India after Gandhi

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I am reading this book and it is really making me think.

It took Nehru and Ambedkar 5 years to get the Hindu code bill passed as law. Relevance of the bill? It had 2 major clauses:

– Women will get 50% share in their parents’ property. Earlier, only sons had right to this.

– Polygamy is a crime. Yes… unbelievable but there was a time when it was ok for men to be polygamous. And no, the same right was not extended to the woman

– Divorce was allowed under the law

Nehru and Ambedkar had a hard time passing the above as law. Apparently, a lot of politicians argued that the shastras do not allow for this. There is a shastra which mentions that it is ok for a man to have another wife if she is cruel/cannot have a baby/ and similar stupid reasons. I won’t get into details of WHY it was only a Hindu code and not applicable to all other religions. Please read the book for that.

In fact, N and A could not get the bill passed initially and since elections were looming N decided to step back. This frustrated A and he decided to stay away from the matter. Also, his failing health added to the disillusionment. When N won with a huge margin he ensured the bill was passed.

Imagine.. if it wasn’t for Nehru we would all be in a purdah and having sex with men we do not like. I talk about equality all the time and call myself a feminist but it is a hard won battle. There are people who are responsible for our freedom… not just in India but across the world. C’mon… women were not allowed to vote in USA…

It is sad that there is not one male/female politician who can truly be called ‘modern’ and ‘secular’. Throughout the book it is clearly mentioned that Nehru/Gandhi/Vallabhai etc all wanted a ‘secular’ country. Every policy/decision was made keeping that in mind. Its sad to see the country divided on religious lines today and not just by old, conservative people but also educated, rich, young people.

 


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