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Food Portion Sizes Should Just Be The First In A Slew Of Government Regulations

Go on, don't be shy.

12/04/2017 1:10 PM IST | Updated 12/04/2017 2:42 PM IST
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India finally has a government it deserves—one that is not hesitant to wield the awesome majesty of the state to set right everything that is imperfect.

Look around us. There is so much that is wrong. People think pineapple is an acceptable pizza topping. The other day I saw a grown man wearing a shoe that had faux wings on it. There are serious business executives who say they will give you a tinkle when they are in town next. So awkward. I can never look that person in the face again. This is all a serious corruption of our way of life.

And so I was thrilled to learn that the government intends to regulate portion sizes at restaurants, rightly seeing it as one of the great problems facing contemporary India.

"If a person can eat only two prawns, why should he or she be served six?" the food minister has asked.

Never has a matter of policy been more evocatively framed. Where I come from, this will likely cause bewilderment. Who can make do with just six prawns, the people of Malabar will wonder aloud. But then they eat beef and deserve to be roundly ignored.

Food inspectors equipped with measuring devices should scour the country, putting the fear of the law into deviant dosa makers. One nation, one dosa size.

Determining the correct portion sizes in restaurants ought to be a legitimate subject of state policy. Isn't the Gujarati thali served at Thacker's in Mumbai excessive? Who can possibly eat so much? Less said the better about the Rajasthani thali served at Rajdhani. But the optimal portion size cuts both ways. I have always hated the temerity of pricey restaurants to charge a fortune and serve tiny portions. The Indian Accent in Delhi for instance, serves a tiny cookie-sized dish and calls it blue cheese naan. We all know what the size of a naan is, and it's not the size of a cookie, chef Mehrotra. You can't get away with this trickery for long. Not under the watch of a decisive government.

I say standardize the size of vadas, dhoklas, theplas, dosas, daal baatis, rotis, naans, parathas, appams, gulab jamuns, jalebis, kachoris, samosas et al. Food inspectors equipped with measuring devices should scour the country, putting the fear of the law into deviant dosa makers. One nation, one dosa size.

And portion control is not the only contentious issue. The state should settle all matters relating to food. Gujaratis must be politely but firmly asked to stop adding so much sugar to sambar. Zomato reviewers must be disallowed from using the words sumptuous and delicious. This might test our federalism but may be Bengalis can be persuaded that aloo doesn't elevate a biryani. Is Kitkat a chocolate or biscuit? Can we declare the Mangalore ghee roast the national dish?

And portion control is not the only contentious issue. The state should settle all matters relating to food. Gujaratis must be politely but firmly asked to stop adding so much sugar to sambar.

And once our restaurants are tamed, there are other aspects of national life that needs regulation, too. Here are a few humble suggestions.

1) Showers.

Showers waste an insane amount of water. The traditional Indian bucket bath can show the world how to not waste water. Showers should be banned and every Indian home should be fitted with a bio-metric reading tap which releases one bucket of water per adult fingerprint twice a day. Since more Indians have Aadhaar than have access to potable water, this scheme can achieve 100% compliance easily. Now weak-kneed liberals might say this is state overreach and so on but the government must know by now to ignore them completely. These sepoys of the West feel culturally inferior if they do the bucket bath.

The government must notify acceptable waist sizes for men and women of different age groups. Waist inspectors must be sent for random checks.

2) Social Media

You can ask any parent in this country and they will confirm they are concerned with the amount of time the youth of this nation are spending on social media. This results in a generation growing up on western values and western memes. Their brains are becoming like drain. This is the new brain drain. The government must permit every Indian citizen to spend not more than one hour on a western social media platform. This can be easily tracked by making an Aadhaar-based log-in mandatory. Under the Digital India programme, the government should develop a social media platform that is based on Indian values and Indian memes. Every hour spent on this platform, imbibing Indian values, should be rewarded with an additional bucket of bath water for that Aadhaar number.

3) Exercise/Surya Namaskar

We are not the diabetes capital of the world for no reason. We eat badly and do no exercise. Now that we know people are lazy left to themselves, law must step in, and mandate exercise. The government must notify acceptable waist sizes for men and women of different age groups. Waist inspectors must be sent for random checks. Offenders will pay a higher rate of tax. Around major Hindu festivals, a few inspection-free weeks can be offered. The government must after all, be culturally sensitive.

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