The Human Resource Development Ministry has forwarded a proposal to establish a separate eating space for vegetarians across IITs (Indian Institute of Technology). According to an NDTV report, "On October 15, an undersecretary in the HRD ministry, AK Singh, had in a covering letter asked IITs and IIMs to consider a proposal for separate eating areas for vegetarian and non-vegetarian students."
A similar request was sent from a Katni-based trader S K Jain, who demanded a separate eating space and mess for students consuming vegetarian food. Jain's letter has been forwarded to IITs along with a cover letter from the Ministry.
Jain is a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. In his letter marked to HRD minister, Smriti Irani, he opined that, "children who eat non- vegetarian food have saddened their parents by their 'tamasic' behaviour. They are deviating from the Indian value system because food has direct correlation with their thoughts."
The government has received over 25 requests of a similar nature. The HRD Ministry has clarified that it makes no recommendation or suggestions and plainly forwards the request it receives. It is up to the IITs to decide on the feasibility of the proposal. "We will have to see, if it is not possible what we can do," said S.K Gupta, Dean, students welfare.
Some of the institutes like IIT Madras already have a separate eating space for vegetarians while IIT Bombay cooks its vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals separately. IIT Delhi once served both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian food in the same canteen till a dispute sparked off between the authorities and students.
It was found that the canteen charged similar prices for both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian items. Some of the students demanded vegetarian food items to be sold at lower prices. The canteen authority, on the other hand completely scrapped non-vegetarian items from its menu.
It is interesting to see how the plea is being made not by the students, but from various organizations that support vegetarianism. One can just wait and watch, as the final call rests with the management committee of respective institutions.