In an effort to eliminate caste discrimination, the Indian government has come up with an innovative approach – offering couples payment for marrying into a lower caste. They believe this will work to reduce deep rooted social tensions in Indian society brought about by caste differences. The social justice minister Mrs Meira Kumar from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment undoubtedly favors this resolution, saying
“In our caste ridden society is someone breaks out of the mould and marries outside of the caste, we want to give them this money ($1100) as a token of our appreciation. We want to make an example of them so that others will follow them”. BBC NEWS
She further divulged that she is working to make the minimum payment amount $1100 around the country so that people will have more incentive to marry outside their caste.
Since we are all materialistic to some degree, this plan initially sounds fruitful. However, I think this is a ridiculous idea. I’m all for trying to merge the castes together and trying to blur the line between the different castes, because I think the caste system is bogus. However, paying people off to marry outside their caste? What’s next, paying people off to stop abusing their significant other or paying them to curb unwanted habits? While this is a classical form of positive reinforcement, it’s highly likely to crumble. This is because people will start marrying outside their caste for the money, and what after that? What happens when the money runs out and marriage life sets in? Will one partner feel indebted to the other because he/she did them a favor by marrying them? Seems like a dangerous path to follow.
Apart from reeking of failure, this is an extremely weak initial step to undermine the caste system. Even after marriage, the families of the bride and groom and possibly the newlyweds themselves may not be adjusted to thinking past their caste differences. This will create additional animosity within the family, because the problem is not dealt with at its core; rather, it is brushed to the side, covererd up with a bandaid, and forgotten for a brief period of time. The way to promote comradery between castes is through education. This way they can learn why the caste system is useless and why it is cause for so many disputes. While this might take longer then simply paying off couples for a quick (yet inevitably temporary) fix, at least it will seek to uproot narrowmindedness at its inception. Monetary rewards are satisfying in the present time, but they will be shadowed by inherent differences that present themselves after marriage, and the situation will be unnecessarily exacerbated.