Indian woman rants about arranged marriages on Reddit, provides some interesting insights into the arranged marriage system.

Recently on Reddit /r/India, user ibarmy wrote a long rant about the trials and tribunals she was going through while looking for an arranged marriage. By reading the post, one can come to the conclusion that she is upper middle class, well educated, internet-savvy and has some experience in the dating scene. It is also evident that she is in the age range of 27-30, after which her chances of getting married will become much slimmer. Yet, she remains stubbornly picky and entitled. Even her user flair reads “Unicorn ki talaash mein~~” or “in search of the Unicorn”.

She begins by describing how most Indian women (including expats and their descendants) eventually realize that the attention and validation they receive on social network are worth nothing. The men they fancy are not worthy of marriage because they are too “poor” or a “mama’s boy” (meaning they will put their family before their wife). At this point, they begin to fall back on the aid of their relatives to snag up a rich smuck through arranged marriage.

She admits being envious of women who are fair and pretty, with C-cup breasts and taller that 5’5″ (a common Indian beauty standard), as they will be able to hitch up with a workhorse quite easily. She claims that her “manual” is for women who are unable to snag a fish even in a skewed marriage market like India (amid a scarcity of females), despite being willing to pay to large sums of dowry. What she does not realize is that the price of dowry is soaring because women like her are hypergamous and encourage others to be like that. As a result, the top 1% men are able ask for large dowries. She also says that her manual is not for women who want true love as most Indian men are regressive and want “hot kinky girlfriends but nice docile girls as wives”. This accusation is mostly unfair as Indian men are quick to jump into commitment and any ordinary man trying to walk away from a relationship can be easily slapped with a rape charge. It would be more accurate to say that the rich bad boys, for whom they are willing to be kinky, are not willing to marry them.

She then describes how women spend hours at a professional photographer’s studio to get the most flattering photographs taken. Many Indian photographers actually specialize in this pre-matrimonial ad-like photography. These mostly photoshopped photographs are then sent off to fool prospective grooms. It is should be called false advertising by any other name. Then she has the audacity to call it pesky and tiring. She then turns her ire on prospective grooms who do not get their photos taken professionally, and send in selfies or casual photos. If anything, they should be applauded for honesty. The author of the post wonders if men are too busy watching shitty movies on the weekends to go and get their pictures taken.

The subsequent section is dedicated to the criticism of the bio-data the prospective grooms must send in to the bride’s family. This is supposed to be an advertisement of their academic credentials and earning power. The author of the post criticizes them for their bad composition. Interestingly however, she talks only about three types of academic credentials. These are most sought after ones.

The first one is the graduate from one of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). These public-funded universities are considered to be the premier institutions of technical education in India. Every year graduates are snagged from their campuses by recruiters from multi-national firms. The salaries offered to these kids are actually reported as news by national newspapers. India produces only 10,000 of these graduates annually. Given that the IITs have a male-to-female ratio of 10:1, these men make some of the most eligible bachelors in India and among the Indian diaspora. Every year millions of aspirants (mostly male), try to crack the entrance exam. Many among them go ronin for 2-3 years after graduating high school and study everyday for hours at cram schools, only a small fraction of them make it. The suicide rate among these ronins is quite high. It is understandable that most girls won’t be interested in wasting 2-3 years of their youth on such silly pursuits, especially when they are confident (or deluded) enough to think that they will be able to snag one of these sex-starved geeks when they graduate.

The second one is the engineer with an MBA. People who fail to get into the IITs tend to buff up their CVs by adding an MBA. Though the elite Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are preferred, but any MBA school will almost double the salary of an engineer with some work experience. Several MBA schools have popped up in recent years to cater to this crowd. But in the end your salary is determined by whether you went to good expensive school or a cheap one. Even the public-funded IIMs charge up to INR 2200000 (USD 31,000) for a two year post-graduate course. This obviously requires a loan on the part of most Indians.

The third is the doctor of medicine (not to be confused with dentists or practitioners of traditional medicines). The author admits that she is under a lot of pressure to marry a doctor. This is mostly because India is facing a scarcity of doctors, thus having a doctor in the family would provide quick access to the medical fraternity in these days when getting an appointed can be very difficult. This would also reduce the extended family’s medical bills in this age of soaring healthcare costs, by providing free medical consultations to all her relatives. However, the doctors prefer to marry other doctors, failing which they prefer stay-at-home trophy wives. These wives are expected to hold the fort while the docs are off doing 12-hour shifts and doing private consultations on the side to pay off 10-12 years worth of student loans. (See, a site where gold-diggers go to seek doctors.) This irks the author to no end. (It is doubtful these accomplished men would have time or care to get a photograph taken professionally.)

It should be obvious by now that men with these credentials are as rare as the Abominable Snowman in the crowd that is the Indian marriage market. On top of that, the Abominable Snowman must also of the same sub-caste as the bride. This makes them even rarer. Thus, these rare specimen of the Indian male must be lured with wafts of big wads of Gandhi notes, in other words – dowry. The dowry culture is frequently blamed on greedy men by feminists. But the question is that can these men, who have spent years acquiring these degrees and probably are still paying off their student loans, afford not to be greedy? One may criticize a poor farmer for asking a hefty dowry, but can these men resist themselves a handful when a platter of notes are being offered to them. (Within every sub-caste such a scarcity exists, which allows second-choice men to also somewhat ramp up their values.) The author describes how families sell their properties to pay for the dowry. She may be excused for overstating the value of dowry these sort of men usually require. Most dowries nowadays are given disguised in the form of bridal gifts to the newly-wed couple due to strict anti-dowry laws. Although many smart men nowadays pay for the wedding and avoid taking any form of dowry, even a small amount accepted from the bride’s family can be used as leverage. It is also not unusual for dowry charges to be made up even in cases where none was accepted.

After a groom fulfills all the basic requirements, his and prospective bride’s horoscopes are sent to the family astrologer who then must approve of the match. If the stars align and the match happens, his family is invited to meet the prospective bride’s family and the bride herself. Usually the groom doesn’t attend these initial meetings as the compatibility of the families is more important. The man is expected to be a workhorse, raising kids and taking of the his aging parents. The author describes how to doll-up for these meetings and emphasizes on keeping the makeup balanced – not too ugly and not too slutty. She advises women on wearing clever dresses and contraptions like body shapers to hide the fact that they are fat. Soon afterwards she mocks the grooms who come to the follow-up meetings with balding heads and potbellies. The rotting cadaver of irony can be spotted at this point.

Now she describes how the groom’s family use these meetings to further advertise the man to the point of overselling. (It is not unusual for suspicious women to hire detective agencies to spy on the groom and check veracity of these claims.) She also advises women to set their Facebook feeds to private much before these meetings. She is disgusted by how she is not asked about her academic achievements and instead is asked about her cooking skills and hobbies. The author expresses her dread of becoming an unfortunate trophy wive of a rich smuck.

By the end of the post, it becomes extremely difficult for a man to sympathize with the author. One would think that Reddit /r/India, which is by majority male, would be disgusted and repulsed by the post. However, the white-knights applauded the post and one even bestowed Reddit Gold on the post. Only one user Hades_Lost_Soul pointed out the obvious fact that although the author was portraying herself as a victim who must adhere to high standards to get married, but she herself does not have the self-awareness to see that she holds men to a much-much higher standard. The author doesn’t reveal whether she is an engineer from an IIT or a doctor, to deserve such a highly sought match. (May be she has looks of a divine apsara but it is doubtful, as aspara are not known for wearing body shapers.) A man fulfilling her criteria would do better by marrying an orphan or the daughter of a laborer, he is more likely to receive some gratitude from them, which is unlikely from someone like the author.

A lot of upper middle-class problems described by the author would be solved if women like her were to marry down or marry at par. But unfortunately hypergamy is genetically ingrained in women. They will continued to be kinky girlfriends for rich bad boys and then pine for engineers or doctors in their post-wall years. And these men continue to be labelled as greedy for not marrying down without being lured by hefty dowries.


Rape “victim” marries accused in prison

On 15 July 2016, a “victim” married the man accused of her rape in Bhubaneswar, India. Since the man is still under trial, the marriage took place inside the prison.

This sort of news is nothing unusual at this point. Increasingly we are seeing reports of women accusing their ex-boyfriends of rape. They claim that they were lured into a physical relation under the false promise of marriage. In India, consent obtained under false pretexts is not considered valid.

You see, although India is rapidly liberalizing, pre-marital sex is still a big deal here for many. So once a man has sex with a woman, many women would expect him to eventually propose. With arising awareness about India’s strict rape laws, many women are finding a convenient legal weapon to enforce this traditional expectation. Pro-men’s rights activist Deepika Narayan Bharadwaj has said, “Everyone is telling women about their legal rights today. It’s blaring out of television, radio, the Internet, advertisements, chat shows, everywhere. This has led to more use and misuse of the law.

It may be true that many men actually entice women into a physical relationship using false promises. But it also traps men in abusive relationships. The burden of proof that consent was obtained lies on the man, while a woman can retroactively withdraw consent after she is dumped.

Back to the woman who married her rapist, she was quoted as saying that she would withdraw the complaint as the man has now married her. The marriage took place with the approval of the additional district and sessions court, so it is unlikely that she will be held responsible for wasting public resources.

She was also quoted saying that she was optimistic about having “a smooth marital life”. I am sure she would, since now she holds the leash to her husband’s collar.

Arranged marriage still beats dating in India

Recently on 2 April 2016, the Indian newspaper The Hindu published an article titled “Running in the family“. In this post, I will make some observations about the article.

The article opens by quoting an excerpt from the women’s self-help book – Do you Know Any Good Boys?: A Woman’s Guide to the Arranged Marriage by Meeti Shroff-Shah. The excerpt mentions how the authoress was asked by a relative of a prospective groom if she can cook. The author’s reaction to this was to outrage internally, “If I were a little kid, this could be the moment I flung a toy car at his face.” I think the reaction was rather excessive. Good cooking skill is an essential attribute that almost every men looks in a wife, usually after beauty and youth. I think all men should also have good culinary skills to be more well-rounded and less dependent on women. The article also mentions that the authoress went through about 40 prospective men before she found a man willing to marry her. Quite amusing, if you think about it, since she can admittedly cook only pasta. I am not surprised at all. She probably had very high requirements for her man. I pretty sure her one of make or break questions was: “What do you do?” It is code for “How much do you earn?” Anyway this book seems like a bag of laughs. I will probably buy a copy.

The article then mentions that only 5% of Indians marry outside their castes. I have mentioned it my last post. Many love marriages are actually same-caste marriages. I have observed many women discreetly asking about the caste before they start dating the man. This ensures that there is less resistance from the families at the time of marriage. Thus, even while dating, family is frequently on the mind of the young people. Many people also date the person suggested by the parents before they get married. This they call the “arranged-cum-love marriage”. This kind of arranged dating is also gaining popularity in India. Most young people in urban India nowadays, have at least some say in their marriage, as opposed to the old days when basically most of the decisions were made the parents. The article also mentions that all this is an illusion of choice as various limiters still exists on their choices, such as caste, class, horoscope, food (omnivores vs. vegetarians) etc.

The article mentions to a study from the National Institute of BioMedical Genomics (NIBMG). The study by Analabha Basua, Neeta Sarkar-Roya, and Partha P. Majumdera was accepted by the PNAS in December 2015. The study took DNA samples from 367 unrelated individuals. According to the study, endogamy (marrying within caste) started around 1500 years ago for higher castes. The study also found that male members of higher castes had offspring with lower castes for sometime. But the reverse was not observed, indicating female hypergamy based on caste or higher castes misusing their power. The Marathas continued to draw warriors from the peasant castes, but eventually the warrior castes or the Kshatriyas closed themselves off from the lower castes around 1,100 years ago. Given that the caste system has existed for hundreds of years, it will be slow to fall.

The article also mentions the rising popularity of dating apps. But notes that most people use to apps to experiment and then settle into an arranged marriage. Mostly because there are no established rules and no experiences of elders to draw on in dating. For some dating comes first, and arranged marriage is a last resort if they are unable to a mate by dating. Harrish Iyer’s case has been mentioned, who is gay and whose mother is looking for a boy for him to marry.

Either way the basic rules that I have mentioned in my past posts still apply. If you fulfil those criteria, it will be relatively easy for you find a girlfriend or wife.

What women want: A guide for the modern Indian man


Image courtesy: PublicDomainPictures

Whether one supports dating in India or considers it immoral, the fact remains that it is here to stay and spread. The need is now to talk about love and demystify it. Otherwise, we will keep seeing frustrated men resorting to stalking and other criminal behaviours including acid attacks. This article will explain the criteria based on which women select their mates and guide you how to improve yourselves to fit those criteria better.

Origin of dating

For centuries, Indian marriages were arranged by the parents of the boy and the girl. The girl’s parents would seek the most eligible boy for their daughter within their sub-caste and the boy’s parents would similarly seek the best girl. They would compare horoscope charts and negotiate the dowry. If an agreement is reached, an astrologer would be called to find an auspicious date for the wedding. The phenomenon still continues in most parts of India. However, increasingly more and more young people are choosing their own spouses nowadays.

The phenomenon is a fairly recent one and is mostly restricted to the upper economic strata. This practice of dating arose when people began sending their sons and daughters away for home for higher education or to find a job. The earlier generations lived with their parents, siblings, uncles, aunts and grandparents in large joint-families. The family patriarch (or matriarch) had the final say in all important decisions, including in the creation of marital ties with other families.

The concept of dating is unacceptable and even vulgar to many conservative Indians. News articles about honour killings are not infrequent. This is why watching popular Indian films is a rather amusing experience, because most of them are melodramatic love stories. The very audience, which cheers the fictional couple on-screen, are most likely to assault a real life couple in a public park. Some people argue that the rising popularity of dating is caused by its portrayal in films. Others argue that it is due to the effect of western culture on the Indian society. I, however, disagree with them.

Dating is simply a throwback to the distant past, to the mating strategies followed by our pre-historic ancestors. These mate selection strategies evolved over millions of years and were preserved within our genes. These strategies were suppressed, more in women and less in men, when our wandering ancestors settled down in villages, formed societies, invented religions and built civilisations. Soon marital ties became tools of bargaining, of economic and political favours. Soon, religious leaders and rulers of lands also began imposing their rules on marriage, mostly to fortify their own power and satisfy their own desires.

Lack of knowledge

With the fall of the controls that most Indian parents had over their adult children and relaxing social norms, the mate selection strategies lying dormant in our genes are once again expressing themselves in the society. As in all human societies, also in India, the men are expected to take the first step. But when they encounter the female mate selection strategies, they are baffled. They have nowhere to seek guidance. The popular media portrays love as something mysterious and divine. Their parents are as clueless them about dating and sometimes even worse. All this combined with peer pressure results is some distasteful and dangerous behaviours like stalking, groping, rape, suicide and acid attack.

Most Indian men feel that there is a scarcity of good women in the society. It is only partly true. In many states, people prefer boys over girls, so they abort female fetuses and try again until they get a male child. This has resulted in a skewed gender ratio in India. Furthermore, many women are married early in India compared to men. Some conservative parents try to keep their daughters away from men until marriage. Thus usually in any social circle, there are several men for every single women. This allows women to choose from several options, whereas men feel that there are only a few options for them.

As a result, men have to try harder to get a girlfriend. The effort that they must put to get a girlfriend in India is very high in India, compared to other western and many far-eastern countries. Having a intimate female friend is also consider a matter of status among male peers. Thus, rejection or termination of a relationship is considered a colossal waste of effort and a matter of shame. Such men are often unable to give up and start anew. They resort to stalking their woman of interest. This particular behaviour is also reinforced by the popular media, in which it is often shown that such persistence being rewarded.

Some men devolve into depression, resort to self-harm, alcoholism and sometimes suicide. Acid attacks also sometimes arise out of such rejections. The man angered by his rejection and waste of effort, may try to disfigure his love interest to render her unattractive to other men. All this arises out of lack of knowledge about the female mate selection strategies, the perceived scarcity of good women, misconceptions about love, and lack of guidance about self-improvement.

Female mate selection strategy

There have been several studies regarding which traits of men make them the most attractive of women. Most of the strategies are genetic and have been passed from mother to daughter for millions of years. Only some are cultural. Indian women also follow these same strategies, slightly morphed by social norms. In short, the criteria on which women select their mates are mostly the same across the world and are as follows:

  1. Physical traits: These involve all the positive physical traits such as strength, agility and facial structure.
  2. Personality traits: These involve personality traits such as intelligence, charm and assertiveness.
  3. Economic traits: This refers to how much money, power and influence the candidate man has.

Most women use a mixture of criterion 1, 2 and 3 to choose their mate. However, some women prefer one over the other. Furthermore, here “mate” does not necessarily mean husband or boyfriend, it simply means with whom a woman decides to make love with.

Paths to self-improvement

There is something common in the strategies of both men and women – they have both evolved to ensure that their offsprings carry their genes into the next generation. The male mate selection strategy can be summarised as: choose the prettiest women. There are other criteria, but they are all subservient to this. So, comparatively the female strategy is complex. Some men may accuse me of being deceptively simplifying women. But, I can assure you these facts have been distilled from various scientific studies. Then again this is the beginning, the nuances can be learnt later.

1. Physical traits

This criterion refers to genetic traits like facial attractiveness, physical strength, muscularity, lack of deformities, proper posture and resistance to diseases. Women have evolved attraction towards these traits, as a man with these traits could have provided them with protection in the harsh prehistoric times. These traits can also be inherited by their offspring which would give it an evolutionary advantage.

This criterion being genetic is perceived to be the most difficult to improve in. But this is not completely true, you can still greatly improve in it. Furthermore, even if you are blessed in this criteria by your parents’ genes, you should still take care of your body. Irrespective of your score in this criteria, you should workout and try to remain healthy. Playing a sport is a good way to advertise your physical traits.

2. Personality traits

This criterion refers to various personality traits. This may include intelligence, charm, wit, assertiveness, charisma, leadership, resolute etc. Most of these traits are part of your upbringing and a small part is determined by your genetics. In prehistoric time, these traits also provided evolutionary advantages to a man in situations such as conflict resolution and negotiating for resources. A lot of these traits can be inherited by or taught to the offspring.

A lot of these can be developed even in adulthood by practice. In my opinion, the most important of these traits is equanimity. Many men are disheartened by failure or are swayed greatly by criticism. An equanimous man, however, remains steadfast in the face of them and performs whatever is needed to be done.

3. Economic traits

Although, it is ideal that you score well in all three criteria, this criterion is the great equaliser. A high score is this criterion will make up for a low score in the other two criteria.

However, having such a scoring will also make you the target of gold-diggers. Such women will not hesitate to leave you for a better scoring man or cheating behind your back. Irrespectively, you should always keep trying to improve in this criterion by picking the right career paths and choosing the right opportunities. The one of the greatest delusions many Indian men have is that Indian women don’t care about money. This cannot be any more further from the truth. In India, poverty is constantly visible and soul-crushing. Women care a lot about money, it is an universal truth, but only in a few places it can be truer than in India. Women in prehistoric times, even before the invention of money, developed a strong attraction towards the man with the most resources. Because in those tumultuous times the man with most resources survived and could also ensure the survival of his family. It may also be noted that in some cases money is replaced by political power or social status in this criteria. But, they all are merely different types of resources or means of gathering resources.

End notes

So, these were some of the information that you were missing about the women. You may choose to use this knowledge for self-improvement. You may try to trick the system. You may also choose to not play the game at all. The choice is your.

Over the upcoming months, I will write in greater detail about the economics of dating and the traditional marriage market in India. I will also write about the legal and social rules that regulate the market.