Like any other sunday morning, I was browsing lazily through the numerous Facebook posts to see if there are any new wardrobe malfunctions or Poonam Pandey stunts. I somehow stumbled upon this short film on dowry cases in India (The uploader was smart enough to put a pretty face as thumbnail). It was just like hundreds other such films, giving facts about no of deaths and comparing stats state wise. This made me wonder about the origin of the system and how it got so popular in the first place. I am not going to emphasize on the need of fighting the dowry war here. On the contrary, I would try to justify the dowry system and its need in the Indian society. This is my personal opinion, so feel free to disagree.
|Dowry: Better inheritance laws needed?|
Why dowry system is perfectly fine?
As per Indian law as well as the societal agreement, the son(s) is entitled to inherit all the wealth and property from his parents. Since the daughter is generally married and living with her in-laws at the time of demise of her parents, she gets no share in the inheritance. This means a daughter has no clear advantage of having a rich dad. This according to me is gender bias. After all if parents are supposed to love their daughter and son equally, why cant they decide to share their life's earning equally with them. Now if I am talking about an era much before the popularity of written 'will' documents and legal contracts etc, the best way for parents to do this is to give to their daughter whatever they feel is her right at the time of her marriage. So dowry is just a way to divide parents wealth between the offsprings. The system looks perfectly fine to me and infact necessary to avoid gender discrimination in something as sensitive as inheritance.
So where did it all go wrong?
Since the bride's parents are the best people to decide on the entitlements, the system works absolutely fine till they decide how much they want to give away as dowry. Somewhere in time this arrangement must have got corrupted and the groom's family started interfering in deciding the amount of cash that should change hands. This created all the evil which we associate with the dowry system today.
Changing the inheritance law: Is it the solution?
Well frankly, I havn't thought about it. There is so much content already available on this topic in the public domain that I dint feel the need to. I am just trying to argue that our traditions are not so dumb and evil as what media has started portraying. We certainly have a problem at our hands and I am in no way trying to deny it. But keeping an open mind while dealing with such issues will certainly help our cause.
Disclaimer: The author is male and has no sister to worry about sharing his inheritance with. His personal greed and eternal poverty may or may not lead to a conflict of interest.