Thursday, April 21, 2011

Of Panipuri and Politics

   You probably know what this post is all about, if not, read this, this, and this. Most of you, like me, must also have had panipuris at a roadside shop. Of all the times when you were stuffing yourselves silly with the tasty, super high calorie snack, did you ever stop and wonder where those hands serving you had been? Now, I sure hope that you haven't stopped eating panipuris just because of a video that was shown on television over and over again, zoomed in and zoomed out ad nauseum, pausing for time so that you could run to the loo, puke out your lunch, and be back in time to watch some more 'news'.
   The aftermath of all that coverage by 'news' channels resulted in quite a few upset stomachs, the same stomachs that had rarely, if ever, been upset after eating panipuris and bhels at much shadier locations. Later, in the presence of news cameras, quite a few vendors were manhandled, and their scope for having a dinner from their meager earnings destroyed. Evening snackers, definitely not suffering from a lack of choice, moved on to other options without a second thought, and satiated their hunger.
   Take a step back for a moment here, and look at it from a cynic's point of view. Panipuris have been in existence for at least a few centuries now, if not less. In all these years, I don't suppose the snack has been cooked in refined oil by people who have washed their hands with Dettol and then further sanitized them with Purell. Come to think of it, do you wash your hands  with soap after every visit to the loo? Since forever, roadside snacks have been prepared the way everyone knows they are. Nothing has changed for a long time, and nothing is going to change that, live with it.
   The sole reason that this was publicised so much is that the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena(MNS), starved for airtime, needed an issue to come to the limelight, and conveniently found it in the form of panipuri-wallahs; poor people who come from the cow belt to Bombay to earn a living. Now, I am in no way justifying the unhygienic behavior of the vendors, and I absolutely believe that just because something has been done in a certain way in the past is no reason to continue doing it in the future. Some things have to change, but this is not the way to do it. 
   The MNS workers who beat up the vendors should also go and check out how the Vada-Pao, indigeneous to Maharashtra, is made, if they are really that serious about hygiene. Oh, and while they are at it, they should check up on the dosa-wallahs too, they just might find something fishy in there, and then proceed to beat up the South Indians and try to send them back to 'where they came from', as their patriarch has done before. Sarcasm apart, they should sponsor and maintain public toilets, take care of the heaps of garbage in the cities and villages, and maybe look into their own leaders' homes to rid the world of filth. Political mileage is no justification for making people lose their livelihoods, and at times their lives. If these parties are really serious about bringing about change, they should take constructive steps towards it, and not randomly beat up people.
   Coming back to the title of this blog, the lesson should be clear by now: Don't mix your panipuris with politics.


Gurdit Singh said...

I agree with your opinion.

MangoMan said...

I agree with Surdy. Quite a diplomatically wholesome post!