I came across this news report today and found it quite thought-provoking.

Last month the Government of Nepal announced a scheme to pay cash incentives to men for marrying widows. “Nepal’s center-left coalition announced a plan last month to pay men the equivalent of $650 for marrying widows, angering the widows.”

Last Monday, “women shouting slogans such as “You can’t sell your mother,” and “We don’t want government dowries,” marched toward a government complex that houses the prime minister’s office.”

The government’s view is that the incentives will help widows who face social discrimination.

Activists say that it will not help widows, as men would marry them for the money and later abandon them. In their opinion, instead of such ‘incentives’, the government should give education facilities and jobs to widows.

In India, in February this year , the Government of India announced ‘The Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme’, which proposes to provide a monthly pension of Rs. 200/- to poor widows in the age group of 40-64 years.

There is also a proposal “to give priority to young widows (in 18-40 age group) in admission to industrial training institutes (ITIs), Women ITIs and National Regional ITIs with a view to empowering them“.

Of course, controversies have arisen over the question of upper age limit and the definition of who is destitute enough.

However, this scheme still seems to be better that the cash incentive scheme of the Nepal Government.

Of course, that is not to say that the Indian Government does not float these type of cash incentive schemes.

The Central government supports monetary incentives to popularise inter-caste marriages. There have been protests that such schemes lead to a situation where marriages become merely business transactions.

The State of Haryana last year declared a scheme according to which couples opting for an inter-caste marriage “will be given an incentive of Rs. 50,000/-“.

Among the first to receive the award are Veer Singh and Renu of Bachod village in Mahendargarh district, Deputy Commissioner, Narnaul Amneet P. Kumar said.”

In Orissa State also, there has been a similar incentive for inter-caste marriages for past few years. Two years ago, the incentive was increased from the existing Rs. 10,000/- to Rs. 50,000/-.

Are such schemes to give monetary incentives really useful as tools to bring about social change?

Or are they merely useful as measures to gain popularity for the government currently in power?

What do you think?