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Updated: May 26, 2012 18:40 IST

The other half : Unequal unions

Kalpana Sharma
Comment (59)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Taking the plunge: Wishes fulfilled? AFP PHOTO
Taking the plunge: Wishes fulfilled? AFP PHOTO

Why should women obliterate their personalities, their lives, once they get married?

Last week, a young man, 24 years old and a graduate, introduced me to his new bride. He comes from a tradition-bound Maharashtrian family. The couple had completed their round of temples in the city. And I was told that after a month, the bride, a girl born and brought up in Mumbai like the bridegroom, would be dispatched to a village in the Konkan to help his mother with the housework.

The young man introduced his wife as Tapasya. I asked the young woman her name. She said it was Usha. “But ‘they' have changed my name”, she said. And both seemed to accept this unquestioningly. As if it was the most natural thing to do. So the girl loses not just her last name but also her first name. In other words, she becomes a new person, apparently with no connection with her past.

This name-changing custom, followed only in some parts of India, is at the extreme end of the continuum that ordains that a woman's identity and independence ends the day she takes her marital vows.

The change of name might seem a minor issue. But it is what it represents that needs to be questioned. Why? We need to ask that. Is it essential? Will it make a difference to the quality of the marriage? Will it make a difference to the lives of the young people entering into matrimony? And why only the girl? Perhaps both ought to change their names so that they start their lives on a completely clean slate!

First in France

A stark contrast is France where the new woman in the Presidential Palace in France, is the first unmarried woman to live there alongside the man elected as President. On May 6, France voted in Francois Hollande of the Socialist Party as President. With him came his “First Lady”, Valerie Trierweiler. The two are not married and as of now have no plans to do so.

Ms. Trierweiler has been married twice, divorced twice and has three children. Mr. Hollande has four children from a previous relationship. And the French do not think this relationship is worth even a comment.

What is interesting about this is not just the non-marital arrangement. Or the ease with which the French seem to accept it, but the fact that Ms. Trierweiler, a 47-year-old political journalist with two decades of experience, has chosen to continue in her profession. She says she has no plans to be financially dependent on her live-in partner. “I haven't been raised to serve a husband. I built my entire life on the idea of independence,” she is quoted as saying in the New York Times.

The idea here is not to advocate an end to the institution of marriage or to debate whether live-in relationships are ideal. But the example of the independent Ms. Trierweiler is interesting not just because she is with the President of France, but because their relationship and her attitude towards it highlights an important question on women and marriage.

Is it essential for a woman to obliterate her personality, her life, once she gets married, or when she enters into a publicly-acknowledged relationship with a man? Does she not have the right to remain her own person?

Is there something sacrosanct about women subsuming their lives in that of the men they marry or live with?

Surely this is one of the reasons girls count for so little in our society.

In India, we are not encouraged to ask such questions. In fact, questioning in general about anything is actively discouraged. Children are firmly told not to be pesky if they question. Girls are put in their place if they do — or called “Maoists” as a Kolkata student was branded by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a recent television talk show.

In our educational institutions, “note-taking” is the norm, not argument and questioning. As a result, there are scores of so-called customs that continue unquestioned by most people except a few who are inevitably called “rebels”. But women's status within marriage is most certainly an issue that needs constant questioning.

Expected sacrifices

Some of this is changing as more girls get educated and follow careers. Many customs have been questioned and have been modified. Yet, the expectation that the woman will automatically and willingly “sacrifice” her independence, her career, her personality, and even her given name at the altar of marriage somehow remains sacrosanct.

What is even more perplexing is how, despite a so-called “modern” education, the majority of girls continue to accept without question that their years of freedom, or independence, are limited to the time they get married.

Some edifices are too solid, too difficult to bring down. But perhaps we can begin by training our young people to ask: Why?

sharma.kalpana@yahoo.com

This article very much outdated.Gender inequality is a much long debated topic..Everything has got positive and negative points.So in this article the affirmative elements would be focus on the women position and and highlighting the need to question traditional norms which the author has pinpointed through the example of changing the name of a bride after marriage. But on the contrary, isn't the author is standing on a problematic situation when its comes to question of women liberation ? I felt so because women are expected to behave in certain ways and make choices which she has to make are already predesigned by the society.Now if we take this into account then the author is negotiating her way to the conclusion with a very limited perspective.Because here also women are "expected" to make choices which is against the traditional norms.But why cant be it left to women what step makes her happy? I support the author's views but don't have intention of imposing it on others.

from:  pallavi dutta
Posted on: Jun 13, 2012 at 08:32 IST

I Don't think it's creating a problems in girl's life after marriage. Its just changing the surname , It's the custom following from many years, We can't Question that, that too after these many years. Girl's Independence is depends on the behavior of her husband , not on her name, VICE VERSA

from:  Kiran Kumar Kotagiri
Posted on: Jun 12, 2012 at 06:52 IST

I completely agree with the author, INCLUDING her comparison to the French (after all we are all human beings living in the same world).

It is not very shocking to see that most men have commented against the views expressed by the author. So if they are so much in agreement with all Indian traditions and customs, of all responsibilities women should take up, I have only one question to them - 'Would they be willing to interchange roles?'

I challenge them to lead a woman's life for a day and then come back and advise how correct our current societal stance towards them is.

The truth is Indian women are EXPECTED to adjust in EVERY possible way after marriage whereas men go scott free. If anyone denies this, they definitely need to get out of their shells and get some sunlight!

from:  Sharma
Posted on: Jun 4, 2012 at 15:55 IST

I believe that by just changing your name does not change your identity or the real you, who you are. But the wishes of bride should be asked that whether she would like her name to be changed or not. Such traditions should not be imposed. Because it is difficult for someone to give away her name with which she has been living for more that 18 years.

from:  Manya
Posted on: Jun 3, 2012 at 23:33 IST

@Venkat - your comments are reflective of the attitude many people have even now. that the old system worked. maybe it worked in your house because your father also respected your mother. that doesn't happen everywhere. just because something WORKED in your family doesn't make it universal. get some information on the abusive marriages many women live through. and why is independence BS for you? hard to deal with a woman who can stand up for herself?

from:  nitya
Posted on: Jun 2, 2012 at 02:47 IST

I completely agree with the author and am an example of that too. I am just introduced to my in-laws and they started commenting on my name saying it is too big to call. At the initial stage I was taking it lightly and just concentrating on my own business, but now I can really forsee that they are trying to manipulate everything of me like my name. I have decided not to change my surname and all the other habits of me because I am a 28 years old human being and I have all the rights to be myself.

from:  Nibedita Nandan
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 21:42 IST

What happens in the West cannot be done here in our country and therefore the comparison of the French President and his live-in partner Valerie is not in order. Both men and women in the western countries do not think that the institution of marriage is a must. They can live together so long as they want and go their own separate ways when they find that the relationship cannot continue anymore. The women can always work and support themselves and the children also. Where the going is difficult the government comes to the rescue of the hapless women and are taken care of. But such a situation is not existing here in India and the girls once married off have to live with their husbands. If they choose to go in for divorce it is upto them. But they cannot expect the government to help them in times of need. Besides women when divorced or choose to live separately until the court settles the matter have to face the social stigma and the children have to suffer the consequences.

from:  A.Michael Dhanaraj
Posted on: May 29, 2012 at 12:47 IST

I would prefer to say that you didn't know how to express a issue that you want to address.

Actually, you wanted to encourage the young minds to ask questions on the customs and understand why they do so. For that you started the topic on the lifestyle of a women after marriage in India and ended with saying that french prime minister is leading a living together life style.

To say, that young generation should be allowed to ask questions and should understand what they are doing, i don't think, it is necessary to specify about prime minister of France.

You could have used some good samples that are available in India itself rather than following a western culture which is turning towards our Indian culture.

Appreciate your effort. But, please do not touch two different ends, if you are not able to relate them correctly.

from:  GnanaPrakash.Sa
Posted on: May 28, 2012 at 15:22 IST

If the quality of marriage is not in any way changed,there is no need to be worried over the name-change. I am not trivializing the name-change. So long as the girl is well-treated and respected in the in-laws family,there is nothing to complain.

from:  G.Narayanaswamy
Posted on: May 28, 2012 at 12:44 IST

It is surprising that they change the first name of the girl on marriage!What was the name given in marriage invitation? Both the names? Stupid custom and should be changed without a murmur by those concerned. Are the girls uneducated? Are the parents fools? If they don't change all such stupid customs the community will not progress!Elders of the community should think and act. It is not difficult and no one will raise an eye brow over this!

from:  Rajendran
Posted on: May 28, 2012 at 09:26 IST

The woman's plight in most societies has been pitiable from time immemorial. And every time a part of it is pin-pointed there is so
much hue and cry from parts of the society, especially males. Words
like "freedom, self, career, power, will", if associated with the
woman is seen as a threat to the very foundation of the society. Such
a woman is branded a bad mother, a bad daughter-in-law, a bad wife
etc. It is a shame! It is the mentality of a society which wrongly
insists that a woman is always a mother (she belongs to the child),
daughter-in-law(she belongs to the parents-in-law), or a wife(she
belongs to the husband). Take a break people! Why can't the woman
exist for herself? Let her decide her life, name or career. Let a
woman live her life as she wishes. Why are norms different for women?
She is human too. Anyone please tell me what makes man more important
than woman?

from:  Gokul Suresh
Posted on: May 28, 2012 at 01:48 IST

To all people objecting to the use of the French President as an example: There is atleast one Indian person reading this who admires their openness, their absence of unnecessary tradition.
I wish I was French.

from:  Rohan Choukkar
Posted on: May 28, 2012 at 01:02 IST

The comparison between India and France is NOT inappropriate because the French have shown an exceptional ability to shed 'conservative' cultural aspects. In terms of women's freedom and sexuality they are more liberal than many of the western countries as well.
All cultures were more conservative and male dominated at some point (the Victorian Era in Britian for instance). The question that begs to be answered is for how long will a society choose to remain conservative, male dominated and for how long it will keep female independence and sexuality a taboo.

from:  Aditi Misra
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 20:55 IST

Kalpana, "But it is what it represents that needs to be questioned. Why? We need to ask that." - It is not meant to insult or degrade the bride. Why did you not continue looking for answers after you talked to Tapasya. Can you try to find the root cause and reasons? Is it essential? - only in some cases, which is why you don't see it as a norm but as an exception. It is not the only way but easy one as it might take some extra effort on part of the the couple to achieve the same benefits or just go through troubles. Will it make a difference to the quality of the marriage? - They would change the name of the bride only if it is going to make a different to the quality of marriage. Will it make a difference to the lives of the young people entering into matrimony? - Yes. it makes a difference and may include immediate family(irrespective of being in nuclear or joint family) and family's financial well being. And why only the girl? - May be because it happens in patriarchal mindset.

from:  Kumar
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 20:07 IST

I can't believe! why women have to sacrifice, to change her name, last name? I have not changed my name/last name after marriage, if someone ask me about it, my proud answer is: Identity Intact

from:  Hetal
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 17:54 IST

The use of French (Western) attitudes to morality as a device in this article is unfortunate and irrelevant. I completely agree with the author that traditional Indian values weigh heavily against the girl in any marriage. I have witnessed it first hand in my childhood and thereafter. These are painful memories. Massive changes are required in the way we think and act. Of late, however, I also see what the modern Indian girl from a well-to-do family can be. I view them with trepidation, and I pity their spouses of the future. It's not always one-way traffic.

from:  Samir Mody
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 17:39 IST

Comparing two extreems is not correct. There are meaning in changing names which our elders practiced. A women leaves her parents and joins her husband. She is 'given away' not only in India but also in Western world. (read : Elizabeth taylor 'Given away' by Micheal Jackson on her last wedding). In the Indian culture she becomes the part of that household. She bears children for that family. Her children will inherit their father's name and inheritance which she will be the future owner. She has everything to gain and nothing to loose. It is the 'Setup' she gets into. A good household will definitely make her happy and a bad one will bring her misery from all the sides. The author should have dwelt deeply in the Indian Contest rather then bringing in western culture. I think it is the people for their ulterior motives maligned the age old tradition. Marriage, religion & customs are meant for the good of mankind. Very few customs practiced can be termed as bad.

from:  William
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 17:36 IST

While the article is pertinent,it seriously errs by indulging in stereotyping Man-Woman relationships in this country. Today 80% of men here will be elated to be born as a woman among the upper/upper-middle class of the society(10% of the population)...the horizontal economic/class inequalities are so stark that the disadvantages between the vertical gender divide of population pales by comparison. Many men do endure unequal relationships at work and home. Abusive and selfish women are not hard to come by just like such men around. While women are indeed disadvantaged in education and mobility by outdated social contracts especially in rural areas, the solution lies in society learning to value human life and labor irrespective of gender and economic status. Betrand Russell put it aptly as "life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim" ..not fair to blame the Indian culture when the people are responsible...don't find a Mamta Banerjee in US politics,do you?

from:  venkat
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 17:16 IST

i liked the way in which the article is written.this is the era of
equality so it is to be left with the woman what she want to do with her
name.and afterall whats there in name

from:  rajeev pathak
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 16:55 IST

I agree with Bhuvana and Vinitha above. Men commenting here generally don't have a clue what generations of conditioning to follow "social norms" does to a woman. But the question the author should have explored is not "Why should women obliterate their personalities?", but "Why DO women obliterate their personalities?". That is a very complex subject and goes into the subtle brainwashing that Indian culture has imposed on women for many centuries.

from:  K. Raghunathan
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 15:15 IST

It is MCP and nothing else. They should be taught a good lesson by their wives by bringing the truth that without them they are not worth boasting of.

from:  Mani Iyer
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 14:23 IST

1. Why should we deride Western Culture when it has brought in a lot of good influences also ? It is not fair to glorify the Indian marriage system and make fun of other systems followed in other countries saying that their systems are a failure. There is this common thinking that a divorce is a failure. I see a divorce as freedom from a loveless or unhappy life. There is not much choice for people in the Indian marriage system. Can anybody argue that ? 2. Saying that women are perfectly happy to change their names is an invalid argument. Would a man be happy to change his name and take up his wife's name ? Also a woman has to be right to be known for herself rather than somebody's daughter or wife or mother. So name DOES matter. 3. How can anybody say that boys and girls mingling together is bad for the society? How will they learn to accept their differences, respect each other and treat each other as equals if they are not allowed to mingle.

from:  SD
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 14:10 IST

You have written, "a woman's identity and independence ends the day she takes her marital vow". Does changing the name mean loss of independence too?

from:  saurabh
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 13:34 IST

Good attempt to bring out the blind following of social customs even among educated class. Education is an eye opener to simple and useful life. Our names (boys/girls) lovingly given to us by our parents/elders is for ever. As for 'unequal unions' marriage is for knowing, understanding and living peacefully together in spite of each having different backgrounds. Keep up the good work.

from:  muhammad ahmed
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 13:31 IST

Shakespere says what is in a name? Our respectable holy books says KARMA SE JANO . KARMA is Good do not worry. MOTHER TERESA , INDIRA GANDHI which is in INDIA, and MADAM CURRIE in french are known from their action (karma)and still remember in future . THEY never bother about their name. They only act and service to people with love and dedication.WE salute such ladies not because name.Remember AHILYA HOLKAR.Her name remains forever with INDIANs for her extraordinary dedicated holy development work.

from:  vishwanath mahashabde
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 13:25 IST

People who commented about French presidents live-in relationship, monogamy and western culture, please read the following articles. You people are too late. 1, www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/society/article399934.ece 2.www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/Vijay_Nagaswami/article2783036.ece 3.www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/Vijay_Nagaswami/article16022.ece 4.www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/Vijay_Nagaswami/article3314383.ece

from:  rajesh
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 13:16 IST

Brilliant article. It is beyond me why some one would ask you to change your name or any form of identity. Also, all the people who commented in this thread about comparing to western societies is wrong, well I'd like to defend the author and say she's giving an example of how women can be independent under any circumstances. I do not understand why people get so annoyed when there's an example from the west, it's not to say our culture is regressive, it's to say that our culture is conditioned to be sexist. Indian culture in the ancient times - Yes I know about the Vedas, was about education, liberation and living a life which was fulfilling mentally, physically and spiritually. Clearly, it's not exactly the same any longer, and the sooner we fix it, the better. Agreed, it's not everywhere in India, but it still happens quite often.

from:  Ruhie
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 13:05 IST

Its a bad trend followed from ages in India. Women is against women in India. For some women, thier mothers-in-law change even the main name or original name of her daughters-n-law also. This is perfect example that Indians follow stupid systems by ignoring basic human values or respects.

from:  kumar
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 12:22 IST

To think that we, Indians, go to Shree MahaaLakshmi Temple, Durga Temple and pray to the Goddess to give Aishwarya AND the turn around, go home and abuse our women. It is a shame. My father in, early 1900s, had the greatest respect for women. He tried to get his sister married again when she was widowed at the age of 9, within a few months of marriage. But his elders told him they would kill him. So sad.
It is high time that this concept about women India be completely debunked and erased from our society. women are equal to Men, may be even better.

from:  Sripathy
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 12:04 IST

"Ms. Trierweiler has been married twice, divorced twice and has three children"
The author may have given a wrong example here. One thing we need to understand is that children go through a bad time when parents separate (weather married/unmarried ). Also we are talking about different cultures here.
I do agree the point about 'expected sacrifices' here. But women do have a choice. They need to make their priorities clear before marriage. If there are children, one of the parent may have to make some 'sacrifices'. If women 'accept' it and not 'regret' it what is the problem? Independence/freedom can be seen in different perspectives. A woman taking care of family doesn't mean she lost her freedom, unless its something she didn't want to do or is forced to do.
To each his own!

from:  Sandeep
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 11:31 IST

The status of women in India needs to improve a lot before we can proudly say that we have achieved equality. India cannot progress until women enjoy the same respect in society as men. Our society is still feudalistic and chauvinistic. Majority of the men still think that women are to be only seen and not heard.
One good thing about western culture is that women have been able to achieve equality with men and are occupying key positions in society. This is due to the spread of education.
The situation in India is also changing and women are slowly learning to become confident and assertive.Practices like dowry, female infanticide and sexual exploitation need to change before India can cosider itself to be a Modern state.
One bright feature of Indian society is that women are at the forefront in all social movements and are playing a key role in trying to achieve social change. Women empowerment is need of the hour and the Parliament and the Judiciary are taking progressive steps.

from:  Umesh Bhagwat
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 11:18 IST


Women in spite of the education they may get acquiesce the regressive
codes male dominated society laid out since time. What else can for instance, explain one of the most bigoted and regressive code of the
wearing of the full length veil or hijab? Many women call that a means
to express their identity. This is strange indeed.

from:  Anilkumar Kurup
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 10:59 IST

I agree with the author on her views about women having to change their given
names after marriage. But why is it that in this day and age, women are expected to take on their husband's last name/surname ? In fact, even in the west, people raise eyebrows when a woman's last name differs from that of a husband. I think our views on marriage have to be re-examined from a far broader perspective.

from:  Sri
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 10:27 IST

I believe that most of the comments on this article are still coming from people who dont understand what women's freedom is all about. Brain-washing of a girl child can start at a very early age and the girl can 'smilingly' take anything that is thrown at he because she has no idea of what other alternatives are out there for her. 'Stability' in marriage and family life has been over exploited as an argument to met out lots of atrocities in India. I think most men need to stop using this. Freedom is not always stable. In fact, I dont think freedom is ever even meant to be stable. It is a discovery of who you are individually as a person. It might not be a stable life for anyone but at least as a human being you would have lived a life that you wanted to and where you learnt from mistakes and observations on your own, not because someone asked you to!

from:  Vinitha
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 10:17 IST

I am a western women living in India. First I need to say, that the indian man is very proud and definitely the most of them dont like to change the system. They dont need to fear anything on that way. But it is not about copying from the west, because also in the west are good working familiy systems which followes humanity. That is the point I guess, because I saw in many cases here in India, that a bride is after marriage nothing else than a maid for her inlaws. This should stop, because she should not loose her right to live and be herself and not become a shadow from her husband which by the way she should be able to choose by her self. So what is "modern" on humanity?

from:  Tina
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 09:55 IST

Let people follow whatever traditions they want to. All traditions are the reflections of the societies they live in. No one is better than others and no one is inferior than others. Let us respect what we have they will change with the time.

from:  K Joshi
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 09:25 IST

Do not know what age and time the author of this (and other such articles) article is in. Things have changed a lot in every social strata and in urban, semi-urban and rural areas. Yes, we need to make a lot of progress on female infanticide and a few other key issues related to women.
Harrasment and loss of identity are not only on women and for women respectively. Among my circle itself, I know so many men who are victims and suffer in silence - nothing very different from what this article portrays about women being victims.

The Hindu should take up social causes and bring it out into open discussion. It must, however, not encourage outdated information and stereotypes like this.

from:  Saketh
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 08:50 IST

Agree with the author, women should have equal rights and most importantly the ability to act at one's own discretion. However the comparison to the First Family of France is inappropriate as it is a clear example of failed relationships/marriages. But i guess that it is an article to write for later.

from:  Anas Abdulla
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 08:47 IST

Please try and look at the issue from a human perspective, with your minds open and then, the disgrace of the issue will show itself. I simply don't understand why men have such a problem with the fact that someone is bringing out what is right. Agreed that the comparison is on two extremes but what is more depressing is the fact that there are people who think "Such acts done lovingly without any sense of contempt and authority leads to peaceful and happy married life". Such people can lovingly without any contempt change their name too as it is but a small change. Try to understand - a woman is EXPECTED to change after marriage - becomes a social norm. No MAN can understand this because you have never been in those shoes. As a matter of fact any woman who willingly changes herself for the sake of the norms set by this society brings nothing but misery to herself and other women too. She is in effect, a bad example for all causes and purposes.

from:  Bhuvana
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 08:06 IST

What's in a name? You can keep your name or leave and take a new one. That doesn't really matter as long as the man who married you holds you with love and respect. If the fellow the author has referred to married this girl to create a caretaker for his parents, then that's not a marriage whatever be the tradition in his part of the world. I agee with most of the comments given here that the comparison is inappropriate and out of focus. Of all partnerships in the world she could get only the French president and his partner to comapre with a Indian traditional marriage situation.What about Obama and Michelle or Will and Kate? Weren't they good enough to be compared to? The basic problem in India is this 'aping' of the wrong side of western culture.If we stop that we will be fine.

from:  Damayanthi
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 07:30 IST

It is certainly not fair for a bride to have her name changed if it is not her own choice. There are many practices of this sort that need to be re-examined and should go. But to bring in what happens in France -- we living in the West know the havoc the undermining of the institution of marriage for life and monogamy has done to societies here -- is plan absurd and totally distracts the main point of the article.

from:  V. Ramaswami
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 07:12 IST

If you go out and see in India then you will see many cases like the one
you presented from France. There are lot of independent women in India
and even in villages who are sole bread winners of their homes. Indian
marriage system holds more value than western world. The fashionable
divorce is not about independence, it is abusing it even after slight
discomfort at the expense of the children's lives.

My request is attack mindless customs like name changing and dowry but
not condemn the whole system by comparing it to western world. The
original culture of India has good meaning and concept which has been
corrupted over time. please take time to read and understand that before
casting it out because some people are misusing it. Every time a
comparision with the west is not the answer. We are very different from
them considering till date we Indians have not invaded any other country
and enslaved them, we have just chosen a bunch of our own people to do
it. We have a different style.

from:  Anoop
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 06:38 IST

I agree with the author but it's not easy. Certain things are so deep rooted in our society that it will take lot of time (years) to improve. We take it for granted for changing names after marriage. I don't think not changing names is copy from west. It's more about how today's women see themselves. Are we still want to be shadow of our husband? I personally disagree changing last name after marriage and changing first name is totally out of question. But I saw girls do it so calmly and smilingly changing first name also after marriage and considered as good daughter-in-law... I hope we will change our attitude and give girls due respect and independence.

from:  Ekta Amar
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 06:33 IST

Thank you very much for writing this article and asking the questions
that needed to be asked! As a married woman and mother, I completely
agree with everything you said. Our girls and women need to know that
there is more to life than being an excellent home-maker. Marriage
should be treated as an equal partnership, with everything from ideas
and dreams to household chores and child-raising equally shared between
the partners. It is not a privilege - it is our right as self-respecting
human beings.

from:  Gayathri Antharjanam
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 01:42 IST

Please don't compare France with India. In France relationships are based on feeling while in India is based on traditions and customs. With divorce rate more than 60% it is practical for French not to marry but that is not the case in India. Divorce settlements are justified in France (50% or maintain the properties separately) but in India the women has a claim over all the property of men that he earned before, during and after marriage. Comparing the two societies is an egregious error.
Further, in our society the boy who cries or soft-hearted is eschewed making the men psychologically hardened from the childhood (this is again in stark contrast with France), so it is not possible to expect him to immediately soften particularly when most of the marriages are arranged. If the girl too doesn't yield, then there'll be no marriage... Is this what the author expects?
Finally, French respects privacy. However, in India the society will penalize both the man and the woman...

from:  Bharat
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 01:29 IST

i agree with the author completely. I am an Indian girl, and I know how stupid -
amazingly stupid - some of the so called 'traditions' in India are. I really find some of the Indian traditions extremely illogical, and in the light of the same I am left terming the Indian men (and also women in some cases) as highly hypocrite. Indian society structure and the family structure needs a big time change. People have forgot to realize the fact that the way society should be based on welfare of people in equal terms, in a very similar way the same should apply to families. In effect families are the elements of the society, When people can't even follow a equal independence, respect and status for people in a family, ON WHAT GROUNDS DO THEY CLAIM THAT INDIA IS SUCH A NICE CULTURE. To my ears, it sounds like Blah Blah Blah.
I hate to admit that I find that India is not progressing rather it is slipping into a deeper and deeper ditch. What we need is a change of mentality of people !!!!!

from:  Priyanka Bansal
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 01:02 IST

I think what the author is saying is that marriage is seen as a partnership in the West
more so than it is in India. The notion the the woman is now the property of the
husband and his family is still prevalent because of extended families. While Indian
women contribute greatly through their roles as mothers, they have talents and
capabilities far beyond that. Just imagine how much more progress India can make if
the other half were allowed to take is place among the best and brightest? Part of the
reason China is doing better than India is because the female gender is given a
chance.

from:  Pradeep solanki
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 00:59 IST

I do not understand this "freedom" /"independence" BS. My parents
were happily married, dad was the head of the family but Mom was
the minister. Dad never made any decisions without consulting her.
They had their quota of disagreements but Mom never felt
dependent. It was HER family. In fact, looking back Mom made most
of the decisions and Dad agreed. Her full focus was how to keep
the home running. Also ensuring that the future is planned
correctly, financially secure. Dad was to work hard and bring in
the bread, do the heavy chores. She never desired to work and we
grew up under her guidance, constant and caring (no Nanny
business).
In this modern world of independence (Women's lib?) this is
getting lost. I am amazed how they adjusted to events, caring for
each other. Family came first before individual. They compensated
the other's flaw.
With a few bad examples, we believe being selfish is the right
answer. I would say STAY with the ORIGINAL IDEA. It WORKED.

from:  Venkat
Posted on: May 26, 2012 at 23:52 IST

This article was like giving a speech on quantum theory to the farmers
in a thesis presentation.We have to understand the reality, the way
society look at a typical women not the way they look at women IAS
cadre.

from:  Karthik
Posted on: May 26, 2012 at 23:12 IST

Your last but one paragraph shows how shallow you are indeed!
"Girls are put in their place if they do — or called “Maoists” as a Kolkata student was branded by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a recent television talk show. "
Amused to see your criticism of Ms. Banerjee to a level where you have used it to as an example to highlight mistakes committed on women. Kudos to you!
As to the french case, rather than surprise its a headache to everyone there and everywhere on how to treat her! Legally she cant stay in the presidential palace and its shamelessness of the man who has allowed the highest post of his country to be treated so!
One wonders literally how a woman obliterate her personality, her life, once she gets married, its seriously amounts to brainwashing! Then according to you Mrs. Dikshit who runs the NCT is a brainwashed women!

from:  M Ikariam
Posted on: May 26, 2012 at 22:27 IST

In my view, our society always thinks about male dominancy. A female
has to sacrifice everything but at same time male is not questioned
for. As a result there is imbalance in the society. There is no point
in changing the name, loosing the job and personal interest. We can
make an arrangement considering the all interest which is required for
proper balance of society.

from:  Dr. Vivek Kumar
Posted on: May 26, 2012 at 22:10 IST

Suggestions on the lines of the French President is deplorable. Incase the French President decides that he does not want to continue the relationship (!) with the lady and she is forced to walk out of the Presidential palace, whether the lady or the French people remain quiet? Secondly, the modern Indian women are not keeping quiet which is evidenced by increasing number of cases in family courts in India. Lastly, I am surprised that the Editor of "The Hindu" ( a respectable and conservative newspaper group )chose to publish such an article ( may be on commercial considerations ).

from:  vc sekar
Posted on: May 26, 2012 at 21:32 IST

Agree with the author. One part of the solution lies in educated women
introspecting about their role in the marriage and other lies in young
men tolerant and knowledgeable enough to allow their spouses to continue
their profession or career.

from:  vivek
Posted on: May 26, 2012 at 21:10 IST

Please start questioning about the institution of marriage in India in
its present state as many of the men are also fed up with the heavy
mental strains it brings due to in-laws problems, different outlook of
husband and wife etc. etc. We think the marriage need not be the
culmination of emotional happiness for the couple within some months.
It needs more sharing of love, compassion, ideas.

from:  chandrasekaran
Posted on: May 26, 2012 at 20:59 IST

You are right Kalpana! Women , even though well educated and
employed act subserviently to their in-laws and husbands.Truly
speaking, this is a part of Indian psyche which is fast changing as
our society modernizes by the day.

But we ought to understand things in a straight manner, in a way
that in our Indian society newly married women easily mold
themselves to these changes.When they do not have any qualms in
possessing a new name for their new homes why the fuss about all
this?After all, don't we all, get new names when we change our
colleges or workplaces. Such acts done lovingly without any sense
of contempt and authority leads to peaceful and a happy married
life.

from:  jitendra itankar
Posted on: May 26, 2012 at 20:37 IST

I appreciate the author's concern about loss of identity of women who are equally educated as men or have been brought up in similar environment as men. However, I would like to request her to bring up examples of independence of men and women in western countries only when she has ample evidence that those cases lead to a stable life, without emotional and physical connections to more than one partner, and as a result children do not bear the brunt of independence of their parents.

from:  Manish Kumar
Posted on: May 26, 2012 at 20:15 IST

The writer of the article has compared two extremes with reference the subject of apparent feminine independence and freedom of expression. The social backgrounds, opportunities and unwritten rules of society have not been considered. It would be worthy to note that the current French president did not hold any high post and his partner came into fame after he got elected.
In rural India, the only identity for a woman who goes into marriage is her new family. However, in the case noted above, asking to change the first name is quite unfair. The only way to change this would be to educate more girls and make them more independent.
Extending feminine independence to the freedom of getting involved in a live in relationship will not work in India. In fact, when one sees the number of elderly people without any human support structure in the west, one realizes that it does not work in the long run either.

from:  Raj
Posted on: May 26, 2012 at 19:39 IST

I stopped reading this article soon after the reading the into for
second passage. The author to this article feels that If french
president can do so, why no an indian... although I disagree with name
changing (My wife still tags her father's name as her sir name), I
can't understand why we compare our lives with westerners to just
prove the point. So can we accept the western culture where girls and
boys mingle freely in all aspect (a question to the author of article
and a question that she needs to answer introspecting all angles)...
speak of Indian in Indian articles related to culture of India. May be
you have covered all aspects in latter part of article, but ur intro
spoiled it all!!!

from:  Mithun Mathew
Posted on: May 26, 2012 at 19:40 IST

I completely agree with the author. I was born down south Tamil
Nadu.In our families the girls take up mother's name as initial and
boys take up father's.The initials do not change even after getting
married.Sadly now, it is not so,since eyebrows are raised 'cause
siblings have different surnames or initials and it is not accepted.
I abhor the family system in India when are expected to be submissive
and men authoritative.Aren't they equal.After having children and in
order not to cause pain to their parents,women keep their mouth shut.
I have a son and I have taken a vow not to interfere in his family
after he gets married and be supportive to his wife in all her good
deeds.I will tell her that entering into a new relationship doesn't
mean that she has to leave her parents and siblings.

from:  Mathu
Posted on: May 26, 2012 at 19:26 IST
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