With all the political turmoil taking place in the country regarding the quixotic way the "duronto" minister for railways is working, it is a wonder that Indian Railways (IR) can still come out with useful ideas as reflected by the recent decision to introduce speciality health foods to passengers with some diet restrictions. If this symbolizes the herald a new change, in the face of the recent "sacking" of IRCTC which hitherto was looking after railway catering, it is a welcome move. The million dollar question is whether IR can really deliver the promise and if so how efficient the operation will be?
"The decision came after Railway Board took over the catering business from Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) last week. With the entire catering business under its control, The railways may have proved to be uncaring about safety aspects of its operation but it is now planning to go the extra yard to provide suitable food for diabetics on trains and stations. The menu will be a diabetic's delight -- methi chicken, methi matar malai, pyaj ki roti and sugar-free ice-creamrailways plans to introduce the diabetic menu first in Rajdhani and Duranto trains and later extend it to other mail and express trains. The menu will also include tomato soup, dal hariyali, boiled rice, fish tetul kari and vegetable korma. Along with the main meals, diabetics will also be given the option of choosing tailor-made snacks. The move will come as a blessing to lakhs of people in the country suffering from diabetes as they had to carry their own food while travelling in trains. "We are going to start diabetic menu first in two trains -- Howrah Rajdhani and Howrah Duranto," Derek O'Brien, chairman of the railways' passenger services committee, told TOI. After the proposal becomes operational, passengers booking tickets on Rajdhani and Duronto can give their choice of food in the reservation slip, as the cost of food is included in the fare. Diabetics travelling on other trains can buy special diet during the journey".
The move is all the more remarkable when one realizes that the speciality products being mentioned by the IR are not available readily in the main stream market. If the culinary quality and safety are satisfactory, rail way passengers will ever be grateful to it. Next move should be to think of introducing low far, low salt and low calorie foods as a part of the standard menu so that IR becomes a leader in a new healthy movement in the country fighting against obesity and related diseases.V.H.POTTY