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Fact Check: Did Mohan Bhagwat blame education for higher rates of divorce in the country?

Drawing a link between affluence and divorce rates is, by no means, controversial. A CNBC report from 2018 mentioned, "As the economy strengthens and incomes rise across the board, more couples may experience trouble, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Divorces tend to pick up, rather than decrease, in an economic boom, the organization said."

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The mainstream media is known to have an inherent bias towards the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the traditional notions of the family. And when the chief of the RSS, Mohan Bhagwat, makes a statement on matters of marriage and divorce, it is only to be expected that controversies will be created where there’s none. Recently, in a speech, Mohan Bhagwat made a statement of the concept of family, marriage and the increase in divorce rates that is witnessed in recent years.

In the segment of the speech that generated the most controversy, Mohan Bhagwat had said that the concept of family has changed from joint families to nuclear families with changing times. While accepting the times have changed, he spoke about how the family unit has disintegrated over time.

Mohan Bhagwat said that most think that fights primarily occur in poor and illiterate classes, however, most fights occur in literate, high-income groups. He said that the literate, high-income group often gets arrogant and because of the disintegration of the joint family system, people in these groups don’t get the Sanskar necessary to control their arrogance. It is because of this that fights occur and families then disintegrate. In this context, he mentioned the increasing rates of divorce in the country and said that the disintegration of the family occurs more in affluent families.

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Regardless of our opinion on Mohan Bhagwat’s words, it is an observable fact that divorce rates are higher in westernized societies. And unfortunately or otherwise, our concept of modernity is borrowed from the West. Furthermore, feminists celebrate higher rates of divorce as they consider marriage to be a patriarchal institution that is designed to oppress women. Thus, divorce is seen as a tool for the emancipation of women. Consequently, higher rates of divorce are interpreted as women becoming more educated and aware of their rights. Thus, drawing a link between higher education and higher rates of divorce is not unique to the RSS Chief.

Flop Bollywood Actress who happens to be the daughter of a successful father from the movie industry, Sonam Kapoor, was quick to make her indignation to the world. The actress who has a habit of putting her feet in her mouth called the statements ‘regressive’ and ‘foolish’.

Controversial journalist Swati Chaturvedi claimed that Mohan Bhagwat was blaming education for the increase in divorce rates when, quite clearly, the RSS Chief was aiming his gun at the arrogance of people.

Faye D’Souza claimed that Mohan Bhagwat’s statement was against women’s empowerment and the empowerment of girls. The RSS Chief did not direct his comments at any specific gender at all. One is forced to wonder what’s the basis for D’Souza’s allegations are.

The argument that Mohan Bhagwat’s comments were somehow against women was made by Zainab Sikander writing for The Print as well. “Women continue to be shamed and blamed for the relationship not working out. This evidently forces many to stay in toxic and abusive marriages,” she wrote. Again, Mohan Bhagwat is not placing the blame at the feet of any particular gender at all. And only people acting in bad faith would claim that he was.

The headline of PTI’s report on the matter was extremely misleading as well. It said, “Education and affluence drive families to divorce, says Mohan Bhagwat”. It is an extremely inaccurate representation of what the RSS Chief actually said. Mohan Bhagwat had said that arrogance leads to divorce, not education and affluence. He said that this is more prevalent among high-income groups. It’s markedly different from saying that education and affluence drive families to divorce, as the PTI’s headline claims.

PTI’s misleading headline

In line with the PTI’s headline, numerous bad-faith actors had claimed that Mohan Bhagwat had blamed education and affluence for increasing rates of divorce. The fact is, he did not. He had blamed arrogance for this and said that this arrogance was often more seen in families with higher education in high-income groups.

The leftist rage at Mohan Bhagwat for drawing a link between education and increasing divorce is rather disconcerting given the fact that a significant section of feminists want nothing more than to watch the institution of marriage crumble to the ground. And these people tend to be extremely educated. This, again, was revealed at the Leftist rage against Mohan Bhagwat’s comments. One anon user did say that marriage has ‘zero utility’ in the lives of millennials and that they have better things to do.

Not too long ago, in 2008, The New York Times was crediting more affluence for higher rates of divorce, just like recent statement of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on marriage and divorce. The report, headlined “With India’s new affluence comes the divorce generation”, claimed as much. However, it didn’t attract any criticism from liberals or the Left.

The New York Times report from 2008

Drawing a link between affluence and divorce rates is, by no means, controversial. A CNBC report from 2018 mentioned, “As the economy strengthens and incomes rise across the board, more couples may experience trouble, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Divorces tend to pick up, rather than decrease, in an economic boom, the organization said.”

The report added, “By an almost 2-to-1 margin, lawyers polled by the academy said they typically only see a decline in the number of divorces during national economic downturns. When forced to weigh damaged marriages against tight budgets and uncertain financial outlooks, many spouses seem more willing to try and wait it out, it said.” The report was headlined, ‘Being rich may increase your odds of divorce’.

The headline of the CNBC report

Studies also indicate that there’s a definite link between education and divorce rates although it is likely to vary from country to country. That requires a much broader discussion that is not entirely relevant here. In the current context, Mohan Bhagwat drew a link between education and affluence to divorce within the limited view that arrogance plays a significant role.

It’s quite obvious that the only reason liberals and leftists are raging at Mohan Bhagwat is that he does not believe divorces are a good thing. If he had cheered on divorce and credited education for higher rates of divorce, his comments would have been ignored entirely. It’s only because Mohan Bhagwat voiced his ordinary socially conservative opinions on the matter that he is being dragged through the mud by the ever willing mainstream media and the liberal cohorts.

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