Wednesday 20 November 2019

India considers introducing law restricting 'wasted' wedding food

Dean Nelson

A new law restricting the amount of food 'wasted' at Indian weddings is being considered by the government amid growing concern at rising prices and the amount wasted during the lavish ceremonies.

India's food ministry decided to investigate the idea of regulating the amount of food served at lavish weddings and parties hosted by the country's increasingly ostentatious rich after Congress leader Sonia Gandhi wrote to express her disapproval.

A friend of Mrs Gandhi said while she regularly attends lavish weddings of some of the country's wealthiest families, she is "offended" by the "ostentatious shows of wealth" and the waste of food at a time when the poor cannot afford onions.

"Something has to be done to stop it. Weddings have become increasingly competitive and vulgar among the rich. She goes along for duty but she gets offended," he said.

Prof KV Thomas, the food minister, said: "The food ministry has already begun discussions to look into options to regulate food wastage, especially in luxurious marriages and other social events. We will consult all the states and political parties to evolve a consensus on this."

It is not yet clear whether a bill will aim to restrict guest numbers, portion sizes or penalties for guest who leave their biryani.

Food prices rose by 18.5pc in December and remain uncomfortably high for ministers who fear the voters' verdicts in a series of state elections throughout the country next month.

The Congress Party, which heads the ruling United Progressive Alliance coalition, is particularly worried because its strong showing in the 2009 general election was based on its success in delivering benefits for poorer voters.

As they have struggled with price increases which have made basic staples like onions and pulses unaffordable, high-profile political families, including Congress leaders, have spent millions of pounds on lavish public weddings for their children.

Last month, one Congress leader in Delhi confirmed his son had received a helicopter as a present at a wedding reported to have cost more than €16m. An estimated 18,000 guests attended the event where they were offered a choice of four national cuisines and 30 different flavours of ice cream.

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