Marriageable at 25 not 18 or 21

    25-Dec-2021
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Free Thinker
A few days back a Bill to raise the marriageable age of women from 18 to 21 has been brought in the Parliament. After its introduction, the Bill has been referred to a Committee for further discussion. Now it has triggered a national debate, whether it is right or wrong? Appropriate or inappropriate? Timely or untimely? Rational or irrational? Political or  Religious or communal ?
I really don’t understand the logic of marriage. Some say it is a contract, others say it is an institution, another says it is a compromise for life; many accept it as a sacrament; believers maintain that it is made in heaven and materialized on earth. Wise people don’t fall in this trap. For instance Kalam Saab, Vajpayee ji, Amma, Didi, Behan ji etc. Ultimately it seems marriages are meant for common fools.
If the government desires to hike the marriageable age for girls from 18 to 21 – it seems okay - in order to make it equal with the boys. Girls at 18 and boys at 21, this arrangement sounds biased, as if girls are more mature and intelligent.  Boys are treated as fools, immature and lack of understanding (though true). Now the parity is going to be maintained at – 21 & 21.
Let us forget about politics, religion, personal law, individual choice, etc., Let us seriously think about the girls in the poor families or in the marginalized section of the society. A huge number of girls from poverty stricken families can’t even reach school (despite right to education); even if they reach the schools, drop-outs number is extremely high. Coming to college and getting decent jobs is still a far cry for them. Law is important but what is more important is to create a culture for making our poor girls – educated, independent and self-reliant.
Government feels that it will bring about gender equality and justice. Further women shall be in a better position at 21, educationally,  mentally and physically as compared to their position at 18. This is universally true. But 25 will be much better for both boys and girls as they become more educated, mature and independent or self-reliant around this age..
 Experts, social workers, political leaders and renowned lawyers  maintain that at the time of marriage women should be  educated,  independent, mature enough to handle any situation of life, physically and mentally - capable to bear and rear children.  Going by the same logic, women at 31 will be more educated, financially sounder, mentally and physically robust, they will be more mature and composed. That will be late, but 25 is the right age.  
Some argue that at the age of 18 you are allowed to choose your Chief Minister or Prime minister  but you are still not mature enough to get yourself married.  Marriage is such an intricate institution/ issue/ thing/ idea/ contract/ relation/ understanding/ compromise that can’t be imposed on tender minds. Even the most intelligent Gautam Buddha ran away from it. There are other examples also.
Perhaps we also want to check population growth indirectly. When the marriage age was increased from 15 to 18 in 1978 – I don’t think it helped in demographic control. Instead number of illegal marriages grew. Despite the existence of the law, underage marriage stands at 24% in the country. I wonder by making marriageable age at 21 for girls will there be improvement? Hope so, if we can spread the right kind of awareness in every nook and corner of the country.
If we enact a law and if it can’t be implemented properly, the law becomes redundant.  If majority people start breaking the law, it shows that something is wrong with the law. For instance the anti- smoking laws, prohibition laws, anti-speeding law, anti-prostitution law, anti-defection law etc. Why all these laws can’t be so successful? The simple reason is - these laws go against the basic human instincts, wild human spirit, inherent selfishness, uncontrollable thoughts, unfettered longing for enjoyment.
If we really want to empower our girls, 21 is still not the right age it should be 25. Most of the women by this age become slightly independent, more assertive and versatile. One very unpopular Gynaecologist also told me that 25 to 30 is the best period for child bearing.    
I think 25 is okay for both boys and girls to enter the marriage-conundrum as the Constitution has already allowed all , at this age, to enter  Assembly and Parliament which are equally confusing inside. And at 25 it is also legally permitted to enter Bars and remain drunk. Recently ,Delhi has reduced it to 21, might be because of the unbearable pressure from the alcohol lobby. Before attaining the marriageable age at 25 if young adults (18 to 24) do something, we may call it pre-marital experiment and if children are born out of it - they must be treated as natural citizens of the State, to be taken care of by the Government.
Editor of this paper intimated me the meaning of ‘ultracrepidarian’ – one who is in the habit of giving advice on matters he himself knows nothing – in India they are called Chutiyas . Seriously, I think, I belong to that category. Still, I bet for 25 for both Sexes.