|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
Vegetarian World Forum
OPENING OF THE FOOD EXHIBITION
THIS exhibition has been organised under the auspices of the 15th World Vegetarian Congress by the All India Women's Food Council Bombay Centre. Probably it will not be out of place to mention here what the Food Council is and what it stands for. The All India Women's Central Food Council was established more than seven years ago - to be precise, in August, 1950. First it was nominated by the Government of India in order to work on the food front as the country was very short of cereals in those days. Now we are a registered body. All along we were endeavouring to change the food habits of people by making them take to foods other than the rationed cereals which were equally nourishing and at the same time not expensive. Within a very short time the branches of the Council spread all over the country, running Cafeterias called "Annapoornas," covering Delhi, Madras, Calcutta, Bombay and many prominent cities.
We have our branches running Annapoornas in Andamans Islands, too. The Cafeterias run by the Council are very popular with the masses.
My Council is running a College of Catering and Institutional Management-the only one of its kind in the South East Asia - the working of which you will be able to see and judge in the exhibition itself. Our Courses of study and training are very comprehensive and include, in addition to our full-time Diploma Courses, part-time Craft Courses in Bakery and Confectionery, Waiting and Counter Service, Hotel Reception and Book-keeping, Short Courses for Housewives in Bakery and Confectionery, Cookery - Indian and Western - and Housecraft are also conducted; Short Courses in Factory and Canteen Management for Canteen Inspectors, training of cooks, waiters and Store-keepers for Railways and other establishments also are going to be started. So you will understand our interest in organising this exhibition when we were requested to do so by the organisers of the World Vegetarian Congress. I may tell you, in passing, that most of our Cafeterias are only serving vegetarian foods.
FROM birth and by habit I am a vegetarian and personally was never attracted towards non-vegetarian food. But there is a doubt in some people's minds about what is vegetarian food. Does it include eggs and milk? Some say it does and some others say it does not. Anyway, in India, milk is never considered as non-vegetarian food and the staunchest vegetarian includes milk in his daily diet. But in deference to the wishes of some of the organisers of the Congress we have asked our exhibitors to exclude eggs from their exhibits.
As you may be knowing, India is a very big country, with a variety of people and a variety of food and food habits of the people. There are different preparations in East and West, and in South and North of India. They vary very much in tastes, although the ingredients used are more or less the same. In some parts the staple food of the people consists of wheat, and in some parts it is more of rice, and in other parts both rice and wheat are taken in equal proportions. But recently, people in their daily diets do take more and more different types of foods from different parts of the country. Now, food in modern Indian homes includes some dishes made from recipes of other regions, too.
You will find Gujarati Patras, Dhoklas and Shrikhand, Marathi Chivada, Misal and Ushal Bengali Rasagullas and Sandesh, South Indian Idli Dosas and other articles, Punjabi and North Indian Roties, Shak, Dahiwada and sweets are adopted by many families as their own in their diet. The process of unifying the diet habits of the people is very much accelerated, not only with Indian food, but also with foreign food - especially the Western type of food as well. Dishes of soups, vegetable preparations and puddings, chocolates and many other sweets and savouries from the Western type of food for which Indians are fast acquiring a taste. This is because nowadays people travel more and more, not only within the country itself, but also abroad. Now, more than ever before, common people have greater chance of mixing with people of other regions and other countries, and they have begun to appreciate not only the company of each other, but their food as well. If only we have a hundred years of peace I am sure the people of different parts of the world will come together through food and will have considerable similarity of food dishes. Whether one day the whole world will turn to vegetarianism or not is a debatable question. But if the good old mother earth can be made to yield food for all I am sure that mankind will live more and more on the products of the earth.
FOOD is one thing in which people of all countries without exception are vitally interested, and it could be a unifying force for all people. In the ultimate analysis it is hunger or need for food which makes people fight against each other and send them in search of new pasture lands. There is enough food in the world if there is no greed and sense of possession. I hope a time will come when the good things of the earth will be shared by all people of the world like brothers and sisters, and when such a happy consummation comes about, wars will disappear and atoms will no longer be required as a weapon of destruction of enemies because there will be no enemies. Let us all work for such an ideal. The World Vegetarian Congress, with its membership spread all over the globe, will be the fittest body which can work for this ideal and carry the message of peace.
A word will not be out of place about my co-workers. They belong to many communities having special dishes of their own and some of them are from other parts of India. All of them have worked enthusiastically and with a great deal of team spirit. This exhibition could not have been a success without their interest and sincere work. The Principal of our College of Catering and Institutional Management, Mr. Belfield-Smith, and his wife as well as the students of the College, also have worked very enthusiastically. The trade section and other participants have no less share in making the exhibition what it is to-day. Our thanks/are due to all of them.
The inspiration to organise such an exhibition came from the Secretary and the Organisers of the World Vegetarian Congress, Mr. Jayantilal Mankar and his worthy colleagues. Without their interest and help this exhibition could not have been organised. On behalf of the Exhibition Committee as well as on behalf of the All India Women's Food Council, I thank them all sincerely.