Will Guest Control At Parties Reduce Food Shortage?

guest control

image by bernardoh

Yesterday I read one of the most hilarious pieces of news which said that to reduce food wastage the government could look into the Guest Control Order of the 1960s, which limits number of guests at marriages and other events.

It seems that the government has woken up to the fact that there is a food shortage and they have arrived at a brilliant realization that the food wastage at weddings and social gatherings is ”criminal” and must be curbed to ensure food security.

Is there really a relationship between food shortage and the number of guests

Today, however, I would like to limit my thoughts to the possibility of a curb on the number of guests at a party and like to explore if a party with large number of guests results in food shortage. My thinking is that it does not. And my case is given below:

  1. When I go for a dinner party, I eat at the party. On coming back, I do not have dinner again at home. I somehow get this feeling that is the case with all others as well. Therefore, if hypothetically speaking, I invited the entire population of Delhi (about 17 million strong) for the reception of my son’s wedding (a dinner party can’t get bigger than this), that night dinner will not be cooked at any other dwelling except mine. It therefore means that irrespective of the number of guests at a party, the same numbers of “man-dinners” are consumed. So there is no wastage. Corollary to the argument being that attending parties does not contribute to food shortage.
  2. At home when I have dinner and say consume only one dish plus rice, the quantity is kind of fixed. Say I would eat about 100 grams of dal and four chappatis. Now when I go to a party, if there are 64 dishes served, I do not eat 100 grams multiplied by 64 dishes plus chappatis. I would still eat about 100 grams of all dishes put together plus chappatis. That is why you hear the guest saying, “the food is free but the stomach is mine.” What it means is that generally people eat as per their “capacity”. The quantity consumed does not depend on the number of dishes and hence a lavish spread does not result in wastage of food and hence food shortage.

survive food shortageFood and Consumer Affairs Minister K V Thomas said although the government has not conducted any study to determine the level of wastage of food at such functions like marriage events, there are reports that wastage is to the extent of 15-20 per cent. “There is huge wastage of food at weddings and other social functions. It is a criminal wastage. We are finding out mechanism to bring down such wastage of food,” Thomas told PTI. The Consumer Affairs Ministry has initiated a consultation with noted farm scientist M S Swaminathan and several civil societies to suggest ways to reduce the wastage of food items at big events, he said.

I think they should do well to conduct a comprehensive study to determine the causes of food shortage and not just limit it to guest control versus food shortage.

Change people’s habits to reduce food shortage

Now my thought on this is that the wastage is not due to the parties but due to the habits of people. It is not as if a person leaves food on his plate only during a party – if he leaves food on the plate, then it can be safely assumed that he generally leaves food on his plate at home as well.  It is the person who has to be blamed for the wastage and not the occasion. Has the minister tried to do a study about the food wasted at people’s homes? He should. And just as the leftover food at home is recycled, so is the leftover food at such parties.

It is also possible that the host prepared more food than what could have been consumed – and that is a management problem. Having said that, the minister should realize that even in this case, the food is not wasted, but is given away to guests, workers and poor families in the neighborhood. Just as the minister is worried about the food shortage, the host is worried about his own expenses and he will not let his hard-earned money go waste.

The minister noted that the need of the hour is to stop such kind of wastage because there are still some percentages of population who get only one time meal. I fully agree with him on that. But a curb on the number of people who attend a party is not a solution to this.

I am curious to know what you think about the issue at hand – Will guest control at a party help reduce food shortage?

save for food shortage


  1. Hi, I found your blog via Linked in for Bloggers.

    I think the minister should go worry about more important things. Did the minister BUY the food he’s so worried about being wasted? I was going to suggest that the overage be given to soup kitchens or the poor, but you beat me to it.

    I like this blog and I’ll be back!


    • Thanks Judy for your comments. I think the Minister is trying to create an awareness about food shortage – if that alone is the reason then I guess it is ok. But if the intent is to bring in some form for licencing / rationing then it is a futile exercise. This is no way to combat food shortage. Also, in India the biggest and most ostentatious wedding parties are given by politicians themselves. I am sure they will not try to bring in a law that will find them at the receiving end!!

  2. Well dont know what government is going to achieve by raising and discussing such topics rather than concentrating on more critical issues relating to food inflation. Food wastage at parties should be looked at more from an awareness prospective as it is all about people habits and the mindset involved as well as the way the food consumption is managed vis-a-vis the no.of guests. Its a strategy which every one should adopt to minimize wastage which I know is already in practice though not yet in large numbers. Just as one ensures that even a last grain of rice is not left unconsumed anyday and goes in to someone’s mouth, same principle and practice needs to be applied at such parties.

    • I agree with you Rachna that wastage of food at parties should be looked at more from an awareness prospective as it is all about people habits and the mindset involved as well as the way the food consumption is managed vis-a-vis the no.of guests. And yes, it is also true that the host always puts in place mechanism to ensure that any food that is left over is properly utilized. Therefore, wastages at parties is not really something that requires PARLIAMENTARY attention. There are bigger issues that our revered politicians should look at than monitor how many people are called at a party.

  3. well awareness about food wastage will create a positive impact on people who want to show up due to social status ,but not like to get it wasted they at least get a reason to limit there menu

    • You are right about that Gopal, this will definitely act as a reminder that weddings and other such parties should not be ostentatious. We must do our best to ensure that there is no wastage of food.

  4. It would be great if the minister had a regular check on the private godowns.

    • That is another area that the government needs to be vigilant about – hoarding. Many of the price rises in the past, especially on the food items, can be attributed to artificial shortages created for quick profits.

  5. I fully agree with your ideas. A friend who is a High Court justice says that in our country “There are lots of laws and no order”. Ministers of our country want to solve social problems through legislation thereby widening scope for corruption. After all, where are we going? Why they don’t curb the cricket which is wasting national productivity and increasing fuel consumption for transportation.

    • I agree. We must also not try and make frivolous laws that have no meaning in today’s time. Food shortage can be reduced by lot of other means and not by controlling the number of people who attend a party. Our leaders do not seem to have thought about increasing food production, using latest techniques of crop cultivation for higher yield, ensuring proper storage of food so that they do not rot before reaching the markets, population control…

  6. -Considering the number of food menu available in the wedding people would want to taste (at least) and as the individual taste varies its more likely that the wastage of the food will increase on individual preference. (And for living the food on the plate would not result into a scolding from the person whose party is being hosted)and its still a waste.

    -The hard earned money you said some where in your article.
    (Living the Party conducted by a Middleman class). Well the average menu dish would cost around 800 INR and consider the in numerous parties ‘Thrown’ to his friend and colleagues round the year just for the shake of his personal brand so off. (pardon me if I have mentioned something out of the article discussion).

    -But everything adds up in our living World.

    -The Rule should first be implemented and tested in one of the sons wedding of the MLAs.

    • Hi Rishit, I agree with you – leaders should lead by example.

Submit a Comment