Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Delhi citizens were treated with a feast of mouth watering foods commonly prepared and offered by thousands of street food vendors through a "Carnival" organized by their association recently. Though this event was started as a novel experiment a few years ago, it has blossomed into a full fledged gala festival attracting big crowds. It is bit logical to expect exciting crowds because most of them, genuine lovers of street foods, usually keep away from them for fear of health consequences arising out of unhygienic environment, unclean facilities, improper personal hygiene and above all suspect quality of water used. Here is a report on this event at Delhi which was declared an unqualified success by the organizers. 

"What started as a small congregation of 70 to 80 street food vendors at the Constitution Club of India four years ago has bloomed into a large-scale food carnival. Organised by the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), a not-for-profit federation of street food organisations from across the country, the festival hopes to create awareness about the struggles of vendors and dispel the myth that street food can't be hygienic. "We tested the concept with the first few editions. The festival has become very popular since then. Last year, we did a similar event in Patna and this year we have seen demand for the concept in Hyderabad and Bangalore as well," says national coordinator Arbind Singh, who is right in the thick of things, from organising security arrangements to ensuring the wellbeing of participants. "We have six lakh members and they are very important in the urban commodity distribution system. Hopefully, in the next couple of years this festival will become a well-known brand," he adds. NASVI has tried to create awareness about India's delectable street dishes not only within the country but internationally as well. "Last year, we took eight vendors from India to participate in the ten-day long World Street Food festival in Singapore and their food was quite a hit," says programme manager Anurag Shanker".

The Association that represent the street vendors must be applauded for their efforts to upgrade the image of their members through demonstrating how safe are their foods through such events. It is gratifying to hear from them that food festivals of similar nature would be held in all major cities in the coming years for the benefit of citizens there. Also laudable is their attempt to popularize Indian cuisines in other countries through participation in international events. Ultimately the street vendors across the country will have to care for the susceptibilities of their customers and must endeavor to improve their offerings in terms of nutrition, quality and safety. The Association must strive to train these vendors continuously to improve their awareness about the quality and safety of food preparations which otherwise can outsell those from the organized sector restaurants. 


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