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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 June 2007, 05:09 GMT 06:09 UK
India's IT marriage boom
By Karishma Vaswani
Mumbai business correspondent, BBC News

Rafia Khatoon is a mother on a mission.

Rafia Khatoon and her daughter Rakshi
Online matchmaking is on the increase in India

She's looking for a good matrimonial match for her 28-year-old Rakshi.

Marriage is an integral part of any Indian woman's life and it's seen as the responsibility of the parents in most Indian families to find a partner for their children.

Generally, Indian men are on the lookout for attractive, educated young women - but for the most part, Indian women are still keen to find a partner who's financially secure.

That's why Mrs. Khatoon insisted that her daughter sign up on bharatmatrimony.com, a wedding website that caters to more than 10 million subscribers around India.

The website claims that you can find your perfect match online - and if that doesn't work, there are marriage counsellors who can help you to find your soulmate.

But Mrs Khatoon knows exactly what type of man she wants for her daughter.

"I want an IT professional," she says, "preferably someone based in London, or someone who has the opportunity to work overseas in the future."

Different profession, same priorities

It may seem an unusual request for a traditional Indian mother to make.

Up to a decade ago, government employees and accountants were at the top of the most-wanted list for marriage proposals in India - because they were guaranteed a stable and steady income and a lifetime of work.

But all this has changed now, thanks to the technology boom in India.

Indian IT professionals at the office
Computer-literate grooms are now all the rage

"You know, in my generation, people weren't so educated," says Mrs Khatoon, as her daughter Rakshi looks through a list of prospective techie grooms.

"We didn't have so much exposure, so we as Indian parents thought that government employees or doctors and accountants were the best choices for our daughters. We had never even heard of technology professionals!"

Now, though, things have changed.

"My eldest daughter, for example, is married to an IT professional and she's moved to London. Her husband makes so much money - she has a nice house, a nice car.

"If my younger daughter marries an IT worker as well, then chances are she'll be financially secure, her children will be financially secure and she will have a good life.

"What more can a mother want?"

High demand

Murugavel Janakiraman, the chief executive of bharatmatrimony.com, insists that Mrs Khatoon and her daughter are now fast becoming the norm, and not the exception.

In the past few years India's technology services sector has grown rapidly, adding millions of jobs to the Indian economy.

Young Indian engineering and computer science graduates, in hot demand to fill vacancies in offices around the country, have benefited the most from this boom.

I wish this had happened when I was younger
Frank Raman, technology manager, Mumbai

And because there are just not enough of them to fill all the jobs being created - India's software trade body, Nasscom, says that there could be a shortfall of half a million IT professionals by 2010 - salaries are on the rise.

"Not only are they most sought after in the professional world," says Mr Janakiraman, "IT men are also the hottest in the marriage market.

"IT workers can draw salaries of around $800 a month [about twice those available in comparable jobs] and that's just at the beginning of their careers.

"They are likely to see their salaries jump more than any other professional in the country right now - with salaries rising about 20% a year on average."

Off the market

For the IT professionals who have spent years labouring under nicknames such as nerd, geek or computer whiz - and those are the nicer ones - this attention can come as a pleasant surprise.

They've hardly ever been seen as the most glamorous of types. Often stereotyped as hard working and intelligent - and well, just a little bit boring - they're not often seen as the ideal mate.

Murugavel Janakiraman, CEO of bharatmatrimony.com
Bharat Matrimony's boss caters to a fast-growing market

"I wish this had happened when I was younger," says Frank Raman, a technology manager at Datamatics in Mumbai.

"I would have been able to benefit from it at that time - now I'm married, so girls looking to marry me I'm afraid are out of luck!"

His friend, Anup Gandhi, agrees. "I think it's fabulous that we're now in such hot demand, " he says.

"Why not? If the Indian woman wants me, I think that's a very good thing!"

The latest economic forecasts are looking good for the IT world's prospective bridegrooms.

They show that the Indian economy has expanded by more than 9% - with services making up a fifth of that growth.

By 2010, analysts say that technology will contribute close to a tenth of India's overall GDP.

So even if Frank is off the market, Anup and his colleagues may be able to keep looking forward to both higher salaries - and domestic bliss.


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