The big takeaway
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Meanings are given in BOLD
Perhaps ( used to express uncertainty or possibility ) Chinese premier Xi Jinping has been reading the Taittriya Upanishad, which explains by incremental ( relating to or denoting an increase or addition, especially one of a series on a fixed scale ) logic that when we waste a single grain of rice, we insult all of creation. Or perhaps, since China is now capitalist, materialistic forces are more compelling ( evoking interest, attention, or admiration in a powerfully irresistible way ) than the philosophy of the ancients.
Thanks to a porkocalypse following the African swine fever of last year, widespread supply chain disruptions ( disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity, or process ) due to the pandemic and a steady decline in agricultural production due to rural-to-urban migration, China faces year-on-year food inflation ( a general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money ) of 13.2 per cent. Whatever the motivation, China is tightening its belt and licking its plate clean, as instructed by Xi.
The premier’s direction is being obeyed ( submit to the authority of (someone) or comply with (a law) ) with the alacrity ( brisk and cheerful readiness ) with which an earlier generation had welcomed Chairman’s Mao’s orders to exterminate ( destroy completely ) creatures which decimate ( kill, destroy, or remove a large proportion of ) grain stocks, like sparrows and mice.
In some provinces, excessive public enthusiasm had caused ecological imbalances and even now, some have taken Xi’s diktat ( an order or decree imposed by someone in power without popular consent ) a little too seriously. A restaurant in Hunan launched a “weight yourself before you order” campaign, which was unfortunately discriminatory, offering more food to overweight men than to underweight women.
It apologised on the weekend. Other trivial ( of little value or importance ) fascisms include the algebraic (n – 1) formula, urging diners to order for one less than the number at the table. And the Indian mathematical innovation, the half-plate, is demoralising ( cause (someone) to lose confidence or hope ) patrons ( a person who gives financial or other support to a person, organization, or cause ) of Chinese takeaways.
But it’s a progressive policy. China has a whole internet subculture of people eating like pigs, and now, their short videos, called mukbang, appear with injunctions not to waste. The People’s Liberation Army is modernising its kitchens to make the last calorie go further, perhaps even in Ladakh.
In short, China has brought to nutritional efficiency the same implacable ( unable to be appeased or placated ) zeal ( great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective ) that has made it the master of artificial intelligence, and the menace ( a threatening quality or atmosphere ) of the South China Sea.