UP’s neighbouring state of Uttarakhand is now seeing demands being raised for such squads.

While moral policing is not new to India, what is worrying is the official stamp it has now received.

Bite-sized control

“If a person can eat only two prawns, why should he or she be served six?” India’s food minister Ram Vilas Paswan ask a few days ago. “If a person eats two idlis, why serve four? It’s wastage of food and also the money people pay for something that they don’t eat.” Paswan said the hospitality industry would be asked whether it can restrict the size of the portions “voluntarily” or whether it needed the government to make legal provisions for it.

In short, it looks like the Indian government wants to take charge of how much you can eat, though Paswan later clarified saying that was not the idea.

Prime minister Narendra Modi, during a recent radio talk, pushed for authorities to designate portion sizes for meals at restaurants and hotels. In his Mann Ki Baat programme, Modi termed the issue of food wastage as injustice to the poor.

However, what’s left unanswered is if such one size-fits-all measures could make a dent in a country of 1.3 billion people.   

Beef with eating

Now, what could be worse than lingering hunger after a meal at a restaurant? Death, for sure.

Fear stalks Indians on the streets in most parts of the country now owing to a rising number of reports of vigilante justice against those seen to be consuming or trading in beef or cattle. Mohammed Akhlaq was lynched in the village of Dadri in UP a few years ago. He was alleged to have consumed beef. Senior Modi government officials rushed to the location, only to either defend Akhlaq’s murderers or just sharpen the rhetoric against beef-eating.

The embers of  that murder hadn’t died out when another middle-aged Muslim, this time in Rajasthan’s Alwar, was murdered by a cow-protection squad a few days ago. Again, Rajasthan’s ministers were heard justifying the murderers.

A number of such cases have been reported over the past few years, mostly involving Muslims. Many states have banned beef, some making exceptions for foreigners. The Bharatiya Janata Party, ruling most of these states, has taken pains to convince that such bans wouldn’t be imposed on states in India’s northeast where the party has formed governments or in Kerala where it is trying to make a mark.

But in all other places under the BJP’s control, death comes riding on a cow.

As for the young couple, next Saturday, it plans to… oh forget it.

We welcome your comments at ideas.india@qz.com.

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