Thursday, August 10, 2006

Banning Coke and Pepsi? You must be kidding, my dear Indians

I read the reports of Indian states banning Pepsi and Coke, with great dismay. Not that I don't support the use of healthy drinks like Coconut drink and properly purified fruit juices (do they exist in Indian??), but I don't think banning Coke and Pepsi has any scientific validity.

To go back in history - in fall 2003, an obsure Delhi-based NGO called CSE (assused as blackmailers or praised as watchdogs, respectively by the two sides of the warring parties) published results stating that Coke and Pepsi had high levels of pesticide content, much more than the European and American levels. Pepsi and Coke sales fell down drastically and it was welcome finding then and forced the companies to adopt better standards and in short a strong voice for the consumer. In 3 years, they did a lot of better their product in recommendation of the findings. But, again this year CSE published one more finding and again they stated that Coke/Pepsi contained 'high' levels of pesticide. The results seem to be pretty scientific and I'm not questioning much on the results. But, people can play with how they present a finding. I'll give you a fictious example:

"In a major car race, America and Russia competed, in the height of the cold war. The race was intense and America won and the Russians lost. But, the Russian newspapers published it as - 'In a major car race, where teams including America and Russia competed, Russia bagged the second place, while America just got the second from the last'"

The fact that the Russian newspapers published was true, but the way in which it was presented was unethical. It seemed as though America lost and Russia won, though the fact is otherwise. Similarly, the CSE finding also includes results where milk and fruits and drinking water contains many times more pesticide content (and hence harmful) than Coke and Pepsi. Should you advice people to stop drinking milk and eating fruits? Then, the outdoor air in India is so polluted and ladden with million type of germs and toxic material like asbestos, lead, zinc and carbon monoxide. So, the next advice would be to stop breathing??

But, Indian governments, in keeping up with their reputation, banned all colas (and not the indiscriminate use of pesticides). Crazy... Thatz what the whole issue is. People don't accept the fact the fact that they allow farmers to indiscrimately use fertilizers and pesticides that pollute the land and the water bodies and the local industries indiscriminately pollute its air and river bodies. And, as always, they scapegoat a major company and use some obscure results to enforce a ban.

Pepsi and Coke are a major boon in a country like India, where you can't trust any natural thing. You can drink water right out of the taps or wells, you can directly eat fruits from vendor or drink those horribly unhygenic cane juices. Fruit juices in most parts use unhygenic parts and/or contaminated water/milk. What do you want me to do? Drink those 1000 times more polluted cane juices and tap water, instead of highly pure Coke, Pepsi (for Indian standards --- European and American standards don't have much meaning in a country where 500 millions stays hungry).

Indians, come on and be realistic. I'm not saying that Coke and Pepsi are healthy drinks or they don't contain pesticide residues. But, you should always choose the lesser of the evil. If you get clean water and coconut drink, make it the first priority. If you have certified fruit juices, make it second priority. But, without that Coke/Pepsi is your first choice. Don't let the anti-American lobbies and biased and vested interested politicians to dictate you on the matters of health.


Ananth said...

"Pepsi and Coke are a major boon in a country like India" .....

Are you kidding ?

The active ingredient in Coke is phosphoric acid. Its pH is 2.8. It will dissolve a nail in about 4 days.

I don't know about pesticide and stuff ... but I am not going to drink something with the same normality as toilet cleaning acid !

Agreed that the Communist states are over-reacting - but the point made by the studies I beleive is the "discrepancy" in level between european/us and indian cokes.

Don't compare it with Fruit Juices and Milk - because those are *natural* products. We don't have control over the level of pestiscides in it. But I *pay* 20 rupess for a bottle of coke whose production cost is less than a rupee - I expect the company to do what *best* it can to reduce the amount of pesticides in it !

Quite similar to me expecting the company which made my software - to make it free of viruses and worms - especially because I paid them and they had the power to do so .. But then ......

Coke, Pepsi and Windows - Personally No. No.

Cheers !

Balaji said...

"Fruit juice and milk are natural products" - think again... define natural and artificial

the kind of processing goes on milk, addition of stimulants to cow food, addition of pesticides/fertilizers to crops and the storage and protection spraying - are all articificial.... come on milk and fruit are no longer natural...

Pesticide content is becauze Indian farmers are stupidly using dangerous things on their soil and the Indian govt. stupidly allows them... these are perfectly controllable.

Regarding the acid content... the acid in your stomach can dissolve the nail in 3 days... means something??? drinking coke with slightly acidic nature is allowed by the FDA of US and there are people who had been drinking and living for 100 years...

Dont get bogged by stupid forwards.... The stupid contents in the forwards will say anything and there are much more misinterpration than interpretation.

I always say milk, coconut drink and fruits are much more healthy than coke, as long as they are from secure contents... coconut drink is safe in most cases, but the other two can have questionable contents added by the vendor...

If the CSE reports finding of toxic contents in our market contents, we will die of heart-attack

Anonymous said...

Oh come on guys i believe we are all attaching too much significance to this matter.. Don't you think that we are not our body and are limited only by our mind???
Don't you think after all we attract the problems we have in life only because we want to learn from them.

Ananth said...

Well... there is no use in arguing. Not one of those problems that man kind needs to spend time solving because we created the problems in the first place.

iPod, Coke and Viagara will keep selling. I will keep complaining and you will as usual never give up defending :)

Anonymous said...

Well of course ananth is right. It is no point u will keep defending. Y don't we try to look at it from a different view. Yes pesticides are harmful to health, but wat about evolving to outlive them or endure them???
Already the Periplaneta americana are proving to be the pioneers in that. Why don't we learn from them???

Balaji said...

Ipod, Coke, Mustang, Ray-Ban, XBox, HDTV, Windows are all symbols of our culture and I'll use them as much as I defend them.

I believe in direct war and not a cowardly ban. If you want to win over Coke, build a better (and healthy drink) and market it. Likewise, If you want to win over any such product, make a better one.

It is just a mark of a loser to keep whining and crying and stupidly claiming something is terribly wrong with this world. Be a hero and fight a battle of this life, instead of being a vegetative loser. World never goes with losers.

Anonymous said...

Well Balaji, this is to clarify a few things..
If you criticise only the ban, your article would have been different.
Don't try to hide behind the shield of free economy.
And Ananth was not right in saying when they have a profit of 19 rupees, he does expect the best the company can do.

Raghu said...

BV..Good writeup on pepsi-cola issue.
I feel the same way as you did. This is one of many illogical games playing with illogical people. Ask them to step into the back of any indian restaurent and then decide the standards.. Ask them to check the water tanks in any railway stations.

Anonymous said...

coke, pepsi, toilet cleaning acid!!!
i will not eat that.

Anonymous said...

coke, pepsi, toilet cleaning acid!!!
i will not eat that.

Anonymous said...

dude u must be kidding
coke and pepsi make u r children drink them for 10 yrs then u will realize how it can actualy effects u in country like u.s too. i agree India is not safe contry with rgards to natural resources but coke and pepsi make them more dangerous .

Balaji said...

Though a few years ago, I held a staunchly anti-Coke stand, my stand didnt stand up to emperical evidence. Coke has been in use in popular culture for atleast 100+ years in US, and the Americans dont seem to have much more health problems compared to their counterparts in non-Coke consuming regions like India.

If they had been really drinking such a dangerous substance, in hundred years atleast few hundred deaths must have been attributed to it. Where are they? The American life expectency didnt face any ding because of Coke and there is an entire society living at 90+ age, drinking coke all the way.

So, for all the readers here, dont just believe all you get in your email forwards and let us not forget our own independent thinking.

vivek said...

@balaji- i likd d way u came up wid a complete practical view abt d scenario in india.... bt adding 2 ur point itself.... ppl in america dnt die directly due 2 coke n pepsi.... it has a gradual effect on a human body....... n dat is y u.s has a high rate of heart attacks evn at d age of 20

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