Row over TISS canteen menu

Sparked by demand from students for inclusion of beef after cooking facilities in hostel were withdrawn

Published - August 09, 2014 11:33 pm IST - MUMBAI:

The debate over whether to include beef and pork in the canteen menu of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) hostel, has sparked a controversy, following which a special general body meeting has been called to decide the issue.

A group of students, including tribal students from the Northeast and Dalits, has demanded the inclusion of beef and pork in the hostel’s canteen menu. The demands came around four months ago, after the institute’s administration removed most of the hot plates provided on each of the hostel’s floors; these were used by many students to cook food. The row was fuelled by the recent students’ union elections.

Hot plates removed

“No official reason was given. But we were verbally informed that some students couldn’t bear the stench of food we cooked,” one of the PhD students in the institute told The Hindu .

However, S. Parasuraman, Director, TISS, claimed that a notice was given and the hot plates were removed as many students were cooking independently, instead of joining the hostel canteen. “Also, why should those who do not use hot plates, pay extra electricity bill?” he asked.

The issue was again raised during the recent student union elections, where one of the candidates Simeen Kaleem, who was elected to the president’s post, said she wouldn’t allow beef and pork in the canteen.

Echo on FB

Following the election, a student posted a derogatory comment on Facebook, directed at those demanding beef and pork. “We immediately reported it to the authority concerned inside the institute and he was made to apologise for his comment,” said a student from the Northeast on the condition of anonymity. The Hindu has a copy of the complaint letter.

Other student bodies in the TISS have supported the demand, saying the canteen should serve what the students want to eat.

Mr. Parasuraman said the controversy was a result of increasingly polarised union elections and clarified that the institute would not interfere with the eating habits of the students. “We won’t object if the dining hall management committee comes up with a resolution asking for beef and pork. The students should decide,” he said.

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