Right to Information
Aerated drinks are banned in Parliament canteens but the public can guzzle them
It is well known that India is the diabetes capital of the world but we have not seen any government at the centre clamp down on aerated drinks, which worldwide are known to have a high amount of sugar and are detrimental to health and a cause of lifestyle diseases. However, a reply received under the Right to Information (RTI) Act reveals that since 2003 aerated drinks are banned in all canteens of Parliament, obviously to protect the health of our members of Parliament (MPs).
 
In an order dated 6 August 2003, E Ahamed, then Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Food Management, says, “It is hereby ordered that supply of all soft drinks like Pepsi-cola, Coca-cola, Limca, Mirinda, Orange, 7-up, Fanta, Sprite, Thums Up, Mountain Dew, Diet Pepsi, Blue Pepsi etc. and all other brands of drinks of this nature shall be discontinued in the catering centres and canteens within the Parliament House Complex with immediate effect.”
 
“Agencies of these soft drinks be informed to remove their display refrigerator, advertisement material, if any, from the Parliament House immediately,” the order adds.
 
Noted RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal had filed the RTI application to Northern Railways, which is the catering agency for Parliament. He says, “If such a ban is imposed in Parliament House complex, then these drinks should be banned for general public also. After all, public health must not be considered less important than of Parliamentarians and others using Parliament canteens. It is significant that cola companies voluntarily stopped selling cola drinks in schools worldwide in view of increasing obesity in school-going children. It is surprising that the Indian government failed to notice such harmful effects of cola drinks and has allowed their sale to children.”
 
 
In a brochure released on 28 December 2016 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, titled `Healthy Children, Healthy India’, there is barely any mention that aerated drinks are bad for health. At the beginning of the brochure there is one bullet point which states, “Limit sugar, salt and aerated drinks”, and then under the title `Junk Food’ it is merely mentioned, “Junk food is calorie rich food containing high amount of fat, sugar, salt; regular intake of junk food results in obesity.” Check the brochure here
 
Since aerated drinks are banned in Parliament, one would think that the Health Ministry would spread the word even more eloquently and widely when it comes to children’s health; but no, it has chosen to be so mild that it amounts to criminal negligence.
 
Considering that 50 million Indians suffer from Type 2 diabetes, one would imagine the government would put aerated drinks as the highest risk for this disease and create large public awareness and ban them in schools and colleges. Instead, it is sitting smugly, ensuring that its MPs are taken care of. 
 
 
How dangerous are soft drinks can be gauged by this study of Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. It says:
  • People who consume sugary drinks regularly — 1 to 2 cans a day or more — have a 26% greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
  • A study that followed 40,000 men for two decades found that those who averaged one can of a sugary beverage per day had a 20% higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart attack. A related study in women found a similar sugary beverage–heart disease link.
  • A study, spread over 22 years, of 80,000 women found that those who consumed a can a day of sugary drink had a 75% higher risk of gout. Researchers found a similar elevated risk in men.
  • Dr Frank Hu, Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, recently made a strong case that there is sufficient scientific evidence that decreasing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption reduces the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related diseases.
 
Mr Agrawal says, “The Government can at least ban advertisements of cola drinks. It is senseless to exempt cola drinks from printing their ingredients on bottles in the name of trade secret when every packaged food commodity has to do so. Earlier, too, soft drink manufacturers were asked to remove an oil from their products which was found to be harmful to health. Compulsory printing of ingredients on cola bottles, including re-usable glass bottles, will clear doubts about the presence of any intoxicant or addicting substance in cola drinks.”
 
It is indeed galling that even health directives are the privilege of our netas, like many other privileges.
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting, which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
 

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COMMENTS

SRINIVAS SHENOY

3 months ago

This article pertaining to our health is highly useful and informative and the general public should be made aware about its dangers akin to smoking by issuing the requisite health directives.

TransUnion, Equifax to Pay Millions to Settle CFPB Deception Case in the US
Two of the largest credit score reporting agencies in the US have to pay millions in fines for deceiving consumers about the actual cost and usefulness of credit scores they sold to consumers under agreements with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). 
 
TransUnion and Equifax falsely advertised that the credit scores they marketed to the public were the same scores lenders used to make credit decisions when they weren’t, in violation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law. The credit reporting companies also ran afoul of the law by deceptively advertising that their credit-related products were free, or only “$1,” when in reality the companies enrolled a customers in negative-option offers in which they were charged $16 or more per month if they failed to cancel the subscription service during the trial period, a detail not adequately disclosed.
 
Equifax also violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which allows consumers to receive a free credit report once a year, when it required them to view the company’s advertisements instead of just allowing them to access their free reports.
 
TransUnion and Equifax are two of the nation’s three largest credit reporting agencies. They collect credit information on consumers, including their amount of debt, payment histories, credit limits and list of current creditors, which they provide to businesses. The companies also sell credit-related products directly to consumers such as credit scores, reports, and credit-monitoring services.
 
Under the consent orders, the companies have to pay $17.6 million combined in consumer restitution. They also have to:
  • Clearly inform consumers about the nature of the scores they are selling them and the true usefulness of the reports. 
  • Obtain express informed consent before enrolling consumers in any recurring monthly subscription services. 
  • Provide an easy way for consumers to cancel any purchase of credit-related products and stop billing and collecting payments for any recurring charges when a consumer cancels. 
  • Pay an additional $5.5 million in penalties.
 
This is not the first time credit reporting agencies have been cited by government regulators. In a 2000 agreement with the FTC, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle charges that the companies violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by blocking millions of calls from consumers who wanted to discuss their credit reports and also kept consumers on hold for unreasonable amounts of time. In a separate FTC action in 2005, Consumerinfo.com, doing business as Experian Consumer Direct, settled charges with the agency that it deceptively marketed “free credit reports” by not adequately disclosing that consumers would be automatically charged $79.95 and also be signed up for a credit monitoring service if they didn’t cancel within 30 days.
 
Find more here on how to truly check your credit score for free. Click here for more of TINA.org’s coverage of credit reporting sites and monitoring services that raise red flags.
 

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COMMENTS

Nagarajan Ramachandran

2 months ago

This seems like a walk in the park compared to what CIBIL gets away with in India in terms of opacity, complexity and (lack of) customer service. We are yet to see credit score driven loan pricing like the US; rather the scores are just used to lower the lender's risk in weeding out people with higher risk profiles. C'est la vie!

Estimates of demonetised notes back with banks may be incorrect: RBI
Reacting to media reports about the quantum of demonetised currency that has been returned to the banks, the Reserve Bank of India on Thursday said such estimates may not be correct.
 
The RBI said the aggregating of accounting entries made at the various currency chests still requires to be reconciled with the actual cash balances in order to eliminate accounting errors and double counting. 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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