Despite the fact that news of pesticides in Colas far exceeding the standard norms had filtered in three years back, yet, nothing seemed to have shaken up the Government to undertake appropriate action against erring companies.
* The Rajasthan High Court had banned Coke and Pepsi two years back. They have continued to operate in India in contempt of the court order, exploiting their non-Indian status.
* U.S.A had taken stringent action against its civic corporations when it had been proven that drinking water had crossed the accepted norms by a mere 1%. In India presently, the colas have been found to exceed the limit set by a whopping 37% and more, depending on the region.
* CSE, the body which has worked with unswerving dedication to unleash the information of its findings to the media had come under severe scrutiny by the government led by Sushma Swaraj, the Environment minister, when it was the Cola companies that needed to be put under the scanner, indicted and warned.
If one attempts to put things in perspective, what appears foremost is the role of the common man. Even if one were to sideline the average illiterate villager, or ill-informed citizen to who making a living is the prime immediacy, yet, the educated masses need to have self imposed the ban. Turning a blind eye to information and awaiting Governmental banning to expedite the restriction on consumption is downright negligent and irresponsible.
Matters pertaining to health are of personal concern that should be of paramount importance. This is not meant to absolve the officials or the Cola companies of their bounden duty in effecting safety measures of health and hygiene, but citizen initiative would have gone a long way in striking at the roots of the issue. Economic considerations being the sole reason for enterprise, lack of profitability due to result of mass rejection would have dealt with the problem despite Governmental apathy.
A country which has shown laxity in displaying security measures for its teeming millions, is not going to change its spots by showing promptness to redressal of social issues such as public health, in a hurry. Its no surprise that the war waged against the colas would have tilted favourably for the MNC’s. Corruption is no alien to third world countries , is a fact known with much clarity to those who have exploited it to their advantage.
Swami Ramdev, the yoga exponent, making waves for a while now,, had described colas as ‘toilet cleaners’ in one of his public speeches. One expected a fallout that would implicate him sooner or later. After all, this was a direct accusation against major players, with their ‘connections’ in top brackets! Not much later he was in the news, allegedly accused by Brinda Karat of using human bones in his medicines. That he had the suport of leaders and the masses, and emerged clean is not of concern here. What is relevant that the statement made by the swami, is, believe it or not, verified as true.
Now that the media has taken up the cause with much enthusiasm, the BMC has decided to take it off their canteen.
Whether or not the Government and the relevant agencies take stringent measures in dealing with this gross violation of principles, is a matter best left to future reference, especially going by past history. If we understand the implications and far reaching consequences and agree to eliminate consumption of Colas as a whole permanently, or atleast till such time that accepted standards are not complied with, it will prove once and for all that the citizen has educated himself and no longer at mercy of Indian government to spoon feed our preferences to us.
If we show scant respect or low priority to health issues, to expect an inept Government to act as surrogate mother in highlighting them, is downright immature, impractical and Utopian.
The solution is at hand. Vow to say a big ‘yes to Lime water, lassi, lemon tea, jal jeera, panna, coconut water and what have you…
Update: Now that the term “Pesti Cola ” seems ubiquitous, across T.V. channels and blogs and google..It thrills me to state, in an exaggerated nose-up-in-the-air-ish snoot, that ‘Moi” was the author of the this highly succinct analogy of pesticides in Pepsi and Colas ..’Pesti Cola’.