My latest book is The One Who Swam With The Fishes.

"A mesmerizing account of the well-known story of Matsyagandha ... and her transformation from fisherman’s daughter to Satyavati, Santanu’s royal consort and the Mother/Progenitor of the Kuru clan." - Hindustan Times

"Themes of fate, morality and power overlay a subtle and essential feminism to make this lyrical book a must-read. If this is Madhavan’s first book in the Girls from the Mahabharata series, there is much to look forward to in the months to come." - Open Magazine

"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll

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19 April 2014

No Brides For You: Running Out of Girls in Rural Haryana

I began reading this story about the plague of single men in Haryana in today's Business Line Ink by Priyanka Kotamraju with a little scorn.

Being a single man in Bibipur is tough. Just ask 22-year-old Joginder Singh. Or 48-year-old Ranveer Singh. While the younger man is desperately looking for a bride, the older one is resigned to his fate. “The marriageable window is between 24 and 26 years now,” says Kumar, who is 28. “Above that, you’re overage and prospects are dim.” Joginder, dressed smartly in a purple shirt and fitted denims, toting a fashionable pair of shades and riding a Bullet motorbike, is a real estate dealer. Rana, a computer science graduate, heads his own infrastructure and IT firm in Hisar. Yet, they have no takers.

"This is what happens when you kill all your girl babies!" I want to say, "This is the bleak future you're facing! Now get along without any wives. You brought this upon yourselves!"

With one of the worst sex ratios in the country — 877 females to 1,000 males, according to the 2011 census — this village is running out of brides. And every single man here, like the 23-year-old Rana, is in a tearing hurry to get hitched.

But it's actually a hopeful story. The men realize that they need women--even though they weren't paying attention to the girl child before, they're monitoring pregnancies now. They did try importing women from around the country, but they never took, running away as fast as their legs could carry them. Can you blame them? Haryana is particularly patriachal, and for anyone not born within the system, it must feel like a rude culture shock, a hearkening back to the Dark Ages.

On April 11, a day after Narendra Modi filed his nomination from Vadodara, Bibipur’s women held a gram sabha on Jashodaben. The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate had, after years of silence, admitted to having a wife in his papers. Outraged, around 50 women gathered for a spirited debate. “How can we accept someone who has neglected his wife for so long?” says Ritu on Modi. “We have been following the news; she is fasting for him and going on a pilgrimage for him. We feel he should acknowledge his wife and invite her to live in the PM’s residence if he becomes (PM).”

They can't marry for love either, but there's a little group of men and women in rural Haryana, who are trying to tip the system, and empower the girls. Only so that they'll have someone to marry, sure, but it's a start.

The fledgling association makes only one demand — bahu dilao, vote pao (give us brides, get our votes).

Read the whole story here. 


  1. That is an utterly terrible demand - I can just picture destitute/desperate women being taken advantage of to become brides for votes in some place... might be just assuming the worst but it's the fact that it's not an outright impossible scenario that angers me even more.

  2. Well, like you said, it is their own fault, they have the highest female infanticide ratio in India. This condition has prevailed since the 90's if I remember correctly. I remember reading somewhere that the Haryanvi men were going bride hunting in Kerala, where the female to male sex ratio is higher.

  3. As far as these men go, they would be happy to have someone to cook, clean and f@#$ free of cost in the name of marriage. That is what Indian marriages are, lets face it. If I were wrong, there would be more of his ilk also getting a divorce and educating women. I don't blame Keralites for their better ratio. I hold them accountable instead for not providing employment to men within the state and poor industrialization. Communism and gender bias reduces almost seventy years of independence to the dark ages. Are Gujarati women truly free, Jashodaben ?


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