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THE TRIBUNEsaturday plus
Saturday, February 20, 1999

Regional Vignettes



The ugly face of bigamy

REETA SHARMA did well to focus readers’ attention on a grave social malady in the article "The ugly face of bigamy" (February 6).

With the decline of morality, right conduct and discipline, various evils have crept into our society. We have broken loose from our great cultural moorings. It is distressing to note that bigamy cases have a cancerous growth.

We must laud and actively support the efforts of social organisations like the Punjab Istri Sabha and social activists like Mrs S. Grewal who are devoted to the cause of women. Aggrieved women must be given support in their bold fight against this humiliation.

By preserving the sanctity of marriage and remaining faithful to one’s spouse, one can find real and lasting happiness, whereas unnatural relations outside marriage open the flood gates to all sorts of complications and miseries, as revealed in certain T.V. serials being telecast at present.



The writer has drawn attention towards an emerging social and marital malaise. There are cases of bigamy even in small towns. Husbands take undue advantage of their wives who are economically dependent on them.

I know from personal experience that bigamists enjoy full respect in society; they are counted among the gentry. Some of the bigamists pose to be deeply religious too! Some are even in government and semi-government service.

The plight of the victim of bigamy is pitiable. Even her children are alienated from her in most cases. If she ever moves a court, there is no guarantee that she would be able to get her husband back!

The law should be suitably amended in this era of the empowerment of women. Bigamy must declared a cognizable offence, where police and courts are free to take suo motu action against the bigamist and the second wife must also be awarded suitable punishment. Some persons misuse the Islamic law to hoodwink the court. They declare that they have embraced Islam, whereas in effect they have not. This misuse of a religious provision should also not go unchallenged. The hypocrites must be exposed.


Never say die

This refers to Taru Bahl thought-provoking article "Never say die" (January 23). Significantly, the overall suicide rate is increasing in our society.

Although suicide appears to be a uniquely personal and private act, but in reality it is not so, because its causes lie in the nature of our social set-up. In 1897, Eurile Durkheim, an eminent French Sociologist, in his famous work Suicide wrote: "Suicide is not simply an individual act but a product of social forces external to the individual as such its causes are to be found in society rather than in individual. Suicide varies inversely with the degree of integration of the social groups of which the individual forms a part". The psychoanalytic theory also recognises that sickness of the individual is ultimately caused and sustained by the sickness of his civilisation.

Regrettably, very often suicide is not seen as a social phenomenon in India. Every case is presumed to be an instance of personality disorder or an individual’s inability to cope in society. Apart from this, the social structure of our society is changing rapidly, for example, shifting to nuclear families, working couples, consumerism, influx of global culture.

Then what is the way out? It is very difficult to find a specific answer. However to some extent, an answer lies in consensus, in a collective conscience, consisting of common beliefs and sentiments. Without this consensus or agreement on fundamental moral issues, it would be impossible to bound the individuals together to form an integrated social unit. In essence, society has to do its bit to check the increasing rate of suicides.


Traffic hazards

This refers to the article "Pity the poor public" by H. Kishie Singh (February 6) in which the writer has highlighted the grey areas of the Indian transport system.

The condition of roads in most parts of the country is horrendous. This implies that travelling in India is no longer safe. This problem is aggravated by government buses, that are in a terrible state. The government is doing little for the maintenance of its buses. The people have no choice but to risk their lives by travelling in these buses. No doubt, road accidents claim 60,000 lives a year.

The drivers are irresponsible too. Some do not even possess a driving licence and many consume liquor while driving. Such drivers are seldom caught.

The government should pay more attention towards the maintenance of buses. The drivers disobeying traffic rules should be strictly dealt with.


Himalayan messiah?

I was surprised to read the item captioned "Himalayan messiah" in Khushwant Singh’s weekly column This Above All (January 16).

In this connection, I would like to say that about three months back, a half-hour feature was telecast on Zee India T.V., highlighting the activities and hollow claims of Rajesh Gupta, based on interviews of several persons, including patients, parents of patients, doctors, pharmacists, the then Health Minister of Delhi state and officers of the health departments of Delhi and the Central Government. This TV feature showed that the so-called Himalayan messiah was a hoax and his Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of epilepsy, contained a well-know allopathic medicine. Further it was also revealed that enquiries regarding the claim and the efficacy of treatment of epilepsy, made by Rajesh Gupta, were being inquired into.


Origin of OK

This refers to Amir Tuteja’s "Interesting Nonsense" included in Khushwant Singh’s column "This Above All" (January 23). Tuteja has claimed that the expression "OK" comes from the initials of a German named Otto Karause. Of course, it is an addition to the already existing stock of weird and wonderful explanations offered for the origin of O.K. But his view that the expression originated in 1950s cannot be accepted. Right now, I have a book with me, which was published in 1945. This book includes OK in it. The famous Philologist Bloomsbury traces its origin way back to 1839. In order to lay to rest the hilarious speculations about the derivation of OK, A.W. Read published an article in the Saturday Review of Literature in 1941. According to him, the expression came into existence with the formation of O.K. Club. This club comprised a group of people supporting U.S. President Martin Van Buren for a second term in the White House. Martin Van Buren was born in Kinderhook and practised law there in his youth. Later, he came to be nicknamed as Old Kinderhook. This led to the birth of "Old Kinderhook Club" or more popularly known as OK Club". Thus OK became a watchard and was freely used as a slogan during the U.S. presidential elections of 1840.

Earlier, the most widely accepted theory was that the letter stood for Orl Korrect, the facetious early 19th Century American Phonetic spelling for All Correct. But according to another tradition, a Red Indian chief named Old Keokuk used to sign all his treaties with his initials "OK". Another theory suggested its origin from Chaktaw Indian "Okeh" which means "so be it" It seems that these theories will continue to multiply.


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