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The Story Of World's Longest Human Chain - Bihar Manav Shrinkhla

Manav Shrinkhla

On January 21, 2018, (the people of) Bihar assembled together to form a human chain, the manav shrinkhla. It was the world's longest human chain ever formed. Last year, exactly on the same date, Bihar had formed a similar human chain to show their firm stand against alcoholism. At that moment, it was also claimed and publicized as the largest human chain ever formed in the world. But this year, it has been covered only as a news and not discussed widely on the Op-ed page. So, probably I’m filling the spaces our mediawallahs has left empty.

For your information, a human chain is a demonstration by the masses to show political solidarity, for or against a cause, in which people link arms with one another to form a large chain. Usually, the organizers of such event put an exaggerated data to the public in order to show how genuine their concern is. Still, it's a universal method to win support and encouragement of the public.

We can say that Bihar government has actually celebrated its human-chain-making-anniversary by making another human chain, bigger than the earlier one. This time, the claim is of forming a statewide human chain of over 13,000 km long, which earlier in 2017, was estimated to be around 11292 km. Bihar breaking its own record appears to be an undisputed claim, the gullibility of which stems from its population size as it comes only on the third position. But let's not get into the record making and breaking part, and instead focus on the purpose behind it. This time the purpose of forming manav shrinkhla was to create awareness against two ‘alleged’ social evils — Child-Marriage and the Dowry practice.

Nitish’s moral stunt

With the ongoing campaign of his government’s against dowry and child-marriage, Nitish Kumar has furthered his policy of bringing a social reform in Bihar and reinforced his image of a social reformer. But, how significant is it? Is this the biggest problem Bihar is facing? or, it’s a stunt to garner attention and support of Biharis? The intensity with which Nitish government is campaigning against these 'social evils', these questions become essential to be answered.

So, is it Nitish Kumar's drama? The answer can't be monosyllabic ‘yes’ or ‘no’. But, it can be reasoned on the basis of current trends and facts. Like other Indian states, Bihar has significantly improvized in reducing child-marriage cases to such an extent that makes it trivial and insignificant. The practice has been discontinued even in rural areas and can only be observed in immensely backward and tribal and remote areas, those disconnected with the mainstream political sphere.

Let’s discuss dowry

India is a country where the practice of dowry has been prevalent in one form or another, but as it's a consensual act having links with marriage rituals, this long-standing but slightly immoral practice exists in the society despite having been secured by the law, the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.

According to the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, dowry means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given, either directly or indirectly, by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage; or by the parents of either party to a marriage or by any other person, to either party to the marriage or to any other person;at or before or any time after the marriage in connection with the marriage of said parties.

That's a boring legal definition for something well-known. The truth is, it is not even considered as illegal, which is why the problem of dowry is seated deep in the society. Bihar ranks only second in the country, after neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, in dowry-related cases. It needs to be mentioned that since Bihar is opening up, it doesn't imply the fact of these 'social evils' being exclusive to Bihar.

Final Remark

Dowry is already illegal, it is in practice, no doubt. And, child-marriage is almost negligible. If we look at his political career, he never shied away from taking risks. The breakup with BJP, forming an impractical grand alliance, the 'mahagathbandhan', taking strong decisions like booze ban, not becoming corrupt or support his partner's blatant corruption out of political pressure, etc, etc. The list could be really long. Then, why Nitish Kumar is taking so much interest in these “social-evils’ is beyond my understanding.

The major issues Bihar is battling with is the despicable quality of education and the rampant migration rate. These are grave problems to Bihar, more than alcohol or, dowry or, child marriage. Making long human chain is no achievement, though making the state free from alcohol and dowry, can be regarded as achievements. But if Bihar's Vikash-Purush Nitish babu really wants to become a great reformer, he needs to act on the important public issues first. Otherwise, he will be reduced to mere as a feminist.

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