RSS think tank pushes for ‘Bharatiya thali’ to combat malnutrition
The Deendayal Research Institute proposed that the Centre expand its food security to include nutrition, and suggested the constitution of a national initiative to study indigenous foods and their health benefits.india Updated: Jun 24, 2017 22:22 IST
An RSS think tank wants the Centre to design local thalis (set meals) aimed at popularising indigenous food items known for their health value, thereby meeting the nutritional requirements of people across the country.
These meals – designated as ‘Bharatiya thalis’ – should be composed of locally produced and traditionally consumed foods, the Deendayal Research Institute (DRI) said. The think tank, however, refrained from commenting on food choices or discouraging the consumption of non-vegetarian items.
The DRI proposed that the Centre expand its food security to include nutrition, and suggested the constitution of a ‘national indigenous food initiative’ to study indigenous foods and their health benefits.
This suggestion was made at the end of a two-day conference on ‘nutrition-sensitive agriculture’ jointly organised by the DRI and the Madhya Pradesh government, with the support of the ministry of culture, in Shillong. The institute will present these recommendations to the Union government as well as central think tank NITI Aayog.
The DRI is pushing for the renewed consumption of traditional food items that have gone out of vogue despite their high nutritional value. It also wants the government to encourage the cultivation of crops suited to a particular region – thereby cutting down on the need for additional chemical fertilisers and power supply to achieve better yields – and ensure that local consumption is prioritised over export.
“The central government must set up an independent technology mission, consisting of experts from various integrated nutrition and agricultural streams, for developing local thalis (which will have ingredients sourced from that particular region),” said DRI general secretary Atul Jain.
“(Recommendations for consumption of) such thalis will only be advisory in nature, and won’t be imposed on anybody. However, every effort must be made at the governmental and institutional levels to promote them,” he added.
The RSS think tank also wants the government to set its “own standards of nutrition rooted in Indian ecology and ethos, rather than blindly accepting guidelines laid down by international agencies”.
In what could be a controversial suggestion, the DRI has also stated that the traditional food processing industry – which functions at the household level – should be kept out of the ambit of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s new ‘food safety’ laws.
These suggestions, which come in the backdrop of the farmers’ unrest in several BJP-ruled states such as Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, also included a proposal that the government offer minimum support price for purchase of grains other than wheat and rice.