A well-settled non-resident Indian groom is what many Indian parents aspire for their daughter. But now the demand for NRI grooms has fallen by almost 20 per cent and, with the economic slump hitting the private sector badly, people are once again looking out for 'stable' government employees.
"There has been a dip in the response for NRI grooms post-the slowdown and the demand has fallen by almost 20 percent than before. People now are not really that willing for NRI grooms because of the job uncertainty factor," Murugavel Janakiraman, founder and chief executive of Consim Info Pvt Ltd, formerly known as BharatMatrimony group, told IANS over phone from Chennai.
Sandeep Amar from Simplymarry.com had something similar to say.
"The NRI prospect has not stopped. The ads seeking NRI grooms have gone down by around 20 percent due to uncertainty," Amar said.
According to statistics from another matrimonial website shaadi.com, among Gujaratis the demand for grooms based in Britain fell by 3.5 percent last year and was lowest during the month of October 2008. Among Sindhis, the demand for Britain-based grooms dropped by 7.4 percent in January 2009 compared to January 2008.
The fall is also visible in the communities' demand for US-based grooms - by 7.10 percent. Also, among Telugu members, the demand for US-based spouses fell by 6.2 percent in January 2009 as compared to last year.
Considered to be a prized catch, the demand for the NRI grooms used to be at its peak in the late 1990s and early 2000. The market, however, saw a boom around 2006-2007 for all Indians working outside.
"The reason was that the NRIs make a lot of money and girls married to them get to settle abroad, therefore making them the most-desired prospect in the marriage market," said Janakiraman.
Added Amar: "Not forgetting that these NRI grooms meet the parents' fundamental demands like religion, caste, house, job, plans after marriage, etc. The demand for NRI grooms became very strong for people from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and also people living in the metros."
But with increasing pink slip handovers and paycuts post-recession, parents in India have undergone a "shift in preferences", said Gourav Rakshit, business head of shaadi.com.
"They are now sceptical of the 'stability' factor from a groom's side and are apprehensive of considering the same as a match," said Rakshit, who also suggests that it's also because Indian women are much more independent and ready to shrug off the herd mentality now.
"With promising careers, independence and the need to spend more time with one's family, some of the eligible Indian women are themselves not eager to move abroad after marriage," Rakshit said from Mumbai.
"People are also getting picky because they want to do all it takes to have a secure life with a steady income. But it's also about compatibility, not just nationality, religion or profession," he added.
Right now parents are associating "stability" with public sector jobs.
"As far as shaadi.com searches go, government employees are among the top 20 professions that are most sought after as of now. Perhaps it's got to do with the stability that comes along with the job," said Rakshit, whose portal has a 30 percent NRI member base.
Candidates still in demand across both domestic and overseas market despite the global economic crisis are IT professionals, suggests an industry outlook by shaadi.com.
"A lot of communities like the Punjabis and Gujaratis are not in the top jobs abroad. Parents always have a lot of questions regarding these people. But IT grooms are pretty safe as they represent safe companies," said Amar.
"The maximum demand for IT grooms in fact is from Tamil Nadu, as a lot of Tamil Brahmins are in IT jobs abroad," he added.