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Assam’s ‘gold to brides’ scheme welcomed by many, draws criticism too

Guwahati, Feb 7 (IANS) The Assam government’s decision to give one ‘tola’ (10 grams) of gold to brides from communities where it is customary to provide gold at the time of the wedding has been welcomed by many families in the state.

However, the ‘Arundhati’ scheme which will benefit poor families of the state who cannot afford to gift gold ornaments to their daughters at their wedding, has also drawn flak on the grounds that it will indirectly encourage the dowry system which is not prevalent among a majority of the communities in Assam.

Announcing the scheme while presenting the 2019-20 budget on Wednesday, Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that one ‘tola’ of gold, costing around Rs 38,000 (as on date), will be presented to brides from communities where it is customary to provide gold at the time of the wedding.

Earmarking Rs 300 crore for the scheme, he, however, said that to make it “more focussed”, it will be limited to economically weaker sections, whose annual income is below Rs 5 lakh.

Sarma also said the benefit will be available “only for the first two live offspring of a family and only in cases where the bride and the groom have both attained the legal age of 18 years and 21 years respectively which will be strictly enforced by verification of the birth certificate and through medical examination, if required”.

The benefit under this scheme can be availed upon formal registration of the marriage under the Special Marriage (Assam) Rules, 1954 and the gold will reach the beneficiaries in time for the marriage.

“This is an extremely helpful scheme. The Minister is very true in observing that many poor fathers of the state feel bad at not being able to give gold to their daughters. None of the communities in Assam has the dowry system but it is kind of a social honour to give a little gold during the wedding of the daughters. The scheme will definitely help the poor families of the state,” said Ajit Baruah, a resident of Guwahati.

The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), on the other hand, slammed the BJP-led government over the scheme, saying it is actually an insult to women.

“The government is trying to insult the women through the scheme. At a time when people are talking of women empowerment, the Assam government has brought out a scheme to give gold to the women for their marriage. It’s so shameful,” said the Samiti’s Dharjya Konwar.



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