Wanted : An Affordable Groom

430dowary.jpg I thought it was over, till I glanced through the newspaper. I thought people had stopped asking for it, till a TV sting operation showed us the ‘current price’ of an IFS Officer. I am talking about the much hyped and yet the extremely unpleasant topic of dowry. It is shameful to see that young women are still being tortured and killed if their parents cannot afford to give them enough dowry. In today’s scenario, where we call ourselves modern, and are constantly striving to achieve the title of a super power, people are going back in time and becoming more and more orthodox.

Dowry deaths still take place. According to a national report, 25,000 women die each year because their parents couldn’t give a house or a particular car to the groom. These statistics reflect the current mindset of the people. This is not limited to people living in rural areas. Even well-educated people, living in cities, don’t hesitate while asking for dowry on the pretext that their son has studied in an Oxford or a Harvard and that they have spent a lot of money on his education. I cannot determine what these people have in mind while giving this excuse, since it is indeed the responsibility of every parent to give the best education to their child. However, this happens with long term planning to recover the spent money, through the son’s marriage, in the form of dowry.

The TV sting, which was aired recently, was extremely shocking .The reporter posed as the girl’s relative and talked to the parents of these ‘suitable’ bachelors. The prices for these “grooms” start from Rs. 2 crore for an IFS Officer, Rs. 1 crore for an IPS Officer and Rs. 50-80 lakh for an IAS Officer. Even the person who is at the lowest rung of this bureaucratic system had asked for Rs. 25 lakhs. Furthermore, this was not the entire amount expected to be shelled out by the poor parents, as the girl’s family had to supplement these huge amounts with gifts.

Sadly, marriages today have become nothing less than a business deal. Given the money, the groom’s family are willing to “accept” the bride. Education is an untouched issue. A completely illiterate girl can get married to an IFS Officer if her parents can shell out a sum of Rs. 2 crores to ‘buy’ her the groom. As a reaction against the dowry system, there are matrimonial sites where people, who post their profiles, go for a dowry-less marriage. Media is also playing an extremely appreciable role as the awareness created by the same has encouraged some girls’ to call off their wedding when the groom’s family asks for dowry.

However, I somehow feel that when a girl commits suicide or is killed by her in-laws for reasons related to dowry, her parents are also somewhere to be blamed. Had they not agreed to the vulgar demands of the boy’s family, they would not have lost their daughter. It is not that there are not enough boys in this world, but what is needed is a mutual respect from both sides towards each other. People consider the girl’s family inferior due to primitive society notions, and that is primarily why they ask for dowry. This mentality needs to be changed. If all the young, educated Indians believe dowry to be a crime and refuse to accept it in any form, it will be eliminated from the society. Otherwise, it will surely become a malignant force that will ultimately create a huge void in our social structure.

Neha Pant