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IIT IIM Shaadi: The Matrimonial Website For The ‘Upper Caste, English Educated’

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When Taksh Gupta’s family began looking for a suitable match for his cousin brother, they ran into an unexpected problem. Says Gupta, “He was a pass-out from BITS Pilani and IIM Bangalore and we had trouble finding a girl who would be equally qualified.” And it was this incident that led to the creation of IITIIMShaadi.com in 2014.

Since its launch, the service has received a lot of flak, most notably from Feminism In India. In an open letter to the founders, feminist activist Japleen Pasricha highlighted that IIT-IIMShaadi had lower entry requirements for women users in order to widen the pool for men to choose from. Heavy criticism followed from Women’s Web too, as people wondered why there had to be a matrimonial website dedicated to India’s top colleges.

The idea is simple: matchmaking for highly educated individuals, because (as the site announces) “alma mater matters.” And it’s strict eligibility criteria really sets it apart from other matrimonial services. As Gupta explains, you can be from any field – management, engineering, law, finance, medical or fashion design – but you have to be an alumni of the top colleges in your field to even register. Commenting on their premier services (personalised offline matchmaking), Gupta says “We have an unbelievable record of about 70% success rate, and that is unheard of in the industry.

Currently there are 8,000 active members, whose profiles (and educational qualifications!) were painstakingly authenticated by a two-person team. But the number of profiles awaiting authentication come up to about 25,000. What’s attracting all these folks to IITIIMShaadi? Are we witnessing changes in how people choose partners, preferring intellectual compatibility over other traits? Have people’s needs changed? Gupta certainly thinks so. He says, “Marriages is between two hearts and two bodies but also two minds. High education makes one open to accept the differences. People with similar educational background understand each other’s work and living styles.

Source: IITIIMShaadi.com

It’s not for nothing that millennials have taken to spouting the phrase “brainy is the new sexy”. Being on the same mental wavelength as your partner sounds like a pretty sweet deal. And for Gupta, trying to address this need constitutes ITIIMShaadi’s “soaring success”. The number of marriages facilitated by the service have steadily increased. There have been 60 so far, of which 31 happened in 2017. Gupta claims that marriages which are not reported back to the site are potentially double or triple that number.

But a whole matrimonial service dedicated to it? We wondered how students from said premier institutions felt about it. Sneha, a former student of IIT, doesn’t favour choosing partners based on the institution they come from, just as she wouldn’t choose based on caste or religion or complexion. But she points out yet another issue: “You know the hype that is created about IITs and IIMs? They’re just kind of perpetuating that same idea, within matrimony.

In the same vein, recent IIT graduate Manan* said there was an element of elitism at play. “Maine survey nahi kiya hai, lekin bina survey kar ke mein keh sakta hu ki 99% of the profiles must be English-educated, upper-caste Hindus. Yeh bas unhi ke liye bana hai, jab ki India mein sirf 10% population English speakers hain.”

Rose, another ex student of IIT Roorkee, thought the service seemed odd at first, then saw the appeal to prioritising educational status. “Every tiny sect you can think of has a different marriage site out there. I don’t want to look at a site, but if I were to, I suppose this one’s more palatable than most.”

But can a service like this really upstage centuries-old ‘determinants’ like caste, class, or religion? Professor Vivek Kumar, a sociologist from Jawaharlal Nehru University says no. “Hierarchies and caste endogamy always existed. I think it is reinforcing the older hierarchies, but with very modern techniques which were not available earlier.” He hands it to the internet for connecting people across various divides, but finds that it makes divisions of caste, sub-caste and sub-sub-caste even more pronounced. “The paradox is that modernity is trying to reinforce and reproduce the identity it was supposed to deconstruct!

Students at Indian Institute of Technology.

In response to criticisms, Gupta stresses that the intention of IITIIMShaadi was never to harm, inconvenience, or disrespect any section of society, and that he was plainly creating a niche service. “For people who continue to argue with me, I have a great article I share with them. It’s something I studied at Harvard, called ‘The Long Tail’. Niches are best for the demand, the supply side, and (here’s my favorite part) often also those who are not part of the niche.”

And IITIIMShaadi users are putting that niche to work. For example a 29-year-old woman from IIM Ahmedabad looking for a groom sent in a very particular request. Says Gupta, “She wanted someone to commit to be a house-husband, who would be happy with the idea of her working throughout their lives and him staying at home and take care of household chores, and babies.

So, is the service creating enough room to unsettle at least some of the old hierarchies? Maybe. Maybe not. But the fact that it exists points towards some fascinating shifts in modern Indian society.

*name changed on request.
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  1. Sourav Halder

    Recent time it is observed that apart from caste & Religion a new division is gradually increased i.e University degree. Recently money is not only consideration beside that from where you get your degree i.e also consider. Recently https://99marriageguru.com/ also provide similar service for IIT & IIM graduate

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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