Indian parliament recently saw a bill proposed by Congress MP Ranjeet Ranjan, which seeks cap on ‘wasteful expenses’ on a typical Indian wedding.
Although social media showed a little buzz over it, elections blew away this very important topic in a couple of days.
Expenses on weddings is something I am always concerned about.
So decided to think through and pen down ( type down ?) some thoughts on it.
Lets first discuss about bill that has been proposed. Sad but true story is, this bill doesn’t stand a chance in the Parliament. There would be hardly anyone who would bat for it.Our respected politicians are well-known for their lavish celebrations on weddings of their children.
Secondly, the MP who has proposed this herself is married in criminal background family and had grand wedding ceremony for herself. Thus, although there is something to be think about in this proposal, it won’t have a moral high ground which is much-needed in such potentially controversial bill.
But is this bill total nonsense ? I hardly think so.
Capping expenditure on weddings could be a big leap toward our long longed gender equivalence.
Honesty, ever since I was a schoolboy I am listening to these false promises of equal rights for men and women and ‘No child left behind’ policies.
Why no-one thinks through this ever-expanding discrimination issue without being sentimental ?
What I think is ,
1. No Indian father wants his daughter not go to school because he thinks she is too dumb for it. More like, Indian fathers know that their lovely daughter is gonna get married someday and he is gonna need A LOT of Money for her marriage.
2. They don’t prefer their son over daughter for education because they think boys are smarter. Its more because they know that even without education their daughter has chance to get a good life if she marries a wealthy guy but his son doesn’t have that option left and he has to learn and land a good job if he thinks he should get a good life partner.
3. I would have been happier if the above mentioned point was just a fictional thought of my cynical mind, but unfortunately, our marriage system has turned this traditional Indian wedding ceremony into a huge ‘make – advertise – sell with expensive packing ‘ fiasco.
4. Dowry system, although legally banned, still runs through economically backward and even well-educated middle class.
Accept it or not, but arranging big fat wedding and expecting bride side to do all expenses is also a dowry in its own kind, it is way common than we expect it could be.
5. Female feticide has been a major issue in India as number of women behind every 1000 men has already gone below 900.
One need not be a scientist or social scholar to see that the fear of wedding expense on their daughter is the most prominent reason why female feticide are horrifically common in India.
Rural indebtedness is a lingering problem in India and essays on rural indebtedness on Economicdiscussion and BusinessEconomics places wedding expenses in top 5 affecting factors. Numbers won’t lie, 5.31 % of Indian farmer suicides are due to debt of marriage of daughters. (source : Wikipedia, 2002 survey) , this number could be much bigger considering in past 15 years, expenses on marriages have gone exponentially up.
I don’t live in a communist Utopian bubble and I agree with the fact that expenses on marriage would be different for economically backward and rich people. But I do agree with the fact that big fat Indian weddings are increasing in number every year in our country and surprisingly, it is ‘COOL’ to have them in our society.
However, I wont support the other part of recently proposed bill which says that if expenses go up over 5 L, 10% of those should be donated for marriages of poor citizen’s daughters marriage.
NO. A BIG NO.
I am not Uncle Scrooge but I am unwilling to donate a single penny for poor families daughters wedding because it defeats the whole driving prospective of this bill.
We need to establish a thought that marriages NEED NOT BE expensive. We need to convey message to those about to suicide farmers and poor people that it is perfectly fine not to have a big fat wedding for your daughter as it will not define your social status anymore. I am certain that sons and daughters will happily have a court marriage than to see their father hanging himself in the debt of their wedding expense.
Donation for an Indian wedding for poor people ? can’t think of anything better than that in our country ? ?
How about donation for EDUCATION of poor children ? How about supporting poor children so that they can learn, get into mainstream and land a job.
Remember what Khaled Hosseini says in his ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ ?
“Marrige can wait, education can not “.
Probably then they could manage their own marriage without our donation.
Fund raising for poor people marriages is a phony solution and it would never solve the original problem.
I can already imagine people outraging over what I just said because, “It’s their money, they will decide how to spend”.
Yes, I agree with that and thus, I don’t want them make a legislation which forces people to donate for weddings. Donation is something which should come out of willingness and not by enforcement.
But, can we just look at it to analyze social impact of lavish marriages ?
Advertisements are not to make everyone to buy the product; they are made to appeal some potential buyers and make them buy the product. Later those buyers turn on the product sell. A person doesn’t buy a car just because he saw that in advertise, she buys it because someone in neighbourhood recently bought it and it looks good.
Sadly, same thing could be said about weddings. Of course one can have one lavish Indian wedding and splurge money on it which they or their grand grand parents have earned, you know, like walking on rose petals. However, passively, it impacts entire society which looks at the wedding and thinks about having as similar one as possible because in India expenditure on marriage is a symbol of social status.
The ball is in the court of rich people, We all know that they have big money, but what is the point in splurging crores on big fat Indian wedding just to let people know that you are rich, when they already know you are rich ? 😉
Every rich guy/girl who can afford silver spoons but getting steel spoons anyway can set an example for the society they live in. It might not change anything immediately, but at least they would have a contribution toward this essential change in our society.
I know this change won’t be sudden. But I wish everyone of you reading this article to at least think before you make a list for your big fat Indian wedding.
And even if you decide to say “Whatever..” and go ahead with your Indian wedding expense expedition, when you will throw tons of leftover food and keep your 50 K marriage suit in the wardrobe never to wear it again, remember that 15 L children die of starvation in India every year (We are #1) and you, my friend, owe them an apology…