STUDENTS WHO want to pursue hotel management can now opt for an “exclusively vegetarian” course, with the Centre making the addition to the curriculum in 21 government-run hotel management institutes across India.Three Institutes of Hotel Management — in Ahmedabad, Bhopal and Jaipur — have already introduced the “veg-only” course on a trial basis from the academic session that started in July.
The remaining 18 will follow suit next year, after setting up necessary infrastructure, including separate kitchens and bakeries for students who opt for the course.
Suman Billa, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, told The Sunday Express that gastronomical choices are changing and several specialised vegetarian restaurants have come up. “There has been a change in the thought process. And while there was talk of how lack of versatility may affect career prospects, we still felt there was a need to include a vegetarian course,” he said.
Billa also appreciated an online campaign by a Pune-based chartered accountant, Chandrashekhar Luniya, who mobilised people to sign a petition demanding such a course. “He did good work; it was a sign that things have to change,” Billa said.
Luniya, 54, whose online campaign got over 3,900 signatures in four years, said the move would encourage more students to opt for hotel management. “Students from vegetarian families hesitate to join because of our traditional family values,” he said.
At Jaipur’s Institute of Hotel Management, director K S Narayan said that out of the 176 students in the current session, only one has opted for specialising in vegetarian cuisine so far.
At the government institute in Ahmedabad, J K Mangaraj said that 18 of the 220 students have selected the course. In Bhopal, Anand Singh, principal of the Institute of Hotel Management, said that 22 of the 250 students have opted for the course.
Chefs and hotel industry experts, meanwhile, took a cautious approach. Karen Anand, founder of the Pune Farmers’ Markets, said, “A hotel management graduate seeking a job in the industry will have limited chances if he is not exposed to non-vegetarian cuisine… Students have to shed their inhibitions…”
Banshi Dhar, an executive chef, said that one out of 25 rated hotels has a vegetarian restaurant. “It will be tough to get jobs,” he said.
Food critic Rashmi Uday Singh said, “No pucca vegetarian will touch fish and meat. So if they want to learn vegetarian cuisine, it seems like a good idea to introduce some changes in the course.”