In India, tradition rules supreme. It doesn’t matter even if a tradition is draconian or violates an individual’s right to choose. Tradition is supposed to be the ‘right thing’, no questions asked. All those who raise a different opinion are branded immoral or ‘western’. Indian society is by and large driven by a supremacist thought that our culture is the best in the world.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that if the wife of a Hindu man forces him to separate from his aged parents and live away so that his income is enjoyed entirely by her, then that is ground for him to divorce his wife. The judgment said it is the pious duty of the son to take care of his parents and he can’t be expected to leave them.
While it is noble to take care of one’s parents, why does the same cultured society forget that the girl’s parents are also left behind at the time of the marriage. That is fair in the eyes of our society.
While judiciary is not known to take decisions based on traditions and the apex court has taken commendable decisions on matters like live-in relationships and abortion rights, this incident is just another case of patriarchal culture given preference over individual liberty in a married relationship. While it is right to be proud of one’s culture and good traditions, it is the responsibility of every empowered individual to raise a question against traditions that we are forced to follow.
In some place women are not allowed to enter temples. Disbalanced right of inheritance, mistreatment between kin with regard to gender, parents taking the decisions for their children even after they attain adulthood. Taking away the freedom to think, act and choose reduces the person’s existence to only following decisions someone else is taking for them. Our tradition brands a host of things, acts, professions, relations, hobbies etc as inappropriate because the ancestors were not that clear headed to let these things exist in society.
Indeed, embracing one’s cultures protects the identity of a society. However, traditions also need to evolve with times. Instead of taking from other cultures, we should focus on rights being impinged by these traditions. If we just make sure that we don’t take away someone’s rights or don’t cause emotional anguish to anyone in the name of tradition, then the furtherance of traditions is more meaningful.