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NEW DELHI (Reuters Life!) - India is considering adopting a policy from its impoverished and war-torn neighbor Afghanistan to help tackle a domestic food crisis: rein in lavish wedding parties of the rich.
The government is mulling a plan to feed the country's poor, by restricting extravagant feasts at the weddings and parties of India's burgeoning middle class, India's Mail Today newspaper reported on Tuesday.
India's economy has been growing an average 8.5 percent over the last five years, helping to propel millions of people into what is often termed the great Indian middle class and making the South Asian giant a darling for overseas investors.
But with steady growth has come high inflation, pushed up by soaring food prices that have hit India's poor the hardest. Headline inflation in December was above 8.4 percent while food inflation hit a one year high of 18.3 percent the same month.
"We believe we can preserve food grains for the poor and needy of this country by restricting its use at such extravagant and luxurious social functions," India's Food and Consumer Affairs Minister K. V. Thomas was quoted as saying in the Mail Today on Tuesday.
Nearly 15 percent of India's food grains were wasted at these events, Thomas said, and the government was now looking at introducing a bill before parliament limiting the amount of food dished out to guests, the Mail Today reported.
The proposed policy draws comparisons with a plan last month by the government of Afghanistan -- a country with only a fraction of India's GDP and which is grappling with a stubborn insurgency -- to ban abundant weddings to stop grooms going broke.
Writing by Jonathon Burch; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Sanjeev Miglani