Gujarat govt help for lovers gets snared in parent’s nod
A scheme by the state intended to promote inter-caste marriages and provide such couples with monetary help is finding itself a strange stumbling block — a no objection affidavit from the bride’s parents!
In the year ending December 2018, 175 couples in Ahmedabad district alone have sought financial help under the Dr Savita Ambedkar Inter-Caste Marriage Encouragement Scheme. The couples have in all been paid Rs 97.50 lakh. However, those working in the field say many couples shy away from seeking the benefit of the scheme because of a contentious column in the form.
“The couples who seek help under the scheme has to submit various records. The columns that mention the important documents to be submitted include an affidavit from the bride’s parents showing their assent to the union.
Now, it is common knowledge that inter-caste marriages particularly those involving Dalits face a lot of opposition. To ask such couples to get a nod from the bride’s family, particularly if she is from upper caste, is inviting trouble,” said Kaushik Parmar, a Dalit rights activist.
However, an official of the social welfare department said that the document is optional. “Couples are entitled to the benefits under the scheme even if that column is not ticked or affidavit has not been submitted. The reason why the column has been retained is for data collection so that we can know how many parents have given their consent,” said the officer.
On the other hand, Parmar said it creates nothing but fear in the minds of couples.
“If it’s not compulsory, why should it be there in the first place? The officials say they want to use such cases (where the parents of the bride have given their nod to the marriage) to promote social harmony and convince others that inter-caste marriage is a common thing and people are accepting of it. However, at the district level, where officials use it to extort money from couples, it’s a tool of corruption,” said Parmar, adding it also discourages couples from taking benefit of the scheme.
“Couples in villages who don’t know about it are being discouraged from seeking help under the scheme because they are told by the officials that the NOC is a must,” said one of the couples on the condition of anonimity.
Jignesh Mevani who has also made a representation to the chief minister in this matter said it seems strange that when adults marry they are required to submit a NOC from parents. “I have made a representation to both CM and the Social Justice and Empowerment department in the matter,” said Mevani.
Under the schemes, every couple of which one of the partners is from the schedule caste gets Rs 1 lakh from the government. Of this Rs 50,000 is in the forms of Savings Certificate while the rest is given in forms of household articles. The scheme is not applicable to inter-religious marriages where one belongs to Scheduled Caste.
Courtesy : DNA India