Work late, eat free poha: Free food plan for duty beyond office hour

Work late, eat free poha
Ananya Sengupta

New Delhi, Aug. 2: Bureaucrats who stay back late at work and fret their plate is always full can look forward to a reward – a plate full of “healthy snacks”.
Free plates of poha (light-fried flattened rice) and sprouts will be dished out as part of an incentive plan for the officials, still reeling under strict punctuality and attendance rules since the Narendra Modi government took charge over a year ago.
The free snacks will initially be for the babus in the department of personnel and training (DoPT) staying back at least an hour beyond duty time – 5.30pm for senior bureaucrats and 6pm for others.

Sources said the free-food plan would soon be extended to all the ministries. The department of personnel is the nodal body for the estimated 1.3 lakh central government employees.
But many were not smacking their lips yet at the thought of the poha and the sprouts, loath to give up their favourite samosas and pakoras for the healthier options.
“I don’t know what to say. First, come on time, then, do yoga, then this. What I eat is my business. If I work out in the morning, why can’t I have pakoras in the evening? We are old enough to decide what we want to eat,” one bureaucrat complained.
He was worried whether the latest order meant his favourite snacks would be out and was relieved when he learnt the samosas would stay on the canteen menu.
“The idea is to promote healthy eating. We took this initiative for those who stay back at work,” said a senior official in the DoPT.
But the “healthy food” diktat is not limited to overtime “freebies”. In May, the DoPT “recommended” that “certain healthy/light and nutritious snacks” be put on the menu in all central canteens. The emphasis was on vegetarian dishes – vegetable soups, vegetable cutlets, pakoras, bonda (chops), soy snacks and upma.
Gujarati delicacies like dhokla, khakhra and poha are on the list too, as are mishti doi, plain curd, nimbu pani, lassi and chhach (butter milk), ice cream and shrikhand. The new food rules also apply to the President’s secretariat and the Supreme Court canteen.
Some couldn’t swallow the order. “What’s next (to be regulated)? Food we get from home? That too has to be vegetarian?” asked another bureaucrat. The sources said the “high-thinking and low-calorie” ideal had left some senior ministers chafing, too.
Some of them recalled longingly the bowls of cashew, gulab jamuns and samosas that were passed around at cabinet meetings when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was Prime Minister.

Read at: The Telegraph

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