News

Supreme Court in India Proposes Ban on Street Food in Indian Capital

India's Supreme Court has proposed a ban on hawkers (street vendors) who cook food at roadside stalls in New Delhi - a city famed for the hot, spicy snacks available on its pavements. Anjana Pasricha reports from the Indian capital that residents have reacted with dismay.

It is lunchtime on a cold winter day, and dozens of hungry people have drifted out of their offices in Delhi for a hot snack.

They do not have to go far, hawkers are preparing a range of culinary delights along a tiny road tucked between two office blocks in the heart of the city. On offer are deep fried dumplings known as samosas, a popular spicy dish called chaat, and stuffed Indian breads known as parathas.

But these street-side treats may soon be a thing of the past if a recent proposal of the Supreme Court is enforced. As part of a long study of urban reform with other organizations, the Supreme Court says street vendors will be confined to small pockets of the city. They will have to cook the food they sell at home, and serve it pre-packed to customers.

The proposal is a bid to clean up the Indian capital's streets, which are dotted with hawkers.

The suggestion has not gone down well with residents, whether they are students, office workers, housewives or migrant laborers.

A dietitian, Preeti Aggarwal, is enjoying the treats with her husband and three-year-old son. She wails at the thought of not being able to have a spicy plate of chaat at a roadside stall.

"We feel like body without soul. We [are] born in this country. We really enjoy, we really relish chaat and all, our system is used to this," she said.

Indeed, customers here have enjoyed food prepared in front of their eyes for years. Most of them are like Jaskaran Singh Saidana, who swears allegiance to the stalls, calling their food mouth-watering, affordable and hygienic.

"Pau bhaji [a potato and vegetable dish] and all we can't have in shops. They are very much [more] expensive [than] from the stalls. They are not very tasty also as we get in these stalls." said Saidana.  "We don't know what they are doing in kitchens. This thing they are cooking in front of me, for me this is hygienic."

These roadside stalls are not just favored by the middle class. They are also frequented by tens of thousands of migrant workers such as Tilak Bist.

Bist says it is possible for him to have a meal at these stalls for just a few rupees (a quarter of a dollar). He says moving these hawkers will hurt low-income earners like him.

Those threatened with closure are also at a loss. Many stalls have been in the same family for generations. Bunty Singh says he knows no other business than deftly cutting fruit, squeezing it with lemon, and topping it up with special spices to make it more palatable for Indians.

Singh says his business will suffer if the proposal is implemented. He says customers will not buy packaged fruit chaat, because they will doubt it is fresh.

So far there is no official reaction to the Supreme Court proposal. Nevertheless, residents Raj and her husband Vishal Mirchandani are getting ready for the worst.

The couple says they have come for a last snack because they fear the stalls might disappear any time.

Delhi residents have good reason to feel nostalgic. Even guidebooks direct tourists to the city's historic old Delhi neighborhood to sample the roadside pan-fried parathas (Indian bread) as an essential part of the Indian experience.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs