Governments play an important role in shaping modern societies. They can also cause enormous harm via mindless interventions that trigger unintended consequences. Goa this week came close to witnessing utterly senseless government intervention. The BJP administration’s law minister Nilesh Cabral had proposed to make pre-nuptials counselling mandatory for marriage registration. The Goa Institute of Public Administration and Rural Development was expected to provide the certification.
Thankfully, there was a pushback. What lent it weight was that local BJP members joined in. CM Pramod Sawant then nixed the move. But the fact is a minister came close to allowing the bureaucracy into areas it has no business to be in. That the idea was mooted seriously is by itself worrying.
Government interventions in personal affairs are most acutely felt by women. It is fairly safe to assume that Goa’s state-ordained pre-marriage counselling wouldn’t have asked men to share a greater burden of housework or child care. Most retrograde laws that seek to control personal choices seek to confine women to areas deemed ‘proper’ by patriarchy and conservatism. The victory for good sense in the small state of Goa has big lessons for India.
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.
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