Ever wondered about the story behind the food they serve to you on trains? I have, often. And, I had my aha moment a few days ago, while idly surfing the net early one Sunday morning. (Yes, that is a dead give away, isn’t it. That I read commercial circulars of the Indian Railways before breakfast on Sundays clearly shows I have no life whatsoever).
I stumbled upon an old IR circular (2003) from the Railway Board to all General managers, that set out detailed instructions for serving food to Passengers.
The most obvious strand running through the circular was the fine balance between wholesomeness and parsimony expected from purveyors of food on trains. Or as Commercial Circular No 33 of 2003 says, “vegetables supplied along with the meals should be seasonal to make it affordable and also to ensure good quality and freshness.”
I have always believed that the Indian Railways is the only commercial government entity in India that thinks it has anything resembling responsibility to its customer. (Air India marks the other end of the spectrum). And I was glad to find out that the attitude comes from the top. As the Circular says in point (vi) of its Other Recommendations, “menu should definitely have variety and the same menu on lunch and dinner for the day should never be the same’ (bad grammar, good intent. which is the kind of priority I like.)
However, the mysterious workings of bureaucracy are never far in Indian life. And so it is here too. “The existing Janata Khana and Economy Meal have been merged into one category and is called Janata Meal with increased quantity”
If like me, you too have no life, read the full circular here.