Imatges de pàgina

echolarships to married students, I believe it may do good, without hindering the progress of education itself.

31. UTAMRAM N. MEHTA.—The following remedies are suggested by this gentleman for preventing infant marriage and introducing widow marriage :-"(1) The formation of associations for the consideration of this subject and of the means to be adopted to prevent these practices, (2) the co-operation of the Hindu church, (3) and of the Hindu States, (4) the moral support of those who are in authority, (5) the efforts of the educated, the influential, and the wealthy, (6) the great spread of education among the males and females."

In order to find out whether the progress of social reform is slow or rapid, he suggests entries to be made in all school registers and in Educational Reports of the numbers of married and unmarried students. He also suggests that District Officers should preside or attend at Social Reform Meetings.

32. MANMOHANDAS DAYALDAS.—The meaning we attach to the words "Infant Marriage' is marriage contracted in a state of ignorance. Whatever the age of a girl or boy may be, it is still an infant marriage, if the contracting parties are ignorant of what marriage or love is, how that feeling is created, what woman is intended for &c. The best means of preventing infant marriage is to impart instruction in these subjects through books &c. Besides, parents should also behave well in the presence of children.

33. PANDIT NARAYEN KESOW VAIDYA.—There have been lectures given from the platform, essays written which carried away splendid prizes, sermons preached from the pulpit, but practical action has been nil.

That can be achieved by legislation, and that only....... It is desirable that Government should legislate, and fix the respective ages of boys and girls at 16 and 11, which in my opinion, considering the climatic circumstances of the country, appear to be neither too high nor too low.

34. PANDIT GUTTULAL.-There exists a practice according to which parents and others, with the object of getting money, marry their daughters &c., to very young and sometimes to very old persons. This is a very sinful practice, which is particularly disapproved of by the people, and by the Shastras, and should in every way be put a stop to; because great blame attaches to the selling of girls............ It seems necessary that a law, which would be in conformity with the Shastras, should be made, in order that this great principle of religion may be strictly observed.

35. GOKULDAS KAHANDAS PAREKH.--Influential movements should be organized, each including all such castes as are of the same social standing and mix at dinner, for the purpose of removing all restrictions against marriage, when the parties, though not belonging to the same caste or subdivision, belong to castes which mix with each other at dinner. If these movements fail, then my proposal is that, in the event of a man marrying the girl of a person belonging to another caste or subdivision of the same caste with whom the members of his caste mix at food, the legislature should restrain the caste of the husband from excommunicating him, and of the parents of the bride from excommunicating them. By restraining I mean, that the legislation should declare such action on the part of the caste illegal, and visit it with a small fine. In most cases the castes and subdivisions of caste, that mix in food, are off-shoots of one original caste.

I consider it necessary to state why, when in my opinion the proposal that I make would be acceptable to a large majority of the people, they should not arrange this among themselves, and why a necessity, under certain circumstances, for in voking the assistance of the legislature is anticipated. The reason is abvious. This movement cannot be a movement of one or two castes, but of all castes of the same grade united: the combined castes form such an unwieldy and massive body that their opinion could not be obtained. As regards individuals, they are afraid to be severed from their relations by the action of the caste, who cannot sanction any movement of its members in this direction, so long as they are not sure that they would be reciprocated by the other castes. As regards those few people who would not care for the caste, their joining together will confer no good, as they would thereby be merely adding a new caste to the large number that exist. In my opinion, if there is a legislative measure of the kind I propose, all difficulties may be got over. I also think that it would be good, if the legislature makes all contracts of exchanges of girls void and unenforceable.

In cases of grown-up husbands marrying very young girls, the consummation takes place sometimes too early. This leaves a lasting effect on the girl's constitution. I propose that, the definition of the oftence of rape may be so modified as to render intercourse with the wife, before she completes her 12th year, or in the case of her reaching puberty before the completion of the 12th year, before her reching puberty, illegal. The punishment for the consummation between the 10th and 12th year might be lighter than that of consummation when she is under 10 years of age, but it is necessary that such a consummation should be declared illegal and punishable.

36. His HIGHNESS THE Rao OF Cutch. I do concur however in Mr. Malabari's suggestion as to moral support being advantageously accorded by the State, with a view to promote the object in view.

37, His HIGHNESS THE THAKOR SAHEB OF BHAVNAGAR.—These customs (infant marriage and enforced widowhood) involve the religion of the Hindus, whose feelings are likely to be injured by any forced measures. Consequently I do not think it wise or safe, to have recourse to any of them in such a way as to excite their feelings. To my mind, the remedies for the proposed reforms lie in the voluntary movement adopted by the unanimous voice of the community concerned, and this might only be expected by further spread of

education, which will, I believe, make the majority in the various sections to appreciate, themselves, the necessity of any such reforms, as occasions may arise.

38. His HIGHNESS THE THAKOR SAHIB OF MORVI.-Direct interference of the State by way of legislation will have no salutary results, so long as rigid observances of caste distinctions continue with all their might and main. But, I think, Government can safely and rightly adopt other indirect means suggested by Mr. Malabari in his said notes, and approved of by many, for aiming a blow at the evil.

As to marriages of old men with young girls, the Thakor Sahib wishes for immediate interference. He says “ These marriages which are the primary causes of grievous widowhood, and which add to the number of young widows on one hand, and which discourage widowers from accepting widows however young, beautiful, and noble they may be, as their wives, ought to be stopped by authority.

39. JAYASING RAO, REGENT OF KOLHAPUR.-At this rate the state of things will never improve. Let the so called leaders of society set an example themselves, and the rest are sure to follow.

40. SHANTARAM NARAYEN.-I am then humbly an advocate of legislative interference in the matter of infant marriage. All civilised Governments have dealt with the question of marriage, of the mutual relations between men and women, as one of which the State has a right and is bound to take cognizance. For instance, in Germany, the marriageable age fixed by law for men is 18, and for women 14; in Belgium 18 and 15; in Spain 14 and 12; in France 18 and 15; in Greece 14 and 12; in Hungary (for Protestants) 18 and 16 and (for Catholics) 14 and 12; in Portugal 14 and 12; in Russia 18 and 16; in Saxony 18 and 16; in Switzerland 14 and 12 ; in Austria 14 and 14 respectively.

Even in India, it has been from the ancient times a recog. nized principle for the law-giver to fix the marriageable

limit of age for both men and women, and Diwan Bahadur Raghunathrao, one of our best Sanskrit scholars and leading social reformers, has shown that according to the Shastras infant marriages, as they now prevail, are not legal, and that they are of modern growth. Then again, the State is bound to protect the rights and interests of minors as their parens patric. Looking upon the question in this light, I do not see why the Government in India should not make laws on the subject of marriage. It is said that by making such laws the Government, not being an indigenous but an exotic one, would be departing from the principle of religious or social neutrality to which it had wedded itself in the administration of the country. But have not Government abolished Suttee, and legalised the marriage of widows, made laws for the management of religious endowments, fixed the age of majority by means. of the Indian Majority Act, rendered the Shesha ceremony punishable under the Indian Penal Code ? Some people argue as if the State or Sirkar has not yet interfered with our social customs. What do we witness every day in ou Courts of Justice? We have a Hindu Law, it is true, but is not that law involved in confusion, and is it not a fact that our courts are expounding it as best they can, and bringing into vogue, in effect, new adaptations which Hindu lawyers of a bygone age would have probably stared at? The whole administration of the Hindu law is, in fact, based upon a legal fiction, and it affords a signal example of the fact that our customs are already being regulated by judiciary interference of a sort; and to the Hindu people such interference is as effective as legislative interference, for the Sirkar, whether sitting in the majesty of Justice, or the Sirkar proclaiming laws from the throne, is to the Hindu alike paternal, and may be_beld equally liable to be complained against as meddlesome. Those therefore who think that there is no State interference now with our religious practices or social customs, are either not aware of the real state of things, or are ignoring it.

I therefore respectfully submit that, it is the duty of the State and the State alone, to fix a reasonable standard of


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