Sunday, March 23, 2008
These are the kind of questions which exercise the mind of Isabel Dalhousie- editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, who in Alexander McCall Smith’s ‘ The Careful Use of Compliments has to deal with a whirlpool of emotions from which the only release is death as a complete change of life, the righting of an unfair dismissal by a careful and controlled takeover, the redistribution of inherited and therefore unearned wealth for social justice, all with whimsy and gentle humour, like the protagonist herself.
Talking of cultural constructs, the Law Commission’s recommendation that the age of marriage in the marriage laws be amended to make 18 the age of marriage for both men and women has raised a storm not least being the protest that it would result in under age girls getting married as the social norm is to allow younger girls to marry older boys. The amendment if it comes about will only bring it in line with laws elsewhere in the world. Anyway, our laws will still have an anomaly where child marriage is an offence but the marriage remains valid until revoked! The Supreme Court has added another anomaly to the issue by allowing a live-in partner to inherit a share in the partner’s property, though it only says that the partner would hold it in trust for the legal and absconding wife. The SC was giving the illegitimate children who are legal heirs their share, under the guardianship of the mother, without splitting the first wife’s share as she was not there to claim it. This is equity, but if we were to talk of legal change to accommodate second wives and partners, there would be a storm of protest- iniquitously. Anyway, the Supreme Court can only interpret or strike down law, not legislate when there is already a statute. This is also an artificial barrier of separation of powers that the Supreme Court has erected for itself. Just as in the Gita Hariharan case, the woman was given limited powers, not the right to recognition of the full exercise of powers possible, in the case
Friday, March 7, 2008
My young daughter sat doodling. We were watching Team
Which brings me to the other factor in my unease. Are we making monsters of our kids? In Hermann Hesse’s ‘glass bead game’ he speaks of a game taking over society until it becomes more important than life itself and until sophisticated and elitist intellectual pleasure crowds out simpler emotions like enjoyment. Are we replacing Gods who after all appeal to the higher principles in one with Achieving Success? Then shouldn’t we ask what success is? The roads of Chennai are so narrow, pollution hangs like an evil fug on Anna Salai, but every second car is a fuel inefficient monster sedan or SUV. In Alaxander McCall Shoes in his ‘Blue Shoes and Happiness’ speaks of Mercedes Benz thus: “ I would not get a Mercedes Benz even if I had the money, people would talk. Have you noticed it’s always the same kind of people who drive these cars?” [to paraphrase a bit] The moral seems to be- flashy opulent cars are driven by…you complete it.