Satyasundar Barik

BHUBANESWAR: At a time when sipping tea has become an integral part of daily life in Indian households, a family in the State's capital never opts for tea. Neither does its members suffer from diabetic ailments nor are they incapable of affording it.

What makes them dislike tea? A `protest' to tea - a British symbol - in pre-independence era is still maintained by about 50 members of the Das Family. Though the family, which originally hails from Balasore district, is scattered now, but the last four generations has stayed away from tea.

"Gandhiji had made a call to boycott all foreign goods. I think my father, Late Nilambar Das , must have seen tea as a British contribution to Indian society. He convinced us not to take tea and we followed," septuagenarian freedom fighter Batakrushna Das said. Mr. Das stays in Ashok Nagar area of the city.

Another motivating belief infused at that time was that tea carried nicotine, which was injurious to health, he recalled. However, the Das family do serve tea to guests, as members don't want to impose their conviction on others.A first batch post-graduate from Sevagram Rural University founded by Mahatma Gandhi at Wardha in Maharastra, Mr. Das was taught by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and former Presidents Rajendra Prasad and Zakir Hussein.

He had started a unique school at Tudi Gudia, 30 kilometers from Balasore in 50s. "We tried to implement Gandhian philosophy of self-reliance in the school by incorporating disciplines such as carpentry, fishery, horticulture, spinning and weaving unit and village industry," Mr. Das said. But with the passage of time, the school could not continue with those disciplines.