The government's move to put parotta on a higher bracket than roti under the goods and services tax or GST has angered people on social media, who pointed out that both are similarly prepared flat breads and a staple of most Indian meals.
Bengaluru firm ID Fresh Foods was told by a special court that its products - whole wheat parotta and Malabar parotta with a shelf life of three-five days - were not ready-to-eat as they needed to be heated before they are consumed, meaning they will continue to be taxed at 18 per cent.
Similar items like khakra, plain chapatti or roti, however, are ready-to-eat and are taxed at a lesser 5 per cent, the Authority for Advance Rulings or AAR said.
The matter drew reactions from social media users, including industrialist Anand Mahindra.
"With all the other challenges the country is facing, it makes you wonder if we should be worrying about an existential crisis for the 'Parota.' In any case, given Indian jugaad skills, I'm pretty sure there will be a new breed of 'Parotis' that will challenge any categorisation!" Mr Mahindra tweeted.
Soon, the hashtag #HandsOfPorotta started trending on Twitter.
Some people alleged the different tax brackets were an example of "cultural racism", with many saying roti is mostly consumed in northern India and parotta in the south, while others said it is simply a matter of taxing products under the right categories and such allegations should be avoided.
For many states, like in Kerala, the fluffy, flaky and crisp parottas are not only a household staple but an emotion. From big hotels to ordinary roadside eateries to festivities, this staple is platted everyday and is best eaten with fried meat or poultry, roasted eggs, fish curry or vegetable korma.
Porotta is called 'Farmaish' here in MP and it far more tastier than roti or tandoori. Farmaish served with gravy-fied chicken is heaven!!— Friendlass. (@___VintageSoul) June 12, 2020
anyway 18% gst is way too much #HandsOffPorotta
The Kerala Tourism Department tweeted to ask people to send their favourite parotta recipe.
ID Fresh Foods started in 2005 with a small store selling idli and dosa batter. The company on its website says it has now put home-made meals on dining tables in Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad, among other cities.
The company says it sells nearly eight lakh wheat parottas and Malabar parottas everyday. They have been paying 5 per cent GST, and this had been further clarified to them by the AAR in Maharashtra in 2018. However, after certain audit officials raised concerns again in January this year, they again sought a clarification, this time from the AAR in Karnataka, where the firm was told to pay 18 per cent GST.
ID Fresh Foods co-founder and chief executive PC Musthafa told NDTV that they will appeal to the appellate authority in Karnataka and are confident of a favourable interpretation.
"In today's challenging times, we need more than ever before to build an environment that is conducive to recovery and growth. We have decided to appeal against the recent ruling…" the company said in a statement.