In response to  Nishank Sah: ” I was just wondering if AID is currently involved in any Anti-DOWRY campaign.”

Funny, a journalist wondering the same thing called me a few days ago. She wanted to find out why the campaign was no longer active in AID.

I offered some possible explanations …. key volunteers leading the effort moving to India and not keeping up contact, decline of the yahoo group (partly due imho to cross-posting and spam) , and also major emergencies that exhausted our volunteer resources such as communal riots in Gujarat, Tsunami. Also that those who took initiative in the anti-dowry campaign were the same people who were working actively in Narmada, Bhopal, Farmers’ Crisis, and several other major issues which demanded our time and energy.

Dowry is a hard issue because it means changing something about ourselves, our attitudes, our lifestyles.
It is easier to cite the above reasons but there is also something about the rising consumerism, changing demographics of AID volunteer base, changing forms of dowry, sexism … that demands our introspection as well.

Anyway the journalist was interested in meeting a young couple in India preparing for marriage and facing and resisting family expectations regarding dowry.

Do you know anyone she could interview? She is going to India in January.


by Nishank Sah on Mon Nov 03, 2008 6:11 pm


I was just wondering if AID is currently involved in any Anti-DOWRY campaign and I came across this old thread. The discussions were really insightful and still pertinent.

Currently, what is the stand of AIDers against dowry? Especially among the unmarried folks??

Some survey was proposed to be taken to know the opinion of AIDers on different aspects related to dowry and inter-caste marriages. Had we collected any facts related to it?

Though, the demand for Dowry might have subdued per se, but it has metamorphosed into another subtle forms, like giving of gifts, jeweleries, ostentatious wedding celebrations (the cost to be born by bride’s parents), etc.

Moreover, still there are many young folks, who would not ask for dowry on their own, but who won’t oppose their parents demand either, saying “I can’t say no if my parents ask the bride’s family for dowry. Maybe I won’t ask dowry for my kids’ marriages.”

One of the best solutions for curbing the effects of dowry can be as simple as, a couple spending 50-50% on wedding arrangements on their own (assuming both are working), and keeping it low scale than pressurizing the bride’s parents for arrangements.

I am not sure, as how much just signing a NO DOWRY pledge online by people would lead to its actual implementation.

Nishank Sah

Radhika Rammohan on Thu Jun 15, 2006 3:26 pm

hi Shailabh,

Actually the point I was making was re. the society, expectations and “pressure” that people put on themselves even if it is not external. The notion is well-entrenched in our society that the girl’s family should do everything possible to ensure the couple start off to a good std. of living and that the wedding itself, and all its expenses are to be met by them — even if the grooms family were to be quite progressive the bride’s fmly will go out of their way and spend on the occasion.

Most parents of girls will have something put away for these purposes and that kitty would have been growing since the girl’s childhood. You brought up a point of “what if the grooms parents are not that well-off”. If groom’s parents were to be working under the assumption that roughly 50% of their son’s wedding and marriage start-up expenses are to be met by them, perhaps they would create such kitties too… just speculating.

“display and pressure” are relative — to me a lavish wedding whose expenses are footed by the girls family, and where dispoportionate level of gifts given by one side are indications of this social conditioning. It is of course FAR preferable to the arm-twisting and conditional marriages one sees.

My thoughts are not a departure from the original dowry FAQ…. if you see the next para in the faq.

      Nevertheless if parents wish to give anything to their daughter on the occasion of her marriage, they should give it in her own name and see that she is fully aware of how to manage the assets and capable of using them according to her own wishes and needs.

Shailabh Nagar on Thu Jun 15, 2006 2:45 pm

LS Aravinda wrote:

I was trying to get at what definition of dowry would be used that people would be pledging to work against and whether that can be something as rigid

ANTI DOWRY campaign pledge and faq may be a good start.

The pledge and FAQ were quite useful and seem like a good way of conveying what is meant. In particular,

Any gift given by the bride’s family to the groom’s family as a condition of marriage, under social pressure for fulfilling customs, or for showing the bride’s family status or under fear of ill- being of the bride, is a dowry. A gift given without such display or pressure or condition is not considered a dowry.

I felt that the direction in which Radhika was going with her interpretation of a gift given willingly went against the last line….and hence the questioning…

In line at the Kurla railway station, I conversed with a gentleman who started mentioning his child’s wedding and I started mentioning the dowry free wedding campaign. He also proposed hypothetical scenarios and asked me if that was dowry or not. I simply said that as an observer I may not know but the persons giving and receiving will know what they are doing and it is up to them to think judiciously about this, if they believe in the campaign, and act accordingly.

Very well put.
Sorry for being the online equivalent of your railway gentleman and
creating a “hypothetical scenario” diversion in this thread :-)

I think Ravi and your suggestions on getting feedback from the people
who use this kind of site would be quite valuable in taking action.


Vani Vemparala on Wed Jun 14, 2006 5:54 am

And what if the groom’s parent’s aren’t as well off ? Do you advocate the girls parent’s should hold back in giving so they fit this proposed definition of what is dowry and what isn’t ? This isn’t a rhetorical question but a real one.

I think the issue is one of expectation. whether groom’s parents and rich or poor, they cannot have any expectations that girl’s parents should/shouldn’t do something.

let me give an example. if groom’s parents are not that well off, would they invite 1000 guests, if they were footing the bill? may be not. so why should they, if the bride’s parents are the ones who are paying for it? groom’s parents being ‘poor’ as in your example, does not entitle them to a single paisa of bride’s/bride’s parents money. Marraige is not a lottery ticket. If the starting of the life together is with these expectations (which have nothing to do with intrinsic qualities of two people, who are going to be living together), it is quite a slippery slope from there, IMO.

I think some of the posts here are talking about the expectations on the bride’s parents that have been levied for so long. if the parents of bride are ’empowered’ enough to make decisions (irrespective of societal expectations) whether they want/not want to give, those examples will automatically not fit into the campaign.

As I understand, the campaign exists because this expectation exists and reaches ugly levels quite frequently in a myriad of forms.

manoj tammiraju on Tue Jun 13, 2006 7:07 pm

As radhika was mentioning may be its the sharing of expenses that would bring down the way money is spent in marriages. well with this issue partly the fault attributes to both the sides, groom and the bride.

The major problem I feel with dowry and many other things is that many don’t see these things as issues unless some art film/documentary or an utter tragedy points it out blatently as these are so ingrained in the society making us callous to their presence and acceptance. For some even if they see it around unless it happens in their family they even don’t care. And many even if they see don’t realize the potetial impact they can make to society they live in (both positive or negative).

What do you all think about starting out with questions to our own AIDers and see in a week what all we feel about this system as such and suggestions on how to counter it. Since we (guys) in AID were complimented to be a “good boys” in conference :wink: and in AID there are girls who are saying “death to dowry”, lets see on a whole what we all feel and how much we commit to the issue. I believe the survey suggested by Brunda and Dwiji is a good start.

I feel the questions should converge in bringing up the point that what ever some of us might do as a fashion and others consider as tradition is turning out to be a compultion to many. Probably we leaving out some of this “maryada” or “shaan” or “status” things to a little extant might bring in a good change and stop this unnecessary selling and buying process.

My way of looking at it is surely not to suggest in having ideal marriages like signing registers… The dreams of grand marriages is no harm as long as we are observing the social impacts we might be causing. Leaving alone those things… enjoyammadi 8) …..

My discussions with some really outspoken and well educated girls and guys:

1. Its ok as long as the dowry is a one time affair as its pretty common and as long as the grooms side doesn’t pester again and again, I don’t mind my father giving a dowry. (what happens if they do?? No idea)

2. I am not interested in dowry and all things mama but you know these are formalities of parents. I don’t care much about it and why should I when they are capable of giving and my parents are not forcing anything anyway.

3. When guy says it would be good to share the expenses as its not like one is giving and other is taking but two families getting together… The response was nah it would not look nice upon us, though its a good thinking.

4. If I won’t someone else will give and if I haven’t had sister I would have waited to say I would marry the guy who won’t ask for dowry. Well anyways even if some may not ask dowry they would be looking at the aspect that I am earning and my salary comes in. So who do you think is better the one who openly asks dowry or who had such a thing in mind and marries me giving a show as if he is Lord Rama.

5. Come on ra I don’t like dowry but see its a status symbol. My cousin was given a crore and me being in US my parents expect to show my worth more than that. Above all do you know they would think that I have some defect if there is no mention of dowry.

Ravi Kuchimanchi on Tue Jun 13, 2006 2:00 pm

hi all,

when we say no dowry we expect the couple will resist asking or taking dowry that can be initiated by their parents and others. dowry will in all likelihood be discussed by them and we hope and expect they actually succeed in haVING A dowry-free MARRIAGE.

no caste means we wont allow caste to be disclosed in matrimony announcements. again it will in all likelihood come up in discussions they have with each other and family members. i have seen several AID pairs whose parents succeeded in preventing their inter-caste marriage.

maybe on both counts — dowry and caste — we should ask people advertising to say if they have their parents consent for dowry-free and inter-caste weddings before they use our site. if they have do not have or do not want to involve their parents while placing ad. they should state how their parents are likel;y to react and how they will convince their parents.

we should request couple to give us post-wedding feedback on how they handled dowry and caste and to what extent they had to compromise.

likewise even one of them can give anonymous feedback on negative aspoects — like if parents succeeded in breaking marriage plans or if they married but dowry was actually taken. we should have a way where even we dont know who the person is who is writing to us but know its genuine as s/he used a code number that the computer assigned to him/her at time of placing ad.

these feedback should be made available sans all personal references on matrim. site.



Knock, knock

SO the enquiry has begun.  SO have the threats.  “Are you ready to face the consequences?” a voice said on the other end of the phone line to one village volunteer.  Villagers may also have succumbed to pressure to say anganwadi was ok …  But locks don’t lie.  When the officials knocked on the doors of the anganwadi in Dallavalasa, it was closed.

Meanwhile public support for the campaign is growing.  One anganwadi worker followed the village karyakartas as they went door to door for the ragi distribution work, watched as they weighed babies, talked to mothers.   Afterwards she invited them to her home.  Now villagers recognize AID India workers as people who can help them bring grievances to the responsible officials.  In Appalagraharam, where anganwadi is supplying grains, a few have come to show that these grains have worms in them.  Since the new Collector seems to be sincere, we will continue conveying this information and support those anganwadi workers who also want to improve things and have had difficulty given the prevailing modus operandi.

Meanwhile Surya newspaper has published an artice on March 23, pg. 3 detailing the extent of corruption in the anganwadi system.