We tried the newly opened Spar Hypermarket in Gurgaon today. Like all trysts with super (oops!-hyper) markets, I went in with a list of about ten items and came out with a cart full of shopping. Call it the advantages of choice or you can question whether we really need all the stuff we buy!
Which brings me to my observation about the contents of the shopping cart of the average urban shopper family. Today’s informal survey (sample size 50- yup the new place was buzzing) showed me that a whopping 50-60% of the average carts comprised of chips, namkeen, maggi, aerated drinks, maida biscuits, etc. Of course, to some extent, cart contents did mirror the family composition, but not hugely. For a city that comprises educated salaried reasonable well read people and considering the astounding amount of health related information being belted out to us, I kept wondering that the future is bleak. Very bleak. South Asians, that is US, have the highest risk of diabetes and heart diseases and all the related health problems in the world. The WHO has lowered BMI standards for us and now we need to be thinner and more halth conscious than ever before if we are to expect to lead reasonably normal healthy and happy lives.
Those shopping carts reflected no awareness of this health epidemic, larger than dengue, chikunguniya, swine flu and what have you, that we indians are facing today. Worse, the carts probably reflected apathy, or worse, escapism of these harsh realities. At this time, the planning commission, the government, economists and civil society are waging battles over how poverty should be defined and what the appropriate calorie intake of urban and rural Indians should be to quality them as poor or not poor. At the same time, urban India is wolfing down the excess calories in all the wrong types of food with no thought for their own individual futures, leave alone the collective future of our civilisation.
We need to question our lifestyles in many ways, including what we are buying and eating and how much of it. No harm in a bit of fun, but seriously, when will we learn to take responsibility for ourselves?