'No govt should interfere in people's freedom to eat'
No government should intrude into anybody's kitchen or infringe upon people's freedom to eat in their personal space, panellists at a discussion said here on Saturday.
The panel comprising a politician, a bureaucrat, a restaurateur among others, dwelt on a host of issues which have in recent times sparked controversy in relation to people's eating habits, particularly beef.
Stating that the Congress regime was far less intrusive that the present BJP government at the centre, Congress' Tripura unit Working President Pradyot Bikram Manikya DebBarma said while a government may ask people to be sensitive about slaughter of animals, it cannot ask them to stop eating a certain dish as it would be an intrusion in the private space.
"The government may tell us to be sensitive about how you slaughter an animal because a section of the society might worship them. But it cannot have any job entering our kitchen," DebBarma said while discussing the politics of food in India Today Conclave East here.
"The party I know of, never infringed into our kitchens. There may been a figure where some individuals tried to propose a restriction in their personal capacity during the reign of Congress, but as a party we are far less intrusive than what you see now at the centre," he argued.
DebBarma termed the Central government's stand on consumption of beef as "hypocritical" as it is allowing this meat in Christian, tribal-populated Northeast while imposing a ban on it in rest of the country.
"Their Union Minister says in the Northeast that he loves beef and when the same person comes to Delhi, he says it will not be allowed. This is nothing but hypocrisy," the Congress leader said.
He claimed there are far bigger issues at present than fighting over what one should or should not eat.
Echoing DebBarma, bureaucrat Atri Bhattacharya said the only thing that people should worry about is if the food is hygienic or not.
"The only thing that matters is what you eat should be hygienic. Beyond that what you cook or eat in your own kitchen or own home is nobody else's business," he said.
About cow vigilantism, he questioned if the 'Gaurakshaks' are officially allowed and claimed there are no cow vigilantes in West Bengal.
"Gaurakshaks are officially allowed... There are specific law and order problems in the country, but not in Bengal. I haven't seen cow vigilantes, you bring them to me. Let's see how I deal with them." he added.
City-based Bengali restaurant Kewpie's owner Rakhi Dasgupta also said she feels the government should not direct people on what to eat.
"Food is also a form of expression. Therefore we have different types of cuisine throughout India. There is no reason why a government should tell us what to eat," she said, adding she refrains from serving beef or pork at her eatery as those meat do not go well with the cuisine it offers.
The speakers also agreed that serving of food in a public place is different from what one can have in their personal space.
"If there is government that tells me what to eat. I would not vote for them," Bhattacharya added. - IANS