India Insight

What’s love got to do with caste, class or countries?

April 3, 2010

Love and marriage have always been subjected to societal norms in most communities and this is especially true in India with its myriad structures of caste, class and a historical rich-poor divide.

A couple chats on Valentine's Day in Bhopal February 14, 2005. REUTERS/Raj Patidar/FilesThe recent media glare on honour killings in northern India put the spotlight on the traditional system of local “khap” councils, who do not allow persons from the same sub-caste or lineage to marry.

Sometimes even marriage between two consenting adults from different gotras (clan or lineage) is banned if they are from the same village, and the diktat of the khaps can lead to ostracism and banishment to even honour killings.

Proponents of the ancient tradition maintain the issue is not simply black and white as a lot of factors are in play including maintaining honour, a balanced social structure, brotherhood of gotras, apart from historical opposition to inter-caste and inter-religious unions.

But frequent reports related to the khaps in recent times could mean that more and more people are defying tradition to be with the ones they love, even at the cost of their lives.

This presents the dilemma of a large population of youth with global aspirations living in a country still deeply entrenched in tradition.

The government plans to toughen laws to punish errant khap members but rural panchayats say they will continue settling disputes in villages.

So is the issue a battle between tradition and modernity?

Should young men and women keep with tradition and avoid the romantic angst that youth brings with it? Or should they break from set norms in their pursuit for happiness?

India’s tennis darling Sania Mirza had this to say when she was asked about her impending marriage to cricketer Shoaib Malik of Pakistan, India’s traditional enemy: “I am going be more worried about how my hair is going to be, rather than the Pakistan political issues.”

Maybe it should be just about the hair and make-up, and how the couples are going to spend their lives together — and not about caste, class or countries.

Comments
5 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

The issue is between the rule of law and those who are yet to face up to the fact that India has a constitution now.

Posted by VipulTripathi | Report as abusive
 

Normally it shouldn’t matter. but shoiab has thanked muslims to support his cricket and his team disregarding muslims live elsewhere other than pakistan and disregarding non mulslims living in pakistan. So, shoaib is a bad example for making the point that love is beyong country and religion. one has to see this marriage after 10 years and see how it works. it can go mohsin khan way or imran khan way. you never know. already this marriage has other serious controversies. nationality is least of it. author has carefully avoided that and made nationality the central issue.

Posted by nakuppai | Report as abusive
 

It is a personal matter of choosing a life partner but are not citizens responsible for their country? From the whole world u cud find a guy of enemy camp only? One doesn’t feel obligated abt the country which gives you in so many ways directly or indirectly? When is the pay-back period ? Am I sounding too patriotic! Yeah, Hair & make-up is more important & priority :(

Posted by gagrin | Report as abusive
 

Love who will make you happy in life…pretty simple

Posted by Storyburn_com | Report as abusive
 

Keep stirring the pot and sooner or later this is likely to become a regime change job for the USA, or France. You know, as in bringing them FreedomĀ©?

Posted by HBC | Report as abusive
 

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