State alters conditions of scheme aimed at supporting couples who marry across caste lines.

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When couples marry across caste lines, their families often react by withdrawing social and financial support for them. To ensure that their bravery doesn’t leave them destitute, the government in 2006 framed the  Dr Savita Ben Ambedkar Inter-caste Marriage Scheme, offering monetary assistance to men and women who break caste taboos.

But last month, the Rajasthan government decided to place conditions on couples wishing to apply for financial aid under the Dr Savita Ben Ambedkar Inter-caste Marriage Scheme. Claiming that it aims to discourage “sham marriages”, the government has decided to ban middle-aged and elderly couples from benefitting from the scheme.

From 2006, when the scheme was launched, till 2012, the Rajasthan government gave Rs 50,000 to each eligible inter-caste couple. In April 2013, Congress Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s government increased the grant to Rs 5 lakh, of which half is given soon after a couple’s application is approved and the other half is invested in a fixed deposit that the couple can access eight years later, if they are still married.

Conditions apply

So far, inter-caste couples in the state could apply for this grant for up to two years after marriage. But, in a notification dated November 20, the government’s department of social justice and empowerment amended the scheme to restrict the application period to one year after marriage.