Credit: Hindustan Times

If we ever made a list of some singular objects which help cement the idea of ‘unity’ in different cultures, food and music would top the list, sadly even before traits like kindness or empathy.

The love for cuisines and its variants across cultures binds us together and just like a famous video once surged of a man resolving a volatile conflict between two men by offering them both pizza, food resolves animosity and brings people closer.

But in India, a country that has managed to house and protect a diverse variety of cuisines and offered a culinary haven for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, a form of prejudice and discrimination has lived for a long while.

How many times have meat eaters been separated from vegetarians on baseless grounds only because meat is considered less of a food? They’re often asked to eat in a separate room, or on the floor or not allowed to eat in their homes as well.

Something similar occurred recently in the ostensibly modern and progressive institute students covet to get into, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT Bombay).

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Non-vegetarian students were apparently asked by the hostel authorities of IIT Bombay to dine in separate plastic trays ‘meant’ for consuming meat thus keeping the vegetarians at ease from getting their ‘main’ plates fouled.

This step was taken as a result of some vegetarian students at IIT Bombay expressing their issue over non-vegetarians eating in the same plates as them.

Students expressed their discomfort over the irony of studying in such an elite institute known for its pragmatic and forwarded approach towards academics and society yet being segregated on the grounds of the kind of food they consume.

This event was highly disconcerting and one cannot but raise the question- how many kinds of divisive parameters will we keep following and abiding and how do we expect to progress as a nation if we keep doing so? Such ideas need to be extricated for us to focus on bigger issues in our country.

Akshay Kumar is an Indian Citizen: Government of India

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