Imagine a girl having to take a pregnancy test before marriage to prove her eligibility for marriage. Now imagine that girl found to be pregnant before marriage in a tribal-dominant district in India. It will definitely send ripples through the system where pregnancy before marriage is considered taboo. That's exactly what happened in the Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh.
Schemes are centrally or state-funded initiatives launched to provide financial assistance for the marginalized sections of society. The primary aim of any scheme is to assist the needy beneficiaries. The schemes are drafted with good intentions, however, at times, some loopholes need to be ironed out.
One of those schemes is the Mukhyamantri Kanya Vivah/Nikah Yojana or the Chief Minister Kanya Marriage Scheme. It is a major scheme of the Madhya Pradesh government. The objective is to provide financial assistance to girls/widows or abandoned sisters living in Madhya Pradesh. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan recently increased the grant for beneficiaries from ₹51,000 to ₹55,000. Around 219 couples under the scheme were about to get married on April 22. However, a controversy was stirred when an unwarranted inconvenience presented itself.
A massive row was stirred after the bride-to-be women were made to undertake pregnancy tests before the mass wedding ceremony. Things went from bad to worse when the names of some women were withheld from the scheme after their pregnancy tests came out to be positive. The names of four women who were found pregnant were canceled from the mass wedding ceremony.
The pregnancy tests were done at a community health center. The Chief Medical and Health Officer said that they have received the instructions to do so. The Collector of the district said that orders were issued to check the beneficiaries for sickle cell anaemia. However, there was no directive for pregnancy tests.
The incident has received divided opinions from a political perspective. The ministers of the opposition party have called the incident to be unethical and a breach of privacy. However, the ministers of the ruling party are calling it a fair move.
The scheme was launched in 2006. The initial grant was ₹28,000, which is now increased to ₹55,000. The wedding organizers will get ₹6000, and ₹11,000 will be given to the bride in cash. The couple will get household items worth ₹38,000.
(Input from various media sources)