Cashless wedding opens knotty posers

Gift cheques can't cover infrastructure gaps

  • Published 10.01.17
Ghatshila MLA Laxman Tudu (left, bespectacled) and deputy collector of the CM's camp office in Agrico Sanjay Kumar Pandey (right) hand over gift cheques to newlyweds Subhas and Sunita Nayak at Badia village, Mosaboni block, East Singhbhum, on Monday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta

Mosaboni (Ghatshila), Jan. 9: In theory, marriages are made in heaven. In reality, they're made on earth and cost a lot of cash. But today, a cashless wedding was solemnised in a Jharkhand village, arguably the first in the state ever since the ruling government made cash almost a four-letter word.

This holy matrimony without cash was solemnised at a village in a panchayat 70km from Jamshedpur, which has virtually no infrastructure to facilitate cashless transactions on a daily basis.

Groom Subhas Nayak, 26, of Badia village, Dakshin Badia panchayat, lives where there is no bank, very limited Internet connectivity and very few Smartphones.

But, the non-matriculate mason married 20-year-old Sunita, the daughter of a casual labourer in Itihasa village in Chakradharpur, West Singhbhum, to set an example for a dream cashless society.

Subhash and Sunita had their joint account opened this morning by Bank of India credit manager Vinay Kumar who also handed them an ATM card. The 170-odd guests gave gift cheques.

"All payments for necessary items, from shamiyana, vegetables, chicken, fish, other groceries to extra water supply and puja materials, were made through cheques. Even priest Biswanath Mohapatro took dakshina by cheque," said Saurabh Chakraborty, BJP Mosaboni block president, one of the organisers of the wedding.

Ghatshila MLA Laxman Tudu, Mosaboni circle officer Sachi Deogam, deputy collector at the chief minister's Agrico camp office Sanjay Kumar Pandey and social worker Ganesh Nair were among those who attended the wedding.

Pandey stressed that the cashless affair did away with the social evil of dowry too.

Almost like heaven on earth, but not quite.

Only 30 per cent of people in Dakshin Badia - the panchayat has over 600 houses and over 5,000 voters - have Smartphones. Mobile network is also poor. Only one telecom provider's Internet signals reach the village. The panchayat does not have a single common service centre to provide government services online to people. There is no bank in the panchayat, the nearest being around 6km away at Mosaboni block. There is not a single point of sale (PoS) machine either at the PDS outlet or any shop. The only silver lining is that nearly 90 per cent of villagers have bank accounts.

The picture is more or less similar in most of the 22 panchayats at Mosaboni block famous for copper mines.

Dakshin Badia panchayat mukhiya Dulori Murmu admitted the area lacked infrastructure for cashless transactions. "We are proud and fortunate that this cashless wedding happened in our panchayat, but the infrastructure for daily cashless transactions is not enough," Murmu said.

Ghatshila MLA Tudu admitted to infrastructure problems in Mosaboni in terms of cashless transaction. But, he added they were "dedicated to make the block cashless as soon as possible".

"Examples like this marriage, which is the first such in the state, will inspire us more in our efforts," he said.

Was the whole wedding stage-managed by local BJP bigwigs to impress chief minister Raghubar Das, who came to Jamshedpur in the evening? That's a question no guest will answer.