There’s an unexpected problem in New Delhi’s high-end marriage market,
according to Gopal Suri, who has been a marriage broker for two decades.
There are too few “quality” men, he said in a recent interview, as a growing
pool of young women with unprecedented levels of education are seeking and
making matches with educated men from higher socioeconomic groups.
The repercussions from India’s skewed sex ratios are being felt at all
economic levels, including Delhi’s wealthiest families. For every 1,000 men in
urban India, there are only 926 women, according to India’s census. In
Delhi’s urban area, that figure for women drops even lower, to 867. Poor
migrant laborers, who travel to the city for work, account for some of the
gender disparity, but there is still a large pool of single middle-class men in
The well-educated women’s upward mobility has a cascading effect, he said.
The less-educated men from wealthy, but not incredibly rich, families get left behind. (Mr. Suri’s business in south Delhi, A to Z Matchmaking, caters to
households with an annual income of 5 million rupees ($90,000) to more
than 50 million rupees ($900,000).
There are plenty of young men in Delhi with money, he said, but their
education levels fall short compared with other women in their class bracket.
Educated women in general can afford to be choosy because they are the
minority in the marriage market.
“Literacy-wise, there aren’t many boys,” said Mr. Suri.
These empowered women are increasingly discerning when it comes to
marriage. In this age of tell-all social networks and social media, it’s not too
difficult to research prospective mates, Mr. Suri said. “Some men are into gay
activities, some are into drugs or drink too much,” he said. “Then the market
finds out and so his reputation goes down. This is the age of Facebook.”
For men who are in the lowest tiers of society, “there is frustration,” he said,
as they have limited prospects for marriage or jobs. “He’s not going to get
anything or anyone,” he said.
The male frustration, as Mr. Suri dubbed it, arises because the men can’t
accept that women in their socioeconomic class are moving swiftly ahead of
them. Sometimes these men lash out, and women bear the brunt of it, Mr.
Suri said, alluding to the recent attention to violence against women in
These men wind up “on the roads and frustrated, and try to do something,
somehow,” he said. “When he drinks, it is like icing on the cake.”
Mr. Suri brokers about 200 marriages a year. In 2008 and 2009, Mr. Suri
said, he saw a huge spike in weddings when young, educated men who had
left India for opportunities abroad returned to the motherland, further
diminishing the prospects for the men in Delhi.
Demographics aside, the primary factors for determining compatibility in
India’s marriage market are economics and education, he said.
Other factors do come into play, he said: “Are they cultured? Intellectually
compatible? Personally compatible?” But, he said, “ultimately, people pay
most attention to finances, in this day and age especially. Money is the
floating god.” Still, highly educated women don’t necessarily get the perfect mates, Mr. Suri
said, and most women have to compromise “on one thing or the other.”
“If she does get married, it’s usually out of compulsion,” he said. “This is why
divorce has gone up.”
And when women are more educated then their partners, “it just doesn’t
match,” Mr. Suri said. “The boy gets an inferiority complex, and the girl starts
thinking, ‘Where can I take him?’ ”
The “marrying up” trend isn’t seen among very wealthy women, he said, since
the pool of very rich eligible men has shrunk.
“The girls have become 35 or 40 and can’t get married,” Mr. Suri said. “First
they were choosy,” he said, and now they are too old.