NDTV’s sagging TRPs seem to have made its star anchors, who were previously confined to their Air Conditioned studios, step out into the real world. And they’re eagerly sharing their discoveries about the fascinating land that is India.
NDTV’s Sreenivasan Jain yesterday took to Twitter to share a “wonderful tradition” that he’d discovered while traveling in rural Haryana. “Yesterday I learnt about a wonderful tradition in Haryana where the driver of any vehicle that pulls up at a dhaba gets to eat for free,” he wrote in wonder. “Like, any amount of khana. (Anyone else heard of this?)” he asked, clearly feeling like Christopher Columbus when he’d first set his eyes on America.
Now as it turns out, Sreenivasan Jain shouldn’t have asked if anyone else had heard of the practice — it could’ve been more useful to ask who hadn’t heard of it. Anyone who has travelled on Indian highways knows that roadside Dhabas regularly offer free meals to drivers to incentivize them to stop over at their outlets. By giving the driver a free meal, dhabas earn the business of the passengers the driver is carrying, and more than make up for the free meal they’ve offered.
Sreenivasan’s inbox was bombarded with replies saying the same thing. “Yes this has been there for decades. Even in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh the Drivers who bring customers are not charged any money. It’s been there since ages. But I normally eat with my drivers on my table itself,” replied a Twitter user.
“Yes of course .. it’ s an old tradition .. also in most of Punjab too .. and drivers of tourist buses who get customers in,” wrote fellow journalist Pallavi Ghosh.
As it turned out, Sreenivasan Jain’s “discovery” was a prevalent practice all across India. “It happens everywhere @SreenivasanJain Ji, atleast I’m sure about north India. It’s a good example of business networking at the ground level,” wrote Pranav Mahajan.
Now Sreenivasan Jain can be forgiven for not knowing about the business practices at Dhabas — he was born with the most silver spoon of silver spoons to a Padma Vibhushan father and a Padma Bhushan mother. Sreenivasan Jain’s father is former diplomat Lakshmi Chand Jain, who’d controversially opposed India’s nuclear tests in Pokhran, and his mother is Devaki Jain, who works on “feminist economics.” As such, Jain is likely more used to swooping across on airplanes than trudging on highways like the plebs he reports on. But what should be more concerning is how India allowed people like Sreenivasan Jain to be their sources of news for years — for someone who appears to have never stopped over on a highway dhaba in a 20-year-long journalism career, it’s staggering how Sreenivasan Jain and others of his ilk managed to become the faces of journalism in India.