I was rather taken aback to read in an all-India newspaper about the suicide of 
the wife of a national kabaddi player in Nangloi, Delhi.

She left a long message on her mobile phone blaming her husband and in-laws for 
constantly harassing her by making dowry demands. 

So far admittedly a very sorry story but nothing unusual to me. India is a 
populous country with a lot of educated people who are not willing to easily 
discard the burdensome shackles of their past. The law forbids the giving and 
taking of dowry. The husband in this case is a low ranking Indian Navy man.

Now for the part that surprised me. The father of the woman is a retired Delhi 
Transport Corporation conductor earning during his career the miserable wages 
that position would allow. Despite that, on the day of the wedding, the groom's 
family had the temerity to demand a diesel-run Fortuner. 

I have no idea of vehicle prices in India, but it is safe to assume that the 
Fortuner would be more expensive than the Honda City they had agreed to give. 
This is not a new trick played by grooms' relatives in India. Wait for the 
wedding day to make far bigger demands than were previously agreed upon, to 
coerce the bride's family who would be terrified of a wedding cancellation. 

What I cannot understand is this:
How can a retired DTC conductor have afforded a Honda City car as dowry, much 
less cancel the booking to buy a Fortuner.

Is this the plight of poor fathers of marriageable girls in India. This 
explains to a certain extent but in no way justifies the sad faces on the birth 
of a girl child and the distribution of ladoos at the birth of a boy.

Oh India your former days of glory may yet be repeated but your path is strewn 
with thorns to reach them!

Roland Francis

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