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Nation and FamilyPersonal Law, Cultural Pluralism, and Gendered Citizenship in India$
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Narendra Subramanian

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804788786

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804788786.001.0001

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Official Nationalism, Multiculturalism, and Majoritarian Citizen Making

Official Nationalism, Multiculturalism, and Majoritarian Citizen Making

The Formation of the Postcolonial Policy Frame

(p.91) Chapter 3 Official Nationalism, Multiculturalism, and Majoritarian Citizen Making
Nation and Family

Narendra Subramanian

Stanford University Press

This chapter examines the formation of the Indian state's approach to personal law in the first postcolonial decade. Policy makers maintained distinct personal laws, changed Hindu law alone although support for reform and levels of gender inequality were not lower among Muslims, and suggested that Hindu law reform was a step toward a homogeneous family law because they conceived the Indian nation and modern family primarily through their engagement with certain Hindu initiatives and traditions. They granted fault-based divorce rights, banned bigamy, accepted intercaste marriages, and extended women's right to inherit their parents’ separate intestate property to signal that they valued women's rights and conjugal autonomy. But concerns to maintain broad coalitions restrained them from giving women rights in jointly owned family property, decomposing joint property into individual shares, limiting testamentary rights, or enabling no-fault divorces. This maintained the authority of patrilineages and men in crucial ways.

Keywords:   Hindu-law legislative reform, Uniform Civil Code, divorce rights, women's inheritance rights, shastras and social reform, Mitakshara and Dayabhaga law, joint property, Special Marriage Act, caste custom and divorce, Hindu marriage as samskara

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