Jesuit college denies pro-dowry stand
By Matters India Reporter
Bengaluru: A controversy over dowry has embroiled a 135-year-old Jesuit college in Bengaluru, southern India.
St Joseph’s College got into a controversy on October 20 over a study note that allegedly extoled the “advantages” of the dowry system.
The college denied the allegation the following day and ordered probe into the matter, but the controversy continued to rage on social media platforms.
The controversy arose after the college’s undergraduate sociology class allegedly received study notes listing the advantages of dowry, especially for ugly looking girls.
The note reportedly acknowledges dowry as an “evil practice” but sees advantages in the system. “The marriage of ugly girls who otherwise would have gone without a partner is made possible by offering amounts of dowry,” the alleged note says. Dowry, it allegedly claims, “is useful and effective method of attracting good, handsome… boys for marriage.”
The college’s statement asserts that no teacher “has made pro-dowry statements in the class.” It also said it is investigating the matter and trying to get to the root of the problem.
The incident came to light after a social media user posted a page which was widely read by the people.
As the images of the note went viral on social media, the college asserted that it is opposed to patriarchal views that see advantages in dowry and supports it.
“This fact has been made clear with utmost clarity from the accounts of both teachers and students,” the college release noted.
The press release was issued after an internal enquiry. It said that “the college has enquired into the matter arising from the college student Ritika Ramesh’s Facebook post about the alleged pro-dowry slant in the BA Sociology syllabus.”
“The method of sociology requires students to look at opposing viewpoints carefully. We have found that the person making the Facebook post has selectively cited extraneous materials from one of the soure books suggested, with no understanding of the process followed in the classroom. Besides, the specific section of the book that was posted on the Facebook was never recommended by the department faculty.”
The autonomous college also clarified that no student had raised this as an issue with the teacher concerned or with the head of the department or with the dean of the Social Sciences.
The controversy has evoked outrage among students and parents.
The college is one of the oldest higher education institutions in Karnataka state. India’s University Grants Commission has recognized it as college of excellence. It was awarded the highest rating, in the re-accreditation by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council in 2007. It imparts graduate, post-graduate and research education.
The College was founded in 1882 by the Fathers of the French Foreign Mission. On 1 June 1937, the management of the college was transferred to the Society of Jesus. At the time the college consisted of one building, accommodating 350 students. The college and its sister institutions now cater to more than 5,000 students.