Travelling with MindTree’s gardener Subroto Bagchi the other day, he reminded me of a tea-break tête-à-tête 12 years ago, when we had met in Bangalore. It seems I had said that whatever business strategy or the best thing in life we come up with, if an ELA problem arises, existence becomes hell on earth. He remembers that as powerful truth.
What’s this ELA balance, so crucial for life, irrespective of country, politics, religion or economic condition?
Eating, the E factor of ELA balance, is surely our most prior subject. Popular French singer Alain Souchon made famous the song, “On est foutus, on mange trop”, meaning “we are f***ed, we eat too much”. While some control food to retain the beauty of their body, those suffering from illnesses have genuine eating problems. I hope the 21st century’s technology advancement will improve the lot of the world’s 963 million under-fed, so food truly becomes a human right.
In India, taste overpowers any trepidation over food not being hygienic and healthy. Let me illustrate from my professional work. Visiting mom-and-pop stores across the country, I was shocked to find 76 per cent of all edible oil being sold loose and poured into tins or plastic jars that consumers bring with them. Retailers use the same large—sometimes open—containers with taps and funnels, year after year, in their overcrowded small shops infested by rats and cockroaches. It’s deplorable that three-fourths of Indian consumers, their doctors and nutritionists, are oblivious to this unhygienic oil usage in daily cooking.
A renowned doctor explained that in India, dietetics does not factor in the medical studies curriculum. So there exists no structured discipline about diet in doctors’ recommendations. Nor is there any stringent government regulation, unlike in developed countries, towards a nationwide programme for the upkeep of people’s health. When will we make a habit of eating hygienic food?
Let’s enter the L factor through the unpredictable distance Indian truckers cover in their everyday life. Our first priority should again be to ingrain in them a sense of hygiene. Here’s why. Covering the country’s every corner, lorry drivers stay long days away from home largely in badly-engineered trucks, on miserable roads and through various weather conditions. They catch naps in highway dhaba string cots, try to meet impractical arrival time deadlines, and eat in cultural regions they are unused to. In this harrowing journey, a trucker’s only