Private matter

Some ministers in India are known to come up with their own homilies or outlandish ideas either out of sheer ignorance or with a penchant for attracting public attention.

Karnataka minister for law and parliamentary affairs T B Jayachandra, not known for any erudite observation, has said that the state government proposes to levy a luxury tax on wedding expenditure that exceeds Rs 5 lakh and to impose a cap on the number of guests invited.

It’s the most hairbrained idea coming from a government that, even after being in power for one year, cannot find a solution to Bangalore’s mounting garbage disposal problem, but wants to enter into areas which are best left to the individuals.

Undoubtedly, lavish weddings involve an unimaginable waste of resources and this is definitely avoidable in a country where there is widespread poverty and hunger, but resorting to taxation is hardly the way to curb such tendencies.

How people wish to celebrate their wedding is a private matter and any move by the government to control this is unwarranted meddling not only in the way we choose to spend our money, in how we celebrate, in our cultural traditions and so on.  

In India, wedding invitations are extended not just to an individual but to his family and friends. Often the entire village shows up to bless the couple. Is the government going to crack down on this practice? Where will the meddling end?

Families tend to spend a lot on bridal fineries so that she looks her best. Will the government decide what a bride should wear at her wedding? In the name of controlling expenditure on weddings, will the government put a cap on the number of times a person weds?

It is not the business of the government to decide how people choose to spend their money, whether on an ostentatious wedding, luxury travel or expensive education abroad.

Karnataka is not the first state to consider restrictions on weddings. Jammu and Kashmir and Assam are among several states that have sought to restrict expenditure, the number of guests, etc.

In 2011, the UPA government mulled over laws to slim down wedding menus to prevent wastage of food. While this legislation did not see the light of day, other initiatives did not result in trimming wedding-related wastage.

Rather than imposing controls, the government should consider creating awareness on wasteful expenditure. And our ministers should lead by example.

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