Many of our practices, across food habits, personal hygiene, household hygiene, garbage disposal and more, continue to be strongly influenced by our cultural, or rather historical practices.
However, several of these cultural habits are unsuitable for today’s world and are creating significant food safety and hygiene problems for our people. They sicken and kill millions.
South Asia (and today’s India) is an enormously flexible civilization. There are so many international religions, recipes, cultures, habits, races, languages, dress and more that the subcontinent has “assimilated” or “adopted” or “borrowed from others” over the last few millennia .
Our food has changed within 2 centuries in an unimaginable fashion. What we eat now every single day, was unthinkable just 3 centuries ago.
Can you imagine cooking without potatoes, tomatoes, chillies, or chilli powder ? Well, potatoes, tomatoes and chillies did not exist at all in India until about 300 years ago when the Portuguese and the British brought them here, and were not available in most of the country until about 150 years ago. We not only adopted them but made them indispensable to our kitchens.
It is now time for us to borrow and adopt the food safety and hygiene standards of the developed west. Our culturally handed down standards and habits are flawed and inappropriate for today’s India.
The developed world is far ahead, whether it be packaged food standards, permitted food additives, tap water standards, cleanliness standards in restaurants, personal hygiene standards, household hygiene standards, community cleanliness standards, and also the implementation of these standards. The result is that people live better and healthier lives.
The hygiene standards are obvious by the simple fact that the communicable disease burden in India is almost ten times higher than most of the developed world.
Swacchh Bharat must go well beyond community hygiene, toilets and cleaning up our rivers.
Swacchh Bharat must clean up our food and educate Indians to have better personal and household hygiene