A huge replica of Mysore Palace and Akshardham Temple has been created in the eight acre Rajadhani Gardens in Thiruvananthapuram. It would be surprising to know that this is not an extravagant set for a Bollywood movie, although it resembles one. This is the venue of yet another big fat high-profile wedding, this time that of former minister Adoor Prakash’s son and businessman Biju Ramesh’s daughter.
The capital is all set to witness this humongous wedding celebration, where money has been spent in an unthrifty manner for various arrangements that includes a lavish stage, security systems for VVIPs, a generous menu spread with more than 25 live counters, and much more.
The irony of the situation, however, is that a hefty amount is being spent for the entire ceremony at a time when demonetisation has grasped the economy and people are spending hours standing in queues to withdraw the limited amount that can be withdrawn from an account on daily basis. The apex bank had also announced that Rs 2.5 lakhs can only be withdrawn from banks for wedding purposes, that too with a number of strict guidelines such as that the amount can be withdrawn only from the credit balance as on November 8, 2016 – the day demonetisation was announced, the cash withdrawn should be used only to make payment to those persons who do not have bank accounts and the names of such recipients should be mentioned while applying for withdrawal of the cash, the application for withdrawal should also provide names of bride and groom, their identity proofs, addresses and date of marriage, and the amount can be withdrawn only if the date of marriage is on or before December 30, 2016.
Amongst all these norms and strict instructions, wedding ceremonies like these raise a lot many questions in everyone’s minds. However, Biju Ramesh is still not content with the arrangements made and like every father who anticipates making his daughter’s wedding a one-of-a-kind experience, says that the demonetisation has hugely affected him and that he has somehow managed things by paying through cheques, the money from his business ventures and by borrowing money from his friends.
However, the matter of concern is that how can a rule that is common to every citizen of India not imply on people like Janardhana Reddy and Biju Ramesh? Commenting on the same, AAP state head, C. R. Neelakanthan says,
“This demonetisation itself is a mockery and it is very much evident as to which strata of society has been affected by such a move. Average middle class families are struggling to make the two ends meet as they don’t have money. It’s already December 4th and even though the salaries have been credited, people can’t withdraw the amount as there is shortage of currency and RBI has fixed various norms on withdrawal as well. However, people like Biju Ramesh are above all this. I don’t think that they must have even bothered about demonetisation and about getting new currency notes from the bank.”
When asked about the presence of UDF party leaders at the engagement function, Mr. Neelakanthan says that all this is just a matter of money and power, and as Biju Ramesh has strong political connections, none of the leaders are going to upset him by not attending the function. Moreover, they have a reason to say that it is also the marriage of former UDF minister’s son. “This kind of an action is expected from a person whose morality is nil”, he added.
The wedding, which is going to take place on December 4th evening, is expected to be graced by who’s who from every field. Various cultural activities that also includes a musical feast led by singer Swetha Mohan has also been arranged. Explaining the legal complications of the same, Chartered Accountant Anil Kumar says that the businessman would have already prepared all necessary documents that would be enough to show that every penny spent for the ceremony is accounted.
“Our law has many loopholes that enable us to do illegal things legally”, he says.
There is an urgent need for an immediate rule to be implemented so as to regulate the amount of money spent in the name of a wedding. Nowadays in India, wedding is becoming an occasion to portray a person’s wealth in the most prestigious manner and this is exceeding beyond limits as there are very few norms to regulate the same. Arguing that there needs to be a strict and immediate rule for the same, Advocate Shiji Sivaji, member of Kerala Women’s Commission says,
“the plight of middle class people is pathetic as they are not able to get the new currencies and people like Biju Ramesh are spending crores for a marriage. Where does equality that our constitution and government promises go in such situations? There are thousands of people who struggle to get their daughters married and even today there are cases of dowry deaths in our country. The discrimination is very wide and only government intervention can put an end to this.”
Much discussions and debates have been done on these topics but an appropriate solution, which is the need of the hour, is still lagging.
Main photograph from Asianet News