India That Is Bharat
Sariticus is a patriotic Indian. But does that mean he should let India muddle up his already addled brain? He is talking about this mysterious science called Indian economics as reflected in the Indian economy. Take, for instance, this simple question of Satiricus: Are we Indians rich or poor? Our erudite Indian economists do not seem to know the answer. In particular, they cannot explain how we Indians do the magic of wallowing in wealth and drowning in poverty at one and the same time. We have the ruling party at the centre whose income went up seven times in eight years; we have a Chief Minister in a state who spends tens of crores on her home and hundreds of crores on her statues, and we have a Planning Commissioner who flies off to America almost every alternate month—presumably to plan the American well-being of the Indian economy. At the same time, this same Planning Commissioner says the aam Indian can (or must) live on Rs 26 per day. And now there is this recent international survey which shows that India is one of the eight or ten bottom countries where people suffer the most from the pangs of hunger. How is this possible? Only God and our economist Prime Minister know. (Actually Satiricus has doubts about God.)
Anyway, despite being a congenital ignoramus, Satiricus knows one simple fact of life—when a poor man has no food to eat because he has no money to buy food, he sells whatever he has in the house to get some money. And is that exactly not what poor America and poorer Britain are currently doing? Not long back the Brits had announced a sale of all odds and ends, ranging from warships to dentist’s chairs and doormats. And of course what the Brits can do the Americans can do better. So the other day they announced the sale of, among other things, islands and airports! So how about us Indians selling, say, the Taj Mahal? Sorry, sorry, sorry! We can’t sell such a sacred shrine of secular India. On the other hand, we would happily auctioned the Ram Temple of Ayodhya—had it been there. Alas, it is not. Oh well, we live in a less than perfectly secular world.
Philosophers tell us all things in this world are ephemeral, temporary. For the law-makers of Mexico these temporary things include marriages. For they are reportedly considering a law that puts a two-year expiry date on marriages. How very considerate! If we now have “use-by” or “good-till” date for everything from a headache pill to a loaf of bread, why not for marriages? And if a medicine may expire after two years, so may a marriage. A headache pill may be no good for the head after two years ; similarly a marriage that becomes a headache in two years is no good. But what made these law-makers decide on two years? What happens if and when the marriage licence is valid but the marriage is not? In this age of convenience will that not be an insufferable inconvenience?
Fortunately there is a wonderful way out—the “Muta” marriage. A ‘Muta’ marriage is an Islamic contract between a man and a woman going to become husband and wife, in which the period of the contractual marriage is specified—it may be just one hour, or it may be as long as 99 years. How colossally convenient! In fact, it is reportedly so popular in Iran and the Government of Iran found it so ingenious that in 2008 it launched a huge campaign to encourage the country’s youth “to seek sexual fulfilment in Muta marriage”, because, as a Muslim by name Ziauddin Sardar wrote in a paper called The New Statesman, “an increasing number of them are delaying marriage because of financial pressures, thereby missing out on sex”.
Satiricus is impressed. Could there be a better way to have your cake and have it too? Actually there is, and it is a brilliantly better idea—why marry a husband when you can hire a husband? Satiricus is not joking. For according to newspaper reports a couple of years ago, many divorced women in Saudi Arabia now prefer unemployed men as husbands. These “husbands” are paid a regular salary, and they can be hired and fired at will of the wife. In some cases the hired husbands are much younger than their wives, and so they are promised marriage with a younger woman after a few years. This is fabulously convenient. So in all seriousness Satiricus would suggest to the Mexicans to stop issuing a temporary marriage certificate to a man and woman, and instead ask the woman to issue to the man a letter of appointment as her temporary husband.