June 22, 2013
A few months ago, I lay on my couch, munching a packet of Lays potato chips, and watching its main ingredient – the potato, become famous in parliament and on TV. Its size was the subject of a detailed discussion, even as its producers, consumers, and traders, vied for center stage on the floor of the house.
The irony – it figured in a debate that was a political, economic and sociological hot potato. By the end of the debate and vote in the Rajya Sabha, I was convinced that FDI in retail is the way forward… but for all the wrong reasons. After six Lays packets, I was feeling as prosperous as the potato farmer, albeit for different reasons.
Emerging from the Andes four centuries ago, the potato, quickly became a world favorite – it is the fourth largest crop in the world and emerging as a dominant crop in China and India where a third of the world’s crop is harvested. But it is not a star for nothing.
As a vegetable, what adds to its charm, is its ability to be a useful, healthy, sometimes staple, sometimes alternate, belly companion in any environment from the bar (French fries) to the Vegetarian Mess (Aloo Sabzi), from the gourmet restaurant (Aloo Dum) to the Fast Food Joint (Aloo Tikki / Aloo Chaat) and of course my living room. It helps brew the Russian favorite, Vodka, and is a healing and soothing balm to burnt skin caused by a variety of factors, from protecting honor to frying the potatoes itself.
The potato can no longer hide its darker side behind its peel or its many twinkling eyes. It doesn’t need a label “Temptations” to attract its biggest customers – children. “You can’t eat just one” is no longer a myth. It is stark reality. And like its biggest fan, the TV, it’s converting our children into 3D children – Dormant, Docile and Diabetic and possibly, in the near future, we will require a debate on 51% dose of FDI in the health care sector too.
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