The Indian Love Revolution

As most of you know, for centuries, Indian tradition has given parents ultimate power in deciding who their children marry. As India continues to modernize, however, marriages based on love are becoming increasingly common. The long held norm of arranged marriages is being replaced by matrimonial unions based on love, and the often blinding emotions surrounding it. The institution of marriage, however, is as important as ever, and is still seen as highly honorable. Quickie marriages such as those available in Las Vegas, are not an option, and divorce is regarded as socially unacceptable. Parents therefore find it crucial to ensure that their children’s love interests are acceptable suitors for marriage. For this task, “wedding detectives” have recently become heavily relied upon (Click here for the full story).

The recent Associated Press story available above, speaks of Ajit Singh, a marriage investigator whose business has been booming. Because Indian views on relationships have begun to modernize with the rest of the country, families have begun to employ detectives such as Mr. Singh to validate the legitimacy of the potential union. People are growing desperate to ensure that their childrens’ marriages don’t end in disaster in the face of the complications that love brings about. Because of this concern that many face in this deeply traditional nation, multitudes of agencies that focus on premarital investigations have sprung up. Detectives such as Ajit Singh are “consulted to look for signs of trouble: a potential groom about to lose his job, or a potential bride too flirtatious with the neighbors.” “We start with the house: How many people live there, whether the property is owned or rented, if the subject in question is married or has been engaged before,” said Singh. “We talk to drivers, neighbors, neighbors’ drivers, maidservants.” Parents hire Mr. Singh to find out if the man in question really has the education and large salary he claims, and if the woman in question is “running around.”

This story raises a few issues worth discussing about the society we will all be visiting this summer: Is this sort of spying on future sons- or daughters-in-law ethical? Is it a good or a bad thing that arranged marriages are being replaced by Western-style marriages? Do you feel that the divorce rate will go up or down in India as the culture shift continues. Is it fair to assume that there is any more love in “love marriages” than in traditional arranged marriages?

-John Barry


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4 Responses to The Indian Love Revolution

  1. Jeff says:

    I nearly wrote a blog about this same topic. I think given the numbers of crimes against women in India, researching your future spouse is probably a very good thing to do. Even though dowry was prohibited by law in 1961, it still occurs and is expected. There are “incidents” where wive’s who’s dowry given by her family, is not considered big enough or good enough, and the wife is beaten, abused, or worse. I think it’s a good idea to know the character of the spouse you’re getting in bed with.

  2. I think it is interesting that India is in limbo between their traditional marriages and western style marriages. It seems like the marriage detective acts like a stepping stone to adapt to a more western marriage. I think it is ethical to have these detectives, and it shows that Indians care more about a person’s financial success than western cultures when it comes to marriage.

  3. Chris Phippen says:

    I agree with Fred, I don’t see any ethical issues raised by employing the detectives, it is simply out of caution on the parents’ part for entering what, to them, is the unknown territory of “love marriages”. I’m also very curious to see what happens to the divorce rate. I know it was considered unacceptable prior to this trend, but will that change?

    As far as the shift away from arranged marriages being for better or for worse (pardon the pun), I’m really not sure. I’ve never heard any first-hand accounts of people in arranged marriages. I wonder what that relationship is like over a lifetime. Is the position of a spouse treated like a job, where there are duties and responsibilities and pride in carrying those out? Do the individuals learn to love each other, or is that even possible? I’m not even sure I’d feel comfortable asking a person those questions.

  4. In my opinion having a detective spy on my future wife is an idea I don’t really like. I don’t know why but it just feels wrong and I think it shows a level of distrust that could be a problem for the relationship in the future.
    I kind of understand why parents do it especially since divorce seems to be not really an option but I think the legitimate concerns of the parents can be addresses in a different way without using detectives to dig through dirty laundry.

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