The large-scale appointment of women to about 60,000 of the 1.48 lakh teaching posts has done a miracle of sorts in some parts of Bihar: Dowry-seekers have turned into dowry-givers.
In East Champaran district, unemployed boys' families are offering a discount or even dropping the demand for dowry.
However, what takes the cake is the offer of dowry to the girls who have landed a teaching job. "There is a complete change in the going rate on the dowry list in preparation for the busy marriage season ahead in January." This being 'Khar-Mas' when marriages are a taboo, marriage negotiations have undergone a sea change since the first week of December when most appointments came into force.
"While dulhas (bridegrooms) are seeking the best unmarried girl who can teach and has the looks too, the discount is in proportion to the family status and the girl's worth," said Sahdeo Singh in Madhuban.
On the other hand, the once unemployed youth, often taken as loafers but now appointed as teachers, are setting the matrimonial columns in newspapers on fire, asking for good matches which mostly means not wheatish complexion but milky white and convent educated. The discounts vary from settling for an Alto instead of a Zen or Santro to even a Honda or TVS mobike.
With the neighbourhood Rajus turning into gentlemen, there are instances of these newly employed boys seeking more in dowry. Said Pandit Umeshwar Tiwari who fixes alliances and is approached by thousands of people during marriage seasons each year: "The families of employed girls and boys have added a new dimension to the marriage market. While unemployed men are looking for women with some kamai and are ready to forego dowry, there are alliance seekers who want employed grooms for their daughters and are ready to pay more."
Jitendra Nath Dubey of Areraj block said that his daughter's employment has taken the burden off his shoulders as good proposals are pouring in. "Earlier, I was not sure whether I would be able to marry her off." Dubey had approached a policeman and was in turn given a long list of dowry items. Today, the same family is satisfied with the alliance.
Likewise, Rajdeo Singh, who was struggling to meet the demand for Rs 4 lakh in dowry, is happy that his employed daughter's marriage into the same family is a certainty. "They have dropped the dowry demand altogether." Anootha Lal's daughter Vinita and Mithilesh Dikshit's daughters Vinita and Archana are getting married in January after they received better offers than what they were aiming for earlier. All these girls have landed into teaching jobs.