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Cancer Colas: Slowly being outcast by the West, Colas exploit India through unaccountable celebrity endorsements

Like cigarettes, the West increasingly sees colas as terribly bad for health and shielding their children from it because obesity, diabetes and now cancer are directly linked to these sweet, coloured liquids. For Coke and Pepsi, India, a large market with low awareness, is ripe for exploitation—aided by Bollywood and cricket superstars

There is a term used in racing at sea—sail close to the wind—which implies doing something which is dangerous, just about legal, or acceptable. It comes from real life out there on the waters, when you try to move forward almost right into the direction the wind is coming from, using all your skills to not only stay upright, but also to make some headway while others have given up. It also implies using illegal methods, when nobody is watching, to reach your destination.
 
Of late, that’s what seems to be happening in the world of soft drinks and those who would use every method possible to try and make us drink more and more of the sweetened, coloured, carbonated water—never mind the larger impact on health, society and now in the latest revelations, causing cancer. The two largest players in this, PepsiCo and Coca Cola, are globally in a race to try and tackle dropping sales of “soda pop” in developed countries and take a lead in what they would like to call nutritive health drinks and foods as well as water, but here in India, it appears to be more and more pressure on making these same “soft drinks” some sort of aspirational destination, if one may use that turn of phrase.
 
Here is a small fact, as per the latest Economist: “The consumption of carbonated soft drinks in America fell to a 16-year low in 2011, according to Beverage Digest. The average American drank 714 eight-ounce servings of fizzy drinks over the year, with the three most popular being Coke, Diet Coke and Pepsi-Cola. Since 2005 health conscious Americans have been slurping fewer high-calorie drinks and more bottled water.”
 
The reason for this is not difficult to discern—increasingly, it is politically incorrect, like smoking, to guzzle “soda pop” in front of impressionable youngsters. In addition, role models in American society will think more than twice now, before they even dream of endorsing all sorts of junk food, cancer colas and other packaged or processed edibles of any sort. Obesity, diabetes and now cancer are directly linked to these sweet coloured sugary liquids.
 
In addition, actual sale of soft drinks is frowned upon in and around schools, either by way of legislation or by way of local social pressure. Michelle Obama, wife of the American president, leads a nationwide programme called “Let’s Move” (http://www.letsmove.gov/) with complete government support and participation, tag-lined “America’s Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids”, which has in it’s second year already made it clear what is good food (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low fat dairy, mainly) and what is not.
 
On the other hand, here in India, the authorities appear to be going out of their way to help the same processed food industry, especially the soft drink industry, with all sorts of help to take sales further. One not so subtle step is the way in which role models in India are actively encouraged to endorse soft drinks—whether by way of providing tax exemptions (example: Sachin Tendulkar’s Ferrari, which was sought to be brought in duty-free, was supposed to be a ‘gift’ from Michael Schumacher) or providing them with honorary ranks in India’s Armed Forces (MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar again) or by not levying taxes pertaining to advertising on blatant product placements for branded soft drinks in Indian movies (almost by every movie star).
 
Put it this way, when you see Sachin Tendulkar or Shah Rukh Khan’s fancy new cars and homes in Bandra, Mumbai, what do you see? I don’t know about you, but many of us who have friends and relatives undergoing treatment for cancer at the nearby Leelavati Hospital, also in Bandra, Mumbai, see bottles and bottles of the cancer-causing Coke and Pepsi. Endorsed by these worthies and their friends in the cricket and film industry, these cancer colas and their champions, need to be removed from our advertising horizon, and soon. Or, like tobacco products, they need to carry health and safety warnings. Not endorsements by our stars and heroes.
 
So the question that comes up next, automatically, is this—what is the liability that those who endorse these soft drinks have? Should the people who reaped huge personal benefits by advertising, inducing, tempting and otherwise persuaded millions of others to buy and consume something that they knew was dangerous as well as unhealthy, be held financially responsible for this?

The answer is there, to be seen in the Companies Act, in the Food Safety & Standards Act and from there onwards in the Indian Penal Code. And the answer is also there as an extension of the question—did the people who were part of the larger structures which produced these endorsements not know that the ingredients in their products, as well as the products itself, caused cancer? Or were simply bad for a nation’s future generations?
 
The problem is with the laws in India and the way global MNCs as well as now even Indian MNCs keep to the right of it or on the border, in a manner which would never be permitted or acceptable in developed countries. There is, however, hope.
 
Government policy of retrospective liability under laws brought out subsequently, as with the Finance Bill this year for Income Tax issues, brings some hope. “I didn’t know” is not going to be an admissible defence. Because, fact remains, high sugar content sweet coloured carbonated waters are not good for us, or our children.
 
(Veeresh Malik had a long career in the Merchant Navy, which he left in 1983. He has qualifications in ship-broking and chartering, loves to travel, and has been in print and electronic media for over two decades. After starting and selling a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing.)

User

COMMENTS

malq

5 years ago

And here's the bitter truth on sugar and more in your cancer cola . . . worth watching the kola very d-angerous video here. 2.2 million people have already done so . . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-...

sanjay

5 years ago

Well I happened to sail on a chemical tanker which was carrying Phosphoric acid, which is listed as Dangerous cargo 8 (DG 8) . Later came to know the cargo was meant for the Big Cola company ! Now you can well imagine how much of toxicity is there in each gulp of a cola !!
And what does Phosphoric acid do : Ingredients which, when classi´Čüed according to NOHSC:1008, are carcinogenic,
mutagenic, teratogenic, skin or respiratory sensitisers, very corrosive, corrosive, toxic or very toxic, are harmful substances which can cause irreversible effects after acute exposure, or harmful substances which can cause serious damage to health after repeated or prolonged exposure. Now we have not talked about sugar at all !! happy gulping !!!

REPLY

malq

In Reply to sanjay 5 years ago

Dear Sanjay - thanks for the input.

Shall certainly use this input. BTW, was tank cleaning to food grade or similar prior loading or was past cargo simply left to mix around?

Going to put an RTI on this subject. Can you guide me on what sort of ship would be used to move this stuff to other western countries, special dedicated ships?

Best/VM

malq

5 years ago

More on the contents of cancer colas . . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-...

Sugar: The Bitter Truth

Anand

5 years ago

Runaway growth, grab for cash any which way you can - who has time to think healthy! And in the grand scheme of things in India, I think this issue is low on the totem pole of what people worry about.

I personally think colas are vile and don't imbibe.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to Anand 5 years ago

Dear Anand, thanks for writing in, mate.

Now make sure some other people stop knocking the poison down, too .. .. ..

brgds/VM

dali agarwal

5 years ago

sorry folks I do not agree....Don;t blame the cola companies if you're willing suckers. Not like you didnt know that cola/ smoking/ processed foods are bad for health...if you;re so holier than thou, just stop buying them and these companies will die a natural death. Thats the idea of awareness and education right ? to decide whats right/good for yourself ?



REPLY

malq

In Reply to dali agarwal 5 years ago

Thank you for writing in, Dali Agarwal ji, and appreciate your views - correct to some extent.

But the human mind is not all that easy to understand. The proponents of sublimnal mind bending and perception management work in strange ways, which require stern responses, and often more.

Take smoking for example. Yes, we all know it is bad for us, and ideally, smoking should be priced out of the market as well as be made socially unacceptable. But the big bucks promoting smoking need more action than just leaving it to people, right, so bans of all sorts.

Likewise, soft drinks - and banning endorsements by role models is one thing. I would love to get banning smoking endorsed by photos of people who have died of lung cancer, for example, what do you say?

The Marlboro Man, for example?

Best/VM

ps: I'm not being holier than thou. One reason I write this is because i am directly targetted by these soft drink companies - and will not give up even more. Your support appreciated.

p k

5 years ago

Hello Mr Malik

you have again hit the right buttons.

i am surprised that US embassy does not serve local; cola there!!

indian cricketer or filmstar would sell anything or anybody , as long as they are paid..be it gold loan/ fairness creme or cola..

i wonder how many more croers sachin or srk requires.

I AM forwarding the article to my son , hopefully he undrestands !!

REPLY

malQ

In Reply to p k 5 years ago

P K ji, thank you for writing in, and yes, every little bit helps, please do forward this some more.

At some stage, methinks, the likes of Sachin T and SRK will figure out that there was an inherent dishonesty and criminal aspect to endorsing colas. What happened to the Marlboro Man, for example (he died of lung cancer . . .) is just one point.

Wonder how their children react to this, as increasingly soft drinks are banned in schools, especially wrt the fact that Sachin Tendulkar's spouse is a doctor.

best regards/VM

VHariharan

5 years ago

Pulla Gopichand theBadminton player of yesteryears refused to pose for cocacola company saying that he does not to spoil the minds of youngsters as he was aware that the drink was harmful and bad for health. Why not send an appeal to Sachin Tendulkar and others asking them to emulate the example of Gopichand and helping the younger generation. we should keep on informing the celebrities also about the damages caused to the society by them on account of posing for such products.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to VHariharan 5 years ago

Sachin Tendulkar's postal address is:- Sachin Tendulkar's postal address is:- 19-A, Perrt Cross Road, Bandra (W), Mumbai 400050.

But it is not known if he checks his own mail.

I guess we shall have to keep using the internet & social media.

Thank you for writing in.

VM

Satish Kumar T

5 years ago

First of all we should not drink cool drinks., and let not fall into the trap of celebrities. Let us hate them those who promotes. Awake India.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to Satish Kumar T 5 years ago

Dear Satish Kumar T ji, thank you for writing in.

There is actually no need to hate them. But certainly, you can let them know, write them a letter, informing them that what they do, endorsing soft drinks, is not good for their fans and constituents.

Sachin Tendulkar's postal address is:- 19-A, Perrt Cross Road, Bandra (W), Mumbai 400050.

Please do write to him?

rgds/VM

Francis Xavier

In Reply to malq 5 years ago

VM ji,
Pls adv the readers about the benefit of tender coconut which is the best to drink after water.
Rgrds/Francis

malq

In Reply to Francis Xavier 5 years ago

Dear Francis Xavier ji, thak you for writing in.

Here's one link on the benefits of tender cocount water:- https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cac...

Incidentally, the new Goa budget takes a healthy stand on the subject by increasing the local State VAT on bottled soft drinks, packaged junk foods, and fast foods, and providing a fixed minimum support price of 8/- rupees for tender cocount as well as encouraging wider sale of tender coconut water.

I believe the sale of soft drinks in plastic bottles will also be done away with, under the "no plastic at home and on the streets" part of the same budget.

brgds/VM

Siddharth Shah

5 years ago

Cola se kuchh kharab nahi hone wala kyonki jab Sachin (Bhagwan) khud pite hai to ab kya fikar!!!
Aur kuchh log bol rahe hai ki inhe Bharat Ratna banao, to fir pura Bharat Cola piyega.
Jay Ho!!!

REPLY

malq

In Reply to Siddharth Shah 5 years ago

Siddharth ji, likhne ke liye aapka bahut bahut shukriya.

Aapne solaah aane sach baat likhee hai. Issee baat ko aap Sachin ke kaan tak pahunchao, unke parivaar ko khat likho, unka postal address hai 19-A, Perrt Cross Road, Bandra (W), Mumbai 400050.

Mujhko nahee lagtaa kee voh apne bachon ko pepsi/coke pilaate honge - unkee patni doctor hai. Aur vaise bhee, Sachin bahut samajhdaar lagte hain.

humbly submitted/VM

Ratanlal Purohit

5 years ago

Consumer Intrrnational theme in 2008 was on Junk Food and we organised a seminar on World Consumer Day reported in DNA of 16th March. My comments then was the same as that of Shri Malik. Is desh ka sirf Bhagwan hi Malik. I dont know whether the celebraties drink these "Health Drinks". George then in 78 threw the "cokes" back but they reappeared with pizzaNolds offering kids toys with fattening meals. Many induatries run on fizz bottled warer pharmaceuticals. Bigger party bottles one for one. Helping ground water to deplete at faster rate. IS THIS THE BENEFIT OF GLOBALISATION MMS AND THE WOMAN BEHIND THE MAN GAVE INDIA?
THE COLOUR IS NOT THE ONLY CULPRIT.

Ratanlal Purohit

5 years ago

Consumer Intrrnational theme in 2008 was on Junk Food and we organised a seminar on World Consumer Day reported in DNA of 16th March. My comments then was the same as that of Shri Malik. Is desh ka sirf Bhagwan hi Malik. I dont know whether the celebraties drink these "Health Drinks". George then in 78 threw the "cokes" back but they reappeared with pizzaNolds offering kids toys with fattening meals. Many induatries run on fizz bottled warer pharmaceuticals. Bigger party bottles one for one. Helping ground water to deplete at faster rate. IS THIS THE BENEFIT OF GLOBALISATION MMS AND THE WOMAN BEHIND THE MAN GAVE INDIA?
THE COLOUR IS NOT THE ONLY CULPRIT.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to Ratanlal Purohit 5 years ago

Ratanlal Purohit ji, thank you for writing in, keep it up and all the best in your efforts, you are correct here.

But there is always hope!!

Best/VM

Krishnaswami CVR

5 years ago

While the intent of the article is clear, the tone and narratives have sidestepped the issue. It reads more against the celebrities endorsing the product than the product itself. The article could have been considered as unbiased, if the celebrities are not attacked so vehemently. The use of words "developed countries" indicates that the author of the article is also not averse to toe the line of those nations which consider economic success as development and brand as "developing countries." with this view, he also loses the criticism that younger generations are aping the west.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to Krishnaswami CVR 5 years ago

Dear Krishnaswami CVR - thank you for writing in.

You are correct - the tone is meant to try and get the message across to the celebrities that they are responsible for double-checking the facts before endorsing something, or inducing people to buy/spend money on something. Most certanly the idea is, also, to explore the possibility of legal, moral, ethical and other forms of intervention with these celebrities.

The facts behind the dangers of consuming these soft drinks are already known, as a matter of fact they are also published in the company's declarations on their own web-pages, hidden away in the fine print.

As for the usage of the term "developed countries", please suggest a viable alternative, grateful. Your point well taken.

Humbly submitted/VM



rama rao

5 years ago

these MNC's to keep their cash registers rising have started marketing bottled water too,soda and beverages so the shareholders are happy. They are taking granted to the developing world population's ignorance and thriving!!!!

REPLY

malq

In Reply to rama rao 5 years ago

Dear Rama Rao ji, thank you for writing in, and your points are well taken.

We can do our part by spreading the word and trying to get people to understand and read on this.

rgds/VM

Rambabu Shastri

5 years ago

Well... in a nation like ours, MNCs are most welcome even if they sell the most dangerous items. Political and business exigencies are always given priority over human health and with our kind of population, the percentage impact would be miniscule compared to the West.

This also reminds me of a pharma company that conducted clinical trials on tribals. As long as there is a population that can be exploited at very low costs, there are no ethics or social responsibility in such MNCs. They are only meant for countries where the laws are more rigid and damages for mishaps prohibitively exorbitant.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to Rambabu Shastri 5 years ago

Thank you for writing in, Rambabu ji.

Bigger point in this article is that these MNCs, they sell a different product in India from what they sell in their parent countries, and have no accountabilities on the dangers therein of selling us GARBAGE. Under the guise and protection of "BRAND NAME" ofcourse.

Let us see how it goes from here.

Best regards/VM

Vikas

In Reply to malq 5 years ago

Great article, thanks.
Can it be proved MNCs are selling different product in Developed countries and in India. I am asking because these MNCs are always harping out loud that they sell the same products and don't differentiate between countries.
This difference will at least warn everybody in India (and the person saying "Bhagwan" bhi peetey hain) that not everything is all right.
Regards

malq

In Reply to Vikas 5 years ago

Dear Vikas, thank you for writing in, and please share the article and pass it far and wide too!

Ofcourse it can be very easily proved that the same item same brand is a different product in different parts of the world - often substandard too.

In the case of Coke/Pepsi, be aware that even the US Embassy does not serve "made in India" soda pop to its own people . . .that is the level.

Details can be found on the SEC declarations made by listed US companies - or by simply asking them.

Best/VM

prabee

5 years ago

While it may or may not be true that this soft drinks related to cancer.It would be worth while to attach a source which says that the product like soft drinks does cause cancer.

I am not against the argument just asking to substantiate the claim

REPLY

malq

In Reply to prabee 5 years ago

Thank you for writing in, prabee.

1) There are ample references to the subject, here are a few, and like with smoking, there are lobbies for and against. However, where there is green grass, there it has rained, so . .

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/busin...

http://www.thehindu.com/news/article2978...

And then, ofcourse, there is also the issue of the aspartame they use.

But once again, thanks for writing in.

Regards/VM

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ICICI Bank to pay customer for causing loss

The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum gave the order on the plea by Janakpuri resident, Bhoodev Singh, who said the shares he had pledged with the bank for opening a security current account were sold without his approval.

ICICI Bank has been ordered by a consumer forum in New Delhi to pay over Rs2.14 lakh to one of its account holders for causing him financial loss by selling his shares pledged with it at lower price without his consent.

The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum gave the order on the plea by Janakpuri resident, Bhoodev Singh, who said the shares he had pledged with the Bank for opening a security current account were sold without his approval.
Mr Singh said the shares were sold by the ICICI Bank for a sum of Rs3,64,288 while they were worth Rs5,63,724 and caused him a financial loss of over Rs1.99 lakh.

“The act of selling of shares by the bank, particularly in the given circumstances, cannot be held to be as per law and according to the principle of natural justice.
“The act of the Bank has caused not only financial losses as claimed by the complainant but the complainant suffered harassment, pain and mental agony,” the forum said.

In its reply, the ICICI Bank had said that Mr Singh was told that the bank would be at liberty to sell the pledged shares if his account remained overdrawn. As his account was overdrawn since September 2008, his shares were sold.

The bench, presided over by BB Chaudhary, said it was the duty of the bank to serve a notice on Mr Singh demanding payment of overdue amount and if he did not pay the same, then the bank could have sold the shares.

“Pay to the complainant (Mr Singh) a sum of Rs1,99,436, a sum of Rs10,000 as compensation for harassment and a sum of Rs5,000 as litigation charges,” it said while holding that he had suffered a loss of over Rs1.99 lakh as his shares were sold for a lesser value and without his consent.

In the late afternoon, ICICI Bank was trading at around Rs875 per share on the Bombay Stock Exchange, 3.95% down from the previous close.

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