India Insight

An easier end to unhappy marriages in India?

India’s cabinet this week cleared a proposal to amend the Hindu Marriage Act to allow “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” as a ground for divorce.

Hindu brides sit during a mass wedding ceremony in Noida December 26, 2009. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/FilesThe amendment had been resisted earlier and been pending for nearly three decades now. Other grounds for divorce, which can take anywhere from six months to 20 years, include cruelty, desertion and adultery.

The amendment, if approved by parliament, will make divorce easier for estranged couples, experts say, particularly in cases where a partner is deliberately delaying proceedings. Even family courts are notoriously ineffective and insensitive when it comes to separation, with judges often admonishing the woman to be more “adjusting” or offering advice thinly disguised as rulings.

The proposed amendment gives women, who are sometimes forced into marriage, an easier way to end an unhappy marriage and provides some safeguards against harassment.

Some counsellors have warned against making divorce too easy, lest couples do not even attempt to reconcile differences.

Attacks on Indians in Australia: racist or recessionist?

A spate of attacks on Indian students in Melbourne and Sydney has seen the Indian media accuse Australia of being a racist nation.

Newspaper articles warning of a culture of “curry bashings” in Australia have sparked off debate and people around the world have spoken out against the attacks in online forums.

Some insist the majority of attacks may have been purely criminal.

As an Indian studying in the U.S. for the past three years, I am yet to come across any instance of Indians being targeted on the basis of their race.

India’s Gujjar mess underlines problem of relying on quotas

There is no doubt that India is a deeply unequal society, that people at the bottom of the pile face discrimination, and struggle for the opportunities they need to raise themselves up. But is the answer caste- or tribe-based quotas in government jobs and universities?

Members of the Gujjar community beat a burning effigy of Rajasthan’s Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje during a protest in Bikaner district of India’s desert state of Rajasthan May 28, 2008. REUTERS/Vinay Joshi (INDIA)This week, the debate is back in the headlines, as the Gujjar community takes to the streets again, blockading India’s capital to reinforce their demand for more quota-based jobs . Nearly 40 people have been killed in the latest violence, most shot dead by police.

I am not qualified to say whether quotas are right or wrong.

On the one hand, they reinforce caste identity and rivalry and seem to fly in the face of a secular India. On the other, they can be a useful tool in forcing an end to discrimination and giving people a leg up.

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