January 26, 2017 2:24:34 am
WITH MANY protesters in the week-long Jallikattu agitation in Tamil Nadu calling for a boycott of multinational brands such as Coke and Pepsi, the state’s biggest merchants’ association is appealing to members to not stock products manufactured by these companies from March 1. Protesters at many places had sought a ban in view of what they called massive exploitation of groundwater by these companies and bottling plants in many parts of the state.
A M Vikramaraja, president of Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangangalin Peramaipu, a merchants’ association that represents 6,000 affiliated associations and 21 lakh shops, said he would campaign among traders and consumers about the evils of these multinational brands in the lead-up to March 1. Many hotels, restaurants and shops in Coimbatore and some in Madurai and Trichy have begun boycotting soft drinks sold by MNC brands. Vikramaraja said health problems are a big concern, and said they are proposing a boycott of all brands owned by these two companies.
To replace them, Vikramaraja hopes that many local brands that had to go into a shell due to the competition unleashed by these MNCs and sustained by their deep pockets — Kalimark, Mappillai Vinayagar Soda company, Torino, among others – will make a comeback. “Many brands that failed to sustain in the competition with these MNCs have started preparations to revive production,” he claimed. K Chandru, a retired Madras High Court judge who was an activist in the 1970s and ‘80s, pointed out that the most recent example of a ban — “on Maggi noodles by the government” — was successfully challenged in court. “However, this self-imposed ban by the traders may help native brands such as Kalimark,” he added.
Kalimark is a 100-year-old local brand that manufactures and supplies carbonated and non-carbonated drinks. In Tamil Nadu, almost each district is known to have a signature home-grown soft drink brand – such as Kalimark or Mappillai Vinayagar Soda in Madurai, owned by Mappillai Vinayagar Soda Company, started in 1909 — but there is a big question mark on the capacity of these small firms to invest and raise funds to replace the huge demand for MNC brands in the state.
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