The text gives a brief history of gender relations, specifically marriage and divorce. In the past, "an independent life for women had never been contemplated under Hindu law, and their economic dependence on men (including only limited right to property) was at all times heavily emphasized." However, after the social revolution, the new constitution "broke down the joint family system with new inheritance laws, giving daughters equal rights to inherit with sons; it offered a unified marriage law all over India . . . allowing women the right of remarriage and divorce" (59). I am, of course, limited to my own perspective and understanding of the world, but it seems as though this change was a moral requirement. It is simply wrong for a husband to own his wife when the relationship should be an equal partnership.
Despite all the progress of the new Indian constitution, "the customs of thousands of years that have proved for some reason beneficial to society are very difficult to break" (59). If you believe a certain way then you will teach your children that way, and it is not until we change our beliefs and teach our children differently that society will be able to fully incorporate such changes into its structure. Thus, arranged marriages set up by parents and relatives are still the general rule. Further, "to fail in marriage is to fail in society, and the divorce rate is consequently low" (60). This is a big difference between Indian and American culture--divorce in America is perfectly acceptable, even the norm. Because an Indian divorce results in disownment, loss of caste and social identity, and even financial deprivation, there is very little reason to seek a way out of a marriage, even an abusive one.
The huge price of dowries, despite their illegality, "often puts the bride's family into debt for the rest of their lives." The dowry system places an inordinately higher value on men than women, requiring the bride's father to "practically give the shirt off his back" in order to secure a husband for her, and because of that I disagree with the practice (60). The most awful thing I read, which I don't want to discuss on my blog, is about bride burning. I don't want to believe that really happens.
This information doesn't have direct relevance to digital literacy in the TCV, but it certainly helped me to better understand the culture I'll be living in for three months this summer. Knowledge of this context will help me to shape my informal interview questions. For example, if Norbu and I are having a little interview to get to know each other, I will avoid asking how he met his wife (as I might ask someone at BYU in an interview) because his culture does not have the same tradition of finding a spouse from among college friends and acquaintances. What I'm saying is that this reading has helped me become more culturally sensitive, though it has not directly influenced my research.