Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia on Monday tweeted to the Prime Minister’s office and Ministry of Women and Child Development reporting a Dowry Calculator web portal urging them to take immediate action against the website.
Scindia, the Member of Parliament from Guna in Madhya Pradesh, said in a tweet, “Someone just brought this site to my attention. Absolutely shameful! Let me remind the developers that giving or taking dowry is illegal in India. I urge the @MinistryWCD, @PMOIndia to take immediate action against this.”
Taking cognisance, Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi on Tuesday asked Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to block the website. "I request you to have this site blocked immediately and initiate action against the owners/developers of the website and the agency which is hosting this website," she said in a letter, according to PTI.
The website which is at least seven-year-old, according to the Wayback Machine, takes into account the details like groom’s age, caste, profession, salary, the university he attended, his skin colour and height to calculate the expected dowry amount.
However, the most irksome among the details one has to fill in is the options provided when you click on the drop-down menu for ‘Groom’s Skin Color’. The options include ‘Pitch Black (Not visible on a Moonless night)’ and ‘Wheatish (Almost white. Would need some fair n Lovely)’.
Tanul Thakur, a film critic who holds the rights for the website, however, said it was a satire. Tweeting from his account, Thakur posted a screengrab of Scindia’s tweet with a caption, “Calm down, it's a satire. (But thanks for directing traffic to the website.)”
According to the website, an average height 26-year-old Brahmin Chartered Accountant with salary between 40K and 50K will be entitled to a dowry of Rs 50 lakh.
“Good, but could be better. You have done some things in your life right, but the dream dowry amount still eludes you. As of now, your dowry rate is 50 Lakh. If you are satisfied with this dowry amount, getting married soon is strongly recommended. If you are one of those perfectionist people, then you might want to analyze what factors you need to work on to achieve your dream dowry,” it says.
Similarly, a 30-year-old Vaishya IIT-educated IAS officer earning in the range of 50K-70K is entitled to a dowry of Rs 65 lakh, according to the website.
The website says it is "dedicated to all the match-making aunties of India."
The portal, satire or not, is bound to draw some ire as headlines of dowry deaths in India stare us in the eye every other day. Around 1.8% of all violent crime includes dowry deaths, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2016. A total of 7,621 dowry death incidence were recorded in 2016.
In 2015, match-making website Shaadi.com had introduced a similar calculator. However, instead of showing a groom’s dowry worth, the ‘calculator’ showed the statistics of dowry deaths in India. The special segment was a part of a campaign to spread social awareness.