Home >Politics >Policy >No casual hookups on matrimonial sites as govt lays down rules
India is seeing a surge in online matrimony even while a large number of marriages continue to be arranged based on caste and religious values. Photo: AFP
India is seeing a surge in online matrimony even while a large number of marriages continue to be arranged based on caste and religious values. Photo: AFP

No casual hookups on matrimonial sites as govt lays down rules

Matrimonial sites to keep IP address records, make users upload documents proving their identity

Mumbai: Like a protective parent, India’s government will notify rules to govern matrimonial websites to ensure they aren’t used by those not intent on marriage.

The government will make it mandatory for websites to keep IP address records as well as make those looking for a match upload documents proving their identity to be doubly sure that the websites aren’t being “misused", a government official told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday, asking not to be identified. Users of these sites have to verify that they intend to use it as a matrimonial service, the official said.

“We have approved the standards to check the cheating on such websites," said Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s minister for communications and information technology.

“Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi was actively pursuing the matter. Since it was related to IT Act, our ministry approved this today."

The guidelines were formulated in conjunction with the ministries of information technology, home affairs and the National Commission for Women.

India is seeing a surge in online matrimony as more people go online, even while a large number of marriages continue to be arranged by parents based on caste and religion. The tradition of the bride and family members wearing gold ornaments during weddings has helped make India the world’s second-largest consumer of the precious metal, based on data from the World Gold Council.

India’s online matrimony business was expected to grow to 1,500 crore by 2017 from 520 crore in 2013, according to a 2013 report by industry lobby group Assocham.

Sanjeev Bikhchandani, founder of Info Edge (India) Ltd that runs matrimonial website Jeevansathi.com, declined to comment on the matter because he has not seen the advisory.

A senior official from BharatMatrimony.com declined comment citing the same reason.

“We are glad that the government is concerned about women’s safety and as a responsible company, we will continue doing our bit. We look forward to reading the guidelines," said Anupam Mittal, founder of Shaadi.com.

An official from the ministry of women and child development said that the guidelines would not impact the business model of these websites.

“In fact, they will further facilitate growth and they are there to ensure privacy and safety of users. Let’s wait for the guidelines to be available in public domain," the official added, asking not to be identified.

Dipankar Gupta, a former professor of social sciences at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, said the main issue with matrimonial websites is one of trust.

“Earlier, marriages used to be arranged by the people in the know. As urbanization came in, gradually we moved onto matrimonial columns and today it has further become more mainstream and impersonal."

Indeed, even today, many detective agencies make most of their money from so-called matrimonial verifications.

Websites should say whether they are dating or matrimonial websites, the government official said. Users will be forbidden from posting “objectionable photos" on such sites, the official added. Bloomberg

Mint’s Amrit Raj, Upasana Jain and Vidhi Choudhary in New Delhi contributed to this story.

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