O V E R S T O R Y
Barring No Bar
|BANNED, but USED
I despise gutka. At the cost of sounding utterly politically incorrect, even those who chew it incessantly. So I was mighty delighted when the Supreme Court, in December last year, ordered a ban on the sale of tobacco, gutka and pan masala in plastic pouches from March 2011. Expectedly, the manufacturers cried foul and claimed that the entire industry would come to a standstill after the ban. “Let it come,” the bench said. After all, if gutka is not sold in plastic pouches, what could it possibly be sold in? The bench asked gutka manufacturers to shift to non-plastic packaging. “Let it become costlier. The public would benefit,” Justice A. K. Ganguly observed. |
Here is the latest: The Supreme Court has refused to lift the ban despite all the hue and cry and is in fact now considering a total ban on gutka and other smokeless tobacco products.
And now, it’s time for Panditji’s satya vachan. Yes, the bitter truth. March has come and gone, but I still see those hazardous gutka pouches hanging on the chaiwala’s stall near my house. So can you? Well, it was this harsh reality about bans and their futility that prompted me to go back in time and make a list of
things – products, drugs, pesticides, practices – that have been banned on paper but used in reality.
In 2009, the Commerce ministry announced a ban on the import of toys from China for a period of six months. “The reason for the ban is a concern for public health.
Chinese toys are known to have high content of poisonous substances like lead,” the commerce secretary had said. However, according to trade experts, the ban came
after cheap supplies from the neighbouring country upset the applecart of the domestic manufacturers.
Beijing questioned India for not implementing safety standard norms on toys being imported from other countries. The Indian Government then banned imports of
toys from any country that did not meet international safety standards and norms till January 2010.
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has said that imports of toys accompanied by a certificate from laboratories accredited by the International Laboratory
Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) would be allowed. "A certificate of conformance from the manufacturer that representative sample of the toys being imported have been
tested by an independent laboratory (like ILAC)..." it said.
Eventually, the Indian government lifted the ban that stoked trade tensions between the world’s two biggest emerging economies. (Beijing warned that “bilateral
trade relations could be seriously impacted.”) But long before the ban was actually lifted, Chinese toys – from teethers to tricycles – were widely available in the
And, by the way, India continues to have no safety standard for toys – Chinese or Indian. Chew this.
The toy market in
India is estimated
at Rs 2,500 crore.
Chinese toys are
control 70 per
cent of the global
NEW DELHI — Two more Indian states banned the sale of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo soft drinks in government-run schools and colleges over allegations that they contain high
levels of pesticides.
So far, seven Indian states have banned the sale of Coke, Pepsi, Sprite and other brands from Coca-Cola and PepsiCo at government-run schools, colleges and
hospitals after the Centre for Science and Environment, a New Delhi-based research group said last week that the soft drinks have pesticides levels that far exceed
Does this news extract bring back old memories of the highly controversial dispute, which first flared in 2003 after the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)
proved that Pepsi and Coca-Cola, two of the world’s largest multinational companies, use pesticide-laced water?
Seven states including Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab had banned the sale of Coke, Pepsi, Sprite and other brands from Coca-Cola and PepsiCo at
government-run schools, colleges, hospitals and government offices, after tests on 11 products made by the two companies showed high pesticide levels, up to 24 times
the recommended limit. In one bottle of Coca-Cola bought in Calcutta, the level of the carcinogenic pesticide, Lindane, exceeded the bureau’s standards by 140 times.
CSE had conducted its first study on pesticide levels in soft drinks in 2003 and concluded that those levels remained unacceptably high. Though government schools
banned colas, the government failed to implement the promised safety standards. However, this time around, the Supreme Court demanded that Coca-Cola should reveal its
secret formula for the first time in 120 years. How did the issue get resolved then?
How did the soft drink giants manage to enter the market again? According to a
Financial Times news report, “Coca-Cola and PepsiCo won a significant legal victory when a court in the Indian state of Kerala lifted the Communist government’s ban on
the sale and manufacture of the iconic drinks following a revival of a long-running pesticide scare. The court’s judgment will have a far-reaching impact for two
companies, as they still face partial bans, notably in schools, hospitals and other government buildings, in six other states.”
The most important and positive development post the ban and its subsequent lift was the fact that the soft drink giants were now liable to reveal and notify
their ingredients on their packaging. And needless to say, an unprecedented level of awareness was generated.
According to a Times
original recipe is kept
in a bank vault in
Atlanta where only two
executives – banned
from travelling on the
same aircraft – can