One of the prominent newspapers covering the recent visit of President Obama to Mr Modi featured the lunch hosted by Government of India at the Hyderabad House. The lunch menu included Shatwar ka Shorba, Shrimp Karavalli, Neza Kabab, Mahi Sarson, Bhuna Gosht Boti, Mixed Vegetable Kalonoji, Gujarati Kadhi, Matar Pulao, Gajar ka Halva, Gulab Jamun, Fresh Fruits ending with South Indian Coffee/Herbal Tea.
Some said that this Menu was a reflection of Modi’s geo-political preferences and deserves a deeper analysis. I was also told that the menu was fast becoming a model for all high level weddings in Gujarat. All top chefs in Gujarat were practicing hard to do a fine job with these menu items. Books were written and videos were produced especially for housewives who wanted to please their husband’s bosses with the Obama-Modi or the OM Lunch Menu. I called on my Professor friend to discuss the menu in these perspectives.
The Professor pooh poohed my observations. He said that a lot gone behind the lunch and very few know about it. He then asked me to come to our usual coffee shop for a long session. “Come with a pack of cigars for me” he said. “I will give you some amazing dope – all top secrets”
When we took our seats, he lighted his cigar, took a deep puff and said- “Prasad, I was the Chief Consultant appointed to plan this lunch by none else than Mr Modi himself. As soon as Obama’s visit got fixed, I was called by the PMO to work on the Lunch Project as an important National Mission. My institute relieved me from all teaching responsibilities. The PMO gave me unlimited budget to hire staff, take on travel or conduct/ sponsor any studies or research as needed. I had to meet Mr Modi every week in his personal gym while he used to be on the tread mill and therefore would only listen and not speak”
I could not comprehend how could a Lunch Project be equivalent to a National Mission. Looking at my jinxed face, the Professor continued
“Please understand the gravity of the Lunch. Take the venue itself. Obama is used to eat only in the Green Rated Buildings. Six months ago when the lunch was fixed the Hyderabad houes, it was not a Green Rated building. So I commissioned an agency of national repute to assess the building and come up with an action plan for Green Retrofitting. This plan got actually implemented and today we are saving at least 1.5 million Rs of electricity bill every month. This experience led to a national program for building retrofitting following an aggressive business model. Do you know that four metros of the country are implementing this program, saving around 10,000 MW of power and 50,000 tons of GHG emissions on annual basis? The Green Building programs earlier focused only on green-field or new constructions – successful greening of Hyderabad house triggered retrofitting of the existing buildings – that was most needed.
I was impressed.
“Now take the Lunch Menu itself. For this lunch, all the vegetables sourced for cooking were brought from local organic farms. Obama eats only organic food and gets a skin rash and an upset stomach if non-organic food is eaten. So I went to the organic farms personally to check. I realized that many of these farms did not have formal certification. So I developed a national program. This program included development of criteria, establishment of laboratories for testing, raise consumer awareness and impart education, provide financial incentives for promotion of organic food etc. Next week, after the Obama lunch, Mr Modi will be announcing National Program for Organic Farm Certification that will be operated by the Agricultural Ministry. In the next 10 years, Indians will get only organic food!
I was about to ask that getting just food first was more important than organic, but the Professor was in no mood to listen.
“Design of the menu itself was a complex mathematical exercise. We were told that the total calorie intake for Obama was to be 1500 and the bread units were to be between 7 to 8. (I later found out that bread unit parameter was relevant as Obama has a mild diabetes). So I set up a 0-1 Mixed Integer Programming optimization problem with Multiple Objectives. My problem statement considered 107 possible dishes or food items and picked only those 11 that added to 1500 calories and 7.5 bread units! With this application experience, I got a mobile phone application developed. Given the rising number of incidence of diabetes in cities in India and the growing serenade lifestyles, this application will help the citizens immensely. By next 2 years you will see that all Lunch and Dinner menus in India will be based on my optimization algorithm. There will be a fall in the diabetes incidences in urban India”.
I was overwhelmed by Professors national vision. Taking an ordinary lunch (that’s what I thought) to the mode of national missions was something too far fetched …
The Professor was extinguishing his cigar – “and many more such things Prasad he said. The napkins used on the Lunch table were as per the GOTS standard. If a conventionally bleached and finished napkin is used then formaldehyde sitting on the fabric gets leached as you sweat. Obama is very allergic to such fabrics and sweats profusely even in a room with 220C. So I flew to the GOTS headquarters in the Netherlands and got the napkins GOTS certified. I then developed with the Ministry of Textiles a National Eco-labelling Program. This program is expected to help the textile industry (and especially those coming from Gujarat) to meet the international eco-labelling requirements. This will lead to increase in exports to the EU and Americas by a whopping 30% over the next 2 years. As a side benefit, health and safety of the consumers will also improve”.
I could now clearly see how one lunch with Obama was triggering smart sustainable growth in India. Sadly, few knew that my Professor friend was behind this transformation,
I had a number of questions though and wanted to learn more about other ramifications. So I called Professors office. “Oh he is not available. And not for the next six months” his secretary said in a tired voice (must be telling this to the numerous callers asking for her boss). When asked about his whereabouts and reasons for a sudden disappearance – she said “Actually, he has strict instructions not to tell anyone – but only to you Dr Modak. Government of France wants to get on to smart sustainable growth. To achieve this goal, the French Government is hosting a lunch for Mr Obama and Professor has been appointed as the Chief Consultant. He will stay in Paris for the next six months”
God knows how many such lunches Obama will need to join if the United States of America wants the world to get into sustainable development for a change – I exclaimed
Cover image sourced from www.ndtv.com
Note: This piece is a fiction and NOT a real story. No offence to Obama, Modi or the PMO – only pun intended. I am writing this note as some of my blog readers wrote to me asking whether “the Professor” was indeed hired by the PMO! I wish he was!