How to Price Women?

December 26, 2020

It may be the cock that crows, but it is the hen that lays the eggs.” - Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013), first woman prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990.

Women come in the avatar of mother, wife and daughter. While daughters are pampered till they get to marriageable age, then they become a liability In terms of giving dowry and often demand for more from their husbands and in-laws. Yet, women are honoured and even worshipped as reflected in the following instances. In Tamil Nadu, an actor-film-maker has built a temple for his mother in his home-town Poovirunhavali. In Karnataka’s Yadgir district, Nagappa Kuntoji (80), a retired teacher, has built a temple in honour of his mother, where he worships her daily.

Mother worship is a given thing as reflected in a drunkard’s declaration “She is my mother – drunk or sober”.

But, wife-worship is in a different class as in a recent media report:

Industrialist Shrinivas Gupta, who celebrated his house warming function in Koppal, in Karnataka, installed a silicon wax statue of his wife Madhavi, who died in a car accident in July 2017. Pictures from the ceremony have since gone viral across social and news media.

“It is a great feeling to have my wife again at my home, as this was her dream home. An artist, Shreedhar Murthy from Bengaluru, took a year to prepare my wife’s statue. Silicon was used for the statue for durability,” said Gupta, putting his hand over the silicon replica of his departed wife.

The higher judiciary, Supreme Court and High Courts, have been handing down judgments progressively restoring power, rights and status to women in various contexts. One of the criteria of putting a value on women – beyond building sentimental temples and statues as noted above – is what the insurance companies dole out for women dying in accidents. Now we have happy incident of women being valued high in an insurance settlement as noted in the following instance widely covered in the media recently. On to the news report – this one by Rebecca Samervel of TNN on December 13, 2020.

Ruling that compensation for “loss of future prospects” can also be granted in the case of a housewife’s death, a Motor Accident Claims Tribunal ordered the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation to pay around Rs 17 lakh to the husband and two minor children of a 33-year-old woman who was killed after a bus rammed into their bike at Mankhurd, a suburb of Mumbai, in 2014.

“Loss of future prospects” is among the heads covered while awarding compensations in motor accident cases. The tribunal fixed the deceased housewife’s notional salary at Rs 5,000 per month.

A possible future increase in this notional monthly income was pegged at 40%, bringing the loss of future prospects to Rs 7,000 per month. The tribunal cited a recent Supreme Court judgment and said, “The housewife who contributes for the welfare of the family and upbringing for the children must be given future prospects in as much as with the passage of time, the utility of her services increases in the family.”

It stated that a housewife’s services to the family are invaluable. “The housewife renders very important duty. She looks after her husband and children passionately round the clock and creates the comfort zone in the house. In the absence of her in a house for a single day realises her importance (sic) to the other family members,” the tribunal said.

The tribunal refuted the defence that only when the housewife renders skilled services to the family does the question of future prospects come. It said that judgment does not make any distinction between a skilled and unskilled housewife.

“In fact housewife is a housewife and with the passage of time her skill in tackling and handling household affairs increases,” the tribunal said, quoting a Supreme Court judgment. While the victim’s husband and older son will each receive 30% of the compensation amount, the younger son will receive the remaining 40%.

Contrast this with a Tulu/Konkani adage downgrading the importance of mothers: “The mother cow does not store a stack of grass for its calf when it dies.” It seems a clear case of male arrogance.

The subject is open to many views. What are yours? Your response is welcome in the format given below. (Pl scroll down).

Tale-piece

On public transport buses two front seats each are reserved for senior citizens and handicapped persons. Senior citizens like me, with full white mane, do not have to carry a birth certificate. The conductors are reluctant to vacate seats already occupied by non-seniors.

When it comes to handicapped persons, one can recognize a polio-affected person –some of them crawling on all-fours. What happens to a man who has a slip-disc hidden under his shirt and it is not visible even when the shirt is lifted. (Here ‘man’ embraces ‘woman’ –as should be always).It is dangerous for such persons to travel standing with frequent violent jerks of the bus and sudden stoppages.

It should be possible for the RTO to issue “disability-bands” which can be attached to the hand for easy identification and spare such disabled to argue their claim for the reserved seats.

 

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By John B Monteiro
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Comment on this article

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel Mangalore

    Mon, Dec 28 2020

    Roshan, Mangalore: Thanks for your strong support for the handicapped. I hope your detailed suggestions for special treatment for the handicapped in passenger vehicles are noted and acted on by the concerned authorities.
    Ambrose Pereira, Bajpe: You seem to have tackled your issues well. As you say, the world teaches if you are watchful is apt.
    About the cow and calf I did not invent anything. It comes from my rural background in my growing years. Now cows and calves do not have the same role even in the villages where packed milk has made its inroads.
    Mohan Prabhu, Canada: There is a Tulu saying that “Anne Barethina annene vodod” (What elder brother writes, only he can read). Thousands of subordinate judges write judgment that makes sense only for them. But, I normally cite judgments of higher judiciary which are clearer.

  • Mohan Prabhu,, Mangalore (Kankanady)/Ottawa, Canada

    Sun, Dec 27 2020

    You are quite brave, John to enter (into a subject) where even angels fear to tread.
    2. In your last post: Are women Shylock, I quipped "a virtuous woman (wife) is worth her weight in gold, and your response was that in that case she would be rather heavy.
    3. In these court cases, especially where the wife aged only 33 died in an accident, what does the court mean by "future prospects". Is the possibility - which is very high - that after that monetary "award" by the court, the man will marry again [and be more valuable because he received a big settlement from the court or the insurance company. May be courts will consider "man's future prospects" before making the award - perhaps if it is a monthly "alimony" it will cease on re-marriage [mind you, if it is an insurance settlement, the insurance company is unlikely to be able to recover a penny].
    Mohanmam

  • Roshan Dsouza, Dubai

    Sat, Dec 26 2020

    Nice article. Thansk you very much............

  • Ambrose Pereira, Bajpe

    Sat, Dec 26 2020

    Here is my view John (and this is what we did):
    1. First, put the kids on their own feet (educate + skill them) and help them to be successful. So they do not look out for any handouts from their parents. Also teach them to crave for what is not theirs, including their parental wealth. Skill them such that they can give handouts to their parents if and when needed.....
    Please revisit your statement: “The mother cow does not store a stack of grass for its calf when it dies” - Mother cow teaches its calf to stand on its feet from the time of the calf's birth, so it does not have to store. And the calf has moved off from the cow as soon as the calf weans from the mother’s milk.

    2. Make a will: Accumulated wealth by the couple transfers to one another (spouse to spouse) upon each other’s death. If husband passes away first, wife gets all the wealth and if wife passes out first, husband keeps it all to ensure the money outlasts both. After the demise of both, majority or all of the wealth goes to the kid who looks after the elderly parents. The kid/kids in Gulf/ States need not inherit any wealth of parents as they have not looked after their parents for a day in their old-age but just come on holidays and enjoy free food/stay. There are lots of examples there...
    3. Most important, let your financial position be known to your other spouse on a monthly basis. And let your kids know that they get nothing till both the parents are alive and also tell them that the major amount of parental wealth shall go to the kid who looks after the parents in their old age. This is important to avoid future conflicts between the kids. It is parent’s money and they have all the rights to dispose off the assets of as they deem right. Also teach your kids to not involve the police and courts or any external agencies in the family affairs (my dad taught me this).
    This wealth transfer is complex. Best is to watch and learn and improvise. The world teaches if you are watchful.......

  • Rohan, Mangalore

    Sat, Dec 26 2020

    Dear Sir,
    Very interesting topic. I am of the opinion that we are all born equal souls and hence there is no.distinction between men or women. All rights should be equal for both in all aspects. In fact what I have seen is women take more pain in bearing children and also taking care of their daily needs. Also help them in initial learning. Men on the other hand have equally tough tasks at hand in the responsibility of providing. It's difficult to underestimate the importance of each one and hence the equality aspect.
    The bands of different colour will surely help the conductors. Also they can have GPS and can be bar coded. They can also have vital health monitors and can be a full time health band. It cm also be used in digital ticketing.
    A really good post from you today and is good for thought.


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