It Pays to Be a Widow !

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CartoonStock.com


The Nepal Government, is being sexist!
On Monday Reuters reported that about 200 women marched through the Nepali Capital to denounce a government scheme to pay cash incentives to men for marrying widows. ( http://www.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idUSTRE5792FC20090810 )
The report was not very clear as to why the women were protesting. To my mind there could be two distinct possibilities.

(i) the women were angry that men should have to be rewarded for marrying widows.

(ii) the women could have been protesting that the government was paying too less !

Nepal’s centre-left coalition recently announced a plan to pay the equivalent of $650 to any man who marries a widow. This raises interesting questions. Why is the government trying to incentivise the marriage of widows? Would it not be better off penalizing men for dying. If they did not die in the first place there would not be any widows. Those who dared to die would have to pay a hefty penalty to the government, half of which could go to the widows. To my mind this would be a more equitable, non-sexist proposal.

And of course it would help the government raise some cash rather than give away the moolah!

Reuters said that women protesters have said they will gather more widows from across the country and organize more protests.

This needs to be seriously considered. Is the government ready for large-scale protests, with violence, riots and the possibility of deaths that these protests could result in ?

Probably not. Consider that the protest might result in people getting killed and a few more widows being created – sort of defeats the governments purpose!

Interestingly if the same scheme were to be put to practice in India the case would have been much different. Instead of protests there would probably be great support to the plan. People would probably ask the government to not be stingy and extend the offer to cover all marriages, not just the ones to widows.

What could be better than to marry and be given Rs. 30,000 by the government? Indians are famous for their lhankering after dowry. If it comes from the government, so much the better ! And it would finally convince me that our taxes were being put to good use !

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