As part of the Uttar Pradesh government’s 100-days plan, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has given his nod to conducting ‘mass weddings’ for economically disadvantaged women from religious minorities.
This will be run as a state-sponsored scheme, looking largely at Muslim women in UP, as well as Sikhs and Christians. Financial assistance will be provided to women married under the scheme, and the government will be directly involved in selecting eligible grooms.
The approach is, however, not new in the state. In 2016 Akhilesh Yadav picked up a previously discontinued scheme called the ‘Shadi-Bimari Yojana’ and relaunched it as the ‘Putriyon Ki Shadi Hetu Anudan Yojana’. Under this, the government offered an amount of ₹20,000 as assistance.
The Yogi Adityanath government plans to offer the same amount, and has proposed the state will bear the expenses of the weddings, right down to the ‘sadbhavana mandaps’.
While it is being touted as upliftment, and will be done with the help of state social welfare department, responses to the move have been varied. On one hand, some are seeing it as ‘Muslim appeasement’, while others are questioning why these funds could not be allocated towards education and employment opportunities for the women.
It is a move that also comes immediately after the chief minister’s decision to collect opinions from Muslim women on the triple talaq issue.