As property prices rise, more Indian women claim inheritance

A 2005 law gave Hindu women across India equal inheritance rights but few have made claims because they are unaware of the law. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 March 2019
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As property prices rise, more Indian women claim inheritance

  • An increase in property prices near New Delhi has pushed more women in to claim their share
  • Only 13 percent of farmland is owned by women, according to the latest census data from 2011

NEW DELHI: Rising property prices in parts of India have helped achieve what women’s rights groups have tried and failed to do for decades — get more women to claim their inheritance.
A 2005 law gave Hindu women across India equal inheritance rights but few have made claims because they are unaware of the law, or have been forced to give up their claims by male family members, according to analysts.
But an increase in property prices near the Indian capital, New Delhi, has pushed more women in Haryana state to claim their share, gender and land rights experts said on Wednesday.
“Despite laws that give rights of inheritance to women, low levels of education and a strong patriarchal tradition can rob women of these rights,” said Prem Chowdhry, a gender expert who has researched women’s inheritance in Haryana.
“But because prices of land have sky-rocketed in these areas, women are being pushed by their husbands or fathers-in-law to claim their share of the family property, or at least be compensated in some way for it,” she said on the sidelines of a land conference in New Delhi.
Property prices in the three Haryana cities that are closest to Delhi have risen by more than half in the past decade as more migrants flocked to the capital and transport links improved, according to Anarock, an Indian property consultant.
Amendments in 2005 to the Hindu Succession Act, which governs matters of inheritance among Hindus — who make up about 80 percent of India’s population — made women’s inheritance rights equal to those of men.
Yet in several states in northern and western India, the custom of “haq tyag,” or sacrifice of right, is practiced, where a woman relinquishes her claim on ancestral property.
The tradition is justified on the grounds that the father pays for his daughter’s wedding and often also gives a dowry, and therefore only the sons are entitled to the family property.
While haq tyag is voluntary, women come under enormous pressure to comply to maintain their relations with their families, Chowdhry told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Although there is no official data on inheritance claims made by women in India, only 13 percent of farmland is owned by women, according to the latest census data from 2011.
In a bid to address the imbalance, several states including Haryana — which has among the worst gender imbalances in the country — have lowered registration charges and taxes when a property is in the name of a woman.
These changes have done little to improve women’s property ownership rates, said Govind Kelkar, a senior adviser to the global land rights advocacy group Landesa.
While agreeing that rising property prices could push more women to claim their inheritance, Kelkar said women still had little control over the property they inherited.
“There can also be an increase in violence against women,” she said. “The patriarchal tradition is so strong that women, who themselves own property, when asked if they will leave it to their daughter, still say no.”


British Airways to resume Pakistan flights next week after a decade

Updated 23 May 2019
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British Airways to resume Pakistan flights next week after a decade

  • BA halted service to Pakistan in the wake of the 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing in Islamabad
  • BA will begin the London Heathrow-Islamabad service with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner

ISLAMABAD: British Airways will resume flights to Pakistan next week a decade after it suspended operations following a major hotel bombing, becoming the first Western airline to restart flights to the South Asian country.

BA halted service to Pakistan in the wake of the 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing in the capital Islamabad that took place during a period of devastating Islamist militant violence in Pakistan.

Security has since improved, with militant attacks sharply down in the mainly Muslim country of 208 million people, reviving Pakistan as a destination for tourist and investors.

“The final touches are coming together for the airline’s return ahead of the first flight on Sunday June 2,” British Airways said in a statement. It will launch a three-per-week service to London Heathrow, it said.

“We’re on board,” Pakistani Civil Aviation spokeswoman Farah Hussain said about the flights resumption.

BA, which is owned by Spanish-registered IAG, will begin the London Heathrow-Islamabad service with the airline’s newest long-haul aircraft, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

At present, only loss-making national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flies directly from Pakistan to Britain, but its ageing fleet of planes is a frequent source of complaints by passengers.

Middle Eastern carriers Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates have a strong presence in Pakistan and have been eating into PIA’s dwindling market share. Turkish Airlines also lays on a regular service to Pakistan.

Islamabad has been running international advertising campaigns to rejuvenate its tourism sector, which was wiped out by Islamist violence that destabilised the country following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

“We hope customers in both the UK and Pakistan will enjoy the classically British service we offer, with thoughtful bespoke touches,” Andrew Brem, Chief Commercial Officer at British Airways, said in BA’s statement.

BA said there will be a halal meal option in every cabin and the airline would also ensure sauces in every meal do not contain alcohol or pork.