Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Switch to vegetarian food on Air India causes an uproar

New Delhi: Coming from some other debt-ridden airline, it might have been shrugged off as just another service cutback. But not this time: When Air India announced on Monday (July 10) that coach passengers on its domestic flights would now be offered only vegetarian meals, the move provoked an uproar on social media.

Mr GP Rao, a spokesman for the government-owned airline, said the change was made a week ago strictly to reduce waste and cut costs. But what people eat can be a sectarian flash point in India, especially since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party took power.

Many members of the Hindu majority are vegetarians, while the country’s Muslims and some other minorities eat meat. So the airline’s action was seen by many as discriminatory and part of a wave of religious nationalism sweeping the country.

“Only veg food on Air India,” Mr Madhu Menon, a Bangalore-based chef and food writer, wrote on Twitter. “Next, flight attendants to speak only Hindi. After that, stand for national anthem before flight takeoff.”

Others, though, came to Air India’s defence, saying they could not understand all the public indignation.
11/07/17 Nida Najar/Today