Bad News for the Chapati Dude

The good old Beeb brings us distressing news from the subcontinent of India. An estimated 300,000 street food vendors in Delhi may have to shut down their carts, shacks, stalls, and other assorted miniature dining facilities in the face of a court order that bans the cooking of food at stalls along the roadside.

The cause of the court order is, on the surface, fairly reasonable—cooking conditions are often, to put it lightly, unhygienic. But this appears to be a case where the solution—damaging or bankrupting hundreds of thousands of small businesspeople—is far worse than the problem (untold thousands of cases of sour stomach and food-borne illness).

If the court order is the sharp end of a wedge of reasonable regulations and inspections designed to bring some sense of hygiene to roadside mini-diners, it might not be an entirely bad thing. But if enforced literally, it threatens to have a catastrophic impact on the cultural flavor of Delhi—and on the livelihoods of thousands of sidewalk vendors.