Saturday, November 14

An Israeli looks at India

Let me put this up right up ahead. A uniform civil law is a must in any land. I would say that it forms the basis of nationhood. This does not mean that it tramples over individual rights, far from it. Individual rights are sacrosanct but civil laws come into the picture when another person gets impacted by what your circumstances and actions. Talking about inheritance, adoption, marriage, divorce and the like. This has to have national applicability. You can get married under a tree, in front of a bus or in a church, does not matter. But if your marriage has to be dissolved, then other things being equal, the property division between you and your wife should not be impacted by where you got married, who married you and which deity you prayed to at that time. If you want to create a nation and a shared values society, then this kind of equality of treatment is important.

I have written many times on this topic here. This is specially evident when it comes to minorities. Yes, I understand that there is a problem with the tyranny of the majority, but that’s where your nationhood comes from. Every country and nation has to decide what their minimum common rules should be. If you want to live in a liberal democracy, then minimum common civil laws will apply. And when you dont, then problems occur, like with the Baha'i in Egypt, the Arabs in Israel, the Hindu’s and Christians in Pakistan, the Muslims in India, etc.

This paper by an Israeli academic was interesting. First the abstract:

This article focuses on the ambivalent effect of religious autonomy in India and the outcome for democracy in the country. The Indian constitution guarantees autonomy to its religious minorities, and promises the minorities the freedom independently to manage their religious affairs in addition to a proportional share of the budget. At the same time, the constitution emphasizes the aspiration to legislate 'uniform personal laws' for all the citizens of India in accordance with the principles of secularism, equality and with India's self-definition as a civic nation. This recommendation has however remained a 'dead letter' until today. In this domain, the state has constituted a civic law for Hindus, which adjusts Hinduism to democratic principles. In this sense, the state has nationalized Hinduism, and the government has assumed authority and reformed Hindu civic and marriage laws. However, although they have tried, the state's legal and political institutions have not interfered thus far with Muslim marriage and religious laws. Muslims are committed to the Sharia while Hindus must obey the state's civic laws. By avoiding enforcement of affirmative action for Muslims in the spheres of political representation or public employment, while simultaneously prohibiting Hindus' group rights, and providing religious autonomy to the Muslim minority, the Constitution, which stresses so-called secularism as well as minority protection, intensifies the conflict between these two governance principles. The conclusion is that this situation not only leads to ideological conflicts and resource competition but also, overall, threatens the stability of India's democracy.

This Shah Bano case was a blot on Indian democracy as it made sure that it hit the worst, the Muslim Woman, right in the solar plexus. All religions are patriarchal and there are many items in the Indian version of Islam which are decidedly anti women. And then the Indian state went and slept with the obscurantists and mullahs. See the wiki site mentioned above. This lack of a uniform civil code direction by the politicians is venal but judicial attempts have tried to make sure that the patriarchal stupidity and pandering to religious obscurantists is obviated to a certain degree.

Its the women who get hit all the time as usual.

No comments: