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Pied Piper of Patna

india Updated: Aug 19, 2008 20:55 IST

Hindustan Times
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If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em. This is the motto of Bihar’s intrepid tribal welfare minister. The finicky may squeak with honour, but the minister has exhorted people to eat rats to stop them eating grain. It is no secret that rodents nibble away at substantial quantities of grain in poorly insulated warehouses but surely there must be a more palatable way of dealing with this problem. The minister has put his money where his mouth is and sampled what he calls a healthy alternative. He wants restaurants to serve up rodents too, giving ratatouille a different meaning altogether.

The minister’s novel approach could trigger off a new trend in dealing with pests. Maneka Gandhi may well chew us up alive for saying this, but could there be other ways of dealing with the street dog problem other than the MCD’s methods?

Adversity, it would seem, brings out innovative dietary preferences. One may remember that the late Z.A. Bhutto vowed to make a meal of grass if required, in his pursuit of vanquishing India. That the poor man had to eat humble pie is a different matter. But back to Bihar, the minister’s chilling pronouncements must have led to many rats deserting the field. Indeed, they must now have realised that it is their lot to remain quiet as churchmice if they are to escape the depredations of those ready to adopt a mouse-to-mouth existence.