Saturday, February 12, 2011


Managing a student hostel is fraught with many problems and no one knows this better than a warden who has the experience of running such a set up. While most problems can be solved provided adequate resources are invested, food is a very difficult area in which universal satisfaction can never be guaranteed. In India many universities have their own hostels and canteens and in most cases the running of these institutions are left to private enterprises as the logistics of food service is not amenable to a bureaucratic system of management. While students depending on hostel foods do not expect the same with home taste, at least some modicum of standard is expected from those running mess services in these institutions. The most frequently heard complaints concern hygiene, sanitation, eating quality and monotony of foods prepared and served every day. Price has assumed importance recently because of the run away food inflation being experienced all over the country. It is left to the students of the University of Pune to raise some sort of banner of revolt to sensitize the university authorities about the travails of eating bad food they undergo every day with no solace coming from any where. Here is a take on that development.

Students on the University of Pune (UoP) campus have demanded that nutritious food be served at the canteens in their hostels. Earlier, their agitation against the hike in rates had forced the four canteen operators on the campus to roll back the prices. However, now, the quality of food is poor, they complain. On Monday, over 30 students from various departments, mostly hostelites, met vice-chancellor Raghunath Shevgaonkar and presented a list of demands. The students had planned a morcha, but dropped the idea as the police have issued guidelines against morchas to administrative buildings, said graduate senate member Shashikant Tiokate. Meanwhile, students' representative Vishwajeet Singh told DNA that the food served in the canteens on the campus is not nutritious. "We demanded that private mess operators not be given entry to the campus due to various reasons," he said.

It is the responsibility of organizations like universities to ensure that the health of thousands of students coming from far away places is not affected by bad food service from quality and nutrition angles and legally students can take recourse to remedial measures through judiciary for dereliction of duty. It is difficult to understand why food service does not get the attention it deserves because a gastronomically disgruntled student can never become an "achiever", no matter how many years one has to spent in the university. It is time that teaching institutions invest in creating decent functional kitchens and modern catering facilities to satisfy the student community vis-a-vis their food needs and reap the benefit of a tranquil campus!.


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