The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Nov 3, 2008


The other day, Guru and I, ambling along Connaught Place, were accosted by an eager young woman who announced that she worked for Lok Sabha TV, and wondered if we would be willing to spare five minutes on an issue of burning national importance. As we were in no particular rush, we agreed. Or, rather, Guru volunteered me.

"We'd like your opinion on live-in relationships," said the young woman. "Do you approve of them?"

"We are not in a live-in a relationship," said Guru.

The reported either didn't understand the joke, or she chose to ignore it. The cameraman hefted his camera, aimed it at me, and the reported stuck her mike in my face.

"Umm, I have no problems with live-in relationships," I said.

"Now that the government has legalised it, what do you think are the social effects?"

Here I was a bit nonplussed. I couldn't see that live-in relationships had ever been illegal in India. So what exactly were they legalising? But a policy wonk like me doesn't like to appear ignorant, and I do like to talk, especially on TV. I waffled a bit about social engineering and so on, and how laws, unless enforced properly, scarcely affect society. Look at dowry and all that, I said, getting into my stride, waving my arms about in an animated fashion.

"Will it end the exploitation of women?" said the young woman.

I delved into asymmetric economics, the dissonance between brawn and brain, and relative purchasing power.

"In short," I said, winningly, "No."

The woman was visibly wilting.

"Thank you," she said, in a slightly frosty tone.

We left.

It now appears that the legalisation was not of live-in relationships at all. Instead, rights are to be granted to women in live-in relationships of a reasonable duration that will equate them to married women, when the relationship breaks down. A sort of common-law divorce equivalent. Also it's not the federal government that has issued the legislation - rather, it's the government of Maharashtra. India Today has an article on this in its latest issue. Check it out. The Guardian also had a mention earlier this month.


Nikhil Narayanan said...

This Maharastra govt. soon to become lawis quoted in national media as something that is going to national implications.
Hey! But people do Live-in anyways?And I haven't seen law enforcers arresting them!
This has to do with only wife-status for the live-in partner.Trivial,I would say as a news maker item.
Just creating news for the sake of it.

Anonymous said...

ലോകമെമ്പാടുമുള്ള 1000കണക്കിന്‌ മലയാളീകളെ കണ്ടെടുക്കുക

നിങ്ങള്‍ ആഗ്രഹിക്കുന്നുവെങ്കില്‍ നമുക്ക് ഒന്നായി ചേര്‍ന്ന് ഒറ്റ സമൂഹമായി ഒരു കുടക്കീഴില്‍ അണിചേര്‍ന്നിടാം. നിങ്ങളുടെ ചിന്തകളും വികാരങ്ങളും പരസ്പരം പങ്കു വയ്ക്കാന്‍ ആഗ്രഹിക്കുന്നുവോ ? ദയവായി ഇവിടെ ക്ലിക് ചെയ്യുക

ഇതിന്‌ ഒപ്പമായി മലയാളീകളുടെ കൂട്ടായ്മയും ഇവിടെ വീക്ഷിക്കാം

Fëanor said...

Well, giving rights to live-in partners equivalent to those of wives is a progressive idea, although, once again, I wonder how it will be enforced, and what equivalent rights will men have, and so on...

C K said...

I'm not quite sure whether there should be a difference in the rights awarded to live-in partners and whether it should be any different from a legal spouse.

At the end of the day, the difference between living-in and marriage is just that piece of marriage certificate (with all that legal implication of course).

That said, many view the marriage as an act of commitment by both parties. But we do see many marriages breaking down after a relative short period of time. So where is the commitment?

In Singapore where many public policies aim to provide incentives to married couples, many chose to get hitched for the wrong reasons. So should we really discriminate living-in relationships?

I think not. But then again, that's my 2 pennies worth, which is worth pitifully little nowadays. :)

cris said...

hmm I dont see how a live-in could stop exploitation of women in any case. I mean, marriage didnt.

Fëanor said...

CK, Cris: The legislation is aimed at providing the same rights to property and maintenance to a woman in a live-in relationship as to a wife, if the relationship breaks down. The idea is to provide equivalence between wives and live-in girlfriends, if I understand it at all. I agree, it has little effect on exploitation.

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