April 7, 2009

Is East the new West?

The "R" word has hit everyone... No matter which news channel you're tuned to, you're bound to be bombarded by the word "recession" at least once during the whole newscast. For time immemorial, the "West" has been considered superior in many ways to the "East". Things are changing. Thanks to having been the most economically ahead, the West is also suffering the major brunt of the recession. People everywhere are insecure about their jobs, more so in the US and ever since the Obama administration took over, there's been a lot of job cuts (I don't know if they are related) and then there was the whole H-1 debate (as to whether immigrants should be given 'US jobs'), so on and so forth. Me being me, I have no clue about what this exactly translates into or how it directly affects us, etc. The only thing I know is that we need to be sound in our jobs, save on the side and curtail meaningless expenses, which make good sense, recession or not.

However what prompted this post was an ironic twist to things. In India, the "foreign" mappilai thing (a groom settled abroad) has held very high status for many many years. And typically "foreign" translated to the US. Almost everyone wanted to send their daughter abroad and hence preferred a "US mappilai". I was amused to learn then, that recently, a guy friend of mine who's settled in the US was turned down for the very same reason. The recession has taken a very real manifestation in this case, where the parents were now concerned to get their daughter married to someone who could lose their job any day. And no matter how much he assured the prospective in-laws about his job security, perhaps it seemed like empty promises to them because the proposals fell through. Maybe people are being ultra-cautious with the whole 'better safe than sorry' outlook, but this personally, was one of the last things I foresaw as a side-effect from the recession. Add to that the many people who are all of a sudden India-bound, or just moving east - to Europe, Singapore, Japan, etc.. where the recession seems 'lesser'? I maybe mistaken about this but I suppose that many other countries have better job protection schemes than the US. And the "termination packages" are entirely sustainable till one finds another job unlike the US where you are asked to clear out your desk on fine day. So, till the economy recovers or maybe beyond, is the East the new West?

15 comments:

Monsal Varga said...

Very interesting that mappilai issue.

I like it so much when I unexpectedly learn something!

You really are a very observing person (I know, I'm repeating myself), and from simple things you always seem to get a grand picture. Nice :)

Jaya said...

Monsal -> Thank you. You are just too kind. And yes, it's fun to learn about varied cultures I suppose. Keep coming back for more! :D

Priya said...

You'll find this article interesting then :D Many companies do have severance packages in the US too. But the tough part is dealing with the visa issues. If one did not have that problem, he/she can avail the unemployment benefits too. How does it work in France ? Is there a concept of work visa, and how would that be effected when one looses a job ?

Jaya said...

Priya -> Wow, the truth is closer to what's reported than I thought! And I found the "right" time to write about this.. hehehe. Thanks for pointing me to the article!

Aravind said...

one more article on this:

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/nri-grooms-lose-in-recession-indian-grooms-gain/89626-7.html

Jaya said...

Aravind -> Wow its spooky how I've missed all of thes earticles yet heard a real-life incident the same time! Thanks for dropping in a word :)

Vidhya said...

I was going to point to the same article priya.. I was amused that it was like on the first page of Wall street Journal and all..Tax return case romba over...

Ram said...

overall, I think it is safe to say that bride parents are making marriage almost an investment... where their daughters are most likely to get returns on their investment of bringing up their child with the most care, education, all other perks they have provided...

It is nice to see that parents and girls are thinking about things in light of recent events. They are challenging traditional assumptions big time!

Betting on where their daughters will be the happiest is like gambling in Vegas, it is impossible to predict, so you only go with the metrics you have in hand and those are obviously the financial health of the mappillai, family background, etc. which is like a Maximum Likelihood estimation on happiness..

Most parents naturally believe their judgment is better than their baby's ;)

I hope this "R" word puts an end to arrogance from grooms who did things I equate to concentration camps like interviews in 5-star hotels.. crap!

The Muse ... said...

In India -> job security has always been the number 1 criteria for a good groom. First it was the Govt job holders, then followed the Gulf, then the US and now India :). I also think the pressure is more on the girl's parents because they can only watch and not help their child :).Nothing against the groom - but if we could all control our own job security layoffs would'nt happen. Sadly not the case.

Shiva kumar Shankar said...

the preference for Indian based mapillai has steadily grown over the past few years (not just during this time of recession), at least in our case of a typical TamBrahm!! I should know after all that "searching" I did for better part of the last two years :D.

India la ye, IT job, big Tech company means safe secure job, while daughter remains close to the parents.
One particular case went off to "Oh only child!! will he remain with parents, or can he come off alone" WTH???

ALl I am saying it it might have become a lot more rampant, but certainly not a new seed germinating!!

Shiva kumar Shankar said...

@ RAM- "I hope this "R" word puts an end to arrogance from grooms who did things I equate to concentration camps like interviews in 5-star hotels.. crap!"

I am pretty damn sure this is a super minority case. A vast majority of my friends (in fact I can honestly say all) are lot more traditional here and stuck to roots (even when visiting back home in India) than flaunting off 5-star hotel style!

Ram said...

@Shiva, majority or not, there are plenty of such cases where US and other NRI mappillai families go overboard, feigning extreme time pressure to stage an open forum for their so called pearls in grooms who almost do a season of "The Bachelor" in a day! Even the Mughal Kings would have done nothing of that sort...

I think if that were to happen now, the bride's families have plenty of options to downright reject even going to such a hotel "interview"... Such cases be damned even if they are just a minority as you say. Even making a short trip to see one girl that a guy has been talking for a while to, is quite acceptable, but not this production line approach.

Like the real estate market, the marriage market has swung into the bride side like the real estate market to the buyer side!

Shiva kumar Shankar said...

I am in that age range, where all my friends are either recently married, or are on lookout (not just now, but the past 3-4years!- even when recession was not even in the horizon). Not a single guy, be it here, Europe (Germany-quite a few), a couple from Aussie! not one have staged this kind of 5-star hotel walk show!
I just do not know where you are getting this idea.

Ya I agree that some guys come to India for a short duration, and do have in mind to meet up with potential 2-3 brides (3 is really hoping for a jackpot, as u evidently get a feel during the time u end up chatting or exchanging e-mails with one another). But even that meeting most definitely have taken place in the house under watchful eyes of parents.

But then wouldn't that just be the same as a guy in India who meets 2-3 potential brides, spanned over a few weeks or maybe months, because in this case, he has time on his side.

Again you might have noticed a handful of cases, but that is no way the truth for majority and cannot be called for generalization (not saying u are generalizing cos you never mention so).

Deepak said...

Great Post! But at the rate things are going, it really doesn't matter where you are, the "R" word will get you one way or the other. So, as long as my father-in-law doesn't ask for his daughter back, I am cool! :-)

Jaya said...

Bala, Shiva, The Muse, Deepak -> Thank you all for your comments and keeping the discussion lively. Needless to say, keep visiting n commenting! Cheerio!

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