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What's Love Got to Do With It?

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India is supposed to be the exotic land of love, yet for some reason love seems to now be a second hand emotion. This is despite the multi-million dollar Bollywood industry based on selling love, passion and perhaps a bit of sex. Both sexes are becoming practical- choosing their partners based on bank balances, job security, baby carrying capacity, suitability/compatibilities to families, similar castes and good genetics.

Society has many expectations of both sexes. Indian society has always expected women to be virgins. In the past, intermingling between castes was not allowed. This was to ensure racial purity therefore inter-caste marriages were forbidden. Even in modern times, inter-caste marriages are frowned upon. Sandhya Mulchandani writes on the BBC website

"So, there were two kinds of women: one for procreation and one for pleasure and obviously the one who bore your children had to be from the same caste and definitely a virgin. Chastity, thus, had little to do with waiting for the right man or exploring one's sexuality and everything to do with preserving racial purity, for only virgins could hope to attain the aspired status of wife"

The arranged marriage is now a thriving industry thanks to websites like Shaadi.com. The competition in the arranged marriage industry means women and perhaps men are pressurised to look a certain way. From the "Snow White Syndrome" and India's obsession with fair brides and its booming industry of skin whitening creams to the ridiculous vagina fairness creams, the marriage industry continues to be fixated on appearance.

The commercial industry has jumped on the concept of the "Virgin Bride" and invented a vagina tightening cream. Dr Nakhoda told the BBC

"The Indian mind-set is in a state of turmoil. The young generation wants to be hip and cool and try out sex before marriage, but they're still brought up in the traditional set up where it's taboo to have sex before marriage. This leads to a lot of confusion in many teenagers"

The no-ties pre-marital affair is perfectly suited for most men and women who play the field pending their "arranged marriage". Social networking has opened a field of possibilities for the Indian playboy with Blackberries filled with buxom women and lush seductive messages on free messenger WhatsApp. Sex is becoming cheap enough to sell for a three minute thrill as opposed to an extension of deep love.

India's biological clock starts to tick in their 20s. The hunt for brides and grooms commences and by 27 everyone is supposed to be in sealed in wedlock and busy baby making. Indian society catapults those who are married to some higher social standing in the sky. This leaves those who are single, older than 27, career minded, gay, lesbians, divorced or anyone else unmarried within a minority group, to be cast aside and potentially stigmatised or shunned by society.

The 20s are actually the best years of anyone's life. India appears to suppress the ability to dream a little and to make dreams come true - this maybe self-development, careers, travelling the world and much much more. Instead of concentrating on developing ones talents, the younger generation is pushed into the competitive field of marriage and responsibility. Most people haven't developed the experience or the wisdom to understand themselves or what they want for the future by the age of 30. No one is saying marriage is wrong but it should be the free choice between two people at any age and when both parties are ready for it.

In 2010, the BBC reported that the divorce rate had doubled in India. India used to have some of the lowest divorce rates in the world but it is important to note that divorce in India is a stigma especially for the woman and the her family. Moreover, wedlock is no measurement of happiness in India. Domestic abuse and marital rape is common in India but these appear to be taboo issues. Around 70% of women in India are victims of domestic violence, a dowry death occurs every 77 minutes, and one case of cruelty committed by either the husband or relative of the victim occurs every nine minutes. The media is littered with tales of disastrous marriages.

In 2007, almost 7,000 divorce cases had been filed in the family courts of Mumbai. This number was expected to rise to 7,200 by the end of that year. This figure stands at 60% more than the divorce cases filed in 2005. 70% of the divorce cases were filed by individuals in the age group of 25-35. 85% of the marriages ended in divorce in the first three years of marriage.

In any event, it is interesting to note this from India Today

"The numbers are startling-as compared to one in seven in 1995, now one out of three marriages break up due to infidelity, according to A.R. Tulalwar, marriage counsellor, family court, Mumbai."In 30 per cent cases, it is the woman indulging in an extramarital affair," adds Tulalwar

The basis of any relationship is friendship. This takes time and understanding. If time is not dedicated to building a friendship, there is nothing. It is also important to find a partner who will stand by you through times of hardship and one who places your needs before theirs.

Friendship is built on trust and loyalty. It is from this basis that true love eventually develops. Kindness has always been free in the world. It's a currency few people use to buy real love. While society sells love off cheaply, it's important to remember that true love is created and has a special meaning between two people. Apart from being a legal document and uniting two families, marriage is the union of two souls who promise to love each other forever.

"Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be." - Browning