Immigration from India to the United States
Indian immigration to the United States was uncommon before 1900; Hindu beliefs discouraged it, as did the British colonizers of India, who restricted the movements of the Indian people. In 1946, the Luce-Celler bill was signed into law. This law permitted one hundred Indians per year into the United States and allowed them to become citizens. The following year, India gained independence from Great Britain, marking the second wave of Indian immigration; between 1948 and 1965, over six thousand Indians entered the United States. In 1990, the number of Indian-born persons living in the United States was 450,000. By 2004, India had become the second highest source of legal immigration to the United States, second only to Mexico. As of 2006, ethnic Asians made up 4.2 percent of the United States population.
Traditionally, many Indian women (and women of other Asian countries) have their marriages arranged through relatives, so-called marriage bureaus, or paid matchmakers called bride brokers. Many Indian families living in the United States retain this practice. The 1990s saw a surge in classified advertisements placed by parents looking for prospective brides and grooms in Indian newspapers circulated in India and the United States. In the late 1990s, the growing Internet provided a variety of matrimonial websites to replace the traditional matchmaker.
The advantages and disadvantages of arranged marriages are much debated in Asian communities. Defenders of arranged marriage point out that great care is taken by the families to match the bridegroom and bride according to social background, education, and interests. They say that most young people are not forced into an arranged marriage, that love usually grows between spouses after marriage, and that such marriages have a far higher rate of success and a lower divorce rate than marriages that arise from courtship and love that are more usual in the West, which may be based on shortlived infatuation or sexual desire.
Opponents of arranged marriage claim a high incidence of incompatibility and various types of spousal abuse. Some commentators in India or Asia draw a link between arranged marriage and the growing phenomenon of bride burnings and dowry deaths. They point out that arranged marriages are commonly between a man of higher caste (class) with limited money and a woman of lower caste whose family has money, with the incentive to the bridegroom being a lucrative dowry provided by the bride’s parents. In some cases, once the man has pocketed the dowry, or if the family has failed to make the dowry payments, he kills his wife, often by dowsing her with gasoline and setting fire to her. He then claims that she died in a cooking accident. Because many cases of bride burnings are covered up, the number of victims can only be estimated. In 2003, the National Crime Records Bureau of India gave the number of reported dowry deaths, including bride burning, as 6,208. In 2004, the bureau reported the number at 7,026, an increase of 13.2 percent.
Proponents of arranged marriage comment that spousal abuse is as common in non-arranged marriages. They say that all family members share responsibility for an arranged marriage, so victims of such abuse can take refuge in the homes of relatives.
Ira Mark Milne – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 24, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Published by Gale Group, 2006