Why Arrange marriages work in India?

Forced/Arranged Marriage India

I have been thinking about this for sometime. Having stayed briefly in the US, and being an Indian, it is very easy to understand the differences in both the societies. Though both have many similarities and differences, but I think when it comes to arrange marriages, US/Western and Indian society are mutually exclusive!

Well, India can be named as the heartland or even arrange marriage belt of the world. This is because of the enormous influence arrange marriages have in the Indian society. This can be extended to an Indian subcontinent which includes Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and some countries like Afghanistan and Iran. Afterall, they were a part of extended India not long before.

So, I wonder what happened in the other parts of the world, like Europe, USA and Latin America where arranged marriages are even rarely heard if not accepted. Once upon a time all the royal families in Europe had arranged marriages. The England’s Royal family had ties with the Germany ( then Prussia’s royal families) and Russia’s royal family ( The Romanov’s). Infact, they so frequently arranged marriage with each other, that the England’s royal family is actually German by heritage ( they had to change their surname from Germanic Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor after WW1). I find this one of the comical irony that England’s royal family is not even English, and once upon a time there was England who ruled like the Sun never set over its empire!

So, western societies had a history of arrange marriages. But then today, we see it doesn’t exist anymore. Men and Women have to find a partner without any family arrangements, and hardly does both of their families interfere in their kids relationship business. While on the other side, in India, this is the only business which families on both sides have in their life! That’s another level of responsibility ( often self-imposed) Indian families exhibit. It’s as if the families live their entire life for the getting their kids married according to their choice of religion, caste and social status.

So, then why do Indian arrange marriages work? This has always been a question of surprise and curiosity for Indians and westerners as well. Because inspite of arrange marriages, the divorce rate in India is very low as compared to that of western societies which prefer in love marriages. Isn’t it ironic that a love marriage is a form of relationship whose foundation is built on love and trust. Couples have the freedom to like someone and accept them as their partner in life, without any barrier like family interference, caste, religion, color and even a partner’s gender. ( I have never heard same sex marriages being arranged, so that’s in the bucket of love marriage).

But still, the divorce and separation rate is higher in love marriages. Even in India, the divorce rate is increasing as compared to the last few decades, because Indians are becoming more westernized and thereby accepting love marriage. But on the other hand, in arrange marriage, the basis of relationship is not love between the groom and bride, but its more like an agreement between families, where the caste, religion, social status, business interests, political affiliations, food, language, skin color, education, number of family members, dowry money agreement, stars and astrology, and infinite number of such irrelevant things are taken into consideration. After all this hard work, that’s when a marriage becomes arranged in India. I wonder its easy to understand rocket science or quantum mechanics, then understanding how arranged marriages become arranged in India!

But then after all this pandemonium, the most stunning fact is that such marriages last forever! Atleast until my parents generation, divorce was a rare alien thing. And many couples who did not even know each other, fell in love after the marriage. While many realized after marriage that their spouse is not someone they could ever love. But still, divorce was not an option unless some physical assault or sexual harassment happens. Well, the worst part in India is that marital rape is still legal. I find this deeply troubling. Anyways, so the couples inspite of all the problems and ups and downs, still stick with each other. Unlike in western countries, where a couple get separated for reasons like failure of spouse in business, or even husband not able to sexually satiate his wife. I have never heard any of such things lead to divorce in India. Infact, the sad part is that being a patriarchal society, Indian husbands have always been dominant on their wife. This was partly due to lack of education and employment opportunities for women back then. In villages and poor families in cities, the physical abuse by husband on wife and children is a common thing. Even rich and well educated families, suffer from clashes between married couples for variety of reasons including extra-marital affair. Still getting a divorce is something taken as a last resort.

Well, this does explain why Indian marriages last inspite of all the obstacles, but not all families suffer this. Infact, most of the Indian families value this system of arranged marriages where a couple once married has a responsibiliity towards their children and elders to setup an example and maintain this tradition. Because when a divorce happens, the biggest sufferers are not husband or wife, but the children. Afterall, what’s the mistake of those poor kids who have to suffer by staying away from one of their parents? The kids always love their biological parents, and they cannot get the same love from step-mother or step-father. This is something which makes the Indian couple continue their marriage inspite of the fights and even if the husband and wife stop loving each other. Because they love their kids, and getting separated due to irreconcilable differences will affect their kids life. Wouldn’t the kids learn the same thing from their parents? By having a divorce, the tradition of arrange marriage will get broken, as the kids will prefer to have a love marriage later in their life after seeing their parents being divorced after an arranged marriage.

I feel that we are indebted to the sacrifice of our parents and grandparents who valued their kids education, and a bright future over their personal conflicts. Especially, women suffer a lot in the patriarchal marriage dominance, and still they continue the marriage just for the love of her children. Truth be told, I don’t find this self-sacrifice and unconditional love anywhere amongst men. Its always the mother who does the toughest job in the world!

Hence, this responsibility that kids should not suffer and not get deprived of love and care from both the father and mother, is something which binds the arranged marriage couples along with the wisdom to maintain the family tradition. But, Indian society is deeply religious, status conscious and obsessed with family. Its not easy for a divorcee to get re-married again. Even today, its difficult for someone to live unmarried, or single, let alone divorced. The lack of respect from the Indian society towards a divorcee, or even a bachelor ( unless he becomes a saint or Prime Minister) is deeply troubling. Maybe this also drives the couples to continue their marriage by avoiding all the societal scuffling.

Hence, this was a small attempt to understand why arranged marriages work in India. I think western societies also had this culture few centuries before, but got lost due to the over-importance on individual freedom over family, obsession for material achievements like career, money and fame. Ofcourse, this does not mean all love marriages end up being divorced. Infact, many stand the weather, and remain lifelong committed. The Presidents of USA, except Donald Trump are excellent examples of successful love marriages. But things are changing fast, and India is becoming a global hub, with the winds of all sorts of ideas flowing across the nation. It will be hard to maintain the arrange marriage tradition in India in coming future.

© Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Pic of the week!

I find the above picture one of the most motivating. The beautiful flower is alone surrounded by dry grass. The sun is shining brightly and it’s taken during late afternoon today. The city is seen faraway as if no one cares for this alone flower.

Our life is like this flower. We are unique in this world. We are surrounded by all the problems and just like sun’s heat, life gives us shocks and surprises. There are ups and downs in life. Just like the city is faraway from this beautiful flower, similarly many times we feel that all the good luck, all the dreams and even our loved ones are faraway from us. Many times we feel to be alone in this world where everyone is busy in his or her own world, driven by money, fame and power.

But this flower teaches a very important lesson. Just like it has blossomed, and become a beautiful flower in spite of all the dull surroundings, and harsh weather, so do we need to keep moving ahead in life in spite of all the problems in life. We might be alone, but that shouldn’t stop us from achieving our dreams, or living a good life. Just like the city doesn’t even notice this flower, similarly our hard work, our aims might not get anyone’s attention, but that should not make us lose hope in life.

We need to keep working, and helping others, and keep glowing just like the flower! I am glad to took this picture, and learnt some life lessons from a small flower.

Start-up vs Business

Understanding what makes a startup unique than business.

Startup, Start Up, Business, Start, Start-Up

Recently, read an article on the difference between a ‘Startup’ and a ‘Business’. Hence, thought to share some of my views about this.

We see that many people are intrigued with the concept of ‘Startup’. It has almost become a buzz word, or a so called trend these days. Legends of the startup world include famous names like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and many more in the world of Tech and Silicon valley. Many people get inspired by such famous success stories, and decide to start a startup and thus, venture out into the world of entrepreneurship ( which involves venturing out to the Venture capitalists (VC firms) to ask for funding.)

But not all succeed in this brutal competition and survival race in the startup world. Its said that almost 90% startups fail in their first few years, and many even never make a profit. Which in other words, leads to loss of money invested by the investors or VC’s. And the founders lose the credibility for any future startup funding, and many worse things might follow up. So, its important to know what exactly is a startup and how does it differentiate from a business?

Startup can be defined in simple words, as a project undertaken with an innovative idea to scale a business model ( which might be new or existing) driven by technology ( which mostly includes new age tools like internet, AI etc) and thereby create a disruption in the market and gain considerable market share. So, the overall aim of the startup is not only to make a profit, but also disrupt the existing models of business or market. It might take years to develop the technology, and even penetrate into the market. Which means it is possible that the startup wont make any money for initial few years, will have to render its services for free to the customers ( like Facebook and WhatsApp does) and will be dependent on the investor funding fro VC’s.

But a business on the other side, is a project undertaken with an aim to make profit immediately by giving services or selling the product manufactured, using industry defined technologies, and thus paving the way to capture the market share. A business has a model, which is often designed such that the business will start making money as soon as possible. It does not disrupt the market, but often earns enormous profits in a well stabilized market. Also, a business can be small or big, and unlike startup, which always aims to bring in innovation, a business might not promote much innovation and can rely on the well established processes and methods. So, in short, a business might not disrupt or not even change the market which startup often aims to achieve.

Lets see this with a simple analogy. It is often said, that when life gives you lemons, better make a lemonade!

Well, does making a lemonade and selling to the customers can be considered a startup?

The answer is No. It comes under business, because its a standard way to provide service to the customer, which here is making lemonades. Now, if we make really good lemonade, then people will appreciate it and our revenues will skyrocket with the fame. So, business will grow, and we might even open our business in different locations in the city and across the country. Still, its a business. Afterall, no one calls a McDonald, or Starbucks or even Papa Johns a startup! Even though it does dominate the market share, but it doesn’t disrupt the market as there are many lemonade makers in the city( just like many pizza or burger makers) and they can also follow the same path.

But if someone design an app or any service to find the lemonade businesses in the city/country, connect them to the customers, and even make it like a home delivery ( like Zomato, Swiggy, Grubhub etc does) then its a startup. Why? Because now they can easily disrupt the whole market by rapidly scaling, and connecting with the local lemonade businesses, and using technology, its faster, better, easier and even more feasible to expand and scale. That’s why we see so many startups have risen in almost everyday businesses, like food industry, tourism( Make my trip), entertainment( Netflix), cab services (Ola, Uber), education (Byju, Unacademy), Online courses (Coursera, Udemy), accomodation (Airbnb, Oyo) and many more.

These Stories About How Famous Startups Started Prove That Nothing Is  Impossible - Marketing Mind

But just like any one can make a lemonade and start his/her own business, similarly anyone can make an app or website and enter this space. So, the competition is fierce in the startup world. Many times, those startups which have a lead, or a better funding VC, and even those who expand rapidly have a chance to survive in this brutal race. In the initial years, many players emerge and compete with each other, But then eventually, many die out and finally, only one or two succeeds to stay alive. We see this happening in social media world, where Facebook had competitors like Orkut, Google had Yahoo, Amazon had Ebay. But today, they are the only remaining monopolies.

Infact, the startup world is so uncertain and risky that it is difficult to know which company will survive and expand, or which might even die out. Many experts never thought that a social media friends chat wall like Facebook will become so big someday. While Tesla and SpaceX also have surprised everyone considering the huge cost and meagre success rate it had in its early years. But at the same time, did anyone predict that an extremely good looking entrepreneur like Elizabeth Holmes would start a medical startup Theranos on a fake idea and it would result in a complete disaster for the VC’s and even the entire health industry. Even WeWork had once given a hope of becoming the next billion dollar company, but it also eventually fell apart. So, this world is full of uncharted territory!

Below pic shows the failed startups like Theranos and WeWork

Is WeWork the next Theranos? - Company News - 1024 BBS

While below are some of the most successful startups in the world

Citron's Left covered Facebook short, still bearish on Netflix | Reuters
Why Did So Many Successful Startups Come Out of PayPal? | Web Resources |  WebAppers

Finally, its always a good thing to start a startup because it promotes innovation. It uses tech and that whats makes it much easy and efficient. We all have been using Amazon, Uber, Zomato, Ola, Netflix. All these startups had an idea, which later became the billion dollar idea. They helped people by providing better service, better technology. Our life has changed by this startups enormously, where today, it is possible for a person to connect with his old school friend after a long time using Facebook, calling him/her using Messenger or WhatsApp without any distance barrier, meeting him/her in a new city by booking an Uber or Ola and using Google Maps/Navigation to reach the location, ordering some gifts from Amazon on the way, enjoying food delivered by Swiggy or Zomato at the doorsteps, then having a good time watching movies on Netflix and finally posting the nice selfies and GetTogether pics on the same Facebook or Instagram Wall. The world is Round, indeed!

© Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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