Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Americanized Manu-Smriti in India's property system

Americanized Manu-Smriti is a legal system where Heads-- the wife wins and Tails – the husband loses. Simply put this is a system of cherry picking western marital laws and implementing them in India just for the benefit of wives. A recent article in the Telegraph attempts to cherry pick American laws and then apply them in India after removing the gender neutrality of these laws in the United States.What this means is that in India these laws can be used only by the wife against the husband and not the other way around like they can be in America.Just like Indian McDonalds stores remove the beef patties and Indianize the dishes with chicken tikka patties , Indian feminists want to import the american laws and make them one sided so that they can be used by Indian wives against Indian husbands and never the other way around.

You keep only what you earn

The article starts of by saying that “traditional” Indian women are brought up thinking that the Husbands house is her own. Why is a woman is not taught in India that whatever she earns with the sweat of her brow is only hers to keep. She has no rights on whatever ever her husband makes unless she has made a significant enough contribution to the marriage through an extended period of time. Why is a woman brought up thinking she can like only live like a parasite on the husband ? Who is responsible for planting such non sensible teachings in the minds of innocent girls. It is the parents of the child . This tactic has been has been used for generations by parents of daughters just to absolve and deny them right in their paternal property.This argument has also been used by Indian courts and Indian wives for decades when they claim maintenance from husbands in courts. This argument works for the wife , her parents and also for the feminists. The Husband in India is expected to bear the burden of the wife after marriage in every way while her parents who have given birth to the girl child can wash their hands off. In India the wife herself is not expected to taker even her own burden and law states that she has to be carried around for the rest of her life by her husband. The interesting thing to note here is that the right of the wife is limited only to the husbands property and credit but not his debit. The wife will legally have right into the money, property and credit of the husband while she has no responsibility to bear completely or even a part of his debt. These laws worked about 100 years earlier when women were uneducated and child marriages were common. ManuSmriti was followed by both the husband and wife alike. Circa 2009 when Rs 75 Billion is spent annually on women in India , females have a higher life expectancy than males on the average and the suicide rate of husband is twice that of wife’s these laws of ManuSmriti have little meaning .

With the rising divorce rates in the country and the phenomenal abuse of the Marital laws (close to 98%) how “traditional” the modern wives are is left to the imagination of the reader.

When should a wife have a right to matrimonial property ?

The wife must always be entitled to property from her father as a matter of right and from her husband depending on her status of contribution to the marriage and length of the marriage. The Feminists however have a one sided opinion. In the Article they speak about the wife’s rights in the property of the husband. How about implementing the idea that the father of the girl must give half his property to his daughter and when the daughter is married the husband will also have 50% right in the property of the husband.

However the feminists are concerned about only one sided flow of money and property, so whatever the wife has is her sole right( that her Streedhan) , what ever the husband has is also her right( that’s patnidhan) . The father of the wife of course has no legal binding to give half his property to his daughter , so he walks away a free bird while the husbands starts to bears the burden. Also when should a wife have right to a husband’s property also remains a question to be answered. The wife must prove that her contribution and efforts in the marriage has been significant enough for her to demand a share in the property of the husband .

Comparing India’s laws with the west

When feminists compare Indian laws with the west and demand the implementation of laws in western countries in India after making them one sided , that’s when creation of American Manu-Smriti starts.

The article compares the laws in Texas and other American states. However the Feminists do not state that in the state of Texas a wife can qualify for any Alimony only after she has lived with the husband for a period of 10 years. In India women qualify for alimony and maintenance after being married for just 10 days. How about importing this law in its totality and applying it to India so that women know that Alimony is not Free lunch , it has to be earned after contributing 10 years into the marriage.

What about the husband’s rights ?

More and more women are now entering the workforce and buying and investing in property and in the US property laws work both ways and if they are created in India they must be created in the same way. If the husband has paid a significant amount towards buying the property and the wife wants a share in it she must be made to buy her share in it . In the same way a wife should not be able to throw her husband out of the property that she has acquired or inherited from her father.

The article fails to achieve gender neutrality and depicts women as an object whom her biological family dumps as a burden on her without giving her any rights into their property and husband is then made to follow Manusmriti on one side by being completely responsible for taking care of the wife and also follow American laws when the marriage breaks down and giver her half of his hard earned property.


  1. Arnab,
    Excellent.Not only it is very informative but you were also very very practical. You have raised very very significant issues.To quote only a few,
    "the right of the wife is limited only to the husbands property and credit but not his debit."
    " the state of Texas a wife can qualify for any Alimony only after she has lived with the husband for a period of 10 years. In India women qualify for alimony and maintenance after being married for just 10 days."

    The Govt. needs to be educated and impressed not to frame discriminatory laws to give free licence to the unscrupulous women (and their families) to cause damage to the established and accepted norms and practices of a matrimonial relationship / man-woman

    I have no doubt in my mind that if the Molestation law is made cognizable and non-bailable, it will cause more havoc in the society and will beat all track records of misuse of 498A IPC by the unscrupulous women.

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