HYDERABAD: In a country like India where a large number of marriages are arranged, helping people finding the right match can be quite a task. One has to keep in mind the demand of not just brides and grooms, but also those of the parents. One of the most important criteria for most families, especially for brides is the education of men. Even though religion, caste, skin-tone and age -- all have a role to play while choosing a prospective groom or bride, education remains to be a criteria of paramount importance for most families.
A matrimonial website, iitiimshaadi.com helps people to seek their partners with a degree from an appropriate alma mater. The name of the website is clearly inspired by two of India’s biggest brands in higher education -- the Indian Institute of Technology and the Indian Institute of Management. However, membership isn’t limited to these two organisations and any ‘Alumni of Indian and International premier institutions in fields Engineering, Architecture, Medicine, Finance, Law, etc,’ are eligible to register.
“We had conducted plenty of surveys and the results showed that one of the first things that parents see while searching a partner for their child, is the educational qualifications. Our theme is Alma Mater Matters, which guarantees well educated brides and grooms,” says Ajay Gupta, founder of the site.
The criteria for women though are much more relaxed and while men need to have a degree from “International premier institution”, women are required to have a degree from a college which is reputed ‘nation wide’. “The entry requirements for women in this website are much more relaxed as compared to men. The reason for this is that men usually not very particular about the educational qualifications of their partner. Some might not want too much competition with their spouse, some prefer to have a wife who stays at home and according to our survey, most men wouldn’t mind marrying someone with just a basic degree,” explains Gupta. “Another reason for keeping much more relaxed requirements for women is the fact that in any good institution in India the ratio between men and women is 5:1, which makes it much harder for us to find a balance between men and women if the criteria is the same for both,” he adds.
The website has received tremendous criticism from across social media, with many terming it as ‘sexist’ and ‘downright disgusting’. Youngsters in the city too found that the site shows clear discrimination between men and women and has a completely chauvinistic mindset. “First of all, I think it’s really silly that there is a website based only on the educational qualifications of a person. It goes to show that women only care about how educated her spouse is and how much money he makes, which is absolutely wrong,” says Aditi Rao, a prospective bride.
Aditi, who works at an MNC in hitech-city feels that the older generation is equally to be blamed for this mindset. “Our parents always feel that the best choice for us is someone who studied at an IIT or an IIM. However, we just want a partner who is warm, humble and gentle, with a good sense of humour. Money and education is secondary,” explains the 28-year-old.
Anamika Chowdhary, an investment banker questions the decision of keeping lower entry requirements for women as opposed to men. “Why is it that men have to belong to institutions like IIT and IIM and just a degree from a regular college will suffice for a woman? It just goes to show that men are threatened by us and would like to have their spouse to have lower educational qualifications, to earn lesser or to stay at home and take care of the house. They do this to hide their own insecurities,” she fumes.
Gupta, however, defends his stance saying that he is going by exactly what the market offers. “I have already received a lot of criticism and people and people have called me a sexist, but I’m just going by what the market says. According to the market, this is what the majority of the population in India want so I’m just looking at what is best for the business,” he explains.
The applicants are required to present their documents to show evidence of having attended a premier insitution. So far, the site has received around 850 applications since it started in April, and 85-86 members have officially been accepted.While the jury is still out on whether this is a good idea or not but it’s quite clear that for a large section of the people, degree and matrimony go hand-in-hand.