A recent notification by the Vasundhara Raje government has halved the financial aid given for inter caste marriages that require one of the partners to be from the scheduled castes.
The government has cited ´sham´ marriages to be the reason behind the curtailment but the move has raised concerns for such couples who are otherwise ostracized in a state where marriages outside caste line is objectionable in the society.
The Rajasthan BJP government has halved the immediate payment of rupees five lakh incentive to couples to start life to rupees two and a half lakh only. According to the Savita Ben Ambedkar Intercaste marriage scheme named after the wife of the constitution architect and Dalit icon B R Ambedkar, couples who dared to move out of the caste restrictions and married a scheduled caste person, the couple was entitled to five lakh of rupees as a financial support to start live afresh.
The new government now alleges that false marriages to avail benefits were coming to light prompting government to take this decision. The government also alleges that in the last two years when the state government enhanced the financial support from fifty thousand to five lakh it had seen eight times more claimants costing the exchequer heavily.
While rights activists call it dilution of the cause the government has announced to fix deposit the rest two and a half lakh that will be handed over to the couples after eight years of their marriages.
Former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot questions the government´s motive. “The motive gets diluted. If the government fixes the amount for eight years then the purpose of providing financial aid during difficult times of the couple is failed”.
Dalit rights activists also are crying foul. They believe it is a bid to hinder such marriages in rural areas that are primarily caste ridden. Activist Bhawan Meghwansh added, “If there are instances of fake marriages they have to be checked by law and not by stopping the incentive. This was for encouraging couples to fight back in society that object to inter caste marriages”.