Of Adarsh Bhartiya Purush on the International Women’s Day.

Parents should trust their daughters. If they have guided them well, they will never betray them.

I think the biggest control on Indian women (and men) is the restriction on the freedom to choose who they spend their lives with. Many of the other restrictions are based on protecting this one control.

Even the concept of Get Married and Stay Married and Patriarchy, wouldn’t survive for too long without this powerful control.

Below is the conversation I had with someone who has lived all his life in a UP village. The couple put their kids in an English medium school in a small town near their village and he came to work in the NCR.

IHM: In your village, are girls ever killed if they choose who to marry?

Shocked father of an elven year old daughter: Err.. no… but they don’t do such things. These days parents are happy to send them to college also.

IHM: But if a girl does want to marry a man, say out of caste?

Father of an elven year old daughter: Parents should trust their daughters. If they have guided them well, even after being highly educated, they will never betray them. They will not go in the wrong direction…

IHM: You mean by choosing their own partner? Do you think that is wrong? Don’t you think if parents really love their children they would support what makes their children happy? What kind of lives do typical arranged with dowry negotiations marriages offer these girls? The men they are forced to marry, they don’t even respect them… atleast if they choose, they will choose someone who values them.

Father of an elven year old daughter: In villages they fear that if one girl is allowed to choose then others will also become bold and start demanding similar rights.

IHM: But how do you think would it be bad if everybody could choose their own partners? If a woman is clear in her mind and knows that it is her legal right too, to choose her partner, then what options does she have?

If there is a problem in the village, maybe leave her house and family, and move to a city… but that is seen as elopement! Just because they are born in such villages and families it is seen as wrong, so many families in the cities see it as perfectly fine today.

Father of an elven year old daughter: Actually those who don’t support should let them be. That is what they don’t do.

IHM: How do you think would it be, if all the girls could choose? Then those men who disrespect them, will they find partners?

Father of an elven year old daughter: Phir wo apne aap theek ho jayenge.(Then those who don’t respect women will learn to behave)

IHM: Do you know men can change it more easily than women can? Young brothers, fathers…they have so much power!

My dad broke his sister’s engagement in 1959 – she didn’t even think of telling my grandparents, so she wrote to him from her hostel, and he didn’t try to reason with her – the fact that she did not like the fiance was enough. It was her life, right? And no hell broke loose, she married, has two kids and four grand children, she led a good life, she is 72 today. [link – Some Joru Ke Ghulam = JKG ]

Father of an elven year old daughter: Times are changing in our village also… specially when families move to cities, there nobody interferes so much.

I was glad to hear he doesn’t believe that ‘Love Marriages spoil the Family System of our Nation’. [Link.]

IHM: 🙂  Girls who have strong fathers are able to fulfill their aspirations with half the struggle …

I resisted the urge to translate Anna’s mom’s this comment to him. (Will find it link it soon!!) 😛


1. And the parents who  support controls have all kind of reasons, here’s an  example (shared by a reader), 

“The Class 10 student told police that her father was trying to fix her marriage by charging Rs.35,000 from the would be in laws.” [Girl goes to police against father]

This news made me think of this court verdict: Parents should choose the boy for a girl aged below 21, as it is they who bear the brunt of an unsuccessful marriage – Karnataka HC

2. Doesn’t it make more sense to guide and support instead of segregating and moral policing?
And we have the laws in place to ensure this freedom, ‘Marry Or Live With Anyone Of Your Choice – Supreme Court.’

3. Now one more positive. Link shared by Ruchira of Nirjharini.

Can these changes really be stopped? I don’t think so. The elderly in Bhopal and Gujarat are looking for companionship,

–  ‘Live-in’ fair for elderly couple held in Bhopal
Now, senior citizens look for love and live-ins – in Gujarat.

Why I see this as a positive, is because it seems we are finally looking at relationships that are based on companionship.


35 thoughts on “Of Adarsh Bhartiya Purush on the International Women’s Day.

  1. Hmm well I am confused with this now are you saying a male is required for a girl to get her wishes fulfilled as a father is also a male ..

    Love-family and all the pallava associated with it , In my views I think it depends how the family is together, how much trust or respect they have for each other.

    In my own house My sister has married out of our caste and religion , She has married a Bengali, and Let me be frank , I was in uk and it was My mum who called me saying this is what my sister says and it is wrong, I was shocked , because I and my friends in chandigarh were like the kings, It was shocking that I did not find out she was seeing a guy or anyone else .. that was more shocking.

    then the next day My sister rung me and told me she wanted to marry this guy and that was it , she is happily married with kids .. and although the relatives had problems to which my father was very frank , Saying if they have problems then they are not welcome and no need to come for the wedding..

    So a lot depends how parents bring up their kids , how they behave .. how much trust is there. The problems come when kids are snekaing behind the backs, doing all sorts of things these days , eloping running away etc etc..
    As i said the biggest shock to me was how come i did not find out, I mean I can vouch for it and i tell my sister now too , had i come to know when i was there , we would have probably broken the legs of the guy. But to this I can tell you my sister never did anything that would have brought shame to the family, she was hard working and topped her college , was always at home , we knew exactly where she was , how she was ..

    My father never put any question marks on anything she did, it was the other way round I WAS asked question.. and when the right time came my sister was asked and shown some guys and she said no , she had this person in mind, then the guys parents came home and it was all settled .. easy peasy..

    It does matter what sort of relation I have with my sister I mean we have both done some stuff together that made parents angry 🙂 but then it was us two together there was this trust , when i wanted to sneak out of house to go for a night out , she knew where i was going and when will i be coming , when she needs to open the window for me to climb in …

    I think i have gone on a complete tangent here .. sorry


      • I know what you are saying but running and eloping may help then , but when that couple has kids how will they tell them what is good or bad..

        I have a friend , close friend who have done this and it is funny how much they keep their daughter in check. I mean i feel sorry for the girl. Especially the mother she would not let the girl go anywhere and has to know everything the girl does or talks to a guy ..


  2. Excellent. Excellent post.

    I absolutely agree that it is comparatively easier for men to bring about change than it is for women. It is not easy for them either, but it is relatively easier.

    A lot has been said about how patriarchy is bad for women (and rightly so), but I’ve always maintained that patriarchy is not, and never has been purely a “women’s issue”, and if we want it to end, it must not be treated as one.

    Men often believe that they somehow benefit from patriarchy, and I guess they do in some ways, but the truth is that it hurts young people of BOTH genders. The benefits of a patriarchal society to the male gender are, in my opinion, far outweighed by the fact that it forces men to live lives that are just as constricted, script-written and outmoded as any orthodox woman’s.

    I consider myself a feminist not merely for the sake of altruism, but because patriarchy affects MY life negatively too and I want society to be rid of it.

    Patriarchy is what forces males to get stuck in safe, well-paying careers that they have zero aptitude for. Patriarchy is what forces males to swallow their own misery and shy away from any emotional that might help them. Patriarchy is what degrades the role of fathers in families. Patriarchy is what destroys the whole companionship aspect of marriage.

    None of these is as bad as what women have to face, but I think they are bad enough. The sad part is that most men in our culture, just like most women, never really get to experience the other side and think they have it good as they are. It is easier to think that way if you are a male, because there are rewards for falling in line, in the form of unearned privilege. But for either gender, it is a completely inaccurate picture of how things are.

    Having said that, I think awareness has also been rising quite fast. Nearly every married couple I know under the age of thirty has had a choice marriage. This is certainly not the case with my own peers. At my workplace, I get to meet smart, independent young interns all the time, and interacting with them during the lighter moments gives me immense hope for Indian society in the future. Of course, these men and women do not represent the average Indian by any stretch of imagination. Even so, it is a massive improvement over the past.

    So here’s to a brighter future. Let’s hope more people start to value companionship over hot rotis and a clean house.


  3. Oh IHM… there still so far to go before our society gets to relationships based on companionship.

    Here a conversation I had with my mother who has lived in cities all her life…..

    Me : Ma, I wanna get married. There is this guy I have known for two years , and I would like to marry him.

    Ma : Thats great, we will be very happy if you get married. But (suddenly remembering) does he know… about you? .. ummm… err… about your past? Is he also… ??

    Me: That I am divorced? yes he knows ma. And No hes never been married…

    Ma : Huh? and hes ok with this? so how will you manage the cooking and housework along with your work?

    Me: Ma I won’t cook , and we will share housework.

    Ma: does he know all this? Then why does he want to marry you ?

    Me: … !!!!!!!!


  4. Brilliant post IHM!

    Made me think – If parent’s “virtues” and “morals” influence children or whether media has the upper hand. Because I also wonder if parents who want to pass on values of equality, respect, feminism, conscious consumerism and stuff do manage to create consciousness in their children or if the lil ones are more susceptible to the stereotyping of all types which is media’s law!?!?!


  5. Good to see times change….marriage should always be based on companionship and love, nothing else. The only ground on which the family can raise a concern is if the guy is not doing well in life financially coz that is an important factor in any marriage.


  6. oh the hope gladdens my heart!
    Esp, when I see educated women following the “Adarsh bharthiya naari” Principles!!
    I should do a post on them, you know – so that all women know how to be a “adarsh bharathiya naari”!!! 😉 :mrgreen:


  7. I don’t see what’s so terribly wrong in getting married without telling people who don’t agree??/
    what’s the big deal about elopement?

    I did it, I was working in B’lore, met my husband, fell in love & decided he was the guy , so i told my parents, he belong to the same sub-caste whatever ( by sheer chance) and we figured my parents wouldn’t have any issue.. oh boy did we fighure wrong. My mom was ok , my dad is very close to his sisters and brothers and boy did they pitch a fit!!! you’d think i was marrying a martian. all because his parents were no more ( accident) , my aunt influenced my dad and he ignoring my mom, me and brother pretty much told us infront of everyone that if i want him i was dead to them… my aunt even went so far as to ask me to take my jewellery off and leave . and no not in some village – all highly educated , business,working ,professor types. so i did the only thing lefy tossed the jewels , and left back to my workplace.
    my husband arranged the wedding in tiruvannamalai temple in 3 weeks, I gave y notice , got married , went to maldives on a honeymoon and then a beautiful filled with friends reception in Mumbai and am happily married for 20 yrs with twin 17 yr old boys . I saw my birth family for the first time after 19 yrs last yr at my brothers wedding!!! he was the only one in touch with me, he was 16 when i got married and he surprised me by coming to my temple wedding with a friend after purchasing a tiny thali with the money he earned setting up computers.. his pocket money ( 🙂 ) , he insisted i tie the 3rd knot in his wedding. and i went did it and left and saw the deep sadness and sorrow in my mom’s heart at missing out on her grand kids. I’m not angry that my dad refused to accept my choice , but I’m angry that a father can listen to a 3rd person and put a silly reason as more important than the happiness of his only daughter. and i feel bad that a few of my cousins bullied into marrying the elders choice are leading not so happy lives . to me this shows parents are not always wise and being older doesn’t confer wisdom . In all this i don’t think my dad could have found a groom like my husband, educated, compatible, handsome, ( rich, no inlaws – if that’s counted to be of value) and most imp crazy about me even if he stood upside down on 1 arm.….so no my kids will find their mate,m will study what they want, will live life as they please, happily and i will feel joy seeing their happiness… as a parent i cannot ask for more than good health and a lot of happiness for my kids… so no dad’s / parents don’t have mind reading, future predicting powers and are better off raising kids who are strong, independent and know their minds.


    • @Radha, Wonderfully inspiring story. I wish more would read this as much to know how some parents behave when faced with children who make their own choices as for the happy way your life has turned out for you. I really commend the 16 year old boy who came to the temple to be at his sister’s wedding.


    • Lady, you have courage! Also a husband who stood by you.

      A friend was considering elopement and I told her not to.

      So many people believe that the simple act of procreation bequeaths limitless wisdom and parenting skills on people. 🙂

      So many people hold parents responsible for the failures of adult children. 😦

      I think eloping would have deprived her of the parental safety net and support system.

      I feel that eloping puts a woman in a vulnerable position vis-a-vis the man, but glad to know there are happy endings.


      • Thanks all – you wouldn’t have thought it was inspiring or i was brave if you had seem me the first few yrs of marriage – oh the tears !!!!
        I think my husband even back then was light years ahead inthe maturity dept, and the irony was he was an only child and with both parents dead , he was actually looking forward to getting a new mom and dad 🙂 my dad could have got another son… It was not easy for him, he used to say, he lost his parents and was responsible partly for me losing mine…

        when you think of the big scheme of life, doesn’t this ill-will sound silly?
        I called last just before my delivery and when dad picked up the phone i said we were going to have twin babies and he said ” so what?” that was truly horrific. i think i wept straight thru the day. It was the breaking point for my husband, he sat me down and explained all that we had done right to get their approval and in the end nothing , we had 2 babies and when he looked at them he felt he could give his life for their happiness. I couln’t imagine at that moment wanting my child to be dead to me for making a choice.

        This has caused plenty of angst for my mom too, lost her grandsons, hates my aunt who wants to weild power over her brothers , sons who think their parents and sister should be listened too and not providing the sam eplatform for their wives — all inthe name of culture and staying married.

        I have only 3 things to say to a person – male/female
        1. Just because your child made a choice it’s not bad. Don’t confuse respect with choice.
        2. When you get married you make a commitement to a person that you will be a unit and make decisions regarding your unit together .
        3. Be independant – it’s more than just financial freedom, it’s freedomt o make a choice.


  8. Even within a love marriage there will be trials. For one thing, it is simply because there are two different people each having their own personalities bringing into the marriage differing perspectives. And, I know couples who have been matched and their marriage is great.
    I did have two sisters who married young. One is now on her second marriage, the other walking toward divorce. Perhaps (at least in this case) they were both too young. I think it is a wonderful thing for the parents and the families to be involved but to place unrealistic demands upon their children is a recipe for disaster. It does sound archaic in this day and age yet perhaps there is a place for it. At any rate there are many dynamics involved.
    Are we willing to work toward creating happy, healthy marriages or just making arrangements on the basis of ritual. Do we prepare our daughters for what is all involved in marriage or do we simply teach them how to keep a house and husband happy. marriage is more than that.


    • True, but in India, “preparing for marriage” means learning to adjust to your marital home, and knowing how to cook and keep house.

      Of course, such “preparation” is the sole preserve of women.

      Men always learn about marriage on the on-the-job. Indian parents seldom “prepare” sons for marriage.


  9. I have always believed Change is the only Certainity we have, the only permanent thing we see in our lives… So changes in the way we see relationships will also come about, it will take time. There is always hope.

    Answering “Doesn’t it make more sense to guide and support instead of segregating and moral policing?”
    Yes, it does make more sense to guide and support instead of segregating and moral policing…and now to the But part – Not many parents see guiding and supporting as part of their parenting. Most see providing food, clothing, shelter and education with extra curricular activities(depending on where the person is) as part of parenting…how to provide mental/emotional support to a child, help the child trust their self, help a child critically think, well, that is most often not a realm that figures in parenting. The most glaring reason for it, is that most parents are part of the Authoritarian system of parenting that is part of our Heirarchicial society. Most of us are drilled to think that Obedience, Outward respectfulness and Propriety is a reflection of good parenting, while not understanding that it is only part of the spectrum, the other part is, helping a child make their own decisions along a path of harmony without intimidation, coercion or fear of punishment. It is difficult to unlearn what we learned through watching our elders unless we are a very aware personality.


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