A university in Madhya Pradesh has come up with a three-month life skills course that many find deeply offensive. This one promises to produce "ideal" - read "sanskari" - brides and grooms.
The Barkatullah University in Bhopal is taking the project seriously. It has roped in its psychology, sociology and women's studies departments to craft a course that will start in the next academic year.
If you have finished school, you are eligible.
Students will be given a certificate that is unlikely to be of much interest to anybody but prospective in-laws.
"It is not purely related to Saas-Bahu," says Vice-Chancellor DC Gupta, referring to the term popularly used to describe household squabbling.
"It is the correct need of the times," Professor Gupta insists.
Families, he says, are disintegrating and children are leaving their parents. "We will integrate human qualities and moral values, and integrate aspects like psychology and sociology."
The course aims to help keep the family intact, says the vice chancellor. "It's a part of women's empowerment, so she can adjust to the new environment after marriage. We want to give a positive direction, it's our social responsibility also to help in building the society with values."
In the first batch, 30 women will be admitted but details are still fuzzy. "We are still working out the course work and minimum qualifications," admits Professor Gupta.
Facing criticism, he amends that there will also be a course for young men.
Some students are outraged. "Their results don't come on time, I was marked absent despite taking my exam. If they could sort out this mess before introducing courses like this, it would be better," fumed Puja, a post-graduate science student.
Abhishek Sharma, who is studying Mechanical engineering, said: "I think such courses should not be started. We should focus on how to improve current courses."
The state's ruling BJP doesn't see anything wrong in the course.
"You should be pleased if women are trained properly. She is the pillar of the family if she is ideal, her husband has to be, and if a mother has values, the children will also have them," said Rajo Malviya, BJP spokesperson.
Congress leader Kunal Chaudhary disagreed. "They should improve the quality of education," he said.
The university's teaching department has 83 sanctioned posts for teachers but only 48 regular teachers. A course to train brides and grooms seems to be an indulgence at this point.
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