization, marriage and family occupies a vital position. These together not only form the cradle of our future society, but also the hub of social life for the people. Like other institutions of the society, marriage also has been undergoing a gradual transformation and adjustment in different situations and epochs of history. The story of change in modern India begins particularly, with the advent of British colonial rule.
Later on the advent of Western education, the process of urbanization, modernization and industrialization accelerated these changes. The rural and normative guidelines regulating marriage are also bound to change to meet new demands and expectations. Simultaneously many factors- legalistic, political, socio-economic and cultural also have cumulative impact upon the institution of marriage of urban family. The present study aims at knowing the continuity and change in marriage in urban society of India. The present study is an attempt to understand and analyze the impact of urbanization on marriage. The study focuses on the process of changes, which are taking place in sacramental Hindu marriage system. This is a secondary data base study.
Marriage is conceived differently by social scientists in different fields while the popular concept of marriage is that it is a union between a man and a woman. Anthropologists like Lowie, Murdock and Westermark emphasize on social sanction in the union and how it is accomplished by different rituals and ceremonies. Sociologists like Blood, Lantz and Snyder, Bowman, Baber Burgess etc, view it as a system of roles and as involving primary relationships. Indologists look upon Hindu marriage as a sanskara or a dharma. The generally acceptable definition among British social anthropologists was proposed in a volume entitled ‘notes and queries in anthropology’ according which “Marriage is a union between a man and a woman such that children born to the woman are the recognized legitimate offsprings of both partners”. The definition of marriage proposed by Westermark, Malinowski and Red-cliff Brown centre on ‘The principle of legitimacy’.
Red-cliff Brown writes: “Marriage is a social arrangement by which a child is given a legitimate position in the society, determined by parenthood in the social sense”. Westermark defines marriage as “a relation of one or more men to one or more women which is recognised by custom or law; and involves certain rights and duties both in the case of the parties entering the union and in the case of the children born of it”. According to him marriage is “more or less durable connection between male and female, lasting beyond the mere act of propagation till after the birth of offspring”. Gough made a brave attempt to put forward her own definition of marriage taking into account a wide diversity of different cultural patterns. To her “Marriage is a relationship established between a woman and one or more other persons, which provides that a child born to the woman under circumstances not prohibited by the rules of the relationship, is accorded full birth-status rights common to normal members of his society or social stratum”.
Rivere proposes that marriage be studied as, “one of the socially approved and recognized relationship between the conceptual role of male and females. This relationship will reflect aspects of the particular society’s conventional ideas about the two categories and it will be possible to define it by opposing it to other possible male-female relationships which exist in the society”. G.P. Murdock has suggested that marriage exists only when the economic and the sexual functions are united into one relationship. In all societies said Murdock, “Marriage involves residential co-habitation and in all of them it forms the basis of the nuclear family”.
The social anthropologists of the western societies have highlighted the importance of personal relationship between man and woman in the capacity of husband and wife. It is because of the fact that greater importance is given to individual in these societies. In the Indian society, on the other hand greater importance is given to religious and socio-cultural obligations, and individuals’ personal happiness or his/her personal liking and disliking get least importance.
Traditional Hindu marriage is viewed as a sacrament as discussed by Prabhu (1961), Kapadia (1966), Chatterjee (1972) and Shastri (1972). P.N. Prabhu on the basis of ancient Hindu literature says, “Among the Hindus’ vivah is generally considered as obligatory for every person, because in the first place, the birth of a son is said to enable one to obtain moksha i.e. the ultimate aim of Hindu life”. Manu considers marriage as a social institution for the regulation of proper relations between the sexes. Kapadia considers Hindu marriage a sacrament in the sense that it is irrevocable and indissoluble.
According to the traditional Hindu concept of marriage, Kapadia was of the opinion that marriage is a social duty towards the family and the community, and there was little idea of individual interest. The traditional Hindu concept of marriage enables one to fulfil dharma (sociocultural and spiritual obligations towards the family, community and society), praja (progeny as social obligation towards society) and rati (pleasure as individual sexual gratification).
Marriage being mainly performed for dharmna and not for pleasure, it was considered a sacrament among Hindus. Several reasons may be given for considering the Hindu marriage sacred: (i) dharma (fulfilment of religious duties) was the highest aim of marriage; (ii) performance of the religious ceremony included certain rights like havan, kanyadan, panigrahan, saptapadi, etc., which being based on the sacred formula, were considered sacred; (iii) the rights were performed before agni (the most sacred God) by reciting mantras (passages) from Vedas (the most sacred scriptures) by a Brahmin (the most sacred person on earth); (iv) the union was considered indissoluble and irrevocable and husband and wife were bound to each other not only until death but even after the death; (v) though a man performed several sacraments during the course of his life, a woman performed only one sacrament of marriage in her life, hence it’s greatest importance for her; (vi) emphasis was on chastity of a woman and the faithfulness of a man; and (vii) marriage was considered to be a ‘social duty’ towards the family and the community and there was little idea of individual interest and aspiration.
Hindu marriage is not only a sexual contact, a pattern of marriage like in other societies, but it is a religious sanskara essential for each Hindu. According to the sacramental concept of Hindu marriage, the principle of familism is supreme and primary and must be followed while the individuals’ interest, needs and happiness are considered secondary to the interest of the family and community as a whole. Irawati Karve also observed the same “In India marriage is a sacrament and no normal man or woman must die without receiving this sacrament” and “for this reason, Hindu parents have always considered the marriage of their children one of their most sacred duties”. This Hindu attitude towards marriage has been from the ancient Vedic times when it was regarded as a social and religious duty and it is looked upon as a sacrament even today. In this way, Hindu marriage can be defined as a religious sacrament, in which a man and woman are bound in permanent relationship for the physical, social and spiritual purposes of dharma, procreation and sexual pleasure. In ancient texts, the union of male and female have been emphasized through several myths and symbols.
The marriage which institutionalized this union was considered as a social obligation and a medium to attain moksha. In vedic period it was regarded as a sacrifice, and unless one entered into married life he was supposed to be “one without sacrifice”, a contemptuous remark for Vedic Hindus. Manu points out that “to be mothers were women created and to be fathers men; the Vedas ordain that dharma must be practised by man together with his wife. In the Hindu society in the early period, eight modes of acquiring a wife were referred to, of which four were considered proper and desirable (dharmya) which had the approval of the father/family, and four were regarded as undesirable (adharmya) which did not have the approval of the father. The proper marriages recognised by the Smritis were Brahma, Daiva, Arsha, and Prajapatya while the four undesirable marriages were Asura, Gandharva, Rakshasa, and Paishacha.
The field of marriage among the Hindus is restricted by endogamous and exogamous rules. The endogamous rule of Hindu marriage allows a person to marry only within caste. It does not talk of intercaste marriage on the other hand the rule of exogamy prescribes that a person cannot marry within his own gotra, pravar and sapinda. The gotra exogamy prohibits marriage between members of the same gotra; pravar exogamy prohibits marriage between members of the same praver and the sapind exogamy prohibits marriage between persons related to each other within certain generations on the father’s and mother’s side. In vedic period the bride and the groom were grown up persons, qualified to give consent, but later on the marriageable age of the bride fell lower and lower in the dharma shashtra period. These dharma sutras prescribed that a girl should be married before she attains her puberty.
The later smritis presents five categories of marriageable girls, namely nagnika (explained as naked), gauri (eight years old), rohini (nine years old), kanya (ten years old) and the rajaswala (one who has reached on puberty) and among these nagnika was regarded as the best for marriages. P.H. Prabhu writes, “Most particular care, however, has to be taken to perform the vivah of maidens as soon as they attain the marriageable age. A girl who continues to stay in her father’s home more than three years after attaining puberty is called a vrishala or a shudra i.e. a very low type, and the father or other guardians of such a girl who is not careful enough to give her in marriage in proper time is said to be incurring a great sin”.
During the last few decades the idea of marriage as a sacrament has weaken and the trend of the “personal concept of marriage” is gaining ground. Young people today marry not for performing religious duties but for companionship, and the marital relations are no longer suppose to be unbreakable, as divorce is socially and legally permissible. A democratic country, modern India, has been affected in different aspects, through the process of industrialization and marriage is one among them though not with a revolutionary change.
Traditional India, as has been stated stressed over child marriage with certain limitations, while today parents first provides them education knowing it as essential and then for a suitable spouse the search starts. Traditional pattern of marriage, laid down by dhrmashashtra, followed the restrictions firmly, and people did not allow their children to go against these rules, regulations and limitations. Modern trend has also affected marriage pattern “but it is difficult for them (Hindu parents) to accept the new marriage patterns, which are more appropriate for an industrial than an agricultural society, such as: the right of men and women to chose their own mates the new emphasis on romantic love, and perhaps most difficult of all, the breaking down of cast endogamy”.
The number of such people who believe in the concept that marriage is a sacrament solemnized primarily for the fulfilment of one’s religious and social duties and for the good of the family is decreasing on the other hand, the number of such people who believe that marriage is a social contract which is entered into primarily for the good of the individual and for his or her personal happiness and satisfaction is found to be increasing. This trend of emphasizing the “personal concept of marriage” and weakening the idea of sacrament started from the third decade of the 20th century as is revealed by the studies carried out at that time and is gaining ground among the urban families (Merchant).
In Merchant’s study, on an average, the young educated woman favoured marriage at the age of 19.7 years. In 1959, during the first phase of the author’s study- the majority of the educated working women thought that the most suitable age for a girl to get married was between 20 or 24 years, whereas- the second phase of the same study the corresponding figures were 18 and 22. Ross (1961) found that in her sample, consisting primarily of the educated Brahmin families living in Bangalore, none of the unmarried women wanted to be married before the age of nineteen.
There was a direct relationship in Gore’s study between the education of the respondent and the age of marriage given for boys and girls- the more educated respondents tended to suggest higher ages. The university students in Matthew’s study regarded any age between 22 and 24 as the most suitable for a woman to marry. Ghurye had suggested that the average age of female at marriage should be about 22 years and in the case of male, it should not be above 25 years. the young educated urban women’s expectations from marriage are gaining new dimensions more of these women now expect marriage to meet, not only their basic needs, but also all the other needs of their lives- resolution of their psychological and emotional problems, possession, of husbands, home, and children, companionship, love, sentiments, interests, values, understanding, social life and intellectual. Expectations of satisfaction of their individual needs and of personal happiness from marriage are mounting. Another indication of their multiple expectations from marriage is seen in the analysis of their various desires and aspirations with regard to the type of husband they would like to have. More and more educated women want to have a mate who is economically well placed, educated, intelligent, liberal, affectionate and understanding.
According to the traditional Hindu concept, marriage was an alliance between two families rather than two young people, entered into primarily for the welfare of the family. As such, in traditional Hindu families, marriages of children were arranged by their parents who were morally obliged to find mates for their children who in turn were obliged to accept their parents’ choice. Since marriage was arranged by the families, without or with merely formal consent of the prospective mates, and since their individual interests were subordinate to the family ends, love was not a necessary basis for mate selection.
Love between husband and wife was supposed to be the result of marriage rather than a prelude to it. There was hardly any freedom of choice in the selection of mates. Now the attitude begins to change with regard to the type of marriage and the procedure of mate selection. Yogendra Singh has indicated that in mate selection, the principle of personal choice especially in urban families is today increasingly reconciled with parents’ approval. The number of love marriages and marriages by choice are increasing.
Margaret Cormack’s study in 1959 of 500 students from different states and the union territory of Delhi revealed that in 92% cases, ego’s parents’ marriage was arranged by their parents while only in 8% cases it was a self arranged marriage. Since last three to four decades, however, we find that parents have stated consulting their children in mate selection. Initially they consulted only sons but later on even daughters also came to be consulted. It could thus be said that change in the process of mate selection is from ‘parental’ to ‘joint selection’. Children do not want complete freedom of selecting the partners by themselves. They want that parents and children should jointly select the partners.
B.V. Shah’s study (1964) of 200 students of Baroda University showed that 66.5% students wanted to select their brides in consultation with their parents, 32.5% wanted to give more importance to their own voice and only 1.0% percent would go exclusively by parents’ choice. In Gore’s study of the Aggarwal families of Delhi, who were supposed to be quite orthodox and traditional, 42% of the respondents were found to hold the view that while marriage should be arranged by the elders, the parties to the marriage should also be consulted. His data clearly bring out a relationship between the levels education and the preference for consultation of the boy and girl in the choice of spouse in arranging the marriage – the more educated a woman is, the more likely she is to consider it important that the boy or girl concerned be consulted regarding marriage.
In the Kapur’s study of “the changing attitudes of the educated working women”, it was found that even within ten years- the time after which the author had studied the attitudes again- the number of such women who preferred arranged marriage but the whole hearted consent of the marriage partners had increased. At the same time, the number of those women who preferred love marriage with the whole hearted consent of the parents had also increased. Educated working women were found, in increasing numbers, to disapprove of “purely arranged marriages”, as well as of “purely love marriages”. More of them are now approving of the “Modern type of arranged marriages” and the “rational type of love marriages”.
The study shows their increasing preference for a sort of quasi-traditional kind of marriage and mate selection where the willing consent of the prospective marriage partners and parents is considered desirable, weather the marriage is “arranged or love”. The traditional Hindu marriage pattern is endogamous, involving persons of the same cast or subcast, the same province, and the same religion. The attitudes of the people are changing in this respect, and more and more of them are now approving of, and entering into, inter-cast, inter-provincial and even inter-faith marriages.
Kapadia in his study of 513 university graduates in early 1950s found that 51% were willing to marry their children outside their own cast. And only one-third were against this departure from the custom. Narmadeshwar Prasad in his study in Bihar in 1954 found the favourable tendency towards inter-cast marriage in the rural as well as in the urban industrial areas. He studied five casts-Brahmin, Rajput, Ahir, Dhobi and Chamar- and found that higher casts-brahmin and rajput- in the rural areas did not like this idea but in the urban industrial area, 85% people in each cast were in favour of intercast marriage. Ghuriye also maintained that whereas formerly marriage outside one’s cast was not to be even thought of, today many educated young men and women are prepared to break through the bonds of cast if mutual love and attraction demands it. Marriage in the traditional Hindu society regarded essentially as dharmic (religious), is gradually becoming secularized in the modern era.
The trend is towards making it consensual. Till the middle of the 1950s the Hindu law did not permit divorce, it was nearly five decades ago that our law-makers swung Hindu society from the rigidly reactionary position of “sacramental marriage” to the acutely modern notion of “divorce by mutual consent. Kapadia in his study of 240 graduate teachers in 1951 found that about 50% of his respondents considered divorce desirable, about 25% considered it undesirable, and 17% described it as harmful and undesirable. Kuppuswamy, in his study of 895 persons in South India found that there is more or less uniform response in favour of divorce irrespective of the age, sex, rural or urban residence, or literacy of the respondents.
In Hindu tradition in all times widow remarriages have never been given due recognition and are mostly snarled at as such marriages lack their sacramental character. Manu has stressed “A true wife must preserve her chastity as much after as before her husband’s death”. Vatsyayana is of the view that having sex relations with a widow is akin to prostitution. This pitiable situation is further re-in forced when Manu and Yajnavlkya pointed out that a widow should not mention even the name of another man after her husband’s death. Thus widow remarriage was strictly prohibited in ancient time. At present attitudes towards widow remarriage is gradually changing. Gore, in his study has found that “widow remarriage is an area where most respondents seem willing to break with tradition in permitting a widow to remarry”.
With the advent of modernization, industrialization and urbanization, traditional outlook took a backseat in the society. Traditional marriage is now considered as a loss of individuality, loss of privacy, lack of freedom, lack of individual growth, lack of social and sexual variety, dissatisfaction with spouse, sexual frustration, problem with in-laws etc. All these factors have lead to a change in the form and purposes of marriage. At present the new trend of live-in-relationship is emerging in urban Indian society. Live-in-relationship or cohabitation is an arrangement where two people, who are not married, live together in an intimate relationship, particularly an emotionally or sexually intimate one, on a long term or permanent basis. Today individuals have become career oriented. Women are going out for work. This is preventing them to go into the bonds of married life that is full of responsibility. Economic independence of people in urban society also paves way to live-in relations as these people don’t want interference in their personal life. These days’ young men and women are getting opportunity to know and spend time with each other. This enhances the chances of getting into live-in relationship.
Many people believe that live-in relationship is a good way to test their relationship before marriage. Besides there are many other alternative forms of marriages are emerging as- the intrinsic marriage, utilitarian marriage, open marriage, two step marriage/multi step marriage, temporary marriage, group marriage, consensual marriage, covenant marriage, commuter marriage, swinging and sexually open marriage. If an analysis is made of need of such relationship, avoiding responsibility would emerge as the prime reason. The lack of commitment, the disrespect for social bonds and the zero tolerance power in relationship have given rise to find these various alternatives to marriage. The processes of educational and urban development have, no doubt, created new situations and problems and have upset certain traditional mores and values. Yet the marriage institution continues to be the core of Indian society and has not experienced a general disintegration.
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3. Westermark, E., “The Future of Marriage in Western Civilization”, London, Macmillan, 1936.
4. Gough, E. Kathleen, “The Nayars and the Definition of Marriage” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 1959, Vol-89, P 23-34.
5. Rivere, P.G., “Marriage:A Reassessment In Rodney Needham”, (Ed) Rethinking Anthropology, Tavistock Publications, London, 1971, P 66.
6. Murdock, G.P., “Social Structure”, Collier Macmillan, New York, 1949, P 8.
7. Prabhu, P.N., “Hindu Social Organization”, Popular Prakashan, Bombay 1961, P 148-149.
8. Pandya, P.H., (Ed) Manusmriti, 1913, IX, 25, As Quoted By Prabhu, Ibid P 149.
9. Kapadia, K.M., “Marriage and Family In India”, Oxford University Press, Bombay, 1966, P 168.
10. Karve, Irawati, “Kinship Organization in India”, Poona Decan College Post Graduate And Research Institute Monograph, 1965.