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032: Ragi Mudde, Bees, and Mill Workers with Vikram Doctor (Day 2)

Updated: Aug 25, 2022

Gelatinous ragi mudde dabbed in just the right amount of gravy. A sleepy government institute for buffalos in Hisar, Haryana. Former American president Grant’s 1879 tour through famine struck Bengal. The absence of foraged greens in the diets of mill worker wives. Happily pollinating apis cerana bees tended to by ‘Under the Mango Tree’. The patronage of the Maharaja of Indore that sowed the seeds of the global ‘organic farming’ movement. Vikram Doctor seamlessly wove these and many more disparate stories to bring alive the world of Indian Food Policy on the second day of the Food and Politics course.

Doctor underscored that we cannot understand food without understanding ‘hunger’. He urged us to read the 2018 book “Hungry Nation: Food, Famine, and the Making of Modern India” by the history professor Benjamin Siegel for a deeper understanding of the legacy of India’s food policies. Through both his grassroots work, as well as his extensive journalism experience, Doctor illustrated how we have inherited the calamitous “top down” approach from both British and American missionaries, and former colonial administrators. Moreover the disproportionate (and most time sole) emphasis on “yield production” has been another blow to the non-holistic nature of most Indian food policies. How do we take the conversation forward to ensure that the voices of the growers, cooks and consumers are included in the food policy decisions?

Talk conducted online on November 23, 2021 as part of the Studying Food Workshops by Kurush Dalal and Ragini Kashyap.


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