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40. Vanaspati and Ghee

Sardar Sir Datar Singh has been putting up a fight on behalf of the cow in India. The cow includes the buffalo. In that case both can live. If the buffalo includes the cow then both die. "The cow is the mother of prosperity." To understand how this is so, the reader should see Shri Satish Chandra Das Gupta's two instructive volumes.1 Here I want to confine myself to ghee which is in danger of being swamped by Vanaspati, as the so-called vegetable ghee is called. In reality ghee is pure animal product. One thoughtlessly uses the expression vegetable ghee or Vanaspati, but it is a contradiction in terms. Sardar Datar Singh has shown in a considered note that the sale of Vanaspati has risen from 26,000 tons in 1937 to 137,000 tons in 1945, i.e., it has increased more than 400 per cent during seven years. Pari passu the ghee industry has declined. Those who would study the whole note should procure a copy from Sardar Datar Singh or the Goseva Sangh in Wardha. I condense below the Sardar's conclusions

1. Vanaspati as an article of diet is a very poor substitute for ghee. It not only lacks absorption by the human system, but has no vitamin potency.

2. Due to its similarity with ghee in texture and flavour, most of it is being used as an adulterant or is passed off as genuine ghee and is therefore a great menace to ghee.

3. Due to great margin of profit in this industry, it has developed from 26 thousand tons per annum in 1937 to 105 thousand tons in 1943 and there are proposals afoot to at least double this production in the near future.

4. The ghee industry is India's greatest cottage industry involving production of 23,000,000 maunds of ghee per annum at a cost of one hundred crores of rupees.

5. The destruction of the ghee industry will not only adversely affect the welfare of the cultivators but it will have a very deleterious effect on the cattle industry upon which the prosperity of the whole nation directly depends

In order to overcome the difficulties explained above, the following remedial measures are suggested:

1. If due to some reasons the Government cannot actually ban the manufacture altogether of Vanaspati, it must at least be brought under strict control immediately.

2. All manufacturers, and wholesale and retail dealers of Vanaspati should be licensed. Such persons should not be permitted to trade in or stock ghee on their premises.

3. It should be made compulsory to colour all Vanaspati at the source of its manufacture in India and to colour all such imported product immediately on its landing at an Indian port. Manufacturers must mix ten per cent of til oil with Vanaspati. The advantage of this would be that if pure ghee is adulterated with Vanaspati containing 10 per cent til oil, the detection will become extremely simple. The presence of til oil can be most easily detected by well-known chemical reactions.

4. The addition of synthetic essences to give Vanaspati a sem­blance of ghee should be prohibited.

5. Persons selling food production in the preparation of which they use Vanaspati should be required, under marketing law, to display a sign to that effect. The presence of Vanaspati on the premises not displaying the sign should be made an offence under law. This will eradicate the evil of Halwais and confectioners using Vanaspati for their preparations and passing them off as made from genuine ghee.

6. Vanaspati should not be allowed to go in the market under names such as 'Vegetable ghee' or 'Vanaspati ghee' or any other name which is apt to deceive the customer as to its real origin or composition.

7. Vanaspati should not be allowed to be marketed in packages of the same pattern as used for packing ghee and all packages containing Vanaspati should be distinctly labelled.

It is clear that the mischief arises principally from the greed of the very persons who worship the cow. Vanaspati is wholly superfluous. Oils may be refined of injurious property, but they do not need to be solidified nor need they be made to look like ghee. An honest manufacturer will not stoop to counterfeits. The market is flooded with them. Counterfeit coins are heavily punishable. Why not counterfeit ghee, since the genuine article is much more precious than coins? But the sovereign remedy lies in all- round honesty among dealers who are in a hurry to be­come rich even at the cost of the health of the nation.

New Delhi, 8-4-1946

Harijan, 14-4-1946

[1] The Cow in India, Vol. I, Rs. 10. Vol. II, Rs. 7, both together Rs. 16. Khadi Prathishthan, Sodepur, Calcutta