Marriage as an institution has never left the table of debate. Some say marriage is the only goal in life, and some say marriage is a flawed institution. Well, our goal is not to dissect the meaning of marriage. Marriage as a concept is too popular and too complicated. Sometimes it tends to become infamous.
While talking about marriages in general, it is delusional to keep our country in the same perspective. Because the general definition of marriage can be “the legal association of two individuals, who love each other and are documented companions for life.” While I like to define marriages in India as “the grand association of two families through a legal bond between a bride and a groom, giving them the right to procreate and remain documented companions for life.”
With a rich heritage and culture, India has derived several definitions of marriage. And these definitions are significantly influenced by caste, religion, and class. But gradually, the definition is evolving. Not a broad figure suggests this, but Indian youth is changing the definition of marriage as the grand unification of two families of the same caste and class to the marriage of two individuals, where love and respect strengthen the bond. As a positive result, inter-caste marriages have been made possible in the country.
At the moment, the India Human Development Survey (IHDS), conducted by the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and the University of Maryland, suggests that only 5.4% of Indian marriages are inter-caste. Unfortunately, this figure has been almost the same for the past 15 years—something to reckon about if societal development is a concern.
Although a large population of the country denies accepting inter-caste marriage, it has proven to be socially and scientifically beneficial. Both ways, intercaste marriages are a win-win, and we will know why.
Socially, when two people of two different cultures and tribes form a union of love, an exchange of cultural values takes place. For instance, when a savarna marries a Dalit, two cultures associate and exchange various forms of greetings and ideas, forming a new network of understanding. This sole act has the potential to stem new perspectives that can further become a personal, professional, and social phenomenon.
Scientifically, inter-caste marriages lead to better procreation. Outbreeding reduces the risk of genetic mutations and diseases, and the next generation is likely to be born with a high IQ. It is a crucial step towards a sustainable biological future. Moreover, the new generation will have the ability to bring about a global change concerning their high IQ.
But, overall, inter-caste marriages are the key to overcoming prejudices. Generations after generations have been accustomed to living within groups and marrying within them. This has not only segregated lifestyles but also led to barbarities, including brutal honor killings and untouchability. The caste system has divided homo sapiens based on concepts making people differentiate humans based on caste as one would differentiate two animals of different species. It’s as illogical as that.
Meanwhile, inter-caste marriages are revolutionary in evolving society and its future, unlike same-caste marriages. The sheer motive of same-caste marriage lacks an important aspect of a marriage-love. Restrictions are nothing but a chain to free will, which is precisely what happens in same-caste marriages. While same-caste marriage also tends to be arranged and calculative, it leaves the independent choices of the two people getting married somewhat unconsidered. Thus, the greater potential of same-caste or same-community marriage runs towards an unhappy married experience leading to an unstable generation upbringing. It also results in passing same cultural values (good and bad) to the future generation.
Upon understanding the importance of inter-caste marriages in the progression of a society, the Indian government also incentivizes an inter-caste marriage with INR 2.5 Lakh. It is a commendable decision by the government in favor of encouraging inter-caste marriages and eradicating untouchability. However, money is a token of appreciation and should not be the only driving factor in marriages.
It is essential to understand that the arguments made do not indicate that the only good marriage is of an inter-caste nature. Neither does it suggest that same-caste marriages are always unhappy. The point is to reconstruct the values of the institution of marriage so that it is not limited to caste, religion, and class divide but grows beyond that, nurturing a healthy relationship made out of love and respect, unafraid of the caste biases and brutality.
Disha is a media graduate hailing from Kolkata. She is a writer, reader, and cinema lover.