Development / 02.06.2009

By Anjum Altaf What have we learned from our discussion of the laws of inheritance? First, that laws pertaining to the same issue can differ across societies and over time. Second, that laws need not be divinely ordained and fixed for all times and places. The law of primogeniture was introduced in England in 1066 after the Norman invasion because the Norman knights who were awarded land grants did not wish their estates to be diluted by divisions. Third, laws can have negative and positive effects. The law of primogeniture was unfair because it deprived all heirs except the eldest son from a share in the wealth of the father.
Development / 31.05.2009

By Anjum Altaf Have you ever wondered why there have been so many traitors in the Indian subcontinent? We can start with the most well known of them all, Mir Jafar, known as Ghaddaar-e-Hind, whose name has become synonymous with treason. In the critical Battle of Plassey between Robert Clive and Sirajuddaulah in 1757, Siraj had the advantage but at the critical moment Mir Jafar failed to move his troops because he had sold out to the British. Thus began the British domination of India. The history of the Mughal period is full of incidents of betrayal. In his book The Forgotten Mughals: A History of the Later Emperors of the House of Babar, GS Cheema documents “the readiness with which great nobles switched sides, often in the midst of battle.” These facts are well known. What triggered this thought again in my mind was reading Khushwant Singh’s A...

Law / 29.05.2009

By Anjum Altaf Picking up on the speculation about the causes of poverty of Indian Muslims, I did some more reading on the subject. The bottom line is that the variations in the laws of inheritance matter in very interesting ways. Let me outline some of basic contours here and hope we can discuss the details in the comments. Where the principal form of property was land, a law favoring equal division amongst all heirs would lead to fragmented holdings while a law decreeing transfer to one heir only would avoid fragmentation.