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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

A shared meal can be the social glue that unites diverse groups and individuals in protest

🔴 Most recent protests in the capital have seen food used as a social glue, bringing diverse groups or people together over shared grievances and cups of chai.

By: Editorial |
Updated: December 10, 2021 8:41:14 am
Most recent protests in the capital have seen food used as a social glue, bringing diverse groups or people together over shared grievances and cups of chai.

Set aside the slogan-bearing placards and the scene could be from any of the picnic spots that sprout up around the Capital at this time of the year. Seated on colourful dhurries and mats at the Gandhi statue outside Parliament House, and sharing plates of idli-sambar-chutney and poha are the 12 Opposition MPs who have been suspended from the Rajya Sabha for the entire duration of the Winter Session for alleged unruly behaviour. There is defiance in the air — they are, after all, protesting their “undemocratic” suspension. But there’s also camaraderie as the MPs bond over food, bringing to the menu a taste of what the region they represent has to offer.

Most recent protests in the capital have seen food used as a social glue, bringing diverse groups or people together over shared grievances and cups of chai. In the bitter cold of the 2019-2020 winter, when the anti-CAA/NRC protest was in full swing in Shaheen Bagh, large vats of kheer and hot rotis at a langar helped keep spirits up and bodies warm. At the farmers’ protests at Delhi’s borders, photos of the protestors sharing rotis, kada prasad and even pizzas, spoke volumes about their sense of fellowship. Here, in fact, breaking bread together symbolised a meeting of minds to such a degree that, at one point, when talks with the government broke down, farmers’ representatives refused to share a meal with Union ministers Piyush Goyal, Narendra Singh Tomar and Som Prakash, telling them, “You eat your food and we will eat our food.”

The scale of it may be significantly smaller, but there is great warmth and fellowship at the Opposition picnic. Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi was heard saying, “We will all be friends for life as we are struggling here together.” An Opposition united by a common political agenda is not easy to put together, but no doubt a crisp sabudana vada or two will ease things along.

This editorial first appeared in the print edition on December 10, 2021 under the title ‘Thought for food’.

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