Saturday, August 1, 2020

Arranged marriage, in India, on television

The Guardian and the Indian Express have the story about a tv show about arranged marriage, a venerable institution that is becoming controversial.

Here's the Guardian:

Indian Matchmaking: Netflix's 'divisive' dating show causes storm
Series following contestants hoping to be chosen for arranged marriage has divided opinion in India
by Hannah Ellis-Petersen

"For some, Indian Matchmaking represents an unacceptable normalising of the regressive standards forced on Indian women to in order to be seen as a “suitable” wife, while pushing the unspoken issue of caste under the carpet.
"The eight-part series follows Taparia as she attempts to find appropriate matches for clients both in India and across the world in order to set up arranged marriages, often on behalf of their client’s parents. It is a show set in a world of upper-class affluence, where Indian families can afford to hire Taparia’s expensive services and even fly her across the world to find them, or their children, a suitable match.

"Arranged marriage remains prevalent in India. As Taparia says in the show, arranged marriage is just described as “marriage” while it is “love marriage” that is spoken of as outside the norm. Newspapers are still full of matrimonial adverts where women are reduced to three-line descriptions of their “fair skinned”, “accomplished” or “modern yet traditional” attributes.

"Indian Matchmaking’s uncritical presentation of its clients’ “criteria” – usually fair-skinned women from a “good” family - has come in for particular criticism.

"Critics have said the show perpetuates damaging ideas around colourism and caste – the Hindu system of hierarchy, which rigidly designates someone’s class and social status. Dalits, India’s lowest class, still undergo rampant discrimination and abuse in society while the upper Brahmin caste hold much of the power and influence. Cross-caste marriage in India can get you killed.

“Indian Matchmaking is really a cesspool of casteism, colourism, sexism, classism,” wrote one Twitter user."

And here's the Indian Express:

Indian Matchmaking: An 8-episode of misguided gender politics, ultimately a betrayal for Indian audiences
By cherry picking its clients and assorting stories it wants to tell, by ticking boxes of caste, religion and class as imperative for an arranged alliance, Indian Matchmaking panders to the West gaze with complying obedience.
by Ishita Sengupta

"Positioned as an outlet to familiarise the world with a practice peculiar to India and Indians; the documentary could have been a first-hand exploration about the evolving origin of a cultural custom and the multifarious ways people go about it. And for millennials back home, it could affirm our rejection of a practice we long recognise as outdated or be a vehicle to convince us of its efficiency in a language we comprehend better than our parents’ monologues. But Indian Matchmaking dilutes an age-old practice by blunting the pointed shards on which it has stood for years. The end result is an eight-episode betrayal for the audience in India and a cut-to-fit documentary about the country and its traditions for the West, confirming every suspicion they nurtured.

"Created by Smriti Mundhra, who previously co-directed A Suitable Girl in 2017, it follows Sima Taparia, one of India’s top matchmakers as she visits her clientele spread across India and abroad. At the very outset, Taparia (“from Mumbai”) insists, “Matches are made in heaven and God has given me the job of making them successful on earth,” thereby placing herself beyond reproach. But in her job of a self-declared messiah (it is never shown how much she earns) intending to bring together people with the supposed divine connection, she falls back on caste, class, complexion, height and sometimes breadth of smiles as plausible criteria for two people to give each other a shot at spending their lives together."

And Livemint:

Opinion | What economic studies say about our marriage market
 29 Jul 2020,  by Anirudh Tagat
"A matchmaking show on Netflix seems to skim over the market deficiencies that scholars have studied in depth"

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