Marriage Story: Tina Dabi And Athar Khan Owe Us Nothing 

Marriages – interfaith or not – don’t owe the world anything. Period.  

3 min read
Hindi Female

Taking our noses where they belong has always been a difficult task. Especially of late. What with the raging pandemic and months of quarantine.  So what does one do with the hefty reservoirs of adrenaline pulsing through our veins?

Hit up the internet, and you shall know.

Some are — without batting an eyelid — caving to their basest instincts. A recent example?  An intrepid incursion into IAS officers Tina Dabi and Athar Khan's marriage. Recently, the couple — who got married in 2018 — filed for divorce and almost everyone — who is not a part of that marriage — has an opinion about it.

Marriages – interfaith or not – don’t owe the world anything. Period.  
UPSC 2015 toppers Tina Dabi and Athar Aamir Ul Shafi Khan, who ranked first and second respectively,  had got married in April 2018.  
(Photo: Facebook/Tina Dabi

While some are of the opinion that this was inevitable — raking up the age-old 'love-jihad' (allegations of forceful conversion to Islam) discourse — others are of the opinion that this has a bearing on the future of all interfaith couples.

Funny, how we are convinced that the lifespan of an interfaith marriage is a litmus test for societal ills. 

Freelance virtue-signallers, please sit down.


Bigotry would be dead by now if all we had to do was get happy interfaith couples to turn up and mark attendance.

First of all, Tina Dabi and Athar Khan don't owe the world anything. It is extremely unfair to shower them with self-righteous voiceovers at this point.  Yes, interfaith couples have it hard; no, it still isn't their responsibility to set an example for all interfaith couples by making the marriage work - repeat after me: making a marriage work is not a blanket achievement!

So, shush with the shoulds and shouldn'ts.


My unsolicited sermon? Marriage is a subjective experience; it is between two people who've chosen to be with each other and we - the commentators from the sidelines - have no say in it.

So, marriages - interfaith or not - don't owe the world any kind of 'model behaviour' ; the world owes them acceptance, regardless of their future.

But alas - that's wishful thinking? I mean, jewellery brand Tanishq had to recently pull down an ad that showed a woman in a happy marriage. Strange?

Oh, and it happened to be an interfaith marriage.

Ding. Ding. Ding.

There goes the acceptance part.

(Side Bar: The government has no data or definition on 'love jihad'. Mental not for self. )


Say, what if Dabi and Khan were to NOT file for divorce? Would they be left alone?  Would they not have to fend off the occasional 'love-jihad' allegations ? Would they not have to convince the occasional naysayer that there was no coercion of any sorts? I am going to let this marinate.

On the other hand, what is particularly striking is that we forget often that words... have... err... meanings. You don't earn brownie points for 'tolerance' if you say we are a 'tolerant' country that 'allows' interfaith relationships. We shouldn't have to resort to verbs and adjectives that mess up the power balance. No relationship, born out of mutual consent, should have to seek permission to get its ball rolling!

So, let's calm down?

Anyhow, one last thing before I sign off. Can we please, please count to ten (telling myself this too) before our adrenaline spurts on Twitter? It is 2020 and we are a tired, old world.

We can afford to judge a bit less. What scares one more and more, with each passing day, is that we have no patience for human elements in our daily grind. The intangibles, the blinks-and-misses, the surround sound that rounds off the human condition. We are not objective determinants, we are... subjective experiences. Why then, must we leap at conclusions and takeaways ten seconds after social contracts falter? Without so much as sparing the details a thought.

Take a break.


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Topics:  Marriage   Tina Dabi   Communal Harmony 

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