Intergenerational Food Choices in India: Micro-geographies of Exclusion

Authors: BIKRAMADITYA CHOUDHARY*, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Topics: Asia
Keywords: Food, Exclusion, India,
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Food is considered as a matter of choice. A common saying articulates this feeling as “aaprupi bhojan par rupi sringar”; meaning thereby, you eat as per your choice and dress as others expect. In line with this articulated proposition, India is home of millions of cuisines and are in practice across length and breadth of the country. However, in reality, food in India has also been a tool for identification and determination of purity and pollution. India is a highly stratified society, divided into caste groups and their working and social relations somehow get determined on the basis of client-patron relationship (Ghuriye, 1969; Singh, 1977; Srinivas, 1962). Choice of food usually is based on ecological conditions in which an individual reside and also the availability of such food grains which are produced in those ecologies. In a hierarchically organised society, where means of production, i.e. land is owned by a smaller proportion of dominant caste, other depends on the wage.
Over the centuries, consumption of animal products (like, meat and blood) except cattle milk gets associated with the lower caste or impurity. The upper castes, including Brahmins do eat animal products including meat in specific regions of the country, like Mithila, Bengal, Kashmir, etc. but practice restraints during rituals and religious functions and amongst women and elderly . Youths, who eat meat are considered ‘impure’ temporarily. In this paper I will contextualize the notion of purity that is linked to food, which create micro-geographies of exclusion.

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