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i-bankers sink in marriage mart

By Priyanka Joshi in Mumbai
November 27, 2008 10:36 IST
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Considered, till recently, the "blue-chips" of the estimated $15 billion Indian matrimonial market, the marriage value of non-resident Indian (NRI) and India-based investment bankers is rapidly being eroded.

Parents of prospective brides are now looking at other options. Take the case of Prashant Surve (name changed on request) who was to be married in January. A month ago, he was laid off from the North American investment banking and capital market division of Lehman Brothers, the i-bank that went into bankruptcy on September 15.

Suddenly, Surve discovered that his Hyderabad-based bride-to-be wasn't keen to tie the knot while he was unemployed in New York. Nor could he find a bank willing to loan him money to fulfil his fiance's demand for a "four-day theme wedding in Kerala". As a result, Surve has decided to wait till he gets a job lucrative enough to finance a nuptial extravaganza.

"The recession has led to a 20 to 25 per cent slump in the demand for NRI grooms and NRI investment bankers," confirmed Murugavel Janakiraman, CEO of Bharat Matrimony, a leading player in the $50 million online matrimony market.

"But Indian banking professionals continue to be in demand," he added.

Meanwhile, the number of grooms looking for working women professionals as spouses has shot up almost 15 per cent on Shaadi.com, said Vibhas Mehta, business head, Shaadi.com. Job stability and economic security to tide over a slowdown, especially if it continues for another year or so, are becoming key requirements of parents in search of prospective grooms.

Taraa Dalal, a Mumbai-based professional matchmaker, said other professions were gaining at the cost of banking on the marriage mart. "We have seen a clear shift in choice of young brides and their families with almost 40 per cent of parents asking for doctors, engineers or bankers working in India," she said.

In fact, there has been an estimated 35 to 40 per cent increase in the demand for India-based engineers, lawyers and doctors, IT and telecom professionals, if the top-most searched profiles on online matrimonial portals such as Shaadi and Bharat Matrimony are anything to go by.

There has also been a high demand for self-employed individuals.

Shravani (name changed), a young banking professional who is actively seeking a matrimonial alliance, admitted: "It's already getting difficult to convince my mother that not all bankers are affected by this economic turmoil."

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Priyanka Joshi in Mumbai
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