The Sin Of Being An Over-qualified Woman In India

Posted on October 24, 2011 in Society

By Ms. P. Alli:

I made a grave mistake… Is it our bad fate?… What sin have I committed? Mein apne biradri ke kissi bhi shadi mein nahin ja sakti… (I cannot attend any marriage function in our fraternity) grumbles Mrs. Natarajan, every minute and every day. And the reason for her lamenting is not strange, but a harsh reality that is taking place in every middle-class household. Day in and day out, Mr. Natarajan, a retired central government employee and a proud father of three well-cultured, disciplined and intellectual kids rushes to the nearest ‘thirumana mayam’ (marriage bureau in Tamil) to collect the ‘jadagams’ (horoscopes) of some grooms for their eldest daughter.

Every time — either the horoscopes do not match with their daughter’s horoscopes or the groom’s family puts forward a proposal that makes Mr. and Mrs. Natarajan bow their head down in despair. And the harsh proposal — “Ask your daughter to resign from the job, since the position (a doctoral degree and holding a gazetted rank) that she is holding is of high esteem which will lead to a BIG FAT EGO problem within the family. Moreover, a girl should not be holding a higher post than her husband… she is supposed to be only “a graduate” so as to accompany her hubby to some social gatherings”. In the initial years of their hunt for a perfect groom (perfect in terms of designation and qualification) Mr. and Mrs. Natarajan were bold enough in challenging the society’s rude demands and gave a befitting reply to such speakers.

As years rolled by, their hunt continued but in vain. Society began to look upon them as if they have failed in their duty. They have reduced their visit to social gatherings, so as to avoid an array of questions from the narrow minded people. Not that they cannot reply, but that their replies will in no way make them understand the pain and the tireless efforts that they have taken in making their children attain such greater heights. The suggestion that most of them give is “Do not wait for the person to be of perfect match, marry off your daughters to anyone who comes, no matter whether he is under-qualified, otherwise she will have to bear the consequence of being a virgin throughout their life”. These harsh words initially make them furious, but later they do succumb to their suggestions. All these remarks make them think, “We should not have allowed our daughters pursue higher studies and go after their dreams. We should have stopped them at the graduation level. I will advice all of my relatives not to make their daughters aspire more nor to allow them to go for higher studies. Otherwise they too will have to face the same miserable consequence that we are facing today”. Whenever, the daughters come on vacation, the parents start grumbling, which makes them wonder why they gave them the opportunity to study, in the first place. And if they did, why do they crib now? It is not their fault that they are at a higher position. The tired Mr. and Mrs. Natarajan do not have any answers to these questions, for they do know that their daughters have not erred (or have they?).

Is this the cost that a woman has to bear for being highly qualified? One should bear it in mind that we are still in such a society which considers the parents of unmarried girls as the ‘sin-makers’. Did Mr. and Mrs. Natarajan commit a grave mistake in allowing their daughters pursue higher studies?

What do you think?

The writer is a Research Investigator, Department of Economics and Rural Development, Alagappa University.

Youth Ki Awaaz

India's largest platform for young people to express themselves on critical issues - making best use of new media and online journalism.

Submit Your Story


You must be logged in to comment.

If you sign up with Google, Twitter or Facebook, we’ll automatically import your bio which you will be able to edit/change after logging in. Also, we’ll never post to Twitter or Facebook without your permission. We take privacy very seriously. For more info, please see Terms.


i myself wanna pursue my higher studies …like ur daughters did….n like u worry ..even my mother says there would be ego problems….but i dont give …a DAMN…he is a MAN …..n he shouls be MAN enough to take de fact dat his wife more qualified dan he his!!


blaming on girl’s education is ridiculous… she will find someone who will love her enough to forget about ego problem and its okay if groom is under-qualified… just go for a groom who can stand with her and proudly can say that i love my wife no matter what…


Wow, that’s intense.

People need to move away from these thoughts that a person is only complete once they are married and have kids. Life is about more than that.

Being married does not guarantee happiness and security. In my family alone, two of my cousins are divorced and the others are either in the midst of divorcing or having lots of problems. Yes, there may be happy couples out there and I have seen them but what is portrayed to the world is not what things are really like.

Personally, I’m never getting married. Being a young Indian woman, I know of the expectations people have and of the snide comments that get passed about both you and your family when you don’t follow convention but it’s my life and as long as my parents accept my decision, I can hold my head high.

And really, would you rather be married, miserable and dependant on a man for everything or single, self-sufficient and happy?

But then perhaps I am not qualified to comment on this post seeing as I am not from India.

Priyanka Naik

Of course not, they can look for a groom outside their community as well. Married or not married, at the least their daughters are happy professionally. They do not need to succumb to any other social pressure. It may take time, but I am sure their daughters will get a suitable groom. It is really commendable, especially in India, when parents take so much efforts to educate their daughters !


The article is apt in presenting a grave issue but instead of advising his (Mr. Natarajan) relatives for not letting their daughter’s follow their dreams , it would be better if he starts encouraging the guys of his society to pursue higher studies and raise their status / ego bar .

1 2
Similar Posts


Submit your story