Taking on any chronic problem that plagues a city of Mumbai’s size is often seen as a losing proposition. People are mostly apathetic, the administration is largely unconcerned — often corrupt — and no real, far-reaching change is possible, you are told. For good measure, readers, too, often see causes championed by newspapers as nothing more than gimmicks.
That’s conventional wisdom. And DNA’s Hygiene For Kitchens campaign, now in its second month, is turning that wisdom on its head. The lesson so far is that if there is a real need for change, if that need can be articulated well, and if the consumer can be involved in the process of bringing about that change, change is possible. Eating out is not a novelty any more. By a conservative estimate, half of Mumbai’s population consumes at least one meal a day outside the home. And the numbers will only rise, thanks to changing lifestyles and longer hours at work/study/play.
Food cooked by Maa is becoming rare, not only because people don’t crave for Maa ke haath ka khana any more, but also because many of today’s mums have neither the time nor, truth be told, the ability to cook a full meal.
The downside of eating out is that you are never sure of the quality. We routinely hear of a relative or colleague suffering from food poisoning. Every now and then we read about a case where a large number of people fall ill after consuming something. Yet, such incidents can be avoided with some very simple, cost-effective precautions. Even if it is not a loved one who is cooking for you, you can insist on certain standards of hygiene. It is only when you, the consumer, insist on hygiene that the restaurateur, canteenwallah, street vendor will endeavour to provide it.
That much is clear from the response for hygiene campaign. As the campaign goes on, we look to you, dear citizen, to demand your right. The rest will follow.