GUWAHATI: Assam’s BJP-led government is showering sops this poll season, budgeting `300 crore annually to gift a tola of gold to brides belonging to families whose annual income is less than `.5 lakh. With an estimated 500 marriages on an average a day, 80% of which would fall under this category, the cost of the promise made by Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma while presenting the Budget on Wednesday for 2019-2020, would be stupendous.
The benefit, however, will be available only to a couple’s first two daughters, in deference to the state’s population policy, and only in cases where the bride and the groom have both attained the legal age of 18 years and 21 years respectively.
Also, the benefit under the scheme can be availed upon formal registration of the marriages under the Special Marriage (Assam) Rules, 1954 only.
“A customary ritual, which has been part of the Assamese society for centuries, is to gift a set of gold ornaments to one’s daughter. While other parts of the country may be plagued with the curse of dowry, in Assamese society, this is a voluntary act of assurance from parents that no matter where she is, their support is always with her,” said Sarma,He said, “I feel that this is my solemn responsibility to stand with those fathers who cannot afford to gift gold to their daughters and have to put themselves in debt.”
‘DOUBT IF THE STATE CAN IMPLEMENT ITS BUDGET’
DR. Gautam Mazumdar, a professor of economics at Cotton University, Guwahati said, “the budget would have made most people happy. That’s an achievement. But I just hope the government has got its maths right”. He said, doubts would remain, if the state can effectively implement it. With Lok Sabha elections round the corner, the government also tried to reach out to the workers of the some 800 tea estates in the state. “We have decided that from the coming financial year, we will provide rice, which is presently provided at `3 per kg, free of cost to 4 lakh families in the tea garden areas,” Sarma said.