Divorce rates are shooting up in Pune, a noted IT city in western India. The trend is considered disturbing, if not alarming.
"During 2006, there were an average of 150 divorce cases a month but the number went up to approximately 240 cases a month during 2007. While half of them are as per mutual consent, the rest are on unilateral consent," says Vinay Borikar, principal judge at the family courts.
This is very unusual for a country where marriage is considered for life, "till death doth us part."
With a population of 4.5 million, Pune is the second largest city in the state of Maharashtra. It is located roughly 150 kilometers east of Mumbai, India's commercial metropolis and is itself a rising industrial city.
It has a very strong presence in the automobile sector and is home to many software and information technology (IT) companies.
Interestingly Pune is also considered the cultural capital of Marathi-speaking Maharashtrians. Pune has several reputed colleges and other educational institutions for this reason it is called the Oxford of the East (or 'Oxford of India').
Given such a backdrop, marriages dissolving quickly is indeed a matter of concern. A host of social, psychological, economic and cultural reasons are cited by couples while applying for a divorce. Lack of compatibility, interfering in-laws, cruelty, domestic violence and irregular communication were the causes of the split. The most typical reason for couples in the age bracket of 25 to 35 was lack of proper communication between them, reports the Times of India.
"Due to hectic work hours, couples are not able to invest enough time in each other. Unfortunately, they try to analyse their personal lives from the professional point of view. Such an attitude is very common among couples working in information technology (IT) companies," says advocate Abhay Apte. He stated that on an average, six or seven divorce petitions were filed every day last year.
Significantly, most couples applied for a divorce within two or three years of marriage. Interference by the families of both spouses has also been cited as the most common reason. "It has been observed that spouses prefer to talk about personal issues not with each other but with their respective families. This creates a communication void between them which results in misunderstandings. Also, parents can't easily let go of their authority over their children. They are in the habit of interfering in the couple's day-to-day lives," explains advocate Neelima Atre.
An increasing number of women are enjoying financial and emotional independence. Society too, is gradually accepting divorcees and the term 'divorce' doesn't carry the social stigma it once did. "Now, personal laws like the Hindu Marriage Act have a special provision for divorce by mutual consent.
Counselling by qualified counsellors at the family courts, especially during the six-month waiting period, rarely helps.
Whether the Marathi cultural capital is setting a new trend will be keenly watched by social observers.