The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, June 25, 2000

What law cannot cure, society can

TARU BAHL’S write-up "Bringing the dead back to life" (June 4) was packed with meaning for society in general and for women’s organisations in particular. Widows Remarriage Act was passed in the 19th century by the British.

It is heartening to read about Kirpal Singh remarrying Banno as he would have his own daughter from his house. Kudos also to Banno’s second husband who accepted the victim of fate in all good cheer.

What law cannot cure, society can. Even after legislation dating back to over a hundred plus years, the plight of Indian widows is a horror-ridden story. Widows (except those who are earning ones) are fed on crumbs thrown before them by their in-laws. Widows are generally not expected to show their faces on auspicious occasions. In rural India particularly, widows are expected to wear only white clothes. They are forced to work beyond their capacity and many of them leave for nearby cities to work as domestic helps, while others take to stitching clothes at home.

It’s about time that society supported these widows and educated the menfolk not only to give them a life of dignity but also to strive for their settlement through re-marriage. Widows’ in-laws should emulate Kirpal Singh, and not torture them as they generally do. They should rather send them in dolis from their own houses, treating them as their own unfortunate daughters.




The old gentleman who got his young widowed daughter-in-law married off, realised and respected her right to live. She might not have been able to exercise this right without his considerate gesture. There are countless young women in India who get trampled under forces of injustice. Such rare people, who rise above their own personal pain and help a young woman to restart her life without being humbled or ridiculed, do deserve great respect from our society.

The Indian Army also keeps formulating new laws from time to time to ensure that those who are left behind after a martyr’s death don’t have to wander the streets for food and shelter. The Army rallies around them and looks after them, helping them to find their bearings. Besides the officially provided help, there is an almost spontaneous tendency to extend full co-operation to the shattered family by all those around them. This attitude is commendable.



One is prompted to comment that Kirpal Singh is also a hero of the Kargil war. His goodness is best reflected in the following passage from the book Reflections in Time.

"Those who do good quietly and without thought of reward are the ones who understand what Wordsworth meant when he wrote of ‘that best portion of a good man’s life. His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love’. It is amazing how much good can be done in this world if one does not care who gets the credit and how it can set one’s life aglow."


Life ties

This refers to Taru Bahl’s column ‘Life Ties’ (June 11). As a result of the attitude of materialism prevailing in the society, we seem to have shed many human values. The younger generation leave their homes in search of greener pastures, while the older generation is left to cope with lonliness. It is not just for their physical needs of food shelter and clothing that they try to cling to their progeny but they also need emotional, psychological and spiritual support. They hope to fill their twilight years with love and understanding.

But in many a case an old man’s lot remains neglected and miserable. Bent with age and wrinkled with worries, he is either exploited or treated as an obstruction to his children’s life of fun. With the disintegration of the institution of joint-family, the so-called senior citizens, have to baby-sit or run errands only to keep the young couple in a good mood. Their inablility to come up to the expectations of the younger generation leads to a solitary life, full of trauma and tensions, exposed to dangers of growing crime against the aged people.

We Indians need to go back to our roots in order to develop once again the virtues of a cohesive family, full of warmth and togetherness. Dumping one’s old parents to loneliness and isolation is only being ignorant of one’s own impending future.


Asha Bhosle

Apropos of M.L. Dhawan’s article "A voice that is forever young" (June 4), it is a fact that being Late Mangeshkar’s sister proved to be a mixed blessing for Asha Bhosle. She sang her first Hindi film song in film Chunaria (1974) but she sang all the songs for heroine Vyjayanthimala in Naya Daur (1957). Music directors thought that her voice was unsuitable for heroines but fit only for vamps and nautch girls. She rendered several beautiful songs under the baton of music director O.P. Nayyar. She can easily sing all types of songs, qawwalis, mujras, bhajans and ghazals with perfection. The fact that she has over 10,000 songs to her credit speaks volumes for her extraordinary singing talent.

Asha Bhosle has carved a niche for herself in the film industry by dint of her hardwork perseverance, devotion, dedication and determination. Even today at 66, her voice suits younger heroines like Kajol, Urmila Matondkar, Karishma Kapoor and Manisha Koirala. She is indeed a living legend.