Government is on safe track as long as its actions conform to the country’s Constitution framework. The amendments made during the many governments of the land so far to its text reflect its inadequacy in setting the track initially. Issues relating to food of the country‘s population, given its diversity on various counts including and apart from traditions as well as customs of different sections of society, don’t seem to have figured in the script explicitly, specially issues of their food preferences. In that context, the recent episodes of intervention by the top brass in the Union Government as well as some State governments into the tricky area of food habits of people has generated only heat in the land, a fallout that could have been prevented by deft handling of the matter. Foremost factor that let the genie out of the bottle as it were was to bring the controversy into the open, forgetting that one person’s food is another’s poison, although ‘poison’ is not to be taken literally.
Both carnivores (meat eaters) and herbivores (vegetarians) are conditioned in their choice of food by many obvious factors, most importantly a) accessibility and b) affordability. Only after these conditions get fulfilled, the remaining factors such as preference, traditions, customs, constraints, fascination, taste, suitability to health, desire, craze, compulsions and so on rule the roost. Thus, food, like love, is many-splendoured and, therefore, the issues relating to food deserve to be handled with care and maturity.
Knowledge on food concerning its every conceivable aspect generated to this day is too vast to permit anybody to claim its comprehensive understanding flawlessly. Even the term balanced diet, like the army uniform, fits all in general (on an average) but no one in particular. The mark of intelligence, unarguably, is one’s ability to formulate a diet not only for delighting one-self but also to sustain one’s health. It is incongruous, therefore, for any authority in the government, to snatch the freedom of individuals to decide for themselves, both carnivores and herbivores, what they eat or don’t eat.
The crux of the currently raging controversy hurting that freedom is that some sections of the herbivores cannot stomach the food habits of the carnivores, specially their choice of animals as the source of meat.
In short, the current scenario of food habits of the land’s diaspora has witnessed turbulence due to emotion and sentiment stumping the spirit of accommodation and mutual acceptance of people in deciding what to eat or not to eat. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), a statutory body under FSS Act, has discreetly stayed aloof from the turbulence, in addition to facing the public perception of the Act remaining only on paper, as per a Mysuru-based report published in a section of the press this week.