Debating India

INDE

Yeh dil ab na maangey more

Saurav Sen

Friday 8 August 2003, by SEN*Saurav

NEW DELHI: It has touched a chord for sure. The thought of consuming pesticides in the name of Coke or Pepsi has made the consumer react belligerently. Several thousands voted in an online poll on Indiatimes.com within a span of 24 hours - 80 per cent of whom vowed not to drink Coke or Pepsi products ever again.

Tests by the CSE have revealed that 12 popular brands of soft drinks contain pesticide residue higher than the permissible levels. The multinational giants have refuted the charges and have claimed that their products undergo stringent quality checks.

To add to the poll, a readers’ debate launched on timesofindia.com on Wednesday evening, has evoked an overwhelming response - readers almost choking the servers in less than 24 hours - with opinions ranging from disbelief to disgust to cynicism. And the stream is still flowing in. The frenzy created by the damning disclosures about Coke and Pepsi has even surpassed the readers’ response to India’s embarrassing 125 all out against Australia at the Cricket World Cup.

But beyond the frenzy lie the interesting details: a sizeable chunk of readers demand a complete ban on the two multinational soft drink brands and punitive action against them, while vowing not to drink them anymore. "What Union Carbide did in one night, Coke or Pepsi shouldn’t be allowed to do over the years," writes a reader. The horrific thought of consuming pesticides with one’s soft drinks may have created bad press for both the mega brands, but hundreds of readers have also questioned the quality of municipal ground water being supplied to these manufacturing plants.

While words of protest continue to swamp the servers, the predictable reaction from the more swadeshi-minded has also brought in quite a percentage of the letters.

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