Now, if you stuck with the guidelines, usually spelt out so clearly that any half-wit could understand them, the chances are you would lose weight, as you would on any careful eating plan—but 'if' is of course the hardest word in this sentence.
Because there haven't been desi books worth the read, diet-book junkies have largely had to survive on Western bestsellers, which is harder work than it sounds. It means trying to relate to the woes of case study Katie A whose grandmother in Pennsylvania fed her only processed and packaged foods and goodies from the candy shop because she was too busy running her business. Oof, these Americans, you tsk-tsk virtuously as you read. Or then, you scratch your head wondering what to substitute for steak tenderloin and where to find extra-light Laughing Cow cheese. (The latter, prescribed by a wildly popular American diet, has now come to be stocked by upmarket Indian grocers, and at least one is known to nod knowledgeably and say, "Accha to aap South Beach pe hai" when customers ask for it).
After such absurdities, what bliss to pick up a cheap-and-cheerful bag of roasted channa for your mid-morning low-glycemic-index snack and read about compulsive fad dieter Kedar ("arre 15 to 16 nimbu squeeze karne ka aur peene ka, kya cleanse hota hai total system") and his bewilderment after a lecture on nutrition from Rujuta ("Matlab yeh sab mehnat karke mein to ch***** ban gaya! Sorry madam"). With, one suspects, generous assistance from her savvy editor Chiki Sarkar, this diet guru has got not just the advice but also the tone right.
Where this talented duo seem to have overdone it is in their dependence on Bollywood tittle-tattle to sell the book. Kareena Kapoor is mentioned not less than three times on the cover (she being Rujuta's client), the book is dedicated to her, has a foreword by her and has an afterword devoted to her, in which Rujuta reveals how "normal and real" she is (reminding her in that respect of another client, Anil Ambani), what she ate on which shoot and how she made her momentous journey from thin to thinner. Now, we all know Bollywood sells, but still, it is a bit of a letdown to have your newly discovered fount of nutritional wisdom jump off her pedestal and turn into a groupie. Rujuta, the next time you write a book—and I do hope you will—please cut the flab. You Can Do It.
Fabulous review, Ms Puri (Books, Jul 20). Want to buy and read this book.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
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