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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 August 2007, 14:42 GMT 15:42 UK
Honeymoon offer to delay babies
By Sanjay Dasgupta
BBC South Asia regional editor

Crowd in India (file picture)
The second honeymoon scheme is an attempt to control birth rates
Authorities in west India are offering to pay for a second honeymoon for couples who delay starting a family, in an attempt to control birth rates.

Officials say the scheme is targeted at young couples, especially those who get married before the age of 18 - the legal age to get married in India.

The scheme launches on 15 August - India's independence day.

In a country of one billion people and an exploding population, this is an imaginative attempt at controlling it.

The district of Satara in Maharashtra has a population of three million.

About 25,000 couples get married in the district every year, and more than 85% of those couples have their first child within their first year of marriage.

This is what the scheme wants to change, explains the district health officer, VH Mohite.

"We are producing about 51,000 children every year, so we have decided to start a new scheme and label that the second honeymoon package," he said.

"If the couple postpones the first pregnancy by two years, then the couple will be getting 5,000 rupees ($125, 60) as a cash incentive, or a second honeymoon.

"And if the couple postpones their first pregnancy by three years, then the couple will get 7,500 rupees ($190, 90) as a cash incentive."

It is not just the money.

Couples who enlist in the scheme will also be provided with marriage counselling, free contraceptives and, when the time comes, advice on childcare.

In a society which places a huge premium on having children and especially on producing male heirs, this is an interesting attempt to convince young couples to put off having children.

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