Last week, we stumbled across a bizarre piece of news. A site “dowrycalculator.com”, created uproar on social media, with MP Jyotiraditya Scindia tweeting to the government to have the site, and other such sites, blocked.
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.https://t.co/KQWBxQtd7J
— Jyotiraditya Scindia (@JM_Scindia) May 28, 2018
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 has a whole list of criteria which one is to fill, in order to obtain the exact ‘dowry’ worth of a groom. The rights of the site are held by Tanul Thakur, a film critic, who tweeted in response to Mr Scindia’s tweet, saying it is just a satire on the social evil, and he has no plans of taking down the site.
Calm down, it’s a satire. (But thanks for directing traffic to the website.) pic.twitter.com/AfAAzl4je6
— Tanul Thakur (@Plebeian42) May 29, 2018
Mr Amitabh Kumar, Head of Media and Communications at Centre for Social Research, had this to say “Dowry is illegal in India, hence all sites involved in dowry calculations have to be pulled down, and the servers hosting these sites should be fined. Also in case any of them have generated any revenue, their accounts should be seized. As an organization, we will be writing a letter to Google to ensure these sites do not show up in their search results. It is shameful that our education system has completely failed us when it comes to these primitive patriarchal practices. Well educated young men and their families are indulging in such a pathetic practice.”
While we understand that satire is a form of commentary on social practices, the presence of such a website, which doesn’t carry clear cut disclaimers of its satirical nature, can actually be misleading and promote the social evil of dowry, and its acceptability. Dowry is a very serious issue in India, with as many as 7634 dowry death in 2015, and 7621 dowry deaths in 2016. The conviction rate is low – only 34.7 per cent – which explains why such cases are on the rise. A report has suggested that there is a dowry death case in India, every second day. In such a grave situation, it is the duty of citizens to make jokes and satirical commentary on the topic in a responsible manner. We sincerely hope that action is taken against this website, and other similar ones.