Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has written to Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, urging him to block a website that claims to calculate the dowry amount for prospective grooms. The website in question is www.dowrycalculator.com and Gandhi has sought action against its developers. The Dowry Calculator website, however, appears to be a satire.
“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,” the minister wrote, as reported by PTI.
Gandhi has pointed out in the letter that the website is shameful, and also illegal as it promotes dowry.
The minister said she had also put in a request with the Secretary, WCD, to initiate proceedings under the Dowry Prohibition Act in this matter.
Dowry is a punishable offence in India under The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
So, what is Dowry Calculator website all about?
A description on the Dowry Calculator website’s landing page says it is “dedicated to all the match making aunties of India”. The single-page website greets the visitors with a pro forma asking them to fill out categories like, age, caste, profession, monthly income, skin colour etc of the prospective groom.
Once all the details are submitted, the website calculates the amount of dowry the potential groom can expect to receive. The amount is then displayed with a message, satirical in nature, suggesting the prospective groom to better his social standing or congratulating him for his “achievements”.
Random details furnished by The Statesman threw up different results. One of them read like this: “Not horrible, but that is hardly a consolation. Your social standing leaves a lot to be desired for. Your dowry rate is currently 15 Lakh. As they say, better late than never. If you want your social standing to improve, you might want to delay your marriage a wee bit and work on those variables of life you have control over.”
Here is another example.
Matrimonial website shaadi.com too has a dowry calculator on its portal. Millions of users have taken its quiz so far, expecting to find the dowry amount they can charge. But instead of the amount, the quiz result displays the number of dowry death figures of India.
While both the websites have been existing for many years now, what drew Maneka Gandhi’s attention was a tweet by Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia. The MP from Madhya Pradesh tweeted to the Prime Minister’s Office and the WCD Ministry on Monday reporting the Dowry Calculator portal urging them to take action.
Scindia posted: “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.”
Scindia’s tweet is not available on Twitter now.
Tanul Thakur, who claims to have made the Dowry Calculator website, had posted a screenshot of Scindia’s tweet and said: “Calm down, it’s a satire…”
Calm down, it’s a satire. (But thanks for directing traffic to the website.) pic.twitter.com/AfAAzl4je6
— Tanul Thakur (@Plebeian42) May 29, 2018