A friend has drawn my attention to the following question posted on a chat site and asked for my answer.
Here is the question:
My girlfriend and I are from different castes. My girlfriend would like to continue in her own caste, and I don't have any objection to that. Is it possible for her to continue in her own caste after marriage? And, if we have children, is it possible for them to remain in the mother's caste?
Here's my answer:
In our country, there is a huge difference between what is said and what is done, what the law says and what happens in reality (to a certain extent, this is the case everywhere but, generally, Protestant countris have the least gap between these, while "non-Protestant Christian" countries have a larger gap (and non-Christian societies have the biggest gap). That is not to say that, in the modern world, Christians as individuals are better than others - they may be or they may not be. My point is about the societies and nations that have been created by the different religious philosophies or ideologies).
So the facts in relation to your question are the following:
1. There is no legal reason in modern India why a wife cannot retain her maiden name.
2. There is also no legal reason why the children cannot take the mother's family or caste name.
3. If the motivation for the move on your girlfriend's part is to retain the favour of her community, that is a very good motivation but, in order for it to work as intended, she needs to talk to her parents and her community leaders to see if this would be an acceptable compromise. If they agree, then there is no reason to avoid proceeding with this arrangement.
4. However, if the motivation is to avoid caste slurs from members of your wife's caste on your children, this may or may not work. That is because, in our society, inter-caste marriages are always "out-caste" from both castes, as are the children. Generally, if any society does not follow the rule of casting out mixed-caste marriages, the caste that does the accepting is the lower caste. However, you need to be aware that since India's independence, caste is becoming less and less strong. However, if BJP comes to power in the next elections, it is not clear whether casteist forces will regain official momentum, as they have been regaining some momentum in some parts of the country since the last spell of NDA rule from 1998 to 2004
Born and brought up in Delhi, but from the age of 3 to the age of 8 in Amritsar and started school on holiday in Srinagar. Leaving Amritsar, at school for a year in Solan. Otherwise in Delhi, studying at J. D. Tytler School and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, then at St Stephen's College, where I eventually taught for 3 years. Then 3 years at North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong. Political exile from India in 1976. Lived/studied/worked in Scotland for 3 years, England for 16 years and Switzerland since then.