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Make non-vegetarian cooking optional in hotel colleges: BJP minister

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A BJP Union minister’s proposal has kicked off a new storm. It’s finding support in the government & among the public.

The BJP government at the Centre is on the horns of a new dilemma: can students pursuing hotel management opt out of non-vegetarian cooking that is a mandatory part of their coursework now?

The latest trigger come in the form of a letter written by Union Textile Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar to HRD Minister Smriti Irani and Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma in which he says such courses should not make it mandatory for students to learn to cook non-vegetarian cuisine. This, he says, is proving to be a hindrance for a lot of vegetarians who want to pursue hotel management as a career option.

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Ministers are nevertheless engaged in trying to build up consensus on whether students, even if they don’t want to, must necessarily learn non-vegetarian cooking as part of hotel management courses.

Gangwar’s letter cites an unnamed survey that estimates that 40% of India’s population is vegetarian. Based on these figures, Gangwar argues that several vegetarians from Jain, Brahmin and Vaishya communities cannot pursue their dream of learning hotel management because of the compulsory component of cooking non-vegetarian food.

“This is a legitimate concern and needs debate and discussion. I am not against non-vegetarians which is why I have only requested that the compulsory component of non-vegetarian cuisine should be made optional. We’ll also approach MPs to raise this issue in Parliament,“ he said.

The minister is not alone in espousing these views. His views are echoed by other BJP MPs ranging from veteran LK Advani to the Yuva Morcha chief Anurag Thakur.

An online petition started by a Pune-based chartered accountant CR Luniya on portal change.org arguing for non-veg cooking to be made non-compulsory has managed to get some 2,500 signatures.

Hotel management institutes come under the purview of the tourism ministry. Sharma declined comment saying he hasn’t examined the proposal and will only say anything once he has discussed it with his officers. The tourism ministry is engaged in reworking India’s hotel management curriculum in collaboration with the Swiss-based Lausanne University, which has one of the best hospitality management schools in the world. While there exist very few recent studies on the food habits of Indians, the often-quoted study conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United States in 2007 indicated that Indians had the lowest rate of meat consumption in the world.

The RSS has been campaigning for cow protection as well as vegetarianism for long. RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat has even called for a ban on beef exports from India. Two BJP-ruled states have even managed to fulfil the Sangh demands to some extent. Earlier this year, Maharashtra extended a ban on cow slaughter to bulls and oxen, and made the sale of beef punishable by up to five years in prison. A few weeks later, the Haryana passed a similar legislation.

Source: Times of India

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