Ministry of overseas Indian affairs to play matchmaker

New Delhi, NOVEMBER 20, 2004
Editorial, Times of India

This will save innocents from being duped

Some will argue that marriages are rarely made in heaven. For many unfortunate Indian brides looking to find marital bliss with their NRI husbands, this is heartbreakingly true. In that context the decision taken by the Union ministry of overseas Indian affairs to appoint volunteers to do a background check on prospective NRI grooms is a step in the right direction. In recent years there have been many reports of girls from India being duped by so-called NRI bachelors. It is estimated that there are as many as 10,000 cases in Punjab and over 12,000 reported cases in Gujarat. As a ministry responsible for the overseas Indian community, it is appropriate that it should take the onus of running background checks and protecting the interests of Indian citizens whether based in India or abroad.

The argument against the ministry's move is that marriage is a private affair between two individuals. But it's an argument that doesn't hold. Marriage is an implicit contract between two people recognised by the state. Without the state's acceptance, the union would mean little both in legal and social terms. The official ending of a marriage too can only be done with legal sanction. The state then is the main arbitrator of this institution. It is only appropriate that the state should step in formally to check any fraud or breach of promise that takes place under the guise of marriage. Other evils associated with marriage, like child marriage and dowry, also needed strong state intervention. Running a background check can hardly be construed as interference. The state with its large apparatus has the wherewithal to do so, which may be difficult for many at an individual level. Instead of always looking for a sinister motive, we should applaud the ministry for responding to the problem swiftly. With this initiative in place, many more brides are likely to live happily ever after.