Strangers as Spouses: Sex ratio imbalances and cross-region marriage

SEVENTEENTH M. N. SRINIVAS MEMORIAL LECTURE

by Prof. Ravinder Kaur

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ADVANCED STUDIES

Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bengaluru 560 012, India

(As part of the NIAS-DST Training Programme on “Science for Progress in India: Focus on Sustainability”)

invites you to the

SEVENTEENTH M. N. SRINIVAS MEMORIAL LECTURE



(SPONSORED BY SYNDICATE BANK)

to be delivered by

Prof. Ravinder Kaur



Head, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences,

Indian Institute of Technology Delhi

On

“Strangers as Spouses: Sex ratio imbalances and cross-region marriage”


On

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

at 6.00 p.m. (Coffee/Tea : 5.30 p.m.)

at J.R.D. Tata Auditorium, NIAS, IISc Campus, Bengaluru 560 012

Abstract:

In this lecture, I will discuss certain cross-region marriage patterns that are largely a result of demographic imbalances (skewed sex ratios) in the northern region of India. As many sociologists, including M.N. Srinivas, have noted, marriage is highly valued in Indian society and most Indians tend to marry within their caste, language, religious and regional communities. So when Indians marry at a large distance and transgress the above norms and these are not self-choice marriages, such a pattern demands an explanation. One such pattern that I discuss in this lecture is of men from Haryana (and a few other northern states) marrying women from West Bengal, Assam, Kerala and other distant states. These unusual marriages raise numerous questions, ranging from the reasons for their occurrence to their organization and the consequences for brides and grooms and implications for their respective societies. A culture of son preference in the north, sharp fertility declines and new sex determination technologies have reduced the number of girls being born, resulting in a “marriage squeeze” against men. Thus in 2011, Haryana had 834 girls to a 1000 boys between the ages of 0-6, Punjab had 846, Rajasthan, 888 and Uttar Pradesh 902. Fewer girls mean fewer marriageable women. This story is about how long-distance, cross-region marriage seeks to plug the shortage in these states. Such marriages entangle individuals and communities in intimate yet fraught relationships, compelling us to reread marriage within concerns of gender, patriarchy and unequal economies and geographies.