Tea, milk or lassi — is the beverage war worth it?

April 26, 2012

From a hefty trade deficit to shocking child malnutrition, there is no dearth of social or economic problems to be dealt with in India. Yet in the midst of all these issues, the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission has, in his wisdom, decided to wage a beverage war in India.

Montek Singh Ahluwalia wants to declare tea as the national drink of India by next year to commemorate the birth anniversary of India’s first indigenous tea planter who was also part of the 1857 mutiny against British rule.

Ahluwalia’s declaration has already sown the seeds of another mutiny in India. Milk producers have thrown down the gauntlet, and are demanding that the “honour” should go to, well, milk.

Lassi (buttermilk) drinkers in Punjab argue the distinction should go to the original Indian drink, not something which is a British legacy.

It seems only a matter of time before the filter coffee, lemonade, coconut water, mango juice or whisky drinkers jump on to the bandwagon as well.

Or would they?

After all, things have not gone well for many other title holders. The population of the Bengal Tiger, India’s national animal, has dwindled alarmingly in the past few decades. Field hockey, India’s national sport, is defined by inefficiency and mediocrity. The Ganga, India’s ‘holiest’ river, is also perhaps one of the dirtiest in the world.

So maybe being a national anything in India does not bode so well. Perhaps the wisest course of action for other non-tea drinkers should be to stay mum and pray for long-lasting obscurity for their beverage.


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does it really matter? we ARE the largest tea drinker in the world though. and we consume more tea than milk or lassi or any juice.

Posted by vermap400 | Report as abusive

If Bengal Tiger was not the National animal, I think it would have gone Cheetah’s way. If Field Hockey wasn’t a National Game, we would have no Indian team playing in Olympics since 1990. If Ganges wasn’t a Holy river, it would have turned into a septic drain by now. Giving something a National status helps if it doesn’t cure. Yes, there’s no point in giving tea the national status. Indians drink tea in a way that people call it spoiled tea, by adding milk to tea. Now for this sole reason tea should become a national drink, I don’t think so.

Posted by abhi1498 | Report as abusive

Well, the Plannin Commison knows best. It does so much of research into any given issue that we cant question its authenticity. When PC can decide that the BPL limit is Rs.29, then who can argue if it wants Tea as the national drink. Next what, they national food?

Posted by gautam.maitreya | Report as abusive

Orange or lemon juice, I believe, should be declared a national drink for many political as well social leaders in India nowadays observe ‘fasting’ as a routine exercise to demand attention to their cause. They always sip orange or lemon juice as a mark of ending the protest.

Posted by maGiK | Report as abusive