Citizenship Programme Interaction with Fmr ASG Ms Madhavi Divan on the UCC

"Unity in diversity is India's strength. There is simplicity in every Indian. There is unity in every corner of India. This is our strength" Shri Narendra Modi

On 6 April 2024, the students of classes VIII to XI got an exciting opportunity to interact with Ms  Madhavi Goradia Divan, formerly Assistant Solicitor General of India and Member of our School governing board, to expand their knowledge on the Uniform Civil Code.

The talk started with Ms Divan asking what the students for their knowledge about the Uniform Civil Code. After getting eye opening perspectives from the students, she started a discussion. She described how Pre-independence India was divided into provinces and princely states. After gaining independence, Sardar Patel was asked to convince the rulers of these states to join the Union of India. Of these, the Nizam of Hyderabad and the rulers of the north eastern states were the most difficult to convince. In the end, India, as we know today, was created.

India is a land of linguistic and cultural differences. It was quite difficult to unite the diverse people to form a single nation. The cultural and religion differences in India emerged with their own problems. There were some religions with their own rules which had to be followed in the name of religion. Normally, as India is a secular country, every citizen is free to practice their religion and the rules laid down by their religion. There were some rules which threatened the fundamental rights of people. The rules were mostly related to maintenance, adoption, marriage, divorce and inheritance.

The practice of bigamy and polygamy is quite prevalent in some religions, so is the unequal distribution of inheritance between female and the male  heirs as well as the divorce laws which vary. Hence, the government felt that a Uniform Civil Code must be implemented in the country. The idea of UCC is not a measure to wipe out diversity of India. The idea is to wipe out disparity. Men and women of the same religion must have equal status in all matters.

The UCC will not prevent any religion to do away with their practices except those practices which deny citizens their fundamental rights. For example, adopting children is not allowed by some religions. Even if a couple is ready for adoption, they will be forced to abandon the idea only on account of their religion. This will not allow them to exercise their fundamental right. In the case of divorce as well, we have many cases. Triple Talaq gave a man the opportunity to divorce his wife just by pronouncing ‘talaq’ three times. This was unfair to the wife and hence jeopardised her fundamental rights. 

In conclusion, Ms Madhavi Divan stated that the UCC grants rights mainly to women and that some people think that it is feminist but if one is ready to see the broader picture,  we will understand the positive impact it is likely to have on our society as a whole. Ms Divan also answered several questions posed by the students.

The interaction provided the students with a new perspective on the Uniform Civil Code. The talk answered many questions and in turn, lead the students to have more questions and encouragement to delve deeper into the Uniform Civil Code, research and have their own opinions in the implementation of it.

Ashwini Prakash, XA.