That sentimentalism and sanctimoniousness have gone berserk in India is a truism. Could they be tamed? The answer isn’t very soothing; no sooner one needless controversy regarding hurt sentiments gets over than another one rears its ugly head. Savor this: the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has ordered food stalls to stop displaying meat, raw or cooked, inside shelves citing hygiene and “sentiments of people” as the main reasons.
Under fire over food policing, Leader of SDMC House Shikha Rai later tried to deflect the issue by saying that the order was against the display of all food, vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian. Delhi BJP spokesman Praveen Shankar Kapoor also said that the move pertained to public health and maintained that there would be no curbs on the sale of non-vegetarian food.
Earlier, however, PTI had reported that the proposal was for “both raw and cooked meat” of all kinds. The Indian Medical Association had responded negatively to the move. “We do not find any rationale behind the move that prohibits display of only non-vegetarian food outside shops, restaurants. If contamination of food is the concern then why keep out vegetarian food and snacks out of this order,” IMA president K.K. Aggarwal said.
To be sure, the order will not come into force immediately. “It was a private member resolution originally moved by a councilor from Kakrola village in Najafgarh Zone in the Health Committee meeting. The committee then moved it to the SDMC House, which then approved it,” an SDMC spokesperson said.
“Since it was a private member resolution, the proposal would now be sent to the Commissioner to be examined, if it is in accordance with the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act,” he said, adding that the Commissioner may accept or reject it.
So, perhaps the effort is a trial balloon, the gauge the reaction to the preposterous proposal. Just like the move to change the name of Dyal Singh College to Vandemataram College. It was because of the stiff resistance from the Akalis, an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, that it was dropped.
What is depressing here is not just this illiberal move but also the fact that the local authorities have totally misplaced priorities. There are a million things to be done in the national Capital. The infrastructure of leaves a lot to desired; public transport is poor; waste management is in shambles, the high-decibel Swachh Bharat Abhiyan notwithstanding; air pollution is debilitating, often ranging from ‘very poor’ to ‘severe’ in winters. And what bothers BJP’s sanskari netas is what eateries display!
One would have expected discussion and debate about better public transport, sanitateion, waste-to-energy plants, the measures to check water pollution, the cleaning of the Yamuna, the methodologies to check the menace of crop-burning in northern states, coordination among states and between the Centre and states, and so on. What we have instead are endless slogans about Swachh Bharat, officalese regarding the fantasy called smart cities, and sanskari nonsense like the bar on display of bar-b-que.
Such are the wages of sentimentalism and sanctimoniousness.
Picture courtesy: flickr.com