Centre offers Rs 2.5 lakh for every inter-caste marriage with a Dalit -Shalini Nair
-The Indian Express
There is no definite data available on inter-caste marriages, since the Centre did not release the caste data from the Socio-Economic and Caste Census.
Removing the income ceiling of Rs 5 lakh per annum, the Centre has opened its scheme meant to encourage inter-caste marriages to all couples where either the bride or the bridegroom is a Dalit.
The ‘Dr Ambedkar scheme for social Integration through inter caste marriage’ was started in 2013, with a target to provide monetary incentive to at least 500 such inter-caste couples per year. As per rules, such couples whose total annual income does not exceed Rs 5 lakh are eligible to get a one-time incentive of Rs 2.5 lakh from the Centre.
This was meant to “appreciate the socially bold step” and to enable them to “settle down in the initial phase of their married life”. The other pre-conditions were that it should be their first marriage, and it should be registered under the Hindu Marriages Act, with the proposal being submitted within a year of marriage.
In a recent order to states, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment directed that “the condition that the total income of the newly-wedded couple will not exceed Rs 5 lakh per annum” be scrapped, and there will be “no income limit for incentive under the scheme”. The ministry also made it mandatory for the couples to submit their Aadhaar numbers and details of their Aadhaar-linked joint bank account.
“Many states that have similar schemes do not have an income limit; so the Centre too decided it to remove it,” said a ministry official. Since its inception, the scheme has fared very poorly in its implementation. As against an annual target of 500 couples, merely five were given the sum in 2014-15. In 2015-16, only 72 of the 522 couples who applied were approved, while 45 of the 736 applications were cleared in 2016-17. This year, of the 409 proposals it has received so far, the social justice ministry has cleared only 74 couples.
Officials said the low approval rate is often due to the fact that the couples don’t meet all the pre-conditions. For instance, only intermarriages registered under the Hindu Marriage Act are eligible, disregarding the several cases registered under the Special Marriages Act.
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