The online dating scene in India is primarily matrimonial websites, predicated on the idea that the first meeting between two paired users will be to chat about their wedding.
It’s connubial bliss for a 21st-century India, where, by some estimates, 90 percent of marriages still classify as “arranged”—in other words, established on factors other than mutual love and attraction between the bride and groom.
What those factors are, exactly, has changed as the country has, but the crux of the matter remains constant: if you’re an Indian woman, it’s statistically likely that your parents will choose the man with whom you spend the rest of your life.
More than 22 million Indians—around one of every eight who use the Internet—use the country’s matrimonial sites, according to a recent review of India’s Internet Economy Watch Report.
In June, the Delhi-based Economic Times valued the online matrimony market at around 5.1 billion Indian rupees (roughly $81 million)with an annual growth rate of 30 percent: a rose in the snowdrift of the Indian economy, whose recent erratic nature has shaken everything from exchange rates to onion prices.
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.
A few years back, a media psychologist named Srividya Ramasubramanian examined 24 American and British films about India for the prevalence and portrayal of certain tropes and saw little more than a country “consistently portrayed as backward, uncivilized, savage, and traditional.” The Western notion of “Indian-ness,” Ramasubramanian writes, is predicated upon a sense of Occidental superiority, complicit with a sort of “cultural imperialism…
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.
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.
If there’s truth to caricature, then call my joining the online matrimony network a modern-day leap onto a bandwagon of millennia-old social custom.“Shaadi” is the Hindi word for wedding; is, intuitively, a wedding arranged via the Internet.