After the academic discussion about Bengal’s decline last week, readers have been clamouring to know what other terrible secrets lie within the pages of the National Sample Survey’s report on ‘Household Consumption of Various Goods and Services in India, 2011-12’.
One question often asked is: what exactly do people do in Dadra & Nagar Haveli? So long, it was a riddle. But the good book has bared all — they eat bananas. At 12.2 bananas per month per head, the average urban Dadra & Nagar Havelian is easily the biggest banana-eater in the country, beating the Andaman & Nicobar islanders to second place. But are the Andaman & Nicobar islanders distressed? No sir, by sheer grit and hard work the average urban A&N islander has attained the position of number one chicken devourer, eating 884 grams of chicken per month.
Move on to Haryana. The reason for Haryana’s pre-eminence in wrestling lies in its record milk consumption. The average rural Haryanvi puts away as much as 14.79 litres per month. Rural Nagaland, at the other extreme, drinks a mere 161 cc of milk per head, preferring stronger fluids. But the urban Haryanvi also spends the highest amount in the country on tuition and educational fees, proving he cares not just for brawn but also for the brains. Naturally, all that studying leads to stress and urban Haryana has the highest consumption of ganja in the country. It’s Gurgaon’s only redeeming feature.
Continuing with education, urban Himachal Pradesh spends the most per head on books and journals and Lakshadweep the least. The literacy rate in Lakshadweep is over 90%, so their priorities must be right when they top the country in fish, egg and coconut eating but come last in buying books. ‘Been there, done that’ probably sums up their attitude towards books.
What diet lies behind the famed Gujarat model? Gujarat tops the country in per capita consumption of groundnut oil. Gujarat and Maharashtra, the two top groundnut oil consuming states, are also among the most developed. Just to be on the safe side, Gujarat also binges on moong dal, ranking second in consumption per head, after neighbouring Daman & Diu.
It’s likely, though, that Daman & Diu’s premier position in moong eating is boosted by visitors from dry Gujarat, to slake their thirst with beer. After all, what is the point of development if all you can drink is water? That is why Daman & Diu has the highest per capita intake of beer in the country. Why they have cabbage with their beer, though, is a mystery, as Daman & Diu also tops the country in cabbage eating per head. Less well-heeled tipplers from Gujarat seem to prefer Dadra & Nagar Haveli, where they gulp down enough toddy to make the place the highest in toddy consumption per capita. Whether they have bananas with the toddy is unclear.
But the importance of booze in the national diet is best illustrated by Arunachal Pradesh, which has the highest consumption of both country liquor and foreign liquor or wine per head in the land. Now you know why it’s so peaceful, despite being in the turbulent North-East. The same is true for Sikkim, which ranks second in per capita foreign spirits/wine consumption. We must learn from them.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed by the author are personal