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Letters | Nov 17, 2003
Pro Or Con?
In India, Like Us?
Nov 17, 2003
If I recall Mark Twain, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug", and insist that ‘mnc-bashing’ is not the right word, I won’t be out of place. In spite of the results of the nationwide consumer poll where a high percentage of respondents opined that if an Indian company was accused of having worms in its chocolates, it would’ve attracted as much attention as Cadbury did, I reckon it’s a case of decreasing consumer tolerance, increasing manufacturer-bashing and not mnc-bashing per se. We’re heading towards an era of ‘zero consumer tolerance’ where the mnc tag is somewhat inconsequential. What would matter is an all-encompassing responsible manufacturing process.
Suresh Behera, Ranchi
The crux of the problem is that neither the central nor the state governments have created infrastructure for testing food and drugs. Which is why there is no deterrent—namely, convictions for wrongdoers. Considering that the storage conditions for packed food are appalling, the mncs should adopt the "flow wrap" or improved packing method by which contents can be protected against moisture by replacing the air inside with an inert gas like nitrogen or carbon dioxide. This will be in the long-term interest of the chocolate manufacturers as, compared to Switzerland’s consumption of 10 kg chocolate per year, the consumption in India is at a nascent stage and will only grow.
M.M. Gurbaxani, Bangalore
If Cadbury chox in the US had worms in them, every bar from every shelf across every home and store would have been recalled. There would have been no politician to give them a clean chit simply because they would not have had the gall to approach a politician as brazenly as they can here. Nor would any politician have gone against the Consumer is King mantra there. If we are treated as second-class consumers, we pretty much have only ourselves to blame.
Swati Sonee, on e-mail
The recent spate of controversies over the quality of mnc products has definitely created doubts in the minds of consumers. After all, it’s they who are the victims in this blame game where no one is willing to accept responsibility. With no clear norms and standards available, it’s the foreign giants who will be losing out in this game. The day isn’t too far when the intelligent consumer would go for tender coconut rather than a Coke or a Pepsi.
K. Balaji, on e-mail
The reason why the furore against mncs is greater is because we have greater expectations of them. We tend to believe that if it’s an mnc product, it’s safe, and we’re willing to pay extra for that. All that the recent fracas has proved is that mnc products are in the same league as ‘swadeshi’ ones. Anyway, what is the fuss all about? Our bodies are already inured to all kinds of toxins. Don’t we drink sewage-laden municipality water every day?
Ritu Awasthi, on e-mail
There need not be any hypocrisy about this. If I find a hair in food that my mother has cooked, I’ll remove it discreetly. I might not accept the same in a restaurant, because there I’ll be paying through my nose. My protest will be even louder when the businesses are bigger and the claims higher. The mncs are here only for their own benefit and certainly not for some greater common good. The naive and the nouveau riche might fall for their lure but not the majority which will resist them come what may.
Sumit Basu, Hyderabad
Whether consumer products are made by MNCs or Indian companies, our quality control systems have to be brought to par with international standards to avoid such controversies. Stringent quality control measures have to be enforced to protect the health of millions, especially children who are overfriendly to colas and chocolates.
Amit Kumar Dey, Pune
I am sure the allegations against mncs are justified. With their superior technology and stringent quality control, they are expected to be models for our indigenous companies, not vice versa. They simply cannot shrug off their responsibility in matters concerning public health.
K.V. Raghuram, on e-mail
As pucca Indians, we all definitely prefer foreign products. Which is what mncs take advantage of and ply us with inferior products. We still put up with it because the Indian products are no better.
Venkatesh Uchil, Mangalore
A Saint Marches In...
Nov 17, 2003
Mahant Gyan Das is the true representative of what Indian culture stands for—tolerance with great capacity for assimilation (A Saint Marches In, Nov 3). We need to support people like the mahant who have the gumption to take on the Sangh parivar on their home turf. Unfortunately, good people do not make sensational copy which is why the Advanis and Togadias hog all the column space. Thanks Outlook, for being different.
Milind Kher, Mumbai
I am sure the ‘upholders’ of Hinduism will now be shrieking and screaming and accusing Mahant Gyan Das of being ‘pseudo-secular’ and a ‘Muslim apologist’. Hopefully, he will rise above it all.
Pia Sen, Birmingham, US
Hurriyat in No Hurry
Nov 17, 2003
The Hurriyat Conference leaders have long clamoured for direct talks with a top political interlocutor (Newsbag, Nov 10). Now that such an opportunity has been offered, they’re dragging their feet under the pretext that they need to consult all political and separatist sections in order to arrive at a consensus. They won’t budge from their rigid stand yet they’ll blame the GoI for the failure of the yet-to-start consultations.
Madhusudan B. Thaker, Vallabh Vidyanagar, Gujarat
A Kargil Fable
Programmed to Deceive
Nov 17, 2003
Has Shireen Mazari been Matrixified (A Kargil Fable, Oct 27)? If so, let me programme her with the facts. Pakistan’s gameplan rested on two assumptions. That when the intrusions were detected, India wouldn’t be in a position to have the intruders vacated physically. It also hoped the US would intervene to prevent the conflict escalating into a nuclear showdown. India proved it wrong on the first count. The second went our way.
Sanjay K. Masaraddi, Mysore
The Mutant Hindu Turtle
The Yes Boys
Nov 17, 2003
If you ignore Anita Pratap’s semi-literate commentary on Hinduism (The Mutant Hindu Turtle, Nov 3), she actually has a valid point: the Congress indeed is very good at winning friends and influencing people. Nowhere is this more evident than in its success with the media. It doesn’t have to demand anything of journalists, the latter willingly bend over backwards, all the while putting on airs of speaking for the good of you and I. Just read Ms Pratap, then Mr Jha.
Raghu Reddy, Bangalore
Who Is An Indian?
Can’t Buy This
Nov 17, 2003
I respect and admire Prem Shankar Jha. But I cannot accept his argument (Who is an Indian?, Nov 3) in support of a lady who took Indian citizenship after a gap of 10 years. She also brought down the government in 1996 by just one vote without having the numbers to form a government. It is really a shame on 1 billion Indians that they cannot find a natural-born Indian to lead the country’s oldest party.
Venkata S. Bhamidipati, New Jersey, US
At last, someone has the conviction to write what he truly thinks, especially on a subject he knows will attract flak from all quarters.
Sharad Patel, London, UK
Are there no lessons to be learnt from Peru and its ex-president Alberto Fujimori?
Vijay Galande Dubai, UAE
Nov 17, 2003
Your cover story Why We Hate Our Politicians (Oct 27) reminded me of this old joke: A busload of politicians were driving down a country road when suddenly the bus ran off the road and crashed into a tree in an old farmer’s field. The farmer, seeing what happened, went over to investigate. He then proceeded to dig a hole to bury the politicians. A few days later the local sheriff came strolling by, and seeing the remains of the crashed bus asked the farmer where all the politicians had gone. The old farmer said he’d buried them all. "Were they all dead?" asked the sheriff. "Well," said the farmer, "some of them said they weren’t but you know how them politicians lie."
Murali Duggineni, Hyderabad
Alone In The City
Nov 17, 2003
Anyone who’s visited Delhi can’t help but be struck by the pathetic attitude of the average Delhi male towards women. Nowhere else have I heard women being abused openly or seen backward, uncivilised men hassle women so. This is especially the case on any form of public transport. Sadly, it took the rape of a foreign woman for the media to create an uproar. What about the many Indian women who’re raped/sexually assaulted daily in Delhi and can’t report it either due to social pressure or unhelpful police?
Rustam Roy, London, UK
The Children of God
Nov 17, 2003
Your issue of November 3 had well-written articles on two saints: Mother Teresa and Mahant Gyan Das. It is said the father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was fond of the biblical passage on Beatitudes wherein one of the beatitudes is, "Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be called the children of god". It is inspiring that Mother Teresa (Saint Teresa) who was beatified on Oct 19 brought peace to the dying and the destitute. On the other hand, the peace moves initiated by Mahant Gyan Das (A Saint Marches In...) are worthy of all-round admiration and he too deserves to be in the category of the blessed. During Diwali we light lamps to brighten our neighbourhood and our hearts. Likewise, may the inspiration the mahant provides light up many more hearts and make our motherland a land of peace wherein we all may live as children of one god who has made us all.
Pius Moras, on e-mail
On A Collusion Course
Nov 17, 2003
If what Jawid Laiq writes in his review (Books, Oct 27) are the highlights of The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India, I feel author Paul R. Brass has wasted his time. It doesn’t require any research to reach the nonsensical conclusions he has. Our secular columnists have been writing this for the last four decades. And how is it that communal clashes occur only in the Muslim-dominated areas of Aligarh, Moradabad, Hyderabad? Why do they not happen in villages where there are strong rss shakhas and a handful of Muslims? Instead of blaming non-existing Hindu violence, Brass should read all judicial enquiries made into communal clashes since 1947.
D. Srinivasa Rao, Vijayawada
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