Why Arrange marriages work in India?

Forced/Arranged Marriage India
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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.

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International Men’s Day!

Why International Men’s Day needs to be accepted by the society!

The day of Nov 19th, is declared as International Men’s Day! Unlike Women’s day, this day is not much known or celebrated either. Even Google ignores this day by not making doodles which it regularly makes for celebrating women’s day. To be honest, I was also not aware of this day until I read a LinkedIn post from a female connection!

International Men's Day 2020 Quotes & Wishes: Check This Year's Theme

The first question which came in my mind is that why is there a need to celebrate Men’s day? Just because the tradition to celebrate women’s day exists? Well, historically, we see that women have undergone generations of inequality, injustice and impartiality as compared to men. That’s why as per https://www.internationalwomensday.com/About ,March 8th is the day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

Men on the other side, has always dominated the world in all spheres of life, be it scientific, political, social or economic. The world has honored and revered men from all backgrounds, religions, culture in all parts of the world, at all times. Infact if we checkout the list of 100 most influential people of all time, we find only two women in the entire list, which are Queen Isabella ( Rank 65), and Queen Elizabeth I ( Rank 94). It is said that behind every successful man, there is women. She could be his mother, or wife, or sister. No man can ever be successful without the women’s support. But unfortunately, the world has always treated men far superior than women, and hence, the list stands as a proof.

Ofcourse, this is no way means that men in the list are not great or influential. What I am trying to convey is that history has always biased between men and women ( maybe because that history is mostly written by men!), and hence, the need to celebrate women’s day garnered the credit to honor the unsung heroines of the world. But then why men’ day needs to be celebrated?

This is because, the world has changed a lot in last few centuries, especially in the last 100 or so years. Due to scientific revolutions and advancement in communication technologies, the world is closer and connected than ever before. Thanks to spread of common education curriculum, democracy & voting rights, trade & commerce across the world, and acceptance of law and order required for a civilization to function, the world is no longer fighting wars to grab lands, resources, or even enslave people ( atleast not like Mongol invaders or British imperialists, though Taliban and few fringe elements do exist in the world) which used to happen before.

All this has led to a more civilized world, which has brought in more equality between men and women. Atleast the law says to treat men and women as equal. Thus, we see more women being educated & working along side men in business, military, politics and even in space! And I think this is one of the greatest achievement in human social history ( however late it might be)

Today we see women’s problems being recognized and accepted openly in most parts of the world. Be it the taboo associated with menstruation, or opposition to abortion, or even cases of domestic violence, sexual exploitation & marital rape. All this is being given attention and justice in today’s world. The society has accepted women’s importance as the other equal half, and this has been the greatest success of celebrating women’s day.

But at the same time, the world is also becoming more aware of the problems of men. Just as history saw women as weak, emotional and inferior for centuries, in the same way, men were always viewed from the prism of masculinity, bravery, machoism, unemotional, and dominant. The fact that men can also be emotional, and face stress or mental issues was never accepted by the world. Men were molded by the society to become stiff, aggressive, to never cry, never give up, never show emotions, stay dominant over women, earn more & be more educated than women. This was the way the world functioned for centuries. Scholars and intellectuals propounded this theory to compare it with evolution, and the way our ancestors lived, where men used to hunt and gather food, while women used to be at home to cook and raise children. ( there are some backward people like Taliban or ISIS who still believe in this theory)

But, as the world has changed enormously in the last few centuries, this concept no longer holds true. Times have changed, and even though men continue to dominate the world in most spheres of life, but the stress, anxiety, and work pressure they have to undergo to perform and stay at the top is excruciating. For example, we see that if a women voluntarily decides not to work & become a housewife, it is easily accepted by the society. But men unfortunately do not have that luxury. Men are never accepted to take gaps in education or work. Infact, going further, men are even not accepted to work under a women ( this might be due to peer pressure or male ego), but this stress to dominate, affects mental health enormously. And to make matter worse, men are not even expected to express their emotions, concerns in front of others ( especially in front of women as this is considered to be inferior and servile for a man’s macho status)

That’s why we see men’s health being severely affected, which results in some severe health issues like cardiac attack, high blood pressure etc. The below statistics shows the severity of this mindset.

Happy International Men's Day! 2019 Theme and All you You Need to Know -  WorthvieW
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Hence, International Men’s Day is celebrated to show this other side of male personality. Even though physically or through evolution, men are stronger than women, or are more evolved to work in strenuous physical activities such as farming, construction, or fighting wars etc. But that does not mean they are emotional stronger than women as well. Infact, women are better at managing their stress, mental health and work pressure than men. This might be because women express their concerns and issues more easily with other women or even with husband/father. But men are known to never express their concerns or emotions to anyone.

Hence, this day should get more accepted by the world to create awareness about men’s mental health. The emphasis on male machoism, or ego should be discarded. Men should not feel a shame to work under women, and neither should they take stress to stay dominant at the top of the social ladder. In order to make men and women truely equal with each other, it is necessary to accept the fact that after all, men are also humans! Just like a mother, wife or sister plays a vital role in man’s life, so does a father, husband or brother in a woman’s life! The ground needs to be leveled and so Men’s day needs to get the same support as Women’s day!