Mr. Rebates

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dowry Calculator app: How much for an arranged marriage?

June 2, 2011

App inventor Tanul Thakur spoofs an antiquated, outlawed aspect of arranged marriages

On May 6 Tanul Thakur, a 23-year-old Indian electrical engineer living in Colorado, launched a satirical joke on an aspect of the traditional Indian arranged marriage. It promptly went viral, to the count of 65,730 Facebook likes, 66,000 Facebook shares and 997 Tweets in a couple of weeks.
Thakur's Dowry Calculator, a simple online form shared under a Creative Commons license, estimates a groom's monetary value in 10 questions.
In other words, a ballpark figure asked of the bride’s family based on the groom's age, profession, caste, salary, father’s profession, skin tone, height, previous marriages and whether he went to Harvard or not.
Then you get an answer such as, "Congratulations! Your current dowry rate is 1 Crore. Besides the cash amount, you are assured a lavish wedding, a land property (given you negotiate your price well), hefty and expensive jewelry, and even a foreign tour with your wife -- all with your in-laws' hard earned money. ... The day has arrived. All these years of hard work, and investment in education has finally paid off. You have made your parents proud. Bravo!"
It’s a parody of course. A modern way of demonstrating what this generation feels about a practice outlawed in India in 1961 but still prevalent in lower income strata where women experience suicidal harassment over drawn-out dowry payments.
According to women's rights groups' estimates, 7,000 cases of dowry deaths occur every year in India.
Nor is it unheard of for so-called upper caste Indian "aunties" to be curious about what tangible assets the bride will bring with her. Some going so far as to ask outright.
Thakur dedicates his web application to them. To “all the match-making aunties," who "think it is their moral responsibility to decide everything for the younger people in the family," he says.

As with all clever jokes, some get it, many don't

"There are things in our society that beg to be satirized," Thakur says. "Our obsession with IIT-ians, skin color, judging someone by their salary, and so on. The main point was to show how our society can, at times, treat human beings as mere statistics."
"A lot of people got the sarcasm and the puerile parameters by which we judge people in our society and were happy that someone made a mockery of the dowry system." 
However one South Indian television news channel missed the punch line, according to Thakur, and called for the cyber police to ban the Dowry Calculator.
Guess they weren't too happy with the results.

No comments:

Post a Comment