Indian hospitality industry

The food and beverage industry in India traces its roots to the traditional community feasts and the movement of people on pilgrimage thousands of years ago. Most people were on the move primarily for preaching religion and hunting. During those days, people took shelter under trees when they were away from their homes and depended on natural sources for their food. Their lives were endangered by wild animals and wayside robbers, which forced them to look for a place that assured them safety, accommodation, and food. Dharamshalas and chatrams came up to protect the lives of travelers form the animals and robbers. These were buildings where travelers could stay free of cost. The travelers were also provided stables and sheds for horses and bullocks carts, respectively, free of charge. They were given food and accommodation at no cost during the rule of king.
The barter system of transaction was slowly introduced and this system motivated people to travel for trade, mainly of livestock, which later expanded to food grains, clothing , tools, and other goods. Traders used to share accommodation with the owner of the house and were given meals and drinks.
India has been subject to influxes of people through its history, some coming with arms to loot and conquer, others moving in to trade or to settle down. The country was able to absorb the impact of these intrusions because it was able to assimilate and tolerate foreign ideas and people. The outsiders who came to India during the course of its history include
Greeks under Alexander the great
The kushanas from central Asia
The Mongols under gherkin khan
Muslim traders
Invaders from Middle East and central Asia
Finally British and other Europeans
It was during the mughal era that sarais were developed to provide accommodation to travelers which were later converted to inns and western style hotels during British rule.
European visited the country to trade for the finest cotton as well as spices. Eventually the British colonized the region. They introduced their cuisines, the skill of making wines and distilled drinks and eating habits. Table etiquettes and the art of eating with cutlery were learnt.
People of India in general did not prefer dining out till early 1960s. They always carried with them home made food to the work place, schools, and while travelling. Even today, some people carry food wherever they fo out. Perhaps this could be one of the reason for dabbawalas, who are food vendors in south India people used to buy packed food such as tamarind rice, curd rice, from food vendors. In north India bhojanalayas served local dishes especially roti, sabji and salad.
Most of the restaurants of 1960s were not much concerned about hygiene or serving food at right temperature.
Limited items were prepared beforehand, displayed in the shelves, and served till stock got exhausted.
The attitude of the restaurateur or mess keeper was “take it or leave it”.
There was unavailability of resources and the food was basically cooked on coal, only the luxury hotels have privilege to cook on gas.
The development of catering in India is mainly attributed to the British, who introduced hotels and restaurants similar to ones in Europe. They also established resorts in hill stations. The rapid development of transportation especially the railways in the mid nineteenth century enabled people to move in large numbers. This led to the development of small lodges and restaurant in and around the stations to cater the needs of travelers.
Reputed hotel like Taj, the oberoi and the ambassador were well established when India became independent. After independence hospitality industry grew at a faster rate.
Indian tourism Development Corporation was set up in October 1966 with the objective of developing and expanding tourism infrastructure in the country and thereby promoting India as a tourist destination.
The ministry of tourism, government of India, gave top priority to the development of manpower to meet the growing needs of hotels, restaurants and other hospitality based industries. For this purpose 21 institute of hotel management and 10 food craft institute were established by the end of 1980s.
In 2002 the ministry launched a programme called capacity building for service providers (CBSP) to train persons engaged in small hotels, dhabas, eating joints and other operations.
For more information read food and beverage service by R. singaravelan (oxford publication)


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