India: Cash reward offered for inter-caste marriages

An inter-caste mass marriage in India Image copyright AFP
Image caption Inter-caste marriages do happen in India but they are still frowned upon by many people

An Indian state is trying to promote inter-caste marriages by offering a cash incentive, it's reported.

The government in Uttar Pradesh, northern India, is offering newlyweds 50,000 rupees ($810; £530) and throwing in a medal and certificate too, the Times of India reports. There's only one condition - either the bride or groom must belong to one of India's "scheduled castes". The term refers to those on the lowest rung of the Hindu caste system, who are officially considered socially disadvantaged. Inter-caste marriages are still considered taboo in India, and there have been cases of couples being murdered by their own families - so-called honour killings - as a result of mixed relationships.

Social activists in the region have welcomed the new incentive, saying it could help to change public opinion. "It will be hard to immediately change the mind-set of people even after the prize money, but it's a step forward," says Rohit Chaudhry, himself one half of an inter-caste marriage. "Every person has the right to choose who he or she wants to live with. No-one should be persecuted on the basis of caste or faith." To pocket the cash, couples need to have their marriage certificate authenticated by a magistrate before being forwarded on to the local authorities, the website says. Eight couples in the city of Meerut have already signed up and are due to take the plunge at a joint wedding ceremony on 8 February, just ahead of Valentine's Day.

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