Rising trend of inter-religious marital and conjugal relations by unfair means, got Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh state assemblies bring in legislation against what is mischievously branded as Love Jihad. Mischievous, since Love and Marriage is essential to organized humanity and “Jihad” appears spoilers. It’s a politically loaded term, ignoring the disturbing reality on ground.
Left-leaning intelligentsia now have a bone between teeth. They are working up a storm on the legislations passed by UP and MP assemblies. Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen (see video) is back in business and wants immediate intervention of Supreme Court.
Who are we to reflect or ask Sen of his three marriages, three different brides from three different religions? Or if his brides left him, what were the reason? Or having been married to a Rothschild (Emma) he is from a clan which has hurt humanity more than ANYBODY before or after Christ. (But Social Media is an unforgiving space and netizens, in good laugh, are wondering if he sees a threat to himself in Love Jihad).
Inter-faith marriages happen both among rich and poor in India. While most academicians, media and politicians speak from the lens of elites, they probably have never seen from close front a woman devastated only because the beau never revealed his religion or changed hers without which she loses all legal and her new community’s support.
How is it a freedom of choice, is best not asked. How come it passes the muster of feminists, is best not asked. How the opposition to patriarchy is not an issue here, is best not asked. How forcing a person to change a religion is not bigotry, is best not asked. How to-not-convert is not a fundamental right, is best not asked.
Could Left-intelligentsia like Amartya Sen deny that non-Muslim girls are not forced to adopt Islam, pre-or-post marriage? That religious scars don’t cause marital conflicts thereafter, not to say occasionally being slain? That some of the Muslim boys could be hiding their religion? That women, under spell of love, are lured and trafficked too? (I being from West Bengal know that the state is Number One in women trafficking in India. More so on the porous bordering districts of West Bengal).
What’s wrong if safeguards are put in place by the governments? Legislations namely “Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020” by UP and “Freedom of Religion Act” by MP has brought in penal provisions against inter-faith marriages if it’s by unfair means or by fraudulence. The laws also empower family courts to reject such marriages where either bride or groom adopted unfair means, such as hiding true identity of self, before entering into relationship. The Laws keep provisions for either pair of parents (bride’s/groom’s) to deny such marriages too.
‘Left-leaning Liberals’ like Amartya Sen might argue that while a number of inter-faith marriages happen through unfair means, a good number of them happens normally too. Many inter-faith marriages are done not by fraudulence but out of genuine attraction towards each other. Hindu girls often fall in love with Muslim boys and vice versa.
One doesn’t know the precise statistics of inter-faith marriage. However, we all know some inter-faith marriages do end up being a tragedy. As per a study that used data of third round of National Family Health Survey (2005-06) having a sample size of 43,102 married couples, it was found that only 2.1 percent of Indian marriages were inter-religious. The prime objective of the study was to understand the spatial patterns and determinants of inter-caste and inter-religious marriages in India which revealed that Indian society, in general, was not open to inter-faith marriages. The inference is easy to draw if men like Sen are open to reason: That marriage of Hindu girls to Muslim boys is perceived a moral setback and hurts the core belief of Hindu society.
A general belief also exists that inter-faith marriages acts towards a slow change in demography. The girl, by giving birth to children who, by default, assume father’s religion, facilitates further change in demography. In cases where Hindu boys marry Muslim girls, the boys are generally known to be heckled by the Muslim society & are often slain or converted to Islam.
It is an embarrassing truth that aggressive regimentation in the name of religion is more pronounced amongst Muslims than in Non-Muslims. Even if the Muslim boy is well-meaning, he can’t transcend his own set of people and willing or unwilling, such alliances often end in tragedy.
Some might argue that it’s only a meagre percentage of inter-faith marriages hence change in demography out of such alliances are not feasible. But things happen over course of centuries. In economic terms, it’s said if $5 was lent at the rate of 5 percent compound interest in the times of Jesus, the amount in coins would’ve covered 32 billion times of earth’s diameter in today’s terms. Demographic changes happen over centuries and often with disastrous consequences.
Hence, legal provisions and firewalls are needed in inter-faith marriages. If not as a means to abort religious expansionism then to certainly protect a young, innocent life. It’s to protect the dignity of all religious sects too.
Amartya Sen may please note that legislations passed by UP and MP governments would not prevent genuine lovers but retard evil attempts to misuse love and marriage. In congruence with changing social demands, it’s high time we have such deterrent laws in place.
Such legislations are needed to assure dignity of all Religious sects of India including Muslims. Those Muslims who have no mal-intention of raising LOVE JIHAD are expected to welcome the law.
Debjani Bhattacharyya is a columnist who’s a keen observer of politics and social changes.. A communication-strategist by profession having special aptitude for analytical jackknifing of information, Debjani is a Pharmaceutical Engineer & a Management Professional by her credentials.
Analysis of data & information for generating insights for policy planning is a passion while her other significant area of interest is the Constitution of India and its interpretations thereof. She’s a voracious reader with enormous affinity towards Classics of Bengali Literature. She is an opinion-maker on social media through her blog, twitter and facebook.