Today I read about a new trend in Mumbai: of diners being fined for wasting food. While this initiative is praiseworthy on paper, especially when communicating with the impressionable. But will this actually work? Will this bring any decency among those who really don’t care?


I have seen corporate folks, when they know that the bill would be paid by the company, order and do not bother if it would actually be eaten. In India, where a large section of the population is gripping with hunger, such a wastage is a criminal offence and must be treated such. People must learn to optimize what they order, instead of the false feeling of not being constrained by the prices. As my father in law says, there is a diploma in ordering, which he awards to his pals.


Buffets in restaurants allow one to taste multiple kinds of food, in small portions of each. But our society has people who load their plates more than what their stomachs can digest, with leftovers on their plates. There is no social taboo in wasting, because they feel they are ‘paying’ for it.


We have seen many instances of such ‘don’t care’ attitudes in our society, especially when someone else is paying. I have seen people leaving ACs on in hotels, so that they may have a ‘cool’ room when they return hours later. At traffic junctions, we see idling cars, buses, lorries, autos waiting for the light to turn green. The professional drivers are the worst in their behaviour, since they do not personally pay for the fuel.


In most of the cases, it is a trade off between a minor inconvenience and conservation of scarce resources; which can be improved with a little bit of thought. But how many people look back and think what they are doing?

Imposing fines for wasting food is good on paper, if the payer is indeed paying for it. But in many cases, it is someone else who ultimately pays for it. How do we curb such behaviour then?

 A link to the news article