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In poor taste

South Delhi corporation’s proposal to ban public display of non-veg food smacks of prejudice, threatens freedoms

By: Editorials | Published: December 29, 2017 12:00 am
Non vegetarian food, meat shops display, South Delhi corporation, SDMC order on non vegetarian shops, Indian Express The SDMC may argue that there is no restriction on eating meat and the move is meant only to protect public health. For that argument to hold water, however, it must provide evidence of the immunity of vegetables to the ill-effects of pollution.

It is said in China: “First, you eat with your eyes”. If the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has its way, the visual feast in many parts of the capital will soon conform to strictly saatvik standards. The BJP-controlled civic body has proposed that eateries cease to display their non-vegetarian wares in the open — because food “may be contaminated” by Delhi’s pollution and “hurt the sentiments of the vegetarian public”. The Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress have pointed out that the proposal, which needs to be passed by the assembly, is an attempt at communal polarisation by the BJP. Given the zeal with which BJP governments have used public policy to politicise and police eating habits, that allegation is not unfounded.

The SDMC may argue that there is no restriction on eating meat and the move is meant only to protect public health. For that argument to hold water, however, it must provide evidence of the immunity of vegetables to the ill-effects of pollution. Moreover, there is mounting evidence that the SDMC is only falling in line with a troubling pattern of state policy and vigilantism that is cramping individual freedoms, including dietary habits. After all, cow protection laws, often enacted by Congress governments in accordance with Article 48, a Directive Principle of State Policy in the Constitution, have never been enforced as zealously and indiscriminately as they have after the BJP formed governments at the Centre and in a growing number of states.

Beef, a cheap source of protein, has become a prime target for vigilantes who harass and kill and count on a climate of impunity. Beginning with the murder of Mohammad Akhlaq on the suspicion of storing beef in 2015 by a mob in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, gau rakshaks have attacked, intimidated and murdered in the name of the cow. Now, it would seem the project is being extended to all non-vegetarian food. In Maharashtra, the sale of non-vegetarian items was prohibited during Mahavir Jayanti and earlier this year, the Haryana chief minister said no new meat shops would be allowed in residential areas.

According to a survey by the Registrar General of India released in 2016, over 70 per cent of Indians are non-vegetarian. The food habits in Delhi, a city of migrants, are as diverse as the people who flock to it, make it their home, and help build it. Instead of policing eateries to protect imagined “hurt sentiments”, the SDMC would be better employed if it implements that much-touted — and sadly relegated — slogan: “Minimum government, maximum governance”.

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  1. Lawyer Caamaño
    Dec 29, 2017 at 4:01 pm
    Its not healthy to eat food which is exposed to pollution insects like house fly spreading deceases , and of course there is no ban on migrating to China or any other country if eating with eye is a must. Women covered from head to toe in black but food exposed to pollutants!!
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    1. Brigadier Gen
      Dec 29, 2017 at 3:22 pm
      It means I can cut cow and drink its blood . Freedom ?
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      1. vasdev malhotra
        Dec 29, 2017 at 9:25 am
        SDMC’s argument that its recent move asking eateries in Delhi, not to display their non- vegetarian wares in the open, is meant to protect public health, seems illogical at the least particularly when there is no such restriction on display of vegetarian preparations. This sort of control by the governing bodies can have an injurious effect on development of scientific temper among our youth, our would be future leaders. The west had started to get rid of their unscientific biases many centuries ago, giving birth to an era towards the end of seventeenth century – which they now proudly describe as the Age of Reason. And here we are, throwing science out of the window.
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        1. Lawyer Caamaño
          Dec 29, 2017 at 4:08 pm
          Its not healthy to eat food veg or nonveg which is exposed to pollution and insects, and it's unscientific too. Women covered from head to toe in black and food exposed to pollutants and insects!! What's more scientific?
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          1. vasdev malhotra
            Dec 29, 2017 at 5:19 pm
            Although you have tried to cover the fault of SDMC by including the vegetarian preparations too but you have brought in bias of your own by irrelevantly bringing in the matter of women covered from head to toe in black.
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