Taking a step forward to promote inter-caste marriages with Dalits, the Modi government has bent the rules for the same. The government has issued directions to eradicate the income gap of Rs 5 lakh to enjoy the cash incentive as per ‘Dr. Ambedkar scheme for social integration through inter-caste marriage’. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has directed to junk “the condition that the total income of the newly-wedded couple will not exceed Rs 5 lakh per annum”.
There will be no income limit now for one to claim incentive under the scheme. The scheme was previously meant only for those couples who have income less than 5 lakh per annum. The Modi government also made some new eligibility criteria’s which includes that the marriage should be the couple’s first marriage and must be registered under the Hindu Marriages Act, and the proposal must be submitted within a year of marriage. Adding to it, the government also included two new implications by the government to enjoy the benefit of the scheme. The ministry has made it compulsory for the couples to submit their Aadhaar numbers and details of an Aadhaar-linked joint bank account.
Describing the motive behind removing the pre-existing conditions, a ministry official told The Indian Express, “Many states that have similar schemes do not have an income limit; so the Centre too decided to remove it.” According to the media reports, in spite of having a target to give 500 such couples the amount of money, only 5 couples were given the amount in 2014-15 and only 72 such couples got the money in 2015-16. The ‘Dr. Ambedkar scheme for social Integration through inter-caste marriage’ was implemented in 2013 targeting to give a fiscal incentive to at least 500 such inter-caste couples every year. The focus of this scheme was to enable the couple to “settle down in the initial phase of their married life”.