New Delhi : The Government of India has taken note of Oprah Winfrey’s comments on the Indian way of life during her visit to Mumbai. The popular chat show host had expressed surprise that people in India still ate with their hands.
On the sidelines of the dinner hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday, some cabinet ministers and UPA leaders said they were dismayed at these comments on the Indian way of eating. DMK leader T R Baalu said, “How to eat thayir saadam, err, I mean curd rice with spoon and fork. You cannot enjoy it unless you put your hand into it.” At which point, a pro-reforms minister said, “India is still not getting foreign investment precisely because of habits such as these. Because we lead such a hand-to-mouth existence.”
Expressing concern at how the Indian eating habit is adversely affecting the economic growth of the country, the PM has now decided to launch a major information campaign that will encourage all Indians to use spoons, forks and knives to eat their food. This, the government expects, will provide a major fillip to the steel industry as according to rough estimates, India will need about 25 crore pieces each of cutlery every year.
“FDI just in the spoon-fork-knive (SFK) sector can generate direct and indirect employment to at least 50 lakh people. This will help us achieve 9 per cent growth,” said Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. “According to data that we have, only 8.23 per cent of Indians use SFK to eat their food. Our dream is every Indian should have his or her own SFK. It will be as important as his or her mobile phone, voter identity card or driving license or PAN card. If you do not use a SFK, you will not be considered an Indian.”
During the next census, officers will be asked to videograph all family members while they are eating to exactly determine the SFK adaptability of the Indian society.
The Congress, which is excited about this post-Oprah comment move, is mulling modifying its election slogan. From `Congress ka haath, aam aadmi ke saath’ to `Congress ka haath, chaaku chure ke saath’. “Like political parties in Tamilnadu offer free mixie-grinder if voted to power, we can offer premium quality spoons, knives and forks if we come to power,” a Congress leader, who was brought up in the UK, told Tenali Rama.
A special meeting of the Congress Working Committee has been called to discuss if the slogan sounds too harsh. However, sources have told Tenali Rama that a powerful leader in the party thinks it is a gamechanger of a slogan and as powerful as Indira Gandhi’s `Garibi Hatao’. He has also volunteered to play a larger role in governance by carrying spoons, forks and knives during his visits to Dalit homes in rural India.