It is being called "Snow White syndrome" in India, a market where sales of whitening creams are far outstripping those of Coca-Cola and tea.
India also has the world's second most lucrative marriage industry - the first being neighbouring China - that has grown to a whopping $40bn a year spent on weddings, dowries, jewellery etc.
And demand for fair-complexioned brides and grooms to grace these occasions is as high as ever
Fuelling this demand are the country's 75-odd reality TV shows where being fair, lovely and handsome means instant stardom.
As a result, the Indian whitening cream market is expanding at a rate of nearly 18% a year. The country's largest research agency, AC Nielsen, estimates that figure will rise to about 25% this year - and the market will be worth an estimated $432m, an all-time high.
With the Indian middle class expected to increase 10-fold to 583 million people by 2025, it looks as if things will only get better for the cream makers.
But there have been questions by medical experts about the effect of these creams on the skin.
The implicit assumption by many is this: the whiter the skin, the more attractive you are.
India's skin-lightening cream industry gets ever more lucrative
John Abraham, a top Indian actor and model, says: "Indian men want to look better."
While browsing through Labyrinth books the other day, I came across Sultana’s Dream A Feminist Utopia and selections from the secluded ones by Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain (1880-1932), edited and translated by Roushan Jahan, afterword by Hanna Papanek.
The book looks at purdah-the seclusion and segregation of women from three women’s perspectives. The first an early twentieth century Muslim writer Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, the second by a modern Bangladeshi literary scholar and feminist activist and third by a modern North American feminist social scientist familiar with South Asia and the purdah, she provides a global contextual analysis.
Sultana’s dream was written by the author to impress her husband with her newly learnt ability in English, “to pass the time, I wrote the story” she mentions. The book is a utopian work with a lot of cleaver satire. The book ridicules Indian stereotypes and customs.
In Ladyland men are part of society but shorn of power. They live in seclusion and look afte…