Haryana to launch low-cost eateries soon

Tamil Nadu’s Amma Canteens provide food for thought


February 28, 2017

/ By / New Delhi

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Low-cost eateries in India are catching everybody’s fancy and Indian politicians are no exception. For the last four years, more than half a dozen states have been providing low-cost eateries and latest to join the bandwagon will be Haryana that will provide cooked meals at unimaginably low prices.

It all started in 2014 when the then Tamil Nadu chief minister, J Jayalalithaa, kicked off low- cost eateries called, ‘Amma Canteen’. Such a move not only won her admirers in her home state, but also inspired other chief ministers to consider low-cost eateries for their states.

Now the BJP-ruled Haryana is all set to replicate Tamil Nadu’s ‘Amma Canteen’ concept offering breakfast and meal for INR 5 and INR 10 respectively. At a high-level meeting presided over by Chief Minister Manonar Lal Khattar in Chandigarh, the proposal for a low-cost eatery was discussed last week.

Khattar has asked his bureaucrats to finalise the scheme within a month through the best possible option for providing affordable food to the poor, especially labourers, after examining schemes run in other states.
Mandarins from Haryana may tour to different parts of the country to study the scheme. On top of their touring itinerary should be Tamil Nadu, where Amma Canteens offer idli and pongal for breakfast, three varieties of pre-mixed rice dishes for lunch, and chapattis served with daal for dinner. The chapattis come for INR 3 each with free daal.

Since Jayalalithaa launched the ‘Amma Unavagam’ in 2013, government representatives from Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan and even Egypt have been treated with meals at these low-cost eateries. They have visited these canteens with a view to replicating them back in their states.

If the ‘Amma Canteen’ is popular in Tamil Nadu, it is ‘Anna Canteen’ in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. It was launched in June 2016 by Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu in memory of ex-chief minister and his father-in-law, N T Rama Rao.

In the newly-carved out state of Telengana, meals are sold for INR 5 and are available at 50 kiosks in Hyderabad, and in few select cities.

In neighbouring Odisha, Chief Minister Navin Patnaik had launched the ‘Ahar Yojana’, a food subsidisation programme to provide cheap lunch to the urban poor at INR 5. It was inaugurated on April 1, 2015 on Utkal Divas. The actual cost of the food is around INR 20 but is subsidised to INR 5 with financial assistance from the Odisha Mining Corporation. It is targeted at more than 60,000 people per day.

Up north, a few states have embarked on low-cost eatery programmes as well. Rajasthan chief minister, Vasundhra Raja, launched ‘Annapurna Rasois’ in 2016, a scheme offering breakfasts at INR 5 and meals at INR 8 per plate. The menu includes delicacies made of wheat, rice, corn, nutritious grains and vegetables. Staple Rajasthani dishes, such as Gehuka Mitha Khichda, Besan Gatta Pulao, Jawarka Mitha Khichra and Dal Dhokli are also a part of the fare.

In Jharkhand, the ‘Mukhyamantri Dal Bhat Yojana’ (chief minister’s dal rice scheme) was launched by the then chief minister, Arjun Munda, in 2011. Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, in December 2016 announced that ‘Deendayal Kitchens’ would be launched in select cities of the state, so that construction workers can get meals at a mere INR 5 per person. Though some economists may mock how such a populist scheme may drain revenue out of the treasury, it has won accolades from others.

‘An Uncertain Glory – India and its Contradictions’ — economist-philosopher and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has devoted almost ten pages to singing Tamil Nadu’s praise for its efficient delivery of public services.
“Tamil Nadu’s capacity for innovation and creative thinking in matters of public administration is an important example for the entire country,” Prof. Sen and Jean Dreze express through their book.

No wonder, other states are getting their food for thought from ‘Amma Canteens’!

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