By Sumit Kumar
The Chief Minister of Bihar, Mr. Nitish Kumar, in a public address on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, asked the people to forbid the system of dowry. The dowry system was abolished by the Parliament in 1961 under the Dowry Prohibition act, but the sad fact is that the despicable system of dowry, unashamedly and unabashedly continues across the length and breadth of India. People don’t fear law, they don’t despise dowry, instead dowry dictates the terms of marriage. Of all the marriages that I have witnessed in my lifetime, unfortunately, dowry has been the central themes of conversation of every single marriage. The rate of dowry proportionately depends upon the salary of the boy. The marriage of a girl depends on the savings of her parents. No doubt, the birth of a baby girl is seen as unfortunate in most of the families, especially in poor families, where the burden of dowry is maximum and therefore, most of the people either abort their girl child through illegal means or they marry off the girls at a relatively young age so as to reduce the burden of dowry as the amount keeps increasing with every passing year. This results in child marriage which adversely impacts the health of the child bride and eventually hurts the entire society and economy in the long run. The quality of labor force of economy depends on the overall physical and mental well-being of the labor and if mothers, who are themselves underage and physically and mentally unfit for deliveries, deliver babies who are undernourished and unwell, one can calculate the ill-effect of it on the entire economic fabric of India. This hostility of the society with the birth of a girl child also keeps the sex ratio low that further leads to incidents like trafficking and buying of girls for marriage. And most of this emanates because of one simple problem that we joyfully boast of with our relatives during wedding functions, dowry. In many marriages, women are intimidated, even after their marriage, to bring more moolah from their home. In case, the desire is fulfilled, the demand is repeated, in case it goes unfulfilled, the mental and emotional torture ensues.
But what could be done? Who will bring the change? Nitish Kumar, Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi? No, anyone of them can’t change the status quo. The status quo will prevail unless we, the new generation, the youth, who compromise around two-third of the current India’s population vow to change the situation. Most of us share about women’s day, women’s empowerment, feminism, patriotism blah blah blah on Facebook, twitter by liking and sharing some pictures and videos. That is all okay. After all, that is what social media is all about, it is about voicing opinion. But, only voicing opinion don’t change the things. Let us make a start. Today is Deepawali, a sacred day for everyone of us. Let us vow today that we will shun the marriage function where dowry is involved. Let us pledge to uphold the institution of marriage and protect it from the savageries of money. Let us pledge that neither we will take dowry nor will give dowry for marriage. This is not barely about boys, this is for girls too. I know it’s hard, extremely hard but you have to confront your parents if they have relented to someone’s request of dowry. This rejection of dowry can become a social revolution, it can generate a change, it can open the doors of a new India. Though I am not going to get married very soon, yet on this Deepawali, I pledge to reject dowry, if offered on my marriage. To all those people reading this piece, I don’t know what you do, where you live, what are your ambitions etc. I just seek one help for you, a help for my country, for my society, for my sisters, for my daughters; please liberate commerce from the sacred practice of marriage, please think about it for a moment, as a girl who is unmarried because her father is poor, as a foetus who has been killed because her parents feared dowry, as a father who