In the hopes of helping protect women’s health and preventing the population from ballooning further, the Indian government is offering newlyweds a cash incentive to delay having a baby.
Couples get 5,000 rupees if they don’t have kids within the first two years of marriage and an additional 2,500 rupees if they remain childless for another year.
In the district of Satara, girls are commonly wed at 19 years old, and 80 percent of these young brides already conceive within the first year of marriage. One out of every 10 brides in the district of Maharashtra reportedly are under 18 years old, which is the legal age for marriage.
India’s population is currently at 1.21 billion, versus its 1.01 billion population in 2001.
Called a “honeymoon” bonus, couples can sign up for the scheme as long as their marriage is registered with the government and that they sign a consent form declaring that they are joining the program at their own free will.
Part of the program requires these couples to attend counseling and classes every three months. Family planning advice is given, contraceptives such as condoms and pills are provided for free and even abortions may be arranged.
Children are a vital part of conservative Indian culture, as they are seen as essential to ensuring the family’s source of income, due to a lack of financial support from the government.
Around 4,300 couples have already signed up for the program, which began in 2007, and are determined to see it through until it ends in 2012. About 1,200 have successfully finished the scheme while some 150 couples were reported to have left the program.
Source: • April 29, 2011. “Indian newlyweds offered cash to delay having children” AFP Relax