Yes, the whole thing reeks of a PR campaign, and a badly staged one at that. However:-
India isn't part of EU. There was an entire non-violent revolution over exact this point. EU guidelines on colas have as much to do with India as Indian laws of cattle treatment have to do with the EU. That this report goes out of it's way to paint colas as bad by a foreign countries regulations indicates to me that the colas are perfectly fine under Indias regulations (although I could be wrong, I don't know jack about Indian good regulation laws).
Let's be precise here:- the non-violent revolution was against the British colonial system, which was so authoritarian and racist, that Indians weren't even allowed to walk on some city-streets. (The Mall in Shimla comes to my mind).
We however, reverted to friendship immediately after August 15th, 1947; after all, it was a loyal, royal Brit, Lord Mountbatten, who became independent India's first Governor General. And his was not a stray case; important to acknowledge the positive contribution of other Europeans, such as Dr Verrier Elwin, or the Late Mr Larsen (the founder of the Indian construction conglomerate, Larsen and Toubro) to the making of contemporary India.
Which is partly why Indian jurisprudence has a long tradition of being influenced by European laws and values. The Preamble to the Indian Constitution declares liberty, equality, fraternity and justice as our core values, something that's wholly inspired by the French Revolution. The legislature system is modelled after the existing one in Westminister, with only a few minor modifications to account for an elected President (or Governor in the case of states), and in the powers given to the upper house, the Rajya Sabha. The Directive Principles of state policy are oddly similar to the one in the Irish constitution, although the actual goals differ significantly in breadth and scope.
The European influence has continued even until recent times; the Delhi High Court (or is it the Supreme Court?) for instance, had regulated vehicular emissions on the basis of Euro I and Euro II norms. The ruling (Hindu-right-wing yada yada) Bhartiya Janata Party, without any irony, had argued for its coalition forming a government at the center on the basis of an Italian precedent. (It was ironic because the opposition Congress, was headed by Ms Sonia Gandhi, who is of Italian descent. Among other things, the BJP and its allies had opposed Ms Gandhi's candidature for her Italian roots)
So, citing European law on Indian legal matters is neither new nor is it wrong. Particularly when you consider the fact that there's no regulatory framework in place for soft drinks.
Let me get this straight. Coke's waste products are high in cadmium, which indicates that coke is removing cadmium from the actual product. Where exactly is the problem here? Would you rather Coke not removed the cadmium from their product so their waste is clean? Oh, wait, they're being accused of exactly that. Nevermind, apperently Coke has developed a magic process to remove enough cadmium to be called 'hazardous waste' AND still leave enough in the product to kill people. Almost sounds like a James Bond villians plot to destroy the world.
The article here doesn't make it clear, but as I understood it, the Coca Cola company gave that waste as free manure to the farmers in the nearby village. Already reeling under huge debts, the farmers lopped up the free manure without any reservations, until they realised it started stinking when it got wet.
My gut feeling tells me that Coca Cola wanted a cheap, yet publicity-friendly way of disposing its waste. Unfortunately, it didn't quite realise that the waste had hazardous substances, and more importantly, that the press would find about it, and pump some headlines into it.
You, and all the articles your linking to, seem to miss the central point. The central point is not how many pesticides are or aren't in colas. The central point is how many pesticides are in the local water supply the colas use. Quit whining that the Cola plants should clean up the water and start questioning why the government isn't. That's a solution that will help a whole lot of people besides just cola drinkers. Of course, it's also a solution the requires India to take responsability for it's own enviroment, change their actions that are harmful, and clean up their mess. Apperently it's easier to just bitch about foreign companies and keep the bad water.
Ya know, it's not as if the MNC's have a sterling record on environmental responsibility in India. The world's worst chemical disaster was caused by an international fertiliser company that accidentally spewed a hazardous gas, Methyl Iso Cynite, into an an unsuspecting Bhopal suburb 18 (?) years back.
Even Coke and Pepsi haven't exactly covered themselves in glory; in a highly irresponsible act, they had painted advertisements on ancient pre-historic Himalayan and Deccan rocks with non-soluble paint. The Supreme Court had censured and fined the companies for their transgression.
So yes, there's a reason why all there's a virtual cottage industry of non-governmental organisations that's cropped up in India, notwithstanding the fact that most of these NGO's are as rational and logical in their arguments as, say, Ann Coulter.
Obviously, the only way forward for India is to setup a regulatory framework in place. Personally, I'm a fan of independent regulatory authorities for governance, instead of adding another layer of legal bloat, which I suspect, is the first reaction that our knee-jerk politicians would want to take. (India already has the world's largest written constitution; a recent study showed that hardly 10% of all sections in the Indian Penal Code have ever been used).
The broad idea is this:- you setup a regulatory commission for foodstuffs, on the lines of the already existing Telephone Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), or the Insurance Regulatory Authority. The Commission acts independently of the government du jour, to avoid unnecessary political meddling in its affairs. It can't legislate laws, but can put forward policies regulating anything related to food (and its quality). It will also hear complaints from the public at large, and if necessary, hold public hearings for the issues at hand. Of course, it is finally accountable to the executive, in that, a Governor perhaps, can dismiss a certain regulatory board member if there are enough complaints against him. Or we could have another meta-commission to regulate the regulators using broadly the same procedures as the other commissions.
Any case, personally, I'm itching for this to go to the courts. The High Courts and the Supreme Court are known to be proactive in environmental matters; they have, on earlier occassions, taken even newspaper reports as Public Interest Litigations and delivered far-reaching judgements on how we treat our environment. This is still fairly early days; should be interesting how it all proceeds.
I, for one, am optimistic for India's sake.
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