December 12, 2005

Dowry sweepstakes hit the roof in Andhra towns

By Mridula Chunduri/TNN

Hyderabad: Software professional, $100,000 salary, settled in US. Going rate: Rs 3 crore. Residency doctor, $90,000 per annum, settled in US. Going rate: Rs 2 crore. Businessman, earns Rs 1 lakh per month, settled in metro. Going rate: Rs 2 crore. Dowry rates are reaching unprecedented levels this December as hordes of NRIs head back home to get hitched.
   And it’s proving to be a quite a democratic phenomenon. All males are privy to it — IT pro, MNC honcho, officer, gentleman, tinker, tailor, soldier, spy — and all girls are subject to it. You may be a software pro with a five-figure salary and an hourglass figure, but you have to pay up. You may get a discount but not a waiver.
   As expected, it’s the propertied classes — Kammas, Reddys, Kapus — that are blazing the dowry trail. A Kamma ‘boy’, well-settled in the US, is available for not a lakh less than Rs 50 lakh, with some of them going for up to Rs 20 crore. M D Kumar, marriage consultant, says ‘boys’ these days are particular that the girl of their dreams be highly educated and be able to earn on their own. Still, he won’t admit her into his life without a dowry. If she is pretty, her parents might bargain for a discount of a few lakhs.
   In the Reddy community, dowry figures in the upper-middle class are reaching the Rs 3-crore mark. A mere B.Tech. graduate might go for about Rs 10 lakh. A software professional living in the USA can hawk himself for between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore. A ‘boy’ who is in the IPS or the IAS, even if he earns a paltry amount compared to the software champ, can expect to go for more than Rs 1 crore.
   Among the Kammas and Reddy communities, even for lowincome ‘boys’, like tailors, clerks, teachers, the starting rate is Rs 3 lakh.
   Among the Brahmins, the figures are less staggering. A rich family might give a dowry of up to Rs 40 lakh, but the average dowry figure is around Rs 10 lakh in the upper-middle class segment.
As lifestyles change, cracks are showing up in young marriages

GEETHA RAO Times News Network

AS life goes furiously on in the fast lane, young urban marriages appear to be crumbling in Bangalore. To a major extent, it’s lifestyle changes and the empowerment of women which are pushing marriages to the brink, say experts. Abroad, it’s mostly women who initiate divorce; here, there are more women asking for divorce as compared to some years ago, but not necessarily more than men.
   Says Usha Rao, clinical psychologist, “Earlier, I’d see one new case a week, now it’s 3-4. Some of them are only months or a few weeks into the marriage. Many couples are just 25-29 years old.”
   Psychiatrist Dr Ravishankar Rao, says greater empowerment and independence among women has led to freedom in thought also. Sexual role identity and social mores have changed. “A woman may not be happy if she comes home from work and continues with housework, while the man puts up his feet and reads the newspapers. Housewives may put up with it, but working women have the freedom of decision.” Also, finding a partner is easier now, you need not walk out and be lonely, he says. “It may seem like more women are opting out, but that may not be true.”
   Psychologist Brinda Amritraj says it’s the lack of work-life balance that’s the cause among many professionals, specially in IT. “They
   are pre-occupied with work, and have “no time” for spouses. The little time they have with each other is spent in quarrelling, in some cases. “He watches TV while I’m busy with work,” is one complaint.” Other reasons are personality disorders like suspicion and insecurity. “Two months married, a young couple have let small things mar their relationship. The wife complains, he does not help me around the house, and the husband says, ‘She doesn’t cook the dishes I like, she spends Sunday with her parents and has no time for me.’ They have no patience or maturity to work it out,” says a psychologist. Dr Ravishankar adds, “Tolerance levels have dipped.”
   Some couples have a few hours with each other because they work shifts. “The wife goes to work at 6 am and is back in the afternoon, but the husband’s left already and is back late at night,” explains Usha Rao.
   Amritraj finds most couples are in their 30s. “In some marriages, there’s pressure to have a baby, but a baby may complicate matters further.”
   “Some situations are complicated,” says Dr Rao. “There are cases where people brought up in a traditional set-up come out and lead a different life at the office, and then go back to the security of a traditional home life.” But with social mores changing, there’s room for conflict.

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