Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: What’s wrong with demanding separate plates for meat eaters in IIT Bombay?

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Meaty matters

I live in South Delhi in a paying guest accommodation that serves non-vegetarian food as well (“IIT-Bombay row: Is separate-plate rule for meat eaters caste discrimination – or not a big deal?”). In such a scenario, there should ideally be separate utensils as well because those who are paying money for food have the right to exercise that choice. If the administration does not offer that choice, students themselves can arrange their own utensils.

A demand for separate plates for vegetarian and non-vegetarian food is a sign of proper acceptance and understanding, where we allow others to eat their food in the manner they like. It is not a case of caste discrimination. – Sachin Pathak


It’s absolutely justified that non-vegetarians be asked to use separate plates and sit on tables earmarked for them. The Constitution India guarantees the right to religious beliefs and vegetarians strictly keep off meat and eggs. Even the aroma and traces of non-vegetarian food can be impious for some. So why the hullabaloo over the issue? – Roshan Singh


For better health, certain measures are always useful. – SV Kaveendra


What is wrong in using separate plate for non-vegetarian food? Should a vegetarian not have any tastes and preferences? – BVS Subrahmanyam


How does this qualify as news? Why should non-vegetarians not be asked to use separate plates? There are vegetarian students as well and they might not be comfortable with the fact that same plates are being used to serve both non-vegetarian food. Why focus on such petty concerns instead of actual issues? Not every reader is as stupid as you might think. just like not every journalist is as irrelevant as one usually thinks nowadays. – Puneet Saraswat


I see nothing wrong in using different plates. Non-vegetarian dishes often have strong smell, which many may not like. – Prema Kumari


What’s so unusual about this? Yes, vegetarians will not like the idea of the food being mixed. Do they not have the right to express their feelings? People come out with stupid items as news to generate unnecessary controversy. – Surender Reddy


What’s wrong in this? Just as non-vegetarians have the liberty to eat what the choose, those who don’t eat meat should have liberty of not using the same plates. Don’t make it news. – Prajyot Chopda


So what is the problem? Vegetarians would prefer that not only the plates, but even serving spoons and utensils are earmarked for the two diets. For non-vegetarians, it may not be an issue to eat from the same plate, but for vegetarians it certainly is an issue. – Dayaldas Vuppulury


What’s the big deal? We have separate utensils for non-vegetarian food at my house. I live in a joint family where two members are Vaishnav and the others are not, some are averse to the smell of meat or eggs while others are not, so we need separate utensils. Everyone lives happily. – Ashutosh Shrivastava


I am surprised that you are making an issue out of this and doing it as a special report. Is it wrong to be a vegetarian? If you believe it is discriminatory to non-vegetarians, I strongly disagree. Journalists should leave such maters to people’s discretion and focus on the burning issues that are halting the progress of the nation. – Suresh Seshadri


What is wrong in asking for a separate plate for non vegetarian and vegetarian food? It’s better if we respect the each others’ sentiments rather than make an issue out of everything. – Jayesh Sheth


Many vegetarian students complain that the plates, if not washed properly, smell of non-vegetarian food, which they do not like. I feel our society is become hyper-sensitive when any distinction is made. – Vivek Patwardhan


What’s wrong in this? We have to respect others’ sentiments. this is not a case of hatred towards non-vegetarians. We as students must have more tolerance and not give this issue a political tinge. We are academicians and our goal is to study and contribute to the welfare of of the society and country. – BJ Mehta


This is a great step. It is very difficult for vegetarians to use the same plates as non-vegetarians, which may have remnant oils or smells. Education institutions are sacred spaces, temples of wisdom. It would be ideal if non-vegetarian food is banned altogether. IIT is the pride of the Indian education system. How can we allow non-vegetarian here? – Pavan Kumar


What’s wrong in this? Are they denying non-vegetarian food to students? Why this intolerance? – Kundan


Yes, non-vegetarian dinnerware should be separate, not just in IIT but everywhere. – Smita Kothari


Let the vegetarians have their separate place and plates, that is their choice. But let them not stop others from exercising their choice. It is true that in most hostels, plates are not washed and stored properly. – Sharifa Siddiqui


It’s not about caste. Some vegetarians cannot tolerate even the smell of non-vegetarian food, so how can he eat off the same plate? It is common knowledge that plates are not washed properly in hostels and the mess. Caste discrimination does not come into the picture. – Nitin Sapre


There is no caste discrimination. Vegetarians have the right to use different plates. What is wrong in this and where does caste coming into the picture?. Most of vegetarians will never go to a hotel that also serves non-vegetarian food for the same reason. – Sivaraman krishnamurthy


I study in an NIT and last week, when chicken was served, we were asked to use only disposal plates and cups besides being made to sit on a different table.This is my first time living outside my home state (Manipur) and I find this amusing. – Kholi Robert


Why do you call this caste discrimination? Do I, as a vegetarian, not have equal right to eat what I like, in utensils of my choice?
Why is there a divisive agenda whenever someone does not agree with you? – S Ravi


Why should people take objection to the policy of separate plates for non-vegetarian food? This is not a case of caste discrimination as portrayed by mischievous groups. I would never go to a restaurant that serves non-vegetarian food alongside vegetarian options. Vegetarians abhor non-vegetarian dishes and keep away from them. The very idea of eating in a plate used for meat dishes is unappetising. Why bring in caste? – G Rajan


I do not like the narrative which this article espouses, possibly because I have come across a string of such articles of late. I believe vegetarianism should be appreciated and endorsed, and this is not a matter of religious belief. All positive ideals should be encouraged. Second, what is wrong with a certain kind of food being served in separate plates? It is certainly not discrimination. You need empathy to understand this. For vegetarians, humans and animals are the same, all sentient beings. Even plants are sentient and in Jainism we are told to exercise restraint on how to eat plant-related food items too.

But we are part of a diverse society and I understand that others may not share the same view. I request you to not bring religion into everything. I do not appreciate you mentioning the comment regarding Jains in the article. Do not attempt to set a narrative which tarnishes a community. – Arpit Shah


Many theories in the engineering and science books are developed or invented by non vegetarians from other countries. Ergo Vegetarian purists should not read such impure literature.

Vegetarian food may be healthy, but we should not politicise the matter so much. – Apratim Borgohain

Church row

The recent land scam that surfaced in the Ernakulum-Angamaly archdiocese failed to shock the laity as these kind of financial misdemeanours are common in many churches (“Head of Kerala’s Syro-Malabar Catholic Church urged to quit amidst accusations of corrupt land deal”). This time, however, the bitter battle has come to the fore mainly due to the power play between bishops. The claim that this has been highlighted principally to check the loss of moral values is hollow, to say the least.

It is interesting to note that what is common in these deals is the lack of transparency and accountability by which the Church in general operates. Unfortunately, the canonical laws made by Vatican vest all the authority with the diocesan bishop and clergy, leaving no meaningful role for the laity to administer their own common wealth. This lacuna naturally gives rise to corruption.

With the church growing in wealth and power, it is likely that we are going to witness more scams. The civil courts too have endorsed the arguments of the church authorities that they alone have the right to administer church properties. This fallacious view needs to be re-examined as it violates the Constitutional rights of those professing the Christian faith.

Noting this grave miscarriage of justice, the Law Commission headed by Justice VR Krishna Iyer recommended that a “Church Act” needs to be passed by either the Parliament or State Assembly to regulate the functioning of the common Christian temporal wealth. The Bill proposed a legitimate role for the faithful and also provided a democratic and transparent way in which church properties are to be administered.

Till such time that the Church Act comes into force, it is only just that the churches and diocese who have been short changed in these dubious deals seek a recourse to get their legitimate amount returned. – Thomas Tharakan

Unstable leadership

This is the least of what puts Congress on the back foot (“Rahul Gandhi’s failure to spell out his position on triple talaq has put Congress on the back foot”)! This manner in which Rahul Gandhi is treats issues of greatest importance to India is symptomatic of political folly. It puts the whole country – and one third of the free world – at risk. Until Rahul champions universal human values, stating unequivocally what Congress stands for, he leaves to the winds of happenstance the direction towards which India will drift. I hear nothing regarding Rahul’s anti-corruption platform, for example, nor anything concerning election reform.

On the one hand, Shashi Tharoor implores the youth of India to engage in politics and on the other hand, there is no proof that Congress is rooted in values that youths need to feel hope! The underlying phenomenological message to youths is that the whole situation with Congress is hopeless! What kind of message is that to project? – Daryl Wayne Atamanyk

Food safety

This article is contrary to ground situation (““How the safety of India’s processed food was compromised by orders from the Prime Minister’s Office”). The FSSAI has risen to the occasion after the Nestle fiasco that lead the Mumbai High Court to almost write off the new food act. The authority is right to suggest that combinatorial effects should be notified when required and substantiated by scientific principles and processes.

The previous contention of approving every recipe by FSSAI would have required every restaurant, halwai, hawker or food and beverage organisation to get every recipe approved after large-scale trials and processes, something not done even in the most advanced nations. It’s also not practical, considering there would be a few crore entities in the food business, each with 50-100 dishes and the minimum cost of certification for a single recipe, if done correctly, running into a few lakhs.

Managing quality of food for a nation like India is a humungous task and considering the resources the FSSAI has, the authority is doing a commendable job. I request you to look into trends with respect to the improvement in the quality of day-to-day food ingredients like flour, rice, spices, fats, sugar, milk and the like for the last 50 years to appreciate the quality of work.

We are faced with the huge task to improve things further and there are big issues that face us, especially the following: Contamination of ground water that effects the whole food chain, design of cities and produce markets that lead to huge time gaps between harvest and consumption of perishables, huge shortage in cold-chain infrastructure, huge gaps in sanitation and hygiene of small food vendors as well as illiteracy and lack of scientific and food service knowledge in a large part of the food supply chain.

Correcting these will automatically bring large-scale improvement and help the health of the nation. I request we all look forward to engage and help these situations proactively and in a collaborative manner. The press has a huge role to play in this regard. – Akshay Bector


Obviously you are ignorant about food safety. Worse still, you are not shy of displaying your ignorance. Stop misleading the public. Indian food safety is amongst the best in the world. – Anil Chandhok


I read both parts of your series on food safety. I agree there are food safety issues in our country and our law is not able to control them. But there are a few important aspects of the current regulation. One, our current registration is just like codex; if you search, you will find that they did intensive research on additives and flavours and their combinations too. Second, am not sure about the old manufacturing licence approval process but the authority now ask details of each and every proprietary food. Moreover, our regulations are much more stringent than those of other Asian countries (see Malaysia and Indonesia for instance).

4) Instead of processed foods we should focus on our natural food ingredients such as milk, vegetables, spices and the like. The full issue over Maggi arose because base material spices had high lead content. – Vandana

Industrial disputes

The proposed amendment to the Industrial Disputes Act is in line with the government’s agenda to attract investment in Maharashtra through ease of doing business (“Labour unions of Shiv Sena, CPI(M), RSS unite against changing Maharashtra rule on closing factories”). While I appreciate that protecting employment is a concern, one cannot ignore the fact that generating new jobs is equally important. A balanced view taking into account the interest of all stakeholders is the need of hour. – Ajit Pendharkar

At risk

I am paediatrician and have seen that cervical cancer is major health problem among Indian women (“After RSS letter, Centre may leave out cervical cancer shot from immunisation scheme: Indian Express”). Two doses of the HPV vaccine to children aged between nine and 14 provides better immunity in adult age from HPV infections and cervical cancer. It improves the family’s health and can save women’s lives. The vaccine is required for better economic growth of our country. – Unmesh Upadhyay

Closed doors

It is shocking to hear that gurdwaras in Canada and the US have banned Indian officials, diplomats and RSS members (“Now, 96 gurdwaras in the US ban entry of Indian officials and diplomats”).This is not in our culture. Guru Nanak never taught us to take such steps. What happened in 1984 is not okay and I too was a victim of it, but I would never advise a ban on certain people from the gurdwara. Guru Nanak taught that all are welcome and no one should be let down. Such movies create a negative impression. – Chetan Ahuja

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