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Coca-Cola, Pepsi and politics
MNC drinks Coca-Cola and Pepsi are in the news for the wrong reasons. There is a strong movement in Tamil Nadu to ban these drinks and go for local soft drinks. Today's papers inform that even Kerala is going to ban these drinks.
- Starting from dairies, for all food processing industries (including breakfast cereals and chocolates!) water is a very essential input. There are worldwide concerns that with global warming, water will become scarcer and food industries will be adversely affected.


Internationally, ways are being investigated to optimise use of water, and also use recycled waste water in food industry. Are MNC drinks special culprits? Will local drinks consume less water? Not likely! 


- May be, MNC products are being targeted because of nationalistic fervour, a-la Baba Ramdev! But certainly, not for water! Which soft drink to gulp down should be the consumer's choice! 


- It is well known, that in USA soft drinks are banned in many school, college and university campuses on health grounds. This is an aspect, which should be studied by our Food and Drug Administration and strictly and uniformly applied, not only for MNCs. 


- Soft drinks thrive mostly on youth consumption. And there is a worldwide shift in youth preferences – from colas to fruit juices, power drinks etc. and in India also towards, packaged home grown 'panna', 'lassi', 'jal jeera', 'jamun juice' and others. This is a healthier trend. 


Knowing that the heydays of colas are over, both Pepsi and Coca-Cola are diversifying into snacks and other drinks. - MNCs are always soft targets for blackmail and extortion. Any one's guess, what the real motivation behind the ban is! For the sake of completeness, I would like to go back to the political alignments of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, in USA: 


In USA before the elections, when the nominated hopefuls go on whirlwind tours of the important states; they generally meet the locals at the McDonald's or the Pizza Hut outlets. Has it been noticed that candidates of the Democratic Party meet at McDonald's, which is a Coca-Cola outfit. And the Republicans meet at Pizza Hut, from the PepsiCo stable. It is a given, that traditionally Pepsi is a Republican drink. And Coca-Cola a Democrat Party's drink! 


These relationships go back to the days of World War II. During the ensuing Cold War between the Allies and the USSR and its satellites, the world was inhabited by cloak and dagger types like James Bond and his ilk! 


I remember that in 1959, staunch Republican President Nixon tried to break the impasse between the two world powers by visiting Moscow, to attend the American Trade fair being held there. He cleverly escorted the inimical Nikita Khrushchev to the Pepsico stall. Unsuspecting Nikita fell for the bait. He sipped the drink and rest is history. Soon Soviet Russia's much hated capitalist drink Pepsi Cola was being bottled in USSR!! But it was so costly, that only the communist elite could afford it. Rest kept a bottle or two of Pepsi in their drawing rooms, as status symbols. This was no different when in India, Coca-Cola cans smuggled from Nepal, were displayed in drawing rooms! Who knows what the real motivation behind the ban in Tamil Nadu and Kerala is? Cheers!!! 


(Photo: Historic photo of President Nixon shrewdly winning over the unsuspecting Khrushchev to sip the hated American brew, Pepsi. Source: economist.com)
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