RTI reveals that Big Fat Indian Weddings are under scanner
This is a discussion on RTI reveals that Big Fat Indian Weddings are under scanner within the RTI News & Discussion forums, part of the RTI News, Circulars and Decisions category; Reported by Vinita Deshmukh in Moneylife.in on June 14, 2012 RTI reveals that Big Fat Indian Weddings are under scanner - Moneylife Personal Finance site and magazine But will the ...
- 06-14-2012, 08:56 AM #1
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RTI reveals that Big Fat Indian Weddings are under scanner
Reported by Vinita Deshmukh in Moneylife.in on June 14, 2012
RTI reveals that Big Fat Indian Weddings are under scanner - Moneylife Personal Finance site and magazine
But will the government manage to curb gross wastage in weddings when its own ministers are seen flouting norms?
Since the last several years the “Big fat Indian wedding” may have attained a glamorous tone but the clamour to stop lavishness bordering on vulgarity of wealth display has been making the rounds. Surprise, surprise, steps are being taken by the government itself, whose members of Parliament are also responsible for hosting extravagant weddings.
Recently, Delhi-based RTI (Right to Information) activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal invoked the law to find out the status of the committee meetings and recommendations made to enact a law similar to the Guest Control Order Act which was implemented in the 1960s but was not adhered to. In fact, the central government authorities are unable to find the original document so Assam’s State Guest Control Order Act of 1967 is being used as reference.
What are the repercussions if such a law comes by? Well, you would not be allowed to serve tandoori kebabs, Chinese, Thai, Italian and South Indian—all in one breath—to impress your guests. The plans are to have a Pakistani type law which is being well implemented there since the last 15 years of “one dish, one rule” for everyone.
As per the RTI documents procured by Mr Agarwal, the committee to reduce wastage of foodgrain and ostentatious behaviour witnessed during marriages, parties and meetings was formed on 30 May 2011 for an initial period of two months and extended up to 31 March 2012. (There been no consensus as yet.)
The committee decided to recommend measures on:
• Launching an awareness campaign through “Jago grahak jago” scheme
• Explore options to introduce legislative and administrative measures in due course
• Examine how the government/public sector could set an example by practicing austerity.
Discussion in the first meeting on 30 June 2011 zeroed on:
• Awareness campaign through audio-visual publicity in schools and colleges
• Sensitise the student community about avoidable wastage
• Identify NGOs involved in collection of surplus food for distribution to the poor
• Ask an expert organisation to conduct a survey on food wastage to assess the magnitude of the problem.
Accordingly, the ministry of consumer affairs, food & public distribution sent a letter dated 25 August 2011 to all state governments and union territories. It has directed them to conduct awareness campaigns in schools and colleges against vulgar expenditure in weddings and other public functions.
On 4 April 2011, even before the central government sent a directive to the state governments, a document procured under RTI shows that Sudarshan Agarwal, former governor of Uttarakhand and Sikkim wrote to prime minister Manmohan Singh stating: “it is with deep anguish that I am writing this letter as a concerned citizen of this country about the colossal wastage of food at weddings and other social functions in the country. It is painful to see 100 dishes being served to 1,000 or more guests at several of these weddings… Last year, a minister in Karnataka had a wedding reception for 30,000 guests in a pandal where he had put 350 air-conditioners. I sincerely feel that we need to revive the Guest Control Order which limits the number of dishes that can be served at dinners/lunches and also limits the number of guests.”
He further wrote: “This will help to embellish the image of the government and show that it cares. Unfortunately, the ministers themselves have not set an example. A couple of years ago, a union minister had his daughter’s wedding at a heritage hotel in Jodhpur and it is reported that 60 private aircraft landed in Jodhpur carrying the invitees for the wedding. People are no fools; they understand everything.” Mr Agarwal has demanded the promulgation and implementation of the “Guest Control Order”.
Thereafter, on 5 August 2011, Prof KV Thomas, minister of state for consumer affairs, food and public distribution sent a letter to Kapil Sibal requesting him to include this subject in secondary schools. The letter states:”as you are aware, large quantities of food served at social gatherings like marriages, parties, etc are wasted while millions of people go hungry in the country. A number of dishes served in such lavish parties exhibit vulgar display of wealth and ostentation… I shall be grateful if you could kindly consider including this subject in the syllabi of the secondary and higher secondary schools through the medium of National Curriculum Framework (NCF) under the NCERT on the same lines as disaster management and environmental awareness.”
However, efforts towards curbing weddings have met with strong objections from various political parties. Several years back a prominent minister of Maharashtra had invited more than 30,000 people from several villages and towns of his constituency. Being summer time, hundreds of ice blocks were put in the wells for cold, drinking water. While the media carried negative stories on this extravagance, the minister argued that this was the only time he could give back to all the people in whose houses he has had a meal, some time or the other.
Dear readers, we invite you to give your opinion in 100 words about whether you think lavish weddings should be curtailed or not? Write to email@example.com.
The picture in Pakistan
• In 1997, the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came up with the slogan “One dish, one rule for everyone” for marriage ceremonies
• The marriage (prohibition of wasteful expenses) law which was implemented permits only one dish (one curry, with roti, rice and salad)
• The number of invitees not to exceed 300
• Rs5 lakh penalty for those violating the norms
• The law apparently is presently being well implemented and violators penalised
The two main facets of the law:
• No person celebrating his or the marriage of any other person, shall serve or allow anyone to serve more than one dish to persons participating in the marriage in a club, hotel, restaurant, wedding hall, community centre or any other place except hot and cold soft drinks
• No person running a hotel, restaurant, wedding hall, community centre or club being the site of marriage ceremony or any caterer shall serve or allow anyone to serve more than one dish to the participants of the marriage ceremony other than hot and cold soft drinks.”