Friday, March 03, 2017

Coke,Pepsi, TN trader ban issue...

These are my posts from FB compiled in case someone wants to read the entire post...

The first post -
I find the pro-pepsi, coke arguments online since yesterday juvenile, ignorant if not idiotic. The facts are -
1 there is no legal ban, but an expression of collective aspiration by two large traders group. The importance of traders groups boycotting foreign goods will not be realised unless you understand how the invasion if MNC goods have destroyed the local production and small industries.
We have been doing inventory of the retail in villages, whereas in 1999, about 60%of products still came from local small production units, by 2009, 95% of the products were from MNCs. The capital flight from our villages increased as the purchasing power in the villages went up in the first decade of this century. Reclaiming the retail space for the local products is important because it brings back knowledge and skills for production that 2 generations have lost in tamilnadu. The economic and ecological benefits are important, but regaining the capacity to produce and an eco system of production in the village is important for the state. The platitudes for farmers can only be an hypocracy til then.
2 the question of whether the cola be replaced by local cola is meaningless. It is not, obviously. But this opens up a possibility for local entrepreneur to make healthy drinks for the summer. This possibility didn't exist till now. Rural industries revival is important in the drought year for employment.

The next one -
Guess I need to keep plugging on the Coke / Pepsi banning by the Trader's Federation - because of the ridiculous arguments that are being put out. I don't have a television for more than a decade at home and am gathering some of these inputs from what I see on the social media, maybe they are a bit late.

The latest spin - "trader's federation cannot practice bias on selling local produce". My foot!! that is what the entire bloody world trade organization system is all about (I apologize to those who are sensitive to bad language usage). For decades we have been  subjected to the absolutely silly trade regulations because of which our own products and producers have suffered.

Few years back, in a small fishing halmet north of chennai, i was called to help a women run enterprise that was trying to sell fish pickle. while discussing costing, we walked to the local retail shop. i found young kids in that village eating sweeted wafers that was sold for 1 rs. in a small plastic/metal foil. asking the women to guess the production cost of the wafer, i checked where it was produced and found that it came from China!! what would the wafer have in terms of edible (leave alone nutritive) value if it comes all the way from china to be re-packed in some place outside delhi, be transported to a stockist in chennai and travel to that small village in northern pheriphery of chennai and sold at rs. 1/-. the fishing women said it could contain sand perhaps and were shocked at how far it travelled. in the name of free trade we have permitted chinese (and every other country) to sell us all their garbage.

Literally garbage if you count the silly pink coloured thermocol material in which every pear (labelled and sold as 'chinese apple' in the several pazhamudhir cholais across chennai and all over tamilnadu) is packed. why would you buy a waxed and decorated excuse of a fruit from such far off places with added garbage that the corporation later will have figure out what to do with?! I sometimes imagine there is a 'department of garbage exports' in china that has a team of professionals who look at innovative ways of converting all garbage from china into packaging material for various goods that can go across the world. We Indians are great suckers for packaging.  In another self-respecting world either we would have imposed 'garbage tax' on such chinese products or we would outright reject them. but our governments are filled with fans and fanny wavers to FDI.

We actually IMPORT the discarded plastic bottles of the cola companies - collected, compacted and shipped as part of their  'extended corporate responsibility' in Europe. the same comes to our great city of Chennai and is broken down (at a very high pollution level) and converted into yarns to be shipped to gujarat and become suitings (worn by tamil news readers in their warm television studios of ekkattuthangal)  to keep our plastic emporer rich and famous. (the entire population wears plastic clothing in abiding loyalty to the plastic emperor even as we complain and critic on his billion dollar house). AND now we have the same cola giants giving us lectures on 'free trade and consumer right' nonsence and we recycle their opinions too!! 

FDI was first encouraged by the great economist-PM who implied he would welcome Clive with bouquets to come and screw this country.  But, much of the FDIs that came in the initial days, including that of the Cola majors was in terms of 'title change' (it is all there in the public domain), which means (in idiot language), corporates buying off existing titles of lands, products, productive capacities and linked markets of established brands, through 'merger and acquisition' in India rather than create any new prodution or employment. the two cola giants bought out every smaller brand and except the Kalimark and few others, no one stood up to them at that time and meekly sold and left the market. soda water till then sold for a few rupees was in the process jacked up in price in silent understanding between the two giants. this strategy of poaching and taking over markets and then becoming a cartel to control it is studied by our managament students as great 'lessons' in their management courses on free trading and markets!!

"Employment" if anyone cares to remember was the holy cow on which the entire boogey of FDI was sold to us by econ-PM (go search the blue lady ship judgement on the alang ship breaking yard) until uncle PC came around and broke that too with his famous statement, "if farmer can get value for land more than what he can by cultivating food for several years, he should better sell it" (that is what he said in all the plush irrigated lands in sriperambadur being sold to the corporate houses that have since neither given jobs nor kept their industries but flighted to cheaper production facilities in vietnam). all these transfer of titles was facilitated in the name of celebrations of FDI in which crumbs were left for the tailwaggers and the chunk went to the foreign investors who kept crying foul for every regulation for them from environmental clearence to employment gaurentee. all these were DONE with policy celebrations of 'free trade' and 'improving consumer choice'!

BUT more importantly, the production facilities were subsequently motorized (we love to call it efficiency improvement 'automation' rather than call it 'job loss') quickly resulting in even lesser jobs than what was there before hand. we wiped out generations of production capacity among our population.

no one has paused to ask how much of jobs have been really created in each sector by FDI as against how many have been lost (if you count the lost ones including the agriculture lands, its labour force,etc.,). no one has paused to review the lands that have been donated to the different industries and how much subsidies were given as against how much of them have actually generated in terms of wealth for the poeple of this country. no one has paused to review what is the environment cost of all these lands bing donated with water above and below the soil to these 'free trade' facilitating juantas of vanity and asked if these can actually be justified. our current sponsored netas actually propose to relax the last vestige of protection by decapacitating village local bodies and environmental safe guards.

Free trade, my foot! that is an oxymoron in the current world if there was ever one.

here are small retail traders who have been pilloried by one assualt after another, both by the MNCs and the regulatory authorities, finally working up the courage to stand up and speak up for the consumer health. and, what kind of perverted mind will come up with arguments of free trade and consumer choice.

small traders have never been cared for or protected by any government since the onset of free trade and liberalisation. they don't exist in the government mindspace during creation of any policies or rules. Management schools are not set up at subsidised cost to produce sales men for their shops, economists don't talk about the interest of these traders during the budget debates the way they talk about the share markets or the large corprorate interests, lobby groups and PR slimy creeps don't come cheap for these small traders to hire them and sell their interest to bureacrats and politicians...i can go on. maybe someone will try and dig up some marginal facts against each of these statements to claim i am wrong. but, that is not the point, the point is this - DOES FREE TRADE PROVIDE THE TRADER WITH THE RIGHT TO SELL UNHEALTHY FOOD AND BEVERAGE TO ME IN THE NAME OF CONSUMER CHOICE? TO WHAT PERCENTAGE? CAN WE AS CONSCIOUS (hmm...if such a thing exists) CONSUMERS, ACTUALLY SEEK EACH RETAILER TO DECLARE OUTSIDE HIS OUTLET HOW MUCH PERCENTAGE OF THE STUFF HE SELLSIS GARBAGE? We can demand that as consumers, after all it is our right. MOST SUPER MARKETS WILL SCORE RATHER POORLY and we will never be able to demand anything like that.

we are entering a new ethos of retailing that says, "consume what we provide because that generates maximum profits for us". against this ethos our traders federation have unwittingly invoked a tradition ethos of stating, "we will not sell a product that we know is causing ill health". as a consumer, this is an important gesture even if it is small and not uniform nor most sincerely implemented. this is the time to debate the ethos of retailing and in that context to discuss what has this great phenomena of free trade done to us as people, psyche, productive capacities, production, land and water, eco-system, inter-being and community life, leisure, humour and sense of pride. otherwise, the fishing women and other producers, processors, manufacturers, farmers, weavers and the several other  surviving vocations will fast disappear and with that will disappear our freedom as a society and a nation.


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