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Tricky truths


TSI | Issue Dated: May 13, 2007
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Tricky truths When first born is second

Adoption remains one of the most complete ways of rehabilitating a child; often the only hope of thousands of orphans languishing in various government and private institutions. Having gone through the worst of deprivation, these children sometimes have to endure more, in the form of rejection, thanks to India’s abysmally low adoption rates compared to other countries. Consequently, a far bigger number remains with adoption agencies awaiting a future, even as the number of childless couples in India exceeds those of children eligible for adoption.

In a commendable move thus, the decision to adopt a girl child by Jaishree and Paranjoy Guha Thakurta is any society’s touchstone. Thakurta, a renowned journalist with over 30 years in print, radio and television media, had been childless despite medical intervention. The couple then chose to go ahead with adoption, specifically a girl, the weaker sex being not exactly preferred in adoptions. They approached Palna, an adoption agency run by the Delhi Council of Child Welfare, which chose Triveni for them. While they were revelling in the pleasures of parenthood, they were blessed with their own biological child, almost as if God was rewarding them for their noble act. First born but younger one, their son, Purnajyoti, is three while Triveni is five. Thakurta says, “It’s the most noble, terrifically rewarding thing anyone can do”. When queried about the concerns around adoption creating tensions, he replies with a “she is my child” in a way that brooks no argument. The couple recalls the opposition from certain ‘wellwishers’ who thought adoption wasn’t a good idea, but they had made up their mind. Adoption is still a cumbersome exercise in India with various agencies involved and reams of paperwork to fill, but Thakurta says, “If you are determined, then the inevitable paperwork isn’t a bother.” “Get rid of your prejudices, follow your heart and don’t listen to other people” is his advice to other couples who wish to adopt. Parents who adopt often choose to not tell him/her about their true identity which can lead to a sense of betrayal if the child were to find out later from other sources. On whether he planned to take his daughter into confidence, he said he was game. “As soon as Triveni is old enough to know where children came from, she would be told”, Thakurta replies frankly. The kids being young, Jaishree, a teacher, has shifted to being a full time homemaker. And Triveni, who had no one to call her own, now has a loving family that loves her unconditionally. May many others find their cradles of love too . . .

Amarpal Malhi Tricky truths Through the eyes of a Lawyer

Divorce . . . a word that somehow retains a foreign ring; as though something imported from abroad, alien to our ‘culture’, brushed under the carpet or at least not talked about openly. But say what you will, divorce is a growing reality for thousands of couples, young and old, in today’s India.

Whereas, we once had three judges looking after divorce cases in a solitary court, the number has grown to eight judges in various courts handling 40-45 cases everyday.

While some choose to blame ‘westernisation’ for the situation, TSI in an attempt to dig deeper, caught up with divorce lawyers, the father-son duo of B. Shankar Banerjee and Saurabh Banerjee. According to Shankar Banerjee, most clients in the 60s were Christians. Later, people from other communities started seeking divorce. According to the senior Banerjee, we had few instances of divorce, due to the stigma attached to it, especially for the girl. But, he says, “cases of divorce by mutual consent have been rising”. Also, the system was widely skewed in favour of the girl with the sympathy of the judge firmly with her. A lawyer representing a female client had a better than average chance of winning, but times have changed and “the contest is more even” he adds. Ask him about the continuous rise in divorces and he comes up with a list of reasons, starting from reduced stigma, empowerment of women, late marriages and couples not spending enough time together. The biggest problem, he says is the interference by the families of the couple. They have fixed ideas on how a relationship between a husband and wife should be. When confronted with the changing dynamics of marriage, the working wife (who comes home late), husband and wife going out on weekends and drinking, male friends of the wife and vice versa. They start injecting their conservatism and prejudices into the relationship. This leads to conflicts. Women, he says have also become far more assertive. The result: divorces caused by family interference shows no signs of abating.

When asked about the popular notion that love marriages aren’t as durable as arranged marriages, Banerjee says, “Both have similar problems and have roughly the same longevity”. Aware that people view him as a ‘terminator’ of marriages, the junior Banerjee says his job is more about counselling. “Listening, without judgment is the best thing” he says. He signs off saying, “Ultimately we are stuck between two cultures. We want the best of both but not the worst of any”!

Amarpal Malhi Tricky truths Prahlad Kakar on open marriage

“With the advent of the metrosexual male and the already emancipated woman, open marriages are being bandied around and the Indian middle class is girding its loins to sally forth and engage in fevered games like wife swapping, voyeurism, “not tonight darling”, separate bedrooms, separate companions, separate chauffeurs... Some marriages are mere convenience. There are couples who have discussed the fallout of a divorce, the accompanying acrimony, the huge bill and realised that being just ‘friends’, is the cheaper and less stressful option.

It’s rare for faithful couples to be friends, there’s always that delicious hint of suspicion. Regardless of how compatible a couple may seem to be, men and women react to infidelity differenty. Men react from ego and this puts them in a position difficult to climb down from, and so they end up being the losers. Women are more practical. They assess the situation to see if it’s just a one-night stand, a casual affair or if the man is contemplating a permanent adjustment in his life.

Open marriages only exist in the fevered minds of men who are married to the wrong women, or men who are bored of the crushing routines of their jobs and marriages. They could also be men hoping that the dragon lady finds herself a lover so that he can go out and play the field. What he doesn’t realize is that any hope of attention from a nubile young PYT, is a figment of his overheated hopeful little brain.

The better option is to invest in Playboy, and revisit and make good friends with your right hand, because trust me, he will be and will remain your best friend! Unless, of course, the man can talk to the hind legs of an elephant, be really smooth, lie through his teeth and have a really fat wallet! The woman is always at an advantage, because however plain and dumpy she might be, she will always find an indiscriminate lover!

Open marriages do exist. Pick up the little known fortnightly B.M. ads, i.e. broadminded ads, full of ads from middle-class couples looking for excitement in their now predictable lives. So there goes my theory that swinging is the prerogative of the rich or the very poor. Here is power to the middle class; they have nothing to lose but their hypocrisy
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017