Al-Avalathi's Life (Al-Avalathi is the last Mallu to go to the Gelf)
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Posts from — August 2006

Choking the colas

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Disclaimer: I am not a communist. I may sound one in this post. That is purely to put the point across. Some facts are facts, we should admit that.This is an answer to Vandhana

The Cola giants have been facing a bad time in Kerala ever since the Plachimada issue came up.In this case, Coca Cola was accused not only of ground water exploitation but also of distribution hazardous waste as fertilizer to people around the bottling plant.No agency nor the company has been able to come up with the reason for Cadmium content in the “fertilizer” supplied by the company to the poor Plachimada populace.The government that gave the licence to the plant or the company itself should have foreseen the repercussions of exploiting ground water in a state like Kerala with a very high density of population (819 persons per km).

This case is sub judice and the as of now the plant is still operational(as I have understood from various news reports, I may stand corrected). In a similar move, the people of Pudussery panchayat in the same Palakkad district voiced their opinion against the Pepsi bottling plant and the panchayat annuled the licence. These are old stories.

I wonder why don’t these two companies think for a moment before investing in Kerala. No, I am not talking against the state! Whatever said and done, no industry that affects the ecological/social system in Kerala can survive in the state. This has more to do with 2 factors, the high density of population and a very high literacy rate. A high literacy rate has made sure that every single Malayalee knows what his rights are,what his duties are.He knows when to raise his opinion. And most of the times he goes overboard raising his opinion for even the slightest mistake that he finds around him.

The non mallu media may mock at Mallus being creators of trade unions and associations.Understand the fact that voice is heard better when they are together. Synergy is better than mere summation. Literacy and better educational scenario has made an average Malayalee aware of the socio,economic,geopolitical sitation across the world.Even years before the internet was born and the world was far from flat,one could see heated debates going on in chayakadas(Tea shops) or Barber shops(Hair cutting salons as they are know now)on what is happening in Romania or USA. This enlighenment was partly due to the communist movement that swept across the state and the fact that however right or left a malayalee is, he is slightly skewed to the left!

Believe it or not,its only the left that makes you think! (Pun intended) And there is a very high density of population!This is a factor not much discussed when it comes to developmental issues.No industry that affects the ecological and social fabric can prosper in the state. A cola bottling plant will require gallons of water and would deplete the ground water table.The companies should have thought about this,or the government should have warned them before they set foot in the state. Do not know if it was mere coincidence or a concerted effort by the flag bearers of our social issues like Vandana Shiva or Medha Patkar, that CSE came out with their first report on persiticides in cola when the Plachimada issue was burning!.That was the death bell of colas in Kerala. Sales dropped.They stopped advertising(could not!!!) on mallu TV. No channel was ready to advertise any of the soft drinks. Mammootty, the mallu superstar pulled out of an endorsement of Coca Cola.That is the past.

Fast forward to the present. The second CSE report has come indicting the cola companies of selling products that contain pesticides 200 times the permissible limit! The stage is perfect in Kerala.The left is in power.[Had it not been the left also, a mass agitation would have made the UDF government take an anti Cola step(as they managed to do in the Plachimada issue)] The CSE report II is out.States across the nation are banning colas at selected locations be it schools or govt. offices. Inspite of an anti Cola wave that is still on in the state,Kerala contributes 5-7% of the cola sales in India. The last nail is the cola coffin is about to be nailed. If all goes well, Kerala’s LDF government will go for a ban on all softdrinks /some soft drinks manufactured by these 2 cola giants. It is time, they learnt a lesson. They are learning it the hard way.They should know that when it comes to health and hygiene all the worlds need to be treated at the same platform, be it a first world or the third.

PS:This differential treatment is done by McDonald’s as well . In India,they do not use food grade paper boards for packaging!

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August 7, 2006   12 Comments