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NRIs, the non required bridegrooms

world Updated: Jan 04, 2009 21:24 IST
Vijay Dutt

The unexpected has happened. Indian male singletons in Britain are increasingly facing a “not wanted” attitude from families back home. The days when a young NRI from Britain could weave El Dorado dreams to enchant a young Indian woman, promising her a better life and lure her parents to wed their daughter, even if it needed raising a hefty dowry, are disappearing.

It’s perplexing for the less “globalised” families in Britain but the reality has hit them hard. Indian parents are loath to trust the credentials of the NRI bachelor, having been betrayed hundreds of times.

Until recently out of 15,000 Britons marrying non-European brides, over 60 per cent were of Indian origin.

This has already shrunk by over a quarter. The number of options an NRI bachelor offered to a prospective bride from India has also depleted.

A well-employed NRI in Britain was rejected by parents in Delhi because they were convinced that he could not give their daughter the kind of comfort she was used to in her family home, at his two-bedroom flat in a Birmingham suburb.

The refusal is explained by Lord Megnad Desai, a noted Economist, who said the hitherto lure of a better and easy life here has disappeared with recession. “An average Indian in India now is as rich if not richer than the average NRI here. India is not feeling the credit crunch as much as Britain. Parents know their daughters would have to do all the chores, take up low-paid jobs to balance the budget. Moreover everything that was ‘modern’ and exclusive here is now available in a surfeit there. The salaries in India are also high, so the attraction of an investment banking salary has gone with the meltdown.

The “business” of marrying twice, thrice, only for dowry and then abandoning the brides has also alarmed parents in India.

There are over 1,000 formal complaints from brides cheated by NRI husbands. The estimate is that about 40 per cent of marriages in recent years were fraudulent. The extradition treaty between India and the UK does not cover matrimonial crimes. In one case parents in Punjab who paid £9,000 dowry discovered later that the groom, was unemployed, and had married twice to collect dowry.

Nothing could be done.

“We are encouraging young men here to marry girls brought up in the same environment as their’s,” said Krishan Bhatia, a Southall community leader. “Instances of tragic endings due to cultural clashes are appalling. It’s good that Indian parents are shying away from seeking grooms here.”

The days of the ‘westward ho!’ marital charm is soon becoming a dying phenomena.