Opposition from over 1 lakh people creates the World’s Biggest GM-Free Baingan Bharta

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Feature story - September 12, 2011
A sultry rainy day did not do much to dampen the spirit of hundreds of Delhiites, gathered at Dilli Haat to witness the preparation of the World’s Biggest GM-Free Baingan Bharta. The event, organised by Greenpeace, saw hundreds of people coming together for the cause of a GM-free nation.

The bharta and all those who had gathered to witness its making were opposed to the tabling of Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) bill in Parliament. The bill encourages commercial entry of GM food in India through undemocratic and unscientific ways. Over 1 lakh people signed the petition asking the Prime Minister to stop this bill.

The day started on a positive note with volunteers and Greenpeace activists waking up to brighten Dilli Haat with their presence. Soon, a corner passage of Dilli Haat saw a silent transformation. Caterers and chefs from the Le Meridien set up their full-fledged kitchen and the cooking began.

It felt like an Indian wedding with everyone busy preparing for a grand celebration. This celebration of the World’s Biggest GM-Free Baingan Bharta, was joined in by a group of volunteers and resident welfare associations from across the city.

Chef Davinder demonstrates the perfect receipe for a baingan bhartaThe crowd cheered the chefs as they immersed themselves into roasting brinjals, chopping vegetables and putting utensils in place. The aroma from the ingredients engulfed Dilli Haat, spreading the message of GM-free food and healthy living.

With the busy clamour of pots and pans in the background, Rocky Singh, from the popular television show Highway on my Plate, kept the excited audience engaged. The stage saw environmentalists like Vandana Shiva, Divan Singh and farmer leaders like Yudhvir Singh of Bharat Kisan Union and Chaudhary Ram Karan. All of them shared their views about GM-free campaign in India.

Then Mr Davender Kumar, executive chef of Le Méridien and president of the Indian Culinary Forum, demonstrated the correct way of making the perfect baingan bharta.

Soon the chefs and volunteers making the bharta came out from their little kitchen looking jubilant. The baingan bharta was ready, and it was now time to see if it could be called the biggest ever. A massive cauldron was placed on the weighing scales, and large quantities of the bharta were emptied into it. Everyone waited with bated breath to find out if the World Record had been created.

Limca Book of Records gives the World Record certificate is given to GreenpeaceEvery vessel emptied into the cauldron not only added weight to the final amount but also added to the joy and excitement in the crowd. As the final bowl of the bharta was emptied into the vessel, the scales touched 342.5 kg and there was a burst of applause and cheers from the gathering. The World Record was set, 342.5 kg of pure, organic, unadulterated and GM-free Baingan Bharta.

Dilli Haat exploded into a celebration, a celebration by and for people who stood for a GM-free approach to life. Smitha Joseph from the Limca Book of Records handed over the official certificate to Greenpeace India and its supporters for creating the World’s Biggest GM-Free Baingan Bharta.

Rocky Singh tastes the Baingan BhartaAfter all the talking and cheering, it was time for eating. Everyone had their eyes on the dish and were eager to savour the World Record. Most of them said that it was delicious and many came back for a second and even third helping.

However, the record creating quantity of the bharta was too large for the people at Dilli Haat to finish. So we decided to share the bharta with more people. The food was distributed to an NGO named Dil Se and the housekeeping staff of Dilli Haat.

The distribution of the baingan bharta made the event more participative and fun. The joy of sharing was reflected in the smiles of the people from Dil Se and the housekeeping staff at Dilli Haat.

This World Record only furthers the fight to stop the BRAI bill from being tabled and to keep our food crops safe from the unclean gaze of GM experiments. The threat of GM crops is not over. The BRAI bill, which was stopped because of public opposition, might come back for tabling in the winter session of Parliament.

Meanwhile there are chances that open field trials of these risky crops might take place in the country. Our food is not safe. We have to keep reminding the government and everyone else in this country repeatedly that lakhs of people in this country are opposed to this bill, their opposition has created a World Record.

Story by: Pari Trivedi

Images: © Greenpeace/Sharbendu De