Wild children force Indians to employ spies
WHEN SWATI Mohan swapped the confines of her Indian family life for the freedom of university, she soon discovered drugs, booze and boys.
Little did the 23-year-old realise her every move was being watched.
Her studies at a Bangalore medical school had gone well - at first. But in the second year the once-brilliant student’s attendance and marks slumped. Worried teachers called her father, Yogesh Mohan, 57, a wealthy Delhi timber merchant, and her mother, Priya.
Mrs Mohan, 45, quietly called Swati’s classmates. But after she grew suspicious of her only child’s extravagant demands for money and her "evasive" answers, the Mohans called a private detective.
More and more of India’s middle class parents have joined them in that radical step. The trend has emerged in the last five years in a culture clash between a spoiled MTV generation, with bars and internet chat rooms, and conservative family values that put a high price on young peoples’ reputations - especially in the arranged marriage market.
"It was an extremely difficult decision to go to a detective," Mrs Mohan said. "I cried when I went to him."
Worse was to come. After a week detectives discovered the student was smoking - taboo for Indian women - taking drugs, getting drunk and snogging a succession of young men in public. They had photographs to prove it.
"I was upset and depressed," Mrs Mohan said. "We’re quite a modern family but we still maintain our traditional values. We worried about her reputation; our reputation. But mostly we were alarmed about her medical studies and future career."
She was summoned home and quizzed a second time. Her parents hinted they knew of her wild-child lifestyle.
Arguments ensued. "She’s very headstrong," Mrs Mohan said. "But while she depends on us she’ll play by our rules. Girls should get a profession before marriage. Afterwards she’ll be free to do as she pleases."
Just to be sure, however, the Mohans - whose name was changed at their request - have kept the detectives on the case from time to time, paying up to 1,000 a week.
Secrecy is vital. Kunwar Vikram Singh, managing director of Delhi’s Lancers detective agency, handles about six cases in the city every month. He tells parents never to reveal they hired a detective.
"They risk alienating their child forever, so I advise them to tread carefully."
Like other agencies, Lancers has staff all over India, and ties to agencies in the UK.
In one case a 19-year-old Muslim girl who left home after an argument with her parents was tailed for nine months. When she moved in with an older young woman, they were convinced she was having a lesbian affair. The truth was equally bad - she had a boyfriend.
If a child discovers parents have paid someone to follow them, there is no way back, family counsellors warn. But India’s family culture forces many to take the risk.
"Whatever else happens here this is still not a ‘courtship culture’," said Patricia Uberoi, a Delhi sociologist. "Men still expect to marry virgins."
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North