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Why India's big, fat weddings will never stop

Soutik Biswas | 14:02 UK time, Friday, 4 March 2011

A marriage reception for a politician's daughter in India

The big, fat Indian wedding returned to the front pages of newspapers this week: reportedly a $55m gig with 20,000 guests, a Bell helicopter as dowry, a 100-dish menu, a dozen TV screens showing a video feed of the proceedings, and even a $5,000 tip for the groom's barber. The groom's father - a rich Congress party politician and real estate magnet, exemplifying the intersection of politics and new money in India - wryly remarked that the media reports of the wedding were speculative.

For the Congress party-led government whose credibility is battered by a tsunami of corruption scandals, the hugely ostentatious wedding by a party member should come as an embarrassment, many here feel. One minister is reported to have said recently that nearly 15% of India's grain and vegetables is wasted through "extravagant and luxurious functions". Party chief Sonia Gandhi has pleaded with her workers to be frugal and her MPs to fly economy class. The embattled PM, Manmohan Singh, had feebly exhorted businessmen to refrain from ostentatious displays of wealth because such "vulgarity insults the poor". But what he possibly forgets is that the poor in India are actually insulted every day by many of the men and women they vote into power.


The government is apparently working on a law to curb waste at extravagant weddings and functions. No law will be able to change soon a people and society that remain deeply hierarchical, feudal and class-conscious. At one end of the scale a hapless farmer may take ruinous loans from money-lenders to host a wedding beyond his means. At the other end a billionaire unabashedly builds the world's priciest home (more than $1bn) in Mumbai where half the people live in slums. All this is symptomatic of a society which thrives on perpetuating inequity. With near double-digit growth, there's going to be more money to throw around and flaunt. So don't expect any lame law to curb India's vulgar, overblown weddings any time soon.

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  • 1. At 7:50pm on 04 Mar 2011, Essar wrote:

    Somehow this kind of extravagance - though not the first time and certainly will not be the last - given the Indian context is incredibly obscene for a variety of reasons.

    It is obscene not just because of the contrast with poor. It is the magnitude of disparity and also the almost total lack of social conscience among the Indian rich. When did the last time did the hosts make a significant contribution to a deserving charity? Did they ever hear that Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are asking hundreds of billionaire Americans (and others) to give away at least 50 percent of their wealth to charity and that some have pledged the same?

    It is obscene that there is a political connection which - if one considers the huge corruption scandals in India - may very well be the major source of the hosts' wealth.

    It is obscene that - as reported in the media - government officials at the highest level, including Prime Minister Manmohon Singh supposedly will attend the repulsive event.

    It is obscene that this kind of gratuitous extravagance CANNOT be sustainable. When the margin of disparity among rich and poor is this large and the rich purposely flout their ego through such excessive indulgence, almost certainly there will be a clash between classes - the haves and have-nots. What the Maoists are carrying out may just be a wake up call and Indians better heed it.

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  • 2. At 8:01pm on 04 Mar 2011, reachmukul wrote:

    At least when rich are spending (their black) money, it is coming into the economy. If you curb that, they take it to Swiss bank.

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  • 3. At 8:56pm on 04 Mar 2011, Pras_n_Srini wrote:

    I think that Indira Gandhi tried this once in 1970's (during her "Emergency Rule")--and it was EPIC FAIL then, and so will again inevitably be.

    While the government may think that it "helps poor" by not permitting rich to flaunt wealth, that measure is actually worthless--and will be violated first by officials in the first place!

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  • 4. At 00:05am on 05 Mar 2011, Jay wrote:

    Indian society is highly feudal. All our so-called education fail for such people. Many of such utterly corrupt and stinkingly rich people have heavy weight degree. Any sane, civilized and truly educated people will be ashamed to their cores to block public roads, disturb all the neighborhood with loud music (many times breaking noise pollution laws) and nonsense activities and vulgar show of wealth in such ceremonies. Such naked show of wealth and ill gotten power is not limited to marriage but can be for any reason, including to called "tradition" or religious festivals like Diwali. These people neither have any sense of what "religion" or "tradition" means nor any education that teach them to become a human being in the first place.

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  • 5. At 00:25am on 05 Mar 2011, Jay wrote:

    Have anyone ever noticed the people who carries light on top of their heads and walk along the marriage procession full of fatty, drunken men and women (who hardly can move their body properly but drunken enough to fell like dancing!) in their designer dresses?
    Have anyone experienced how those light-bearers (or any such "non-significant" people) are treated while asking for payments? How those rich people bargain for smallest sum of money to such poor, powerless people at the "lowest" level of Indian society while they can spend lakhs, literally, on the roads (throwing currency notesaround as the procession passes)? One can see such light-bearers in many Karan Johar type typical Bollywood movies but hardy notice them. Our eyes are habituated with such drastic contrast since our childhood in our own homes and society. We have learned how to ignore them and consider it as a "necessary" eyesore for those extravagant marriage celebrations and songs like "Mahi ree, tere kano bali chamke...", which 0.01% (or may be less) Indians, people like Karan Johar, can organize and, more importantly, can enjoy.

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  • 6. At 00:32am on 05 Mar 2011, Gary wrote:

    I see that PM Manmohan Singh is an invited guest at the grand finale of this outrageous event. I trust that he will not attend.

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  • 7. At 00:46am on 05 Mar 2011, RaMA rATNAM wrote:

    The ostentatious display of wealth is obscene anywhere, and Indians are easily the most ostentatious and most vulgar. By and large people in other cultures display their wealth discreetly, whereas we in India flaunt it and expect others to admire us. But attacking only politicians or Bollywood stars narrows the definition. Look at middle-class Indians. Their weddings are also beyond their means. And let us not forget professional expatriates. Attend the wedding of a well-off Indian in the US and you will see the same opulence and vulgarity. The brides are buried under gold.

    There is no point in legislating social change. This is a problem with our attitude, and attitude like habits will not die easily. What is needed is public ridicule. Only public shaming can bring about change.

    It is ironical that Hindusim's only dogma (if there is any) is renunciation or "giving up and not grasping". Gone are the days when people celebrated quietly and with dignity. The simplicity and frugality of Indians in earlier times, and the sacrifices made by India's freedom fighters are gone. That memory is gone. This shameful spectacle has become worse in recent times as Indians have grown more prosperous. Expect it to get worse, and expect to see vulgarity on a much larger scale.

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  • 8. At 02:02am on 05 Mar 2011, Jay wrote:

    7. At 00:46am on 05 Mar 2011, ratnam wrote: Look at middle-class Indians. Their weddings are also beyond their means. And let us not forget professional expatriates. Attend the wedding of a well-off Indian in the US and you will see the same opulence and vulgarity. The brides are buried under gold.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Ratnam, you are perfectly right. We as a society hardly develop any sense of justice or morality or ethics from our very childhood. The first generation Indian immigrants we see and meet in US and other countries are no different. Majority of them have no sense of justice, morality or ethics; although many of them are professionally successful, having high profile degrees from some of the best universities but are same feudal, illogical in their personal views (about “religion”, “tradition” and “education”). They do not hesitate to show power and flaunt money with slightest excuse. Such people do not hesitate to unnecessarily use their power to junior staff (mainly to show how important or busy they are- a typical Indian attitude), demand “respect” (instead of earing that) and lie through their teeth (mainly, but not exclusively, among Indian community) and do not hesitate to behave like a slave to their higher authorities, so long it pays.
    Majority of such Indians come to countries like US or EU only to earn more money and use that (NRI status) as social prestige back in India. In many communities/states in India it seems that at least one member must live abroad to become social elite among their neighbors.
    They hardy learn what true democracy, what "justice" means ; why we need to respect fellow human being (irrespective of professional hierarchy or social class)- even after staying in such countries for many years.
    According to many scientific studies, the major character traits of a person are determined within first three years of one’s life. It is almost impossible to change that later, irrespective of where you send them to get/buy degrees or migrate to any other "developed" country.
    People with some sense of self-respect and honesty are becoming rarer in India these days. And that is not limited to rich and powerful people. That urge to flaunt money and power is a highly infectious disease and already has spread to almost every strata of Indian society. Everyone wants to imitate the ruling class to become "elite" among their peer.

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  • 9. At 03:28am on 05 Mar 2011, Jay wrote:

    This trend and degradation of social and moral value in India mainly boils down to two main issues: 1. Education and 2. deterioration of almost all democratic institutions - judiciary, legislature, executive and also the media reduced to non-functional or biased, mainly since last few decades (probably since independence, as many think).
    If you try to point out the single most important reason (something like "unified force theory" type) then I will vote for "education".
    In last few decades Indian education system become practically useless. Now almost all (corrupt) politicians, businessmen, industrialist have some school or college or university to make money from. Our education system has become more corporatized and blindly following american system (in best case scenario) without supporting supervision mechanism, law enforcement and implementation; unlike US. Many concerned people think that it is a grave mistake to follow US model of corporate education, mainly in countries like in India.
    If we can fix that one sector, mainly the basic primary and secondary education, we can solve so many problems India is facing today. But.... Yeh, I know but- lets try.....

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  • 10. At 06:39am on 05 Mar 2011, LaserJet wrote:

    I think it has to be said that such acts will ultimately corrupt the person who commits them. I believe that no matter how rich or successful one is, they have to work in reality. $55M weddings or a $2Bn house in Mumbai are not part of the reality. You can showoff all you want but at the end of the day reality does not change. I believe this is one of the biggest lessons that comes through the recent events in the Middle East.

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  • 11. At 08:14am on 05 Mar 2011, annem wrote:

    what with every other week some scam coming to light this should not surprise many, as it is the same peoples money that is robbed and put on such vulgar display.Even god cant save india with CJI, chief ministers,
    most of ministers and public servants involved fully in to corruption.

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  • 12. At 10:05am on 05 Mar 2011, Kailash Gairi CHAMOLI uttarakhand wrote:

    Big guns have stuff of money, if they would have earned by hard labour they never burn like paper, but all money got illigally. So they don't have id ea about it that what are they doing. Govt should need to seize these types of event & belonging person, but what will be happened when manmohan & sonia are ribban cutter.

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  • 13. At 10:13am on 05 Mar 2011, Kailash Gairi CHAMOLI uttarakhand wrote:

    Big guns have stuff of money, if they would have earned by hard labour they never burn like paper, but all money got illigally. So they don't have id ea about it that what are they doing. Govt should need to seize these types of event & belonging person, but what will be happened when manmohan & sonia are ribban cutter.

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  • 14. At 10:38am on 05 Mar 2011, Vivek Misra wrote:

    As a British-Indian I feel really embarrassed about such things. There is a huge debate in the UK about the aid that India receives from us; it is a paltry £300 million a year and a fraction of the 'white' Indian economy. So, you hear ultra-patriotic Indians saying that this money is not needed. This is true; aid from the UK would not be needed if the rich in India gave the same proportion of their wealth to NGOs or charitable foundations as the rich in the west do. It is a national shame that the rich and the middle classes give so little to charity in India and yet waste it on extravagant weddings.

    Also, if you add the donations to rich temples like the Tirupathi Temple, it is even more embarrassing. How can such wealth be wasted when India has more poor people than all of the African continent. Very very sad indeed.

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  • 15. At 11:38am on 05 Mar 2011, Ted K wrote:

    Many good comments on here, in particular Vivek's (#14) and the notes about feudal and class conscious attitudes. The question to me is fast becoming what additional good foreign aid can accomplish in a country becoming as rich as quickly - where distribution is the problem more than anything - and whether it should be withdrawn in favour of indigenous funding and solutions.

    And I heartily agree that only public shaming of extravagance, and a glorification of humble action (not thought or feeling but humble action), will restrain the increasingly frequent public shows of power and wealth we're seeing.

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  • 16. At 12:14pm on 05 Mar 2011, John wrote:

    Biswas completely misses the mark again. Sure, the wedding is extravagant, but here in Canada there are a few weddings like that every year, same with in the United States. They don't invite that many guests, but they cost tens of millions of dollars as well.

    Ted (#15) and Vivek (#14), both of you are off base, just as many of the posters here are. Everyone keeps saying that India's wealthy are to blame for many of India's problems. However, they completely forget some counter-examples recently:

    Premji's 2 billion donation to education: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/02/indian-mogul-donates-2-bi_n_791047.html
    - note this is much larger than any private donation any British citizen has ever made.

    Tata Foundation spends ~ $100 million / year on various humanitarian causes, such as education, malnutrition, and the environment. Last year they spent $97 million. Do you see Virgin doing this?
    - http://www.economist.com/node/18285497?story_id=18285497&fsrc=rss

    and many more. As with any country, India will have greedy people. Yet, China and Brazil, which have higher Gini coefficients (0.42 and 0.57 respectfully, while India's is 0.37) recieve little criticism from the BBC or other Western media outlets.

    PS. Biswas also got his "black money" column wrong last time. Here are the statistics for global illicit outflows from 2000-2008 from Global Financial Integrity:

    1. China: $2.18 trillion
    2. Russia: $427 billion
    3. Mexico: $416 billon
    4. Saudi Arabia: $302 billion
    5. Malaysia: $291 billion
    6. United Arab Emirates: $276 billion
    7. Kuwait: $242 billion
    8. Venezuela: $157 billion
    9. Qatar: $138 billion
    10. Nigeria: $130 billion

    Note that India doesn't rank on the list.

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  • 17. At 12:43pm on 05 Mar 2011, usernamewhat wrote:

    Whatever happened to Congress' austerity measures, when Shashi Tharoor was slapped on the wrist for staying in a 5-star hotel at his own expense ?!?

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  • 18. At 12:54pm on 05 Mar 2011, a_ban22 wrote:

    Personally I have nothing against poverty or being poor, nor anything against rich or display of wealth. All spending, vulgar or otherwise have beneficiaries too. I just wish that the rule of law be the same for each and every individual rich or poor.

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  • 19. At 1:00pm on 05 Mar 2011, BluesBerry wrote:

    I'm sure that not all weddings in India are like this one.
    The groom's father, as you say, is a rich Congress party politician and real estate magnet, exemplifying the intersection of politics and new money in India. It's not the wedding but the intersection of policits and money that is the real problem in India where corruption often runs rampant, and ne'er is there an honest politician to be found.
    I find the wedding embarrassing, even if the groom's father does not: 15% of India's grain and vegetables goes to waste while people starve on the streets.
    The ostentatious displays of wealth, the "vulgarity" insults the poor. One day, even India with her historical caste system, may find herself in the midst of a Middle East/North African type of revolt.
    Are the people in India learning nothing from Tunisia, Egypt, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia...or do they think they can perpetuate such gapping division in caste forever?
    Newspapers in New Delhi were all in agreement that this had been one very big, very fat Indian wedding. Lalit Tanwar married his bride Yogita Jaunapuria at a family farmhouse in a ceremony celebrated with 100 dishes and 12 giant TV screens to broadcast proceedings.
    The Times of India estimated the cost at one billion rupees ($22M), but other estimates have gone as high as $55M.
    The groom's father, Kanwar Singh Tanwar: “I don`t understand why there is so much hoopla about this marriage. All estimates of this marriage in the media are speculation.” Is this man ignorant or too blinded by wealth to understand the problem?
    The Hindustan Times said that at a pre-wedding ceremony last week 2,000 guests were each given a silver plate, a safari suit and $500 in cash, while at a different ritual the bride's family welcomed the groom with gifts worth $5M.
    The final gathering - five-star hotel attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Bollywood stars such as Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai.
    I am ashamed for India's big, fat wedding. I am ashamed for the waste. These wedded persons are not gods, and even if they were, gods would most certainly act with more towards all people.

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  • 20. At 1:55pm on 05 Mar 2011, Dinesh wrote:

    John @16, The combined pledging of Premji and TATAs on philanthropy is not enough to improve drastically the living standards of the estimated 700 Million people who live in poverty in India. I’m not against it I’m saying its just not enough. And moreover these two are just exceptions and not examples to flout around when considering the broader picture of philanthropy by Rich in India. I think you may be aware that over Quarter of the India’s GDP is lying with just over 100 people in India and I think you are also aware that some of the Indian States are poorer than most of the African Countries. In these scenario such grand weddings wont serve any purpose. The Middle class (which includes me) is no better. And Reachmukul’s @2’s contention that these are being put into Indian economyis too optimistic a thinking of an unthinkable situation, since no such helicopter’s are manufactured in India, I believe and the food grains wasted and the clothing may have better purpose to serve if the guys have a little bit of big heart.

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  • 21. At 2:24pm on 05 Mar 2011, indus wrote:

    Big fat weddings by vulgar crooks,cheats and vermins. How long will it take before the country come with their own Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.

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  • 22. At 2:43pm on 05 Mar 2011, Nirupam sarkar wrote:

    At least he is spending his own money (black or white money). Watch out another wedding coming in April, where tax payers money will be spend. Here in USA people fly their guest to exotic island for wedding, they may take only 50 or 100 guests, post all detail in Facebook or twitter, as if US or Western Europe do to have homeless. Well, there is an Arabic saying, "Longevity of a marriage is inversely proportional to its wedding expenditure".
    If WEST (Switzerland, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein et al) did not have tax heaven, there would have been less black money to begin with.
    On the other glorifying any humble action is no good either. According to Hinduism (pardon my ignorance in other religion), "Your left hand should not know if you donate something with your right hand",

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  • 23. At 4:00pm on 05 Mar 2011, aju wrote:

    The hosts of such extravaganza care a fig for poor. They are wasting money because its ill-gotten.No Pangs to earn it.They know they will earn more by socializing with higher bosses on such occasions.GOI does not want to do anything as they are ones who commenced the practice of ransacking the nation.Indians have short memory and soon everyone will forget.So life goes on.I think we are trying in vain to awaken the corpses.

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  • 24. At 4:07pm on 05 Mar 2011, aju wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 25. At 6:32pm on 05 Mar 2011, Jay wrote:

    I am not against philanthropy but we need to remember that no country EVER develop on the basis of philanthropy. Those are great cause to spend money on with a purpose but will not address real issues. A person can never become prosperous by begging or through charity.

    Then consider the fact that, barring Premji, ALL the richest Indians in the list by Forbes are not those philanthropic billionaires like Ratan Tata, but typical lala businessmen like Ambani brothers, despite the fact that total asset (both movable and immovable property) for Tata enterprises is much more than two Reliance (of Anil and Mukesh) combined. Ratan Tata declined to be considered for the Forbes magazine list based on Tata enterprise/sons asset. Ambani brothers consider Reliance is their parental property and anything in Reliance belong to them,personally. They do not consider that their income and rights are limited to their earning from shares they hold, their salary and other benefits as a post-bearer of those companies. It is very unlikely for (truly) educated person Ratan Tata to waste money and undertake vulgar display of wealth (as per civilized standard) in such personal ceremonies, while such extravaganza is quite common and expected from lala type businessmen and billionaires like Ambanis or Birla.
    The same is true for any country including US. It is highly unlikely that Bill Gates or Warren Buffet will undertake such extravagant ceremonies, while for hip-hop stars and immature (as a human being) billionaires such parties are very common and quite expected.

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  • 26. At 6:49pm on 05 Mar 2011, Eric wrote:

    @16
    Interesting how you condoned the rather vulgar display of wealth in a country smitten with poverty (unlike the US and Canada), by citing people committed to actually helping the poor. This article is not about Soutik Biswas getting it right or wrong or about the BBC or other 'western' media outlets picking on India. Stop splitting hairs.

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  • 27. At 7:19pm on 05 Mar 2011, Jay wrote:

    The situation in India is becoming worse in recent times. Rise in GDP and economic development is NOT translated into over all development of the country.
    It is quite accepted fact that:
    "GDP looks good even when things are falling apart. Being the fastest-growing economy in the 2000s was actually a sign of economic distress, not success, for the United Kingdom. The economy, as a complex system, cannot logically be indexed by a single figure. In truth, GDP just reflects the perspective of the tax base, because that is how the figures are collected and presumably why the UK Treasury is keen to use it. Force-feeding an economy’s GDP index usually empties its environmental capital first, then its social capital and then whatever cash is left in the bank".
    Source- Economic growth: a gross measure. Nature 468, 1041 (23 December 2010 issue.

    If you are interested in know more on this issue, please read: Our global economy must operate within planetary limits to promote stability, resilience and wellbeing, not rising GDP, argues Peter Victor. Nature 468, 370–371 (18 November 2010 issue).

    Based on a publication by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington, it was concluded that there is no link between economic progress and hunger. Prof Shenggen Fan, Director General of IFPRI said, "Economic growth is not necessarily associated with poverty reduction".

    This is very vivid in India. Just one example:
    The only state which comes near Gujarat in terms of the low quality of teachers is Karnataka, another highly prosperous state in India, with about three-fourths of its teachers having studied only up to the higher secondary level.
    Such data also implied that prosperity of few people (that inflate the macro level data like GDP, par capita income) does not mean prosperity for common people (or the country as a whole).
    The same "prosperous" states like Gujarat and Karnataka also do worse as compared to "least developed" states like Assam in terms of hunger and social well being. The overall hunger index for India is worse than many "least developed" countries like Cuba, Uganda, Sudan.
    Such facts imply that “trickle down” effect of development or prosperity, as many seem to justify, can never reach common people unless strict oversight and transparency in governance is present. This is true for any country, be it USA or India. And that "governance" is totally missing in India these days. Such extravagant behavior of our businessmen, politicians and many other aspiring "elites" are some of the open expressions of this systemic rot in our society.

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  • 28. At 7:46pm on 05 Mar 2011, Jay wrote:

    @Blueberry (#19) wrote:
    Are the people in India learning nothing from Tunisia, Egypt, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia...
    ------------------------------------------------
    The problem for India and Indians are – we do not see any viable alternative even if we learn from Arab revolutions and practice it. Where those “honest” people will come from even we overthrow our current rulers? Do you think that a clerk who now takes Rs 100 bribe (and then criticize politicians, police and everyone else but himself for corruption) will not take Rs 5 billion when get an opportunity after becoming a politician or any other suitable position? I do not think so.
    The most corrupt politician in Indian history, so far, Mr A Raja (of 2G scam) was a writer and poet . Who, including Raja himself, would have imagined that a poet can take part in such a huge organized crime operation?

    Moreover, unlike Arab dictators (who are mostly family oriented and closed for outsiders), Indian socio-political elites always keep a door open to others to join the club who qualify as per its own terms and conditions. Every “practical” person is now trying to get the coveted carrot of money and power. No one really bothers who is tolerating the stick! It is practically a mad rush to become more corrupt, more “intelligent and hardworking” in cheating others (sometimes it can be their own family and society). So we got a “democracy” where we all try our best to become more corrupt, more “backward” (literally, in case of official caste declaration while get angry if someone reminds us of that reality- as a person or as a nation), more hypocrite and at the same time equally naïve, ignorant and stupid- seemingly failing to understand why India is so rich country with so many poor, corrupt people. Europeans and Americans always get amazed and still can not understand this great Indian mystery.
    We are too intelligent people to develop our own country!

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  • 29. At 11:22pm on 05 Mar 2011, SSaha wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 30. At 00:12am on 06 Mar 2011, bn wrote:

    The big fat weddings like Laxmi Mittal's son,Praful Patel's daughter etc arefunded by illicit black money acquired by Corruption.People will spend crores of rupees on weddings (no issues) ,if only they spent acrore on rehabilitating people in floods,accidents etc and fund charities helping the most helpless and needy.Child labour is rampant and under 5 mortality
    is high.Starvation deaths are there.The rich who can get tax breaks,but will not spend on helpless fellow Indians,yet give hefty donations to God in TTD,and cheating Godmen and their religious trusts ,but give nothing to the helpless,poor whose life becomes even more wretched with every hardship and natural calamity,accidents etc.Indian lives are cheap for Indians and only GOD help the se helpless,poor or they will suffer bitter consequences of a merciless cruel Life.

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  • 31. At 00:33am on 06 Mar 2011, rusrus wrote:

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • 32. At 01:35am on 06 Mar 2011, phandi wrote:

    India is a democracy but may not be a perfect one. After years of being ruled by foreign powers and internal strife,the Indians have felt a sense of freedom for the last 63 years. Extravagant spending on any kind of wedding or a social event is a matter of personal choice and means as long the money spent is through legal manner. India has a Constitution which allows every individual to reach their fullest potential,rich or poor.

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  • 33. At 02:46am on 06 Mar 2011, sa018091 wrote:

    It is amusing to call this wasteful spending. That $55 million was spent not just on the helicopter and gifts to guests. Count all the people who designed and made the jewelry, decorated the venue, cooked the food, drove the guests around, provided security, entertained the guests, tailored the clothing,..etc. Certainly, wealth redistributed to these folks is not a waste. Oh, BTW, all the countless folks from print/electronic media (including the author) must have been very happy with this useless bit of high profile news that gave them something to talk about for several days.

    How one spends ones wealth is no ones business - of course some of us might find it vulgar, but then it is not our money to complain about. If the wealth was acquired or managed illegally, deal with it through legal channels.

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  • 34. At 10:39am on 06 Mar 2011, red wrote:

    comman man in india are in a delusion that the corruption or flow of black money can be reduced by watching the govt or ministers activities...but it would never be done. They are just playing the game or bluffing the people bsc most of those people are sitting in parliment.These bog fet weddings are effecting middle class people,as they also prefer to spend more than their limits for pride and prestige.These ministers spend their black money in this way,their families should be shamefull as they are enjoying with that corrupt money.Indians are loosing their values and ethics day by day,simply triying to imitate the west.I think these people are taking over advantage of democracy,and i don't understand when these people ll open their eyes.

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  • 35. At 11:08am on 06 Mar 2011, camiloa wrote:

    I come from Goa and we also have this tradition where people tend to blow up all their savings on a grand wedding because its become a norm to have a big wedding with variety number of dishes, the best music band, the best of decoration and not forgetting the brand of drinks what you serve. I have seen people who even may take a huge loan just to keep their respect in the society so no one says that the wedding was not grand.

    I totally agree that a law should be implemented so that the people who cannot afford a big fat wedding feel out of place in the society.

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  • 36. At 11:58am on 06 Mar 2011, peksh wrote:

    I have seen enough vulgarity at my brother's wedding. Now when it is the time for my own, I have unsuccessfully tried asking my parents for a small civil wedding instead, and to donate a good sum for charity. But my ideas have been met with scandalous whispers. In my country, if you have weddings which are silent and small, it is generally considered a shame on the parents' part, or it conveys the message that the parents do not approve of their child's marriage.
    I have fought enough to bring the budget to a modest amount (two sarees, as opposed to six or seven, recycling old gold, avoiding unnecessary expense for the guests, planning a simple menu., etc.)that we all can afford, and plan to give some money to a monastery nearby, for the benefit of young children who are tutored in ancient hindu scriptures. I believe, my austerity will guarantee those children a few nutritious meals.
    Also, I think I have been successful because I have broad minded parents, as well as broad minded would be in- laws who understand my wishes. A lot of people just want to show off, even if it costs them an arm and a leg- literally!

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  • 37. At 2:01pm on 06 Mar 2011, vj wrote:

    Not sure why this is big deal. It it is trickle down economics, it benefits everyone creates job and puts money back in circulation. It does bother me that most of the wealth is amassed by corruption and remains black money tax free.

    If the government tries to regulate it is only going to get worst. Rich people might fly the bride, groom and their entire guests to places like like Malaysia, Singapore or any other countries which will welcome events like this by laying a red carpet. Already some companies are dong their annual meetings outside of India so I will not be surprised if the weddings will soon follow.

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  • 38. At 3:00pm on 06 Mar 2011, Jay wrote:

    Those big, fat, vulgar weddings are not only to show money (mostly illegal) but also power (mostly extra-constitutional). Such ceremonies never restrict itself within the high walls of the luxurious farmhouses or palaces of those criminals (be it in guise of politician or businessman). They block public roads, gun totting- currency note throwing idiots occupy public properties/roads, noise pollution in the whole neighborhood have to be tolerated by everyone and many such issues arise from such high profile marriages. Nobody dare to oppose such incidents. It also put psychological pressure to others, mainly the parents of would-be brides (who share most of the financial burden) to organize glossy (more than they can afford) weddings for their daughters. Such weddings fully use our non-functional police and administration, who do not dare to take action against such shameless and/or powerful criminals (for breaking so many laws); instead they give protection for such vulgar ceremonies! And that is THE "power" the organizer of such ceremonies like to show off.

    The so-called "trickle down" effect is just a myth, as I showed in my earlier post (#27) in this thread.

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  • 39. At 3:21pm on 06 Mar 2011, Jay wrote:

    Those big, fat, vulgar weddings are not only to show money (mostly illegal) but also power (mostly extra-constitutional). Such ceremonies never restrict itself within the high walls of the luxurious farmhouses or palaces of those criminals (be it in guise of politician or businessman). They block public roads, gun totting- currency note throwing people occupy public properties/roads, noise pollution in the whole neighborhood have to be tolerated by everyone and many such issues arise from such high profile marriages. Nobody dare to oppose such incidents. It also put psychological pressure to others, mainly the parents of would-be brides (who share most of the financial burden) to organize glossy (more than they can afford) weddings for their daughters.

    The so-called "trickle down" effect is just a myth, as I showed in my earlier post (#27) in this thread.
    Such show of money and power also serve to out psychological pressure (terrorize, in simple term) on local people to obey that “powerful” person/family. Probably that is the main aim behind all such show-offs.

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  • 40. At 3:26pm on 06 Mar 2011, Jay wrote:


    Those big, fat, vulgar weddings are not only to show money (mostly illegal) but also power (mostly extra-constitutional). Such ceremonies never restrict itself within the high walls of the luxurious farmhouses or palaces of those criminals (be it in guise of politician or businessman). They block public roads, gun totting- currency note throwing people occupy public properties/roads, noise pollution in the whole neighborhood have to be tolerated by everyone and many such issues arise from such high profile marriages. Nobody dare to oppose such incidents. It takes full advantage of our non-functional police and administration. The people who should have taken legal steps against breaking so many laws are engaged in giving protection to the same people who break laws! This is also an intended goal for such show-offs.
    It put psychological pressure to others, mainly the parents of would-be brides (who share most of the financial burden) to organize glossy (more than they can afford) weddings for their daughters.

    The so-called "trickle down" effect is just a myth, as I showed in my earlier post (#27) in this thread.
    Such show of money and power also serve to out psychological pressure (terrorize, in simple term) on local people to obey that “powerful” person/family. Probably that is the main aim behind all such show-offs.

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  • 41. At 6:06pm on 06 Mar 2011, kapils wrote:

    Incorrect URL in first para, probably looking for this - http://www.ndtv.com/article/cities/the-costliest-indian-wedding-88583

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  • 42. At 6:18pm on 06 Mar 2011, RaviStLouis wrote:

    Mr. Biswas,

    You are off the mark. Democracy means freedom of choice. Marriage is the most important day in one's life. Each citizen whether a poor road side worker or a minister in government has the right to choose how they celebrate it with pomp and glamour.

    Government is made up of all kinds of people. You have no right to enforce your choices on others. Each person has a right to choose for themselves.

    Mr. Biswas you need to travel around the world to see that rich weddings and extreme poverty lives side by side in the largest economy in US as well.

    If you don't like the indian way of life you have a right to move and live somewhere else. Mr. Biswas I would like a honest reply about your own marriage.

    Regards,
    Ravi St. Louis

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  • 43. At 6:33pm on 06 Mar 2011, ConfusedAn wrote:

    We often forget that most dysfunctional institution in Indian state is actually the judiciary with both little progress in past or any effective remedial plan in public domain. The issue with this wedding and many other ills that we observe in our society is not that money is being spent, but how this money has been acquired, by unabashed manipulation of the system by a few.

    No one but judiciary itself has power to reform the institution, but no one can seems to be able to question it, just some feeble voices.

    It is a societal issues sure, but more than it, it is a state issue that a powerful few, without any work of international standing- innovation, management or anything else- can acquire such wealth, basically at the expense of the majority and use it to tighten control of the system, splurge in a society that seems to value it.

    What's the link? Who can expect to force an issue of first looking at means this wealth has been acquired, whether all of it is tax paid money? Once expenditures will catch notice of authorities, then I would expect this to at least reduce. And if it ticks in all the right boxes, then fine, as many pointed out, it generates some employment and sustains a wedding industry in India.

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  • 44. At 7:08pm on 06 Mar 2011, Jay wrote:

    We have a congress leader in our small town. He lives in a big house; one can call it a palace. He used to be very close to our current finance minister of Indian federal government. That leader organizes Durga puja is a grand scale, occupying public road and the main approach road for many houses, including ours. The main nightmare starts as puja comes closer and become worst during the four days of Durga Puja. Constant loud noise sometimes for chanting mantras (I do not know if God is deaf for such people) and rest of the time popular film songs, almost constant bursting of loud fire crackers (manly during night, even as late as 2 am) makes life miserable for everyone there. Laud comments (to young women and anyone that they like or do not like) by young and mostly drunk “party workers” after evening is “nothing to worry about” (as per our local police). If any sensible person attends the “cultural function” organized by that leader, s/e will forget about culture. If there is a family celebration in that leader’s house, we are more frightened. But no one is “impractical enough” to opposes.
    At one time, I was so frustrated (reaching home after about 35 hours international flight, then 8 hours train journey and then a long walk) that I called local police when a marriage ceremony going on in that palace. The police were more interested to know who am I, than to listen my complaint. After a lot of persuasion, the officer-in-charge of the police station gathered enough courage to tell me that they can do nothing, I am free to do whatever I can, and it will be better for me not to bother about such issues anymore (not in such a polite language, of course). I called Lalbazar, the state police headquarter in Kolkata. They suggested me “not to take laws into own hands. They will talk to the local police station”. We all know that such promises are typical way to say, “get lost, we can do nothing”. As expected nothing happened.
    Later I talked to the local communist party MLA (State legislature). He also lived in the same locality and tolerates all those nonsense in name of “celebration” or “tradition”- be it religious festival or family ceremonies. He expressed his helpless to address that issue and also suggested me not to proceed further with that issue. I also talked to a district level court judge and asked his opinion on how to handle the issue. He also had the same “friendly” suggestion- forget it. My father and other family members were scared while I was doing all these. My father was told by the congress leader to take care of his son and my father tried his best to “take care” of me. According to him, it is a part of life there; all people have no option but to accept and if possible, join such “celebrations”. Now the congress leader has died but the tradition is being followed by his three equally “great” sons (“a tamarind tree can never produce mangoes”, as the local says). Now they are more “powerful” with few more oil mills, flourishing real estate, transport, money laundering and many other legal and illegal businesses. The power, the desire and ability to advertise their might has proportionately grown with unemployment and number of young people to serve such masters. They have extended their palace, encroaching public road and others property; built a deep tubewell (which is illegal in the state) outside its home in a public area to cater increasing need for water in the house and garden; set up a powerful diesel generator to supply electricity to his palace (frequent power cut offs are common in our town) and we all have to breathe the black smoke coming out from that highly polluting generator or keep our windows shut in hot humid summer there. He built a private park/garden with high wall (evicting a poor family living there since my childhood) for such extravagant parties. We all have no other option but to tolerate. Local newspapers have no option either but to describe it as “development” in an otherwise impoverished neighborhood!
    Now this new generation of “leaders” (his three sons) have added few more celebrations to those preexisting ones- “happy Birthday”, “1st January- new year” are few such celebrations that are more extravagant with more noise, more orchestra and bar singers from cities, more alcohol, louder fire crackers, more road blocks, more cars (indicating growing PR) to park blocking the entrance of our homes and so on- in short more frequent and more acute, extravagant problems.
    One can have a glimpse of this REAL India in the novel "The White Tiger" by Arvind Adiga.

    Previously, our district was calm and quite. But not anymore. It is now declared as “naxal infested area” by state administration.

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  • 45. At 10:46pm on 06 Mar 2011, Jay wrote:

    The incident I told in my previous post is from one of the most educated, most culturally and politically aware, communist ruled states in India, West Bengal.
    Later I lived and traveled extensively almost all over India. Then I realized that the problem we face in my native place is nothing as compared to many other areas in India. Such celebrations are worst in more feudal states in India, BIMARU states (BIhar, MAdhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Utter Pradesh), Hariyana, Gujarat, etc. Unfortunately, these states also control Indian politics and policies more than any other state since independence.
    The political leader I talked about in my previous post was neither an ex-Jaminder or decedent of a past King. He was a self-made political leader of first generation. The intensity of such insane, vulgar celebrations will grow proportionately with the stature and "tradition"- of past-kings, jaminders (land-lord, war lords), bureaucrats etc. Their children, who lived and/or purchased degrees from famous foreign universities like Oxbridge or Harvard, also do not find anything wrong in such celebrations. Everything seem to be justified in the name of family tradition and upholding past glories of their "great" family!
    Feudalism is accepted in present day, 21st century India. Many of us think that we can get away with such practice without facing any consequence and can become a "developed" country with such a mentality! Ha..

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