With so much ill-happenings in the country – demonetisation, patients denied of ambulance, kids suffocating without oxygen, or lynching common citizen like 'Pehlu Khan' just to transport a four-footed animal, authorities ambushing students; it becomes a satirical fact to believe in the system anymore!
Is humanity dead? Where is Democracy? Does India still represent 'Unity in Diversity'?
Well, though questions are many, we Indians cannot ask them! Even if we manage to, we will either be declared anti-national, a threat to the country, or even a traitor. In other words, we the citizens of India are no more entitled to our 'Right to Freedom of Religion', 'Right to Equality', and 'Right against Exploitation'! However, amidst all these traumatising events and happenings, you do get to hear something good or something that helps you restore your lost faiths. Something similar happened with me last week as I happened to meet some old friends in Bangalore over a cup of cuppa.
As we started sipping on the cups of cuppa, we started with plenty of topics; needless to say, ‘demonetisation’ and ‘GST’ were the hot matters on the table. Few supported, while others stood against them!
Amidst these burning topics, Sheikh Yarab, a friend of mine who also happens to be Joint Secretary - Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee IT Cell, turned the table around him at once by uttering ‘Indira Canteen’! It was just like two alien words when we were busy discussing the foreign trips and the types of bans happening in the country. Yarab soon got all the heads turned towards him by explaining the concept of Indira Canteen.
What followed next was simply out of this world, and being the victim of political agendas and traumas like ‘Demonetisation’, ‘GST’, and others, I found it hard to believe Yarab. Thus, I decided to visit and witness Indira Canteen and witness things on my own.
Indira Canteen is a chain of food-joint across Bengaluru that serves foods at highly subsidised rates. Dedicated to the poor section of the society, this chain was inaugurated by Mr. Rahul Gandhi, Indian National Congress Vice-President and Mr. Siddaramaiah, CMO Karnataka on the 16th of August 2017.
An initiative to make hunger-free Karnataka, these canteens are serving daily breakfast, lunch and dinner to the poorer section at an unbelievable price. Imagine when a bottle of packaged drinking water costs somewhere between INR 20-100, Indira Canteens are serving breakfast at INR 05, lunch and dinner at INR 10. Yes, even I too found it tough to believe that now people can really avail three times’ meals in Bangalore at only INR 25!
With an estimated target to open 198 such canteens, the present Karnataka government is walking the extra miles to get all the canteens operational with the 2nd of October 2017. On a whole, each of these take around 4 days to become fully functional.
To maintain hygiene and make these food joints more efficient, authorities are appointing highly-skilled in-charge persons and trained caterers. Dress codes maintained by the service providers include proper dress code, aprons, hand gloves, caps, face mask and shoes.
At present, 101 Indira Canteens are already in operation across various parts of Bangalore city, while several others are on the verge of completion. According to the officials, if things keep on going at the current pace, they will soon be able to get all the 198 canteens operational on or before the given date. While talking to Mr. G Ramesh Babu, the site-in-charge of Indira Canteen in Ward Number153, I got to know that presently they are serving around 400 people each time, which also includes around 100 female members. A major chunk of the crowd includes autorickshaw drivers, daily wagers, hawkers, students, job searcher, and other common people.
In order to maintain and manage the high rush, Ramesh Babu allows a batch of 10 members. Once the 10 members’ batch is done, the next 10 members are allowed inside.
Foods served in Indira Canteens are prepared under high surveillance and they assure great taste. The aroma and heart-warming ambience inside the canteens are truly appreciable. Even the water served inside are treated with the latest filtration process; people can relish both normal and cold water.
Talking about the menu, it simply looks great and extremely healthy. The menu is usually pre-decided by the authority and are as follows:
• Monday – Puliyogre
• Tuesday – Kharabath
• Wednesday – Pongal
• Thursday – Rava Khichidi
• Friday – Chitranna
• Saturday – Vangibath
• Sunday – Kharabath & Kesribath
• Monday to Sunday – White Rice, Veg Sambar and Curd Rice
NOTE: This includes 300gm of rice item, 100gm of curd rice, and 150gm of sambar (same for dinner as well).
• Monday – Tomato Bath and Curd Rice
• Tuesday – Chitrana and Curd Rice
• Wednesday – Vangibath and Curd Rice
• Thursday – Bisi Bele Bath and Curd Rice
• Friday – Menthya Pulao and Curd Rice
• Saturday – Puliyogere and Curd Rice
• Sunday – Pulao and Curd Rice
Indira Canteen is a visionary concept that will soon make Karnataka a 100% hunger-free state. As promised by the present CM, Siddaramaiah, no person in his state should sleep hungry. His government is leaving no stones unturned to provide food at a price that can hardly be believed.
Thinking about the budget or the affordability of the weaker section, Indira Canteen's menu has been fixed at:
• Breakfast: INR 05.00
• Lunch: INR 10.00
• Dinner: INR 10.00
People in these canteens are offered food tokens that are either 'green' or 'blue' in colour. Green tokens are usually given during lunch and dinner, while the blue ones are used during breakfast.
Being a live witness to all these in real-time, I must admit that Indira Canteens are surely bringing smiles to thousands of Bangaloreans. In today’s world, when cost of living is rocketing up, offering three times’ meals at only INR 25 is commendable! And all the applauds goes to Mr. Rahul Gandhi and the visionary Mr. Siddaramaiah.
'Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi' is not just a name; it is a legacy in Indian politics that is still untouched and is admired by many! Born in the Nehru-Gandhi lineage, she grew up to become the first and only Prime Minister who served the country for more than ten years (1966 to 1977).
Though born and brought up in the most leading political family in the country, she was openly criticized as a political prodigy. Be it her opponents or the media, she was not spared by either of them; she was even referred to as the 'goongi gudiya' ('dumb puppet' in Hindi).
However, the strong determination of this self-motivated lady later changed the history of Indian politics. She not only proved her capabilities to run the country efficiently but also played a pivotal role in India's growth and development. And by the end of her term (1977), the entire country started phrasing her as 'India is Indira, and Indira is India’.
Though a star-studded name in the country's politics, Indira Gandhi also had to face the torments of some miscalculated moves and political decisions. It was due to these unfortunate happenings, this robust political figure ended up calling elections in 1977, which later turned harmful for the Congress party.
In the elections, she was opposed by almost everyone including her party cadets who later disassociated themselves to form a new party called CFD (Congress for Democracy). As an effect of all these, the dominant Congress party lost more than half of their seats, and the then 'Janata Alliance' came into power under the leadership of Morarji Desai. Indira Gandhi finally crashed down to her opponent Raj Narain in Rae Bareli in the 1977 elections. Eventually, she lost her party leadership to Yashwantrao Chavan.
To make a come-back and to avenge her defeat, she finally headed to Karnataka's Chikmagalur district. Her decision to contest a by-election from Chikmagalur was in fact called an uncertain decision by her party workers as it was mainly dominated by minority tea and coffee labours from Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Linguistic constraints and exchange of thoughts were considered as the main obstacles.
Despite all these, Indira, once again proved that she's the face of India, and created a national trend by winning from Chikmagalur. This historical win not only fulfilled her political dreams but also carved a new path for her return. The win in Chikmagalur soon witnessed the rebirth of Indira Gandhi, and the Congress came back to power once again in 1980.
While most of the Indian states are now under the strong influence of the Modi government, Karnataka is hardly showing any signs of the 'Ache Din' propaganda! Unlike the other state governments, Siddaramaiah led-Congress government in Karnataka has showed tremendous potential in manoeuvring the state towards growth and development; the Indira Canteens are their latest offerings to make Karnataka a hunger-free state soon.
In addition to the enthusiasm among the common citizens, even the poll-surveys also reveals that Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee will dominate the upcoming 2018 elections. According to surveys, Congress can easily register victory over 120-132 seats out of 225 seats. The chief opposition party BJP can get somewhere around 60-72 seats followed by other regional parties.
However, Amit Shah, BJP party president, recently said that Karnataka will soon become a Congress-free state, and he is confident of BJP's victory over them in the 2018 elections. He also claimed that the party will win over 150 seats and recreate history in Karnataka.
Well, though time will reveal which government will lead the state, but Karnataka really don't seem to be deceived with the 'Ache Din' mantra!
story covered by Moeedul Hussain and a special thanks to Mr. Yarab,
Joint secretary, Congress Pradesh IT cell