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India Looks to Ban Lavish Weddings to Feed the Poor

India Looks to Ban Lavish Weddings to Feed the Poor

In a move that echoes a plan adopted by Afghanistan in an attempt to stop grooms from spending all their money on wedding festivities, India may restrict food waste by regulating lavish wedding celebrations.  Because the country’s economy has been growing at a rapid rate, more and more people are being propelled into the middle class and can afford extremely decadent weddings.  But the inflation that has accompanied this economic growth means that the poor have suffered from rising food prices, and may have even more difficulty affording enough to eat.

In shocking estimates from the Indian government, 15 percent of “food grains” were “wasted” at weddings and their accompanying celebrations.  The government wants to restrict the amount of food that can be served to guests and give the excess food to the poor.

“We believe we can preserve foodgrains for the poor and needy of this country by restricting its use at such extravagant and luxurious social functions,” explained the food and consumer affairs minister.

But the legislation has critics, who say that this is not the most effective way of reducing food waste and channeling excess food to the poor.  “You should try and control wastage where it can actually be effective – from farm to storage during transport and in FCI godowns and from there to the public distribution system (PDS) outlets. It’s ridiculous to let foodgrains rot in godowns and try and control weddings,” said one opposition leader.  “The government has huge stocks of foodgrains in FCI godowns. They should improve the distribution network.”

It seems like both sides could be on to something, though.  Certainly, weddings can be ostentatious and extravagant shows of wealth that inevitable waste an enormous amount of food and other resources, and perhaps they should be curbed (although the role of government regulation here still seems fuzzy to me).  Some of this seems to have more to do with moral outrage over the way the newly moneyed is spending their cash.  A congressional MP declared his support for the move, saying, “Extravagance in weddings should be controlled.  It’s a vulgar display of wealth.”  That sounds less like concern for the poor and more like distaste for the rich.

But the government shouldn’t just try to control how people organize events, they also need to be responsible for how they distribute food, and it’s entirely possible that those networks are corrupt and inefficient.  So perhaps they can do both – encourage people to cut down on lavish spending, but also improve their own internal channels for bringing food to the poor.

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90 comments

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3:04AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

Awesome....Absolutely Awesome!! Thanks for sharing.
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3:38AM PDT on Mar 22, 2011

GRacias

3:37AM PDT on Mar 22, 2011

GRACIAS!

1:34AM PST on Mar 3, 2011

sounds good in theory...but don't they still operate on the old 'caste' rule..

6:31PM PST on Mar 2, 2011

This might be a good thing. India has lots of poverty, and this might help them in the long run.

I understand that weddings are personal, but one of the biggest problems india is facing is actually weddings itself. It is common for indian women to marry so young they never finish their education They get married early so that the family can have more money by getting rid of an extra mouth to feed.

Since more men than women die in India (due to HIV/AIDS) there are many widows trying to raise 10 children on their own without any way to get a job.

This is why I like this idea. Help end poverty and you help everybody.....

1:59PM PST on Feb 28, 2011

Roopak Vaidya.......I'm going to go out on a very long limb here so to speak.
Yes, there is much food waste in many countries. One of the largest problems India faces is overpopulation. With that in mind it seems logical to me to limit these lavish weddings & give something as a kind of gift to the poor in the celebration. A message that should & will impact the them:
Wait to marry
Wait many years to have children
Wait long enough to get birth control.
With the above in mind the poor will receive the message & hopefully see where the message can take them in life.
I'm positive there is enough funds to promote & get more than half of India's population on the bandwagon of........Wait & Birth Control.

Forget the caste past. Look to the future with education & birth conntrol & the hope of someday having a wedding to pass on further the message to wait to bear children.

Pass out the PILL.

Just A personal thought.......

Plant & protect Danny's trees for life in 2011..........

1:20PM PST on Feb 28, 2011

What is a 'lavish wedding'? How would one define it? What would be the parameters?

When the rich and super-rich (plenty of them in India) celebrate weddings in a lavish manner, a lot of money flows back into the economy and into the hands of the not-so-rich. This is good. When the rich spend, the poor stand to earn. Yes, there is wastage of food, but how can legislation help to monitor this? There are some non-government organisations that offer to pick up excess food and deliver it to very poor people. This is far more useful.

However, food distribution to the poor should really be from the start point and not from the end point of the supply chain.

Another real problem is when financially poor people spend more than they can afford on weddings, sometimes to the point of incurring large debt. More than wastage of food is the harm caused to the entire family. This is often due to social tradition or social pressure, or 'keeping up with the Joneses'. It's doubtful if legislation can change this.

6:52PM PST on Feb 27, 2011

"An inconvenient truth" was brought home to me a few days ago, when I realized that my kid and *all* her friends cared nothing for the poor or disadvantaged. They don't care a damn about wasting food - taking far more than their mouths and stomachs can take, then wasting most of it by throwing it away - this despite being repeatedly told - and shown - how the other half lives.

In fact this saddening attitude is rampant amongst the Indian upper middle and rich class.

4:06PM PST on Feb 27, 2011

i agree that weddings that last more than 1 day is ridiculous and wasteful, but how does one regulate this.... and get the extra food saved to the poor that need it..... well? how?

2:03PM PST on Feb 27, 2011

Honestly, this sounds good to me. Though it will face protest, because you can't force the rich to help the poor, I believe that those who have an excess of wealth should share as much as possible with those who are not so lucky or not as well off as them.

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