The Supreme Court intended well in calling lavish weddings in the national capital—ones that are also marked by atrocious wastage of food and water—“unacceptable” and soliciting the help of the Delhi government in curbing the wastage.
The Supreme Court intended well in calling lavish weddings in the national capital—ones that are also marked by atrocious wastage of food and water—“unacceptable” and soliciting the help of the Delhi government in curbing the wastage. But, as the cliché goes, the path to hell is paved with good intentions. As per a Times of India report, the Delhi government’s proposal to curb profligate wastage and spending on weddings includes, amongst other things, a cap on the number of attendees. Caps on the number of dishes you could offer your guests or how much water could be consumed, though not ideal, present a much smaller dilemma for families looking to make a mini Bacchanalia of their children’s marital status—who to leave out? Sure, a lot of guest lists are unnecessarily lengthy—speak to the families in strictest confidence, and they would readily agree. But, beyond the trappings of conspicuous consumption, in India, guest-lists must also factor in the intricate nuances of social obligations. So, forcing people to stick to a cap on attendees is patently wrong.
In fact, the Delhi government seems to be looking at the problem in a blinkered manner. The problem is wastage, and not, as it has contended in the Supreme Court, one of imbalance “between the requirements of the rich and the poor”. Forcing the rich to tone down their consumption won’t put the portion saved in the plates of the poor. Rather than policing what quantity or how many dishes a host can serve at a wedding or how many guests she can invite, making sure that the excess food is given to food banks and other distribution networks—at the host’s cost—so that it reaches the hungry and the destitute in the national capital will be a more effective way of curbing profligate consumption and wastage. Throw in heavy penalties and mandatory community service, especially for wastage of water, and it is likely that conspicuous consumption would give way to conscientious consumption.