Women’s identity in the field of politics and the Social Justice movement has a major concern part of the contemporary political discourse. At the beginning of the 21st century, this concept emerged with intensity and become the idea of the policy. During the time of independence power, dominance, and understanding of women were governed with the Dharma Shastra and Smriti, which are available in traditional Hindu society. The new India was constructed on the base of modern understanding and ideology. In the course of time, we enforced our constitution, many new things, and declared “total revolution”. On that part of the Indian culture and control on her on that society Forbidden women based human rights which are given to them in the modern era Women have forbidden the rights like- liberty, education, right over the property and right to take any decision over their own marriage.
Hindu Code Bill: The contribution of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to Women’s Rights in India
Let’s explore comprehensive features of the Hindu code bill and reaction to that introduction.
When introduced in the Parliament on August 11, 1946, but not acted upon because of numerous reasons. After independence Law Minister Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in the Constituent assembly reintroduced it on April 11, 1947. The bill had a serious concern about women’s status in society and it was duly reflected in the bill. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar remarked that; his work on the Hindu code bill would be as important as his contribution to the constitution itself.
The bill pointed out that the old Hindu law was degrading as it promoted male dominance over women. Hindu law was interpreted through Vedas, Smriti, and Puranas. There was no real codification and uniformity, the real side of the law was that the life of a Hindu woman was in the hands of a Hindu male. In Hindus, there were two laws regarding inheritance, marriage, and adoption. Those two laws had their own point of view and their own meaning of equality.
The 2 laws of Hindu laws were mitakshara and dayabhaga during this we can see the different points of view. In this, where mitakshara ‘rule of law’, which says that the property of a man is not private property, it belongs to coparcenary. Whereas the second law was dayabhaga, ‘set of law’ which says that; the ownership of the property has its individual character; who inherits the property from their progenitors has absolute right over that property.
The difference between the two laws was clearly visible- where the fist law totally restricted its nature, the latter gave property rights to women; this was added in the Hindu code bill as well by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.
Need of Today’s Modern Society
He wanted to make this a common law by modifying it to fulfill the social need of modern days. Through this bill, Ambedkar tried to reduce gender inequality and wanted to give a respectable status to a widow. Therefore, to revive gender equality in our society he gave equal rights to daughters in her father’s property as well as in his husband’s property.
The Hindu code bill had certain provisions regarding marriage and gave rights to a married woman. Prior to this bill, women do not have the right to divorce, judicial separation, and more similar rights, this kind of marriage is termed as “non-civil marriage”. This bill was introduced with another type of marriage known as “civil marriage”. In the civil marriage, the women have the full right of divorce, judicial separation, restitution of conjugal rights, etc. This bill also prohibits the practice of polygamy and prescribed monogamy. Dr. Ambedkar saw the pain and struggle of women and made laws for their benefit. Through the bill, Ambedkar took measures to get rid of class structure through marriage and the adoption of a child.
“If Pandit Nehru and his colleagues succeed in establishing that; even one section of the proposed Hindu Code is in accordance with the Shastras‘, I shall accept the entire Hindu Code”.said Karpatri,
A Protection from Orthodox Laws but not thoughts
The radical departure from orthodox Hindu thought; the bill was not canceled; but was withdrawn on the face of much antagonism from Hindu ideology; and particularly from Hindu Mahasabha and Bharatiya Jana Sangh who glorify manuvadi legacy. The Hindu Mahasabha opposed the bill; so as to forestall any legislative interference within the religious matter in Hindus; and it is been stated that it’s against the Indian culture; and it provides the choice of divorce. Such religious conservative and patriarchal social elements of the society condemned the bill’s provision for women ownership, monogamy, and divorce.
The robust antagonism expressed even by the former president Rajendra Prasad; when he argued that, the bill intervenes in Hindu personal law and would satisfy only some purported progressive people. The deputy speaker Ananthasayanam Aiyyangar who opposition carries on further. Ambedkar’s status of being non-congressmen had made it more difficult for him; and he was a good protagonist of the bill. Because he took this bill as an opportunity to reform Hindu society; but his identity of being an untouchable was a controversy; that created retardations in his way to Reform Hindu law.
As it is evident from the statement of jereshastri; who said in an indecent language that the “Ganga water from a gutter could not be considered Holy.” Some members open lead declared that as long as Dr. Ambedkar was piloting the bill they might not allow it to pass. It is apparent from the very fact that in 1955-56 when Ambedkar wasn’t in the cabinet this bill was enacted smoothly.
Ganga water from a gutter could not be considered HolyJereshastri
However, this bill was passed as four separate acts-
- Hindu Marriage Act of 1955
- The Hindu Succession Act of 1956
- Hindu adoption and maintenance act of 1956
- The Hindu minority and guardianship Act of 1956
Ambedkar’s idea influence the enactment of the many subsequent Pro Women Act; Sati Prevention Act 1987; dowry prohibition act 1961, family court act 1984, protection of human rights act 1933, the Maternity Benefit Act 1956, Immoral traffic prevention act 1956, the child marriage restriction act 1929, the equal remuneration act 1976, the National Commission for women acts 1990, protection of women from domestic violence act 2005.
It is quite evident from the above project, that most of the features of the Hindu code bill reformed by Dr. Ambedkar show that he was well versed about the original sense of Liberty, equality, fraternity, and dignity. He never wanted women to face inequality and believed that women are not below the men; he knew that a woman could achieve any heights. Through this bill he wanted to give equal rights to women, he gave them rights in all fields from education to property. Sadly, he was not the person who could make this bill a success because of the ill mentality of people, but the changes he mentioned were the need of the hour; so it was implemented through various acts. Only because of his efforts, today’s Indian women have a status in society and can achieve anything they want, just like any man in society.