Termed ‘Cultural Fascists’, IRCTC Scraps Menu Change in Kerala
After facing widespread outrage on social media for its decision to replace Malayali dishes with North Indian items, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) on Tuesday, 21 January, announced that it would restore all the food items as per the original menu.
The original decision, announced in November 2019, removed local snacks like porotta, appam, puttu, pazhampori and bhaji, but offered other food items like pav bhaji, chhole bhature and rajma chawal.
The prices of dishes like vada were also increased. Due to the recent resurfacing of reports on this change, social media users began protesting against what many saw as a forced infliction of North Indian food in the region.
The increase in prices was also seen as unfair by people who pointed out that while South Indian snacks would now cost almost double their past price, North Indian snacks were to be sold at the same prices as before.
‘Cultural Fascism’, Discrimination, Rue Locals
Seeing this as yet another move towards the homogenisation of cultures taking place in India, many social media users called the policy ‘cultural fascism’, with South Indian cultures being ignored and bypassed in favour of the North.
Many people called upon Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal to roll back the decision, tagging him in the tweets and asking for him to respond.
As the outrage swelled, Ernakulam MP Hibi Eden said that he had spoken to the IRCTC’s managing director about the change of menu, and had been assured that the matter would be looked into. As reported by The Indian Express, he spoke to IRCTC MD RP Mall over the phone and he heard our concerns genuinely.
“He said that he would speak to his officers as well as consult us before taking a decision within a week. I told him that local cuisine include puttu, egg curry have been excluded. He promised that the issue would be resolved within a week,” Eden said, as reported by The Indian Express.
“They didn’t clarify on why these items were excluded. I think the tenders are given to companies and a standard menu may have been prescribed. There’s an influence of a North Indian lobby in this.” Eden also wrote to Goyal, and copies of the letter soon spread online.
"Malayalees are discriminated in trains and railway refreshment rooms by the food, which is the right of every passenger," the letter reads.
Reversal Of The Policy, Malayali Dishes Restored
In a move to appease the protesters, the IRCTC soon tweeted that the excluded food items would be restored. Replying to various tweets with clarifications, the official IRCTC account said, “In view of the demand from passengers and representations received, IRCTC has fully authorised it's local offices in zones and regions to bring more items as per the local taste and regional preferences within one week as snack meals.”
While some Twitter users who had questioned the policy welcomed the change, others raised concerns about the selective price hike, upon which the IRCTC is still silent.
(With inputs from The Indian Express)
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