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No More Lavish Weddings

The Bill seeks to cap wedding expenses at Rs 5 lakh. Whosoever exceeds this limit, spends 10 per cent of the amount on the marriages of girls from poor families

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Weddings in India are a lot about conspicuous consumption. The richer the family, the more ostentatious the wedding. The trend is more pronounced among the rich, the powerful, industrialists and CEOs. Many a time wedding ceremonies are held over days, at the choicest hotels, with thousands of guests, incurring expenditure in crores.

For a country like India, to have weddings like these is shameful. This is the reason I have mooted a private member’s Bill – the Marriages (compulsory registration and prevention of wasteful expenditure) Bill, 2016 – in Parliament, seeking a cap on wedding expenses. The private member’s Bill, which was submitted in Parliament last July, has been approved by President Pranab Mukherjee, and will be debated shortly.

The Bill seeks to cap wedding expenses at Rs 5 lakh. Whosoever exceeds this limit, spends 10 per cent of the amount on the marriages of girls from poor families.

This will make wastage of food at weddings a criminal offence; limit the number of invitees and the number of dishes served at a wedding; and ensure registration of the wedding within 60 days.

When the rich and the powerful have lavish ceremonies, the have-nots try to emulate them – even if it means taking loans for family marriages. This must stop. And, we must set examples.

I come from Punjab. I am married into, and now I am an MP, from Bihar. I have seen this practice of ostentatious weddings in both these states. This is not limited to one or two states, though. We recently saw how crores were spent on a wedding in the family of the Reddys of Karnataka. What does this signify? Is this a social rot? Or is this a tendency that we can, all of us cumulatively, fight?

The present government at the Centre talks about fighting black money and corruption. Why should it not support and take forward my idea, which will bring the much-needed succor to the poor and the disadvantaged? Today, our industry talks about spending two per cent of profits on CSR. Why should not the industry support this and set an example, which will establish its compassionate credentials?

I have been talking to a number of Parliamentarians and my fellow party MPs, and have been encouraged by the support they have extended to me.

Why do we have uniforms in schools? The rich, after all, have all the resources to get their wards new clothes for schools every day. The uniform, however, ensures that there’s a semblance of equality among the children in schools. A ceiling on wedding expenses will ensure just that – Indians will treat themselves as equals. A CEO and a rickshaw puller will be treated equally, because they will be expected to follow the same legal and societal norms.

Ever since I introduced the idea in Parliament, it has gone viral. I have been interviewed far and wide. Even by international media. I have also been asked very personal questions – that I flew in a chartered plane for my wedding. No one however, knows that I spent only Rs 40,000 for that flight! These trivial points aside, I am really happy that my idea is being discussed. I am these days being asked if the private member’s Bill will eventually become a law. I would say that I am extremely happy with the way it’s being debated. I am sure in the days and months to come, there will be a change, and the youth of the country will lead that change.

The author is a member of Parliament from Bihar

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Magazine 08 March 2017 weddings Last Word ceos

Ranjeet Ranjan

The author is a member of Parliament from Bihar

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