Bhubaneswar: The BJD government has doubled the amount it gives as an incentive to men and women who opt to marry outside their caste to Rs 1 lakh from Rs 50,000 to encourage more such inter-caste marriages.
Officials said the amount would be given irrespective of the economic status of the marrying couple and has to be used to purchase land or household articles. At least 17% of the state’s population are Dalits.
Secretary to the state’s ST & SC development, minorities & backward classes welfare department, Surendra Kumar, told media that the amount was increased to keep pace with the times.
Notably, the state government had raised the amount to Rs 50,000 from Rs 10,000 keeping in view of the inflation.
To avail the incentive, both the couple will have to apply for a sanction of the grant and execute a bond in the form after receiving the grant. If the marriage ends in divorce within five years, the recipients will have to refund the entire amount within a year failing which principal an annual interest of 6.5% would be levied.
The proposal to encourage inter-caste marriages was first discussed in the meeting of the Scheduled Caste Welfare Advisory board in June 2015 under the chairmanship of chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
Other states such as Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Rajasthan also have similar schemes. The Union ministry for social justice and empowerment provides Rs 250,000 lakh per marriage under the Dr Ambedkar Scheme for Social Integration through Inter-Caste Marriage.
Rajasthan is the only state which gives Rs 5 lakh for couples opting for an inter-caste marriage.
Though instances of inter-caste marriage are gradually on the rise, it is still considered a taboo in India and many a time such marriages face hostile reaction.