Union Minister Ramdas Athawale kicked up a storm recently after he called for a ban on Chinese food following India-China border violence that resulted in the death of twenty Indian Army personnel in Ladakh.
"Restaurants selling Chinese food should be banned. I appeal to people to boycott Chinese food," Athawale said at a press conference.
The statement caused an instant uproar on social media with many slamming the minister for his thoughtless comment. Many pointed out that though the food was Chinese in cuisine, the people making it or running the restaurants that sell it were Indian. Critics pointed out that by banning restaurants that sell Chinese food, the minister would only be taking away the employment from Indians at a time when the economy is already stressed.
Senior journalist Suhasini Haider took to Twitter to react to the statement. "Putting Indians out of businesses and jobs in the midst of an economic crisis? Conflict is not the time for banal jingoism".
Yet another journalist and fact-checker Mohammad Zubair pointed out that such statements were "dangerous" as many such restaurants were run by people from India's north-east and that such statements may provoke fringe attacks on these communities.
Writer Siddharth Singh also agreed. "Jobless mobs will now go assault some poor Indian restaurant or food cart owner, despite nearly all "Chinese" food in India being as Indian as samosa," he wrote.
Jobless mobs will now go assault some poor Indian restaurant or food cart owner, despite nearly all "Chinese" food in India being as Indian as samosa. https://t.co/IzzfDd8m9i— Siddharth Singh (@siddharth3) June 18, 2020
Putting Indians out of businesses and jobs in the midst of an economic crisis? Conflict is not the time for banal jingoism. https://t.co/oViuJvjDqE— Suhasini Haidar (@suhasinih) June 18, 2020
Yes, please go ahead. Whatever little is left of the economy, smash that too. https://t.co/pp8scKnK5e— Manimugdha Sharma (@quizzicalguy) June 18, 2020
Many recalled Athawale's previous "Go Corona, Go" chant-campaign to fight coronavirus, implying that banning Chinese food in India would be just as inadequate and impractical a response to the India-China border violence as the "Go corona" chants were in fighting COVID-19.
He shouted "Go Corona Go" with the Chinese Ambassador standing next to him. https://t.co/ITp4PxJWBj— Chandru (@ChandrusWeb) June 18, 2020
Go Chowmein, Chowmein Go.— Abijit Ganguly (@AbijitG) June 18, 2020
After "Go Corona Go.." Athawale comes up with "Go China Go.." for "Yo China" restaurants!— Anupam | अनुपम (@AnupamConnects) June 18, 2020
Yet others pointed out that "Indian Chinese" or the version of Chinese cuisine sold in India was not even entirely Chinese but a fusion of Chinese and Indian ingredients and flavours. Many made a call to "save gobi manchurian".
Chilli Chicken, Dragon Chicken, Chicken lollipop, Gobi Manchurian, Honey chilli potato etc are not Chinese food. the people who cook these in Chinese Restaurants/Fast foods in your city are not Chinese, the people who own these Chinese restaurants are not chinese https://t.co/arXWIUOQ4I— அரசன் (@PuliArason) June 18, 2020
indian cook getting boycotted for selling indian chinese gobi manchurian pic.twitter.com/lB48ocPgGI— Sour (@Sour258) June 18, 2020
The Minister for Social Justice, at a period of peak social injustice, fighting China one gobi manchurian at a time. 👏👏👏 https://t.co/XEn0gTYWBL— Prem Panicker (@prempanicker) June 18, 2020
Strategic thought at its subtlest:— Praveen Swami (@praveenswami) June 18, 2020
By boycotting Gobi Manchurian and chilly noodles, made with food grown by Indian farmers, processed in Indian factories, and cooked by Indian workers, we can ruin our own country and thus deny the Chinese no targets to attack https://t.co/f9WP6y8uLO
What nonsense! Indian Chinese is not Chinese Chinese. Hands off my Triple Schezwan 😂 https://t.co/nAotEuwnV8— Prachi Joshi (@DelishDirection) June 18, 2020