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A college degree is increasingly synonymous in India with financial success, and colonialism has left the country with the belief that the lightness of one’s skin is directly proportionate to his or her existential well-being—a notion so entrenched in the Indian psyche that, as reported in August, television commercials for skin-bleaching creams like Pond’s White Beauty claim to secure you a better husband.But the traditional idea of marriage here is an ethnocentric one, designed to preserve the social taxonomy of the caste system that first calcified with the dawn of early Hinduism in the fourth century.Last week, I joined Shaadi.com, India’s oldest and most popular matrimonial website.Call it anthropological curiosity; call it a metric of my own narcissism.For those in the West, it probably isn’t particularly surprising that Internet matrimony is one of India’s most lucrative and omnipresent online industries.
This is why matrimonial websites attract controversy.
by establishing Indian peoples as inferior and incompetent who need to be civilized.”Ramasubramanian’s study qualitatively confirms that the India offered to us in the West is an India of “inept subordinates” who deserve either our scorn or sympathy.
It is a caricature consisting of the most cartoonish and visceral stereotypes—child marriage, bride burning, snake charmers, etc.—that reinforces the idea of the country as a pitiably primitive slum, especially when it comes to Indian women.
I belong to no caste; I am not Hindu; I have no Indian heritage. For them, matrimonial websites simply seemed to be a matter of convenience, a casual way to meet other singles online in a country where dating sites haven’t really taken off.
India is a country where sex is “something that’s both sort of resented and incredibly desired,” Kevin, a 20-year-old college student in Delhi told me, and the Internet provides a sort of parallel community respited from traditional restrictions on the libido.
Call it acclimating to the Indian single life after coming of age in the West, where India is often seen as a country of arranged marriages and impenetrable glass ceilings.