NEW DELHI: The cabinet Thursday approved an amendment to the Hindu Marriage Act to make irretrievable breakdown of marriage an additional ground for divorce.
"This would provide safeguards to parties who file petitions for grant of divorce by mutual consent but who wilfully avoid coming to court thus causing harassment to the other party," Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters after a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
She said the amendment would be effected through the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010 which would be tabled in parliament.
Historic data suggests that India had the lowest divorce rates in the world 1.1% (11 in every 1,000), significantly lower than countries with 50% divorce rates. (Sadly, the CIA Worldbook also cited the infant mortality rate of India as 64.9 deaths/1,000 live births as opposed to 6.76 deaths/1,000 live births in US.)
Years ago, I saw two donkeys tied at their feet. I couldn't imagine how they grazed and how the waywardness of one couldn't effect the other. I was young, but resolute enough to pledge that I'll never let myself be in a relation like that.
The divorce rates of India have been misleading, and is no indication of loyalty or sublime love. Women have taken abuse from their spouse and in-laws, dowry deaths have abounded. The National Crime Bureau of India reported more than 6,000 dowry deaths each year. Those were the 'reported' cases, and if you consider the fear of 'police' and accompanying harassment among the common man, I don't want to imagine more realistic figures. What an irony in the land where the ancient worshiped the feminine force,'Shakti' as deities! Personally, I'd prefer a higher divorce rate than a dowry death rate, if they are considered mutually exclusive events.
Most empowered women of today would refuse to be victimized owing to financial dependence, or 'for the children' clause. Interestingly, nowadays, women with fat paychecks seem more marketable than the traditional 'slim, fair/very fair, beautiful' criteria in the classified ads. And the men do not want separation from their golden goose.
Today, women have more options and exposure on the dating front. It teaches you to be realistic about your expectations, but also has a downside. It makes you think - you don't need to take s*** from someone. Of course, you don't. But there will be times when you both will think - this is not working. Maybe you will want to stay away from each other. But you can always give it another shot.
I am not talking of 'irretrievable breakdown' or irresolvable differences. It is the ability to reconcile differences, having the desire to have a resilient relationship. Bad things will happen. But I think of divorce as a sad event. Maybe because I romanticize about weddings, still believing the fairy tale endings: '.. and they lived happily ever after.' The happily ever after is not the end, it is the beginning. It is not a state, it is a process.
The enabled don't care about the social stigma attached to the word 'Divorced'. Separation is not necessarily a bad thing. It is a chance to begin life afresh. It is good to see the Indian Government taking initiatives to make the law more relevant to the contemporary social context. There should always be a choice.
Your relation, or the social approval called marriage is in your own hands. However, if you can't work things out now, there is no guarantee you can with someone else. No one is perfect. Not even you.
A tale of two donkeys