New Delhi: India's youth, like their counterparts elsewhere, are increasingly searching for their love online, thanks to a range of dating apps available on the internet.
Experts say that the mammoth surge in the user base of these apps is being fuelled by youth's "changing narrative, thinking and preferences".
"People's mindset is shifting from 'duties and responsibilities' to that of 'fun and companionship'," says Sumesh Menon, the chief executive of "Woo", a popular dating app developed in India.
"As exposure through media like the internet grows and young people become more independent, they develop their own expectations from life and marriage, which might be different from those their parents had, and that's what is helping these apps become increasingly popular," Menon, also the co-founder of the app, told IANS here.
Talking about his app, Menon said: "There was definitely a real need for a platform that could help these young Indians meet others like themselves. 'Woo' is about solving that basic human problem -- helping connect people who may not have met in real life, and helping them find love."
Among the other popular dating apps in India are Tinder, Thrill and OkCupid. The online dating platform in India, experts say, has around 15-20 million users and is growing really fast with the advancement in technology and penetration of internet connectivity.
Several of the users whom IANS spoke to spelt a positive view about these apps, but there were a few, especially girls, who did not seem too happy and comfortable to buy the concept of "real dating through virtual means".
"I think the concept is really good. It has not only bridged the gaps between potential couples but also provided a medium through which two strangers could get in touch and share their emotions," says Gaurav Gautam, a 27-year-old PR professional. Gaurav has been using Tinder for over eight months and claims he dated four girls in the Delhi-NCR area.
While Gautam was all praise for the app, 23-year-old Rajni Arora, a marketing professional, feels that true love can never happen through a virtual media.
"True and real love can never happen online, which is a virtual media. One should not fall into these apps but be careful about its complications. A relationship is a very sacred thing which one should value," Arora said.
Asked about the challenges a dating or matchmaking app faces, Menon said: "The main challenge is allaying the concerns of women. Woo as a brand has always placed women at the centre of its thinking and from Day 1. Its key features are designed to providing women with complete control and security over their information and interactions."
Woo's special security features, such as only showing women's initials as opposed to their full name, provides women control so that they can share specific personal information only after they are comfortable with someone.
Woo ensures that the users' security and privacy are always sacrosanct while they go about their quest of finding life partner. We have a stringent entry screening process wherein every user is screened before being allowed on Woo. This keeps non-serious thrill-seekers out and admits only legitimate folk who are seriously looking to meet someone.
We have introduced Woo with the single mission of finding that middle ground -- a healthy environment where young professionals can connect and interact.
With mobile and tech playing a major role today, India is seeing a fresh attempt to re-define the way people meet and is addressing the users of tomorrow. Indian youth have adopted this and are quite comfortable with turning to technology to address this problem.
But then, it might be advisable to heed the saying: Discretion is sometimes better than valour.
(Prashant Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)