Tuesday, 24 August 2010
My driver’s lunch dabba
A chance conversation with a friend got me curious about my driver’s lunch box. So yesterday I went across to the parking lot at lunch hour, to suss exactly what he eats for lunch. And I was left stunned and depressed at what I saw: Three thin chapattis and one small katori of chutney. That’s it! No sight of any basic veggies, forget richer stuff.
So I asked him the reason for this boring lunch. And what he told me is exactly what one feared was happening: His family has quit buying sabzis for a long time, they can’t afford them anymore. It’s only on a Sunday that they ‘celebrate’ with daal or a veggie. And yes, this deadly diet is also what his little school going kids consume.
One can safely extrapolate from this example, and we would not be wrong to assume millions of lower middle class Indians aren’t eating properly anymore. The ridiculously high prices of veggies has knocked them out of the food chain. Now, poverty and malnutrition isn’t new to India, it has been on since Indra Gandhi’s stupendously failed ‘Garibi Hatao’ joke. Except now, even the lower middle class isn’t able to purchase basic food items, they seem to have been pushed further down into the lowest spectrum of India’s populace.
So then what are we doing? We are busy spawning a whole new malnourished, weak generation in this nation. Kids, who when they grow up, would perhaps be physically and mentally ill-equipped to deal with life. Because even the most basic nutrition is not available to them in their formative years. Because their parents can no longer afford to prepare a decent meal at home.
And while all of this is happening, as the prices of pulses and veggies go beyond the reach of the Congress’s beloved aam aadmi, we are hearing words like The Nuclear Deal. World’s Next Super Power. Economic Giant. Global Leader. World’s Human Resource Capital. Fortune 500 Industry Leaders. And we are blowing up multi-billion dollars on a travesty called the Common Wealth Games, which will regale a few, and has already lined the pockets of the already rich. And while a whole lot of grain lies dead, for rats and other rodents to feed on.
I don’t think Sonia Gandhi and her geriatric boys are aware of what my driver eats for lunch these days. I don’t think they care. But then they must not be surprised when things like Naxalism happen. When crime levels rise. When people resort to violence to be heard. They must not be surprised when one day the mal-nourished Indian junta decides to hit back. With whatever little strength their bodies can conjure up.