|E D I T O R I A L
P A G E
Thursday, August 26, 1999
mother-figure to all
not well with cola consumption
Swaraj could be secured
THE economy is in reasonable shape, the RBI drones, but needs regular exercise and some tonic. There are bright spots as also grey ones. In the first category fall signs of industrial recovery (with a growth of about 5.2 per cent), on top of record agricultural production. The economy could grow by a healthy 6 per cent or thereabout. Inflation is still very low, the trend rate being 5.2 per cent, the same as the increase in retail prices. There is a puzzle here though. Money supply has been very high, 18.4 per cent, triggered by a record level of fiscal deficit. And conventional wisdom has it that the infusion of funds of this size into the system to balance the government account books will stoke inflation. This has not happened, and why? The RBI, after years of tireless warning of budget deficit transmitting an irresistible impulse to boost prices, has to fall on the little used lag theory. This explains why this years gluttony may lead to next years indigestion. But the same theory gets a knock at the hands of the same RBI when it comes to explaining the welcome turnaround in the economy. It says the sluggish growth last year was due to a reduction in public investment, a condition unchanged for some time now.What has happened to the lag effect in this case?
The central banks annual report hints at a lowering of the interest rate. In dense prose, it links this overdue measure to low inflation and the need to lubricate the ongoing industrial revival. That sounds altruistic since a prime obligation of the RBI is to regulate credit and the cost of credit (interest rate) to control price rise. The real objective of the bank maybe something else and it comes out in a separate chapter. It says that the nationalised banks are flush with funds but no one wants to borrow. Genuine investors take advantage of easy access to foreign lenders and raise low interest loans. The result is extraordinary. Commercial banks have been forced to park their excess money in government securities which do not normally offer a yield of more than 12 per cent. A cut in interest rate will help the banks in two ways. One, it may tempt investors to raise loans and benefit from the return of the growth path. Two, it will certainly force them to prune the interest on deposits and thus earn a profit even on government paper. As it is, the RBI has cut the bank rate thrice from 10.5 per cent to 8 per cent, thereby nudging the prime lending rate down by 2 percentage points to 12-12.5 per cent. Another foray into this area is strongly suggested.
The RBI is somewhat
overoptimistic about maintaining the rupee value. The
foreign exchange kitty is more than adequate. Exports are
looking up, particularly software exports, and
remittances are a source of hope. The current account
deficit is still less than 1 per cent of the GDP,
something that most countries will envy in view of the
growth rate. Repayment of instalments of foreign debt and
interest is under control. All these should insulate the
rupee from any sudden attack. The central bank can still
blunt an attack by buying up the rupee or by increasing
the interest rate on selected borrowings, something it
has gained expertise in. There is one snag though. If the
sentiments turn violently against the rupee, the
destabilising impact will be tough to quell and it will
take long also. Like in war and love, even in foreign
exchange management, one needs lots of luck.
Now "rakhi" politics
PRIME Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee should count himself lucky that the post-Indira Gandhi Congress evidently lacks the ability of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the matter of magnifying electoral mistakes of political rivals into major blunders. An alert opposition would by now have been on the rampage, exposing the duplicity of the BJP on the issue of keeping the Kargil operation above political controversy. The latest in a series of not so subtle attempts by the BJP, and its soulmates in the Sangh Parivar, to drag the name of the armed forces into electoral politics deserves unqualified condemnation by concerned citizens and even non-political organisations. According to reports, Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists recently gained entry in large numbers in the Defence Headquarters in South Block with the ostensible and seemingly noble objective of sending 50,000 "rakhis" to "our brother jawans" in Kargil. They brought photographers with them for covering the "momentous event". What exposed the devious political intentions of the VHP was the fact that the special "rakhis" for the jawans carried images of lotus, symbol of the BJP. Of course, a large number of "rakhis" carrying the hand symbol of the Congress too were received by Defence Headquarters for the Kargil jawans. It goes without saying that by trying to play the VHP game the Congress lost yet another opportunity for questioning the promised neutrality of the BJP on the Kargil issue during the election campaign. In overall terms the BJP is, of course, streets ahead of the Congress in using the name of the armed forces for electoral gains.
The process of making
political use of the services of senior defence officers
had started even before the announcement of the election
schedule when a special military briefing on the Kargil
conflict was arranged for senior BJP leaders. It is
virtually impossible to reason with the members of the
Sangh Parivar and hardcore elements in the ruling party
that the consistency with which the promise of not
politicising the Kargil issue is being violated is
undermining the credibility of Mr Vajpayee as an
"able leader". For the Prime Minister having to
express regret virtually every day for the questionable
actions of the members of the Sangh Parivar is certainly
not sound political strategy. Indira Gandhi would by now
have stolen the thunder from the BJP. However, the
campaign managers of Mrs Sonia Gandhi are making even
neutral observers say that the Congress may prove to be
the worst enemy of the Congress in the current round of
Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. The most recent proof
of the Congress leaders having lost the political
instinct of making the most of the openings being
provided by the ruling party on a regular basis is the
advertisement put out by it in most newspapers on
Wednesday on the Kargil theme. Just a single sentence in
the ad that "Kargil is not a victory" has the
potential to make the Congress self-destruct. It is much
more than an example of bad copy writing. Who has the
patience to read the sentence in the context in which the
Congress would like it to be read?
Unwisdom in Dhaka
THE sporadic boom of guns at a section of the India- Bangladesh border over the past four days has been an unfortunate development, particularly from the Indian point of view. A senior security officer based at Dhaka has gone to the extent of calling what began as bouts of unprovoked firing on Indian border posts as Indian "aggression"! The Bangladeshi High Commission in New Delhi has spoken of a "disputed" village near the Tripura border and justified the action of the jawans of the Bangladesh Rifles against the Indian Border Security Force personnel. Flag meetings have resulted only in brief lulls. India's peaceful intentions must never be in doubt in regimes governed by persons with a sense of recent history. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's daughter and she has the first-hand knowledge, with other grown-up Bangladeshis and their path-finders, of India's role in the birth of her nation after the Pakistani genocide in erstwhile East Pakistan. The Indo-Bangladeshi border is long and porous. The only guarantee of peace all along the well-defined dividing line lies in the reposing of total trust in Indian friendship and cooperation. Strange, hawkish and fundamentalist elements have beleaguered Sheikh Hasina and a few of her top advisers. They are people with a non-secular past represented by Begum Khaleda Zia and General H.M. Ershad in their own destructive ways. The two do not want what the grateful Bangabandhu wanted: good-neighbourly relations with India.
Did Prime Minister Atal
Behari Vajpayee travel by bus to Dhaka for sightseeing?
His was a goodwill visit with a purpose. He wanted to
show to his counterpart that he did not see bilateral
relations through the prism of a gain-and-loss apparatus.
Trust was to be reciprocated with trust. This has not
happened. Sheikh Hasina should take note of India's
increasing concern over the anti-India (and
anti-Bangladesh) activities of Pakistan's Inter-Services
Intelligence. The huge amount of RDX seized recently near
Siliguri was routed through Bangladesh. The North-East
has been witnessing large-scale infiltrations of
Pakistan-trained terrorists. In fact, terrorism and
violence are being exported to India via Bangladesh in
spite of the unforgettable Indira-Mujib bond and a treaty
of friendship. The allegation that BSF men crossed the
border and entered Bangladeshi territory in "hot
pursuit" of ISI men after the recovery of 30 kg of
RDX is false. Sheikh Hasina should allow the secular
spirit of her father to prevail in her sovereign and
bilateral dealings. The chronic water dispute has got a
workable solution. The
trade route should benefit Bangladesh as well as Nepal.
Bangladeshi guns should be turned at Pakistani
infiltrators and saboteurs. The two Bengals are more used
to Nazrul Geeti and Rabindra Sangeet than to the noise of
QUESTION OF RESERVATION
SINCE one swallow does not make a summer, one instance of judicial maturity will not at once bring about a dramatic change in public thinking on the question of reservation. It may take a long time for Indians to see that while the situation is politically inflammable, it is fundamentally an economic challenge that will continue to haunt the land until the government can bring itself to take unpopular economic decisions to promote growth. But a recent ruling of the five-member Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court could be the thin end of the wedge of good sense. It might enable people to acknowledge that it was a wise Commissioner of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes who warned against a vested interest in backwardness because the only answer to problems of inequality lies in creating greater opportunities for all.
It is worth recalling that when in the early years of Singapores independence, leaders of the local Indian community sought special protection, Mr Lee Kuan Yew asked them whether they saw themselves as the equivalent of Indias Harijans and Adivasis, to be fobbed off with educational and other quotas instead of being absorbed in the egalitarian mainstream that defines a meritocracy. Against this, it must be added that the liberal white leadership of the USA felt the need for positive discrimination so that blacks could be enfranchised in the fullest sense of the word.
That was a transitory requirement. So was reservation in India. The most telling evidence of Indias social and economic failure is that a system that was devised in 1950 for only 10 years should have been strengthened, expanded and perpetuated, with more and more communities applying for inclusion at each review. Equally dangerous, far from leading to greater equality, special privileges have encouraged what sociologists call the Brahminisation of the leaders of beneficiary groups.
The Mandalisation of politics under Mr Vishwanath Pratap Singh may have made reasoned debate impossible. Significantly, the Supreme Court was careful in its recent landmark decision to emphasise that it was not passing judgement on reservation, and that its verdict was confined to postgraduate education. Clearly, the subject is still too fraught with passion. Even so, the ruling that while there can be reservation for postgraduate medical and engineering studies, reserved category candidates must attain the same marks as others for admission to these courses goes against the tide of populist sentiment. If judges can strike a blow for educational and professional standards, opinion makers and community leaders owe it to national stability and social progress to take the case further and to reduce the prospect of continuing inter-caste conflict and arrest the alarming decline in quality.
Indeed, the majority verdict delivered by Justice Sujata V. Manohar has an application far beyond the parameters of caste dynamics. It is necessary in the public interest, she said, to ensure that candidates at the postgraduate level have not just passed the examination, but have profited from their studies in a manner which makes them capable of making their contribution and diagnosing difficult medical conditions with a certain degree of expertise. That is as true of Dalits as of Brahmins.
The question of upliftment must be cleared of age-old obfuscation. For obvious reasons, reservation policy has become entangled with the monstrosity of discrimination. This was so in America too where the busing protests against being confined to certain seats or not being allowed in others was seen as an extension of the system that denied blacks education and deprived them of jobs. It must be stated unambiguously that such discrimination must be stamped out with all the force of the law, police and public disapproval. Wells and temples, roads and burning ghats, schools and offices are for all: exclusion of anyone on the basis of birth is intolerable. But if that means unquestioning inclusion in all walks of life, it can only intensify social abuses instead of solving them.
Once ritual victimisation is stamped out, it would be easier to take a rational view of other problems. For years now, state governments have bent over backwards to woo large vote banks, thereby aggravating tension between their members and the so-called forward castes. That resentment often finds expression in reinforced forms of social exclusion unable to keep a Dalit out of school, especially when his admission is thought to be at the expense of a brighter or better qualified student from a higher order, village leaders will prevent his family from drawing water from the well. A forward caste backlash is one fear. Another is the stridency of the intermediate castes that may be hierarchically inferior but are often both moneyed and influential.
Caste not being synonymous with economic class, even certain groups of Brahmins sought the Mandal Commissions recognition. Little wonder that Jawaharlal Nehru suppressed an earlier report on the backward castes, rightly fearing that it would open a veritable Pandoras box. Not sharing Nehrus long-term national concern, Mr Singh allowed the prospect of electoral gain to drive out all sense of responsibility.
In trying to salvage what is left, India must always place foremost the interest of the depressed. But it is very shortsighted to imagine that this interest will be served by turning out third rate doctors and engineers who happen to be Dalits. In individual instances, this might mean a labouring familys transition to middle class status. But worthless qualifications will not enable him to consolidate promotion. Moreover, the short-cut is doing immense harm not only to professional education but also to public faith in professionals. The Supreme Court warned of this in the 1997 Sadhna Devi case when it held that if states abolished minimum qualifying marks for reserved category candidates who seek admission to postgraduate courses, merit will be sacrificed altogether.
In the present instance, the court has invoked Article 15(4) to defend its commendable and courageous stand. Earlier, it struck down an Uttar Pradesh government notification stipulating different admission criteria for reserved candidates. Without judicial intervention, India would be at the mercy of political freebooters. But in the final analysis, it is the political will that will determine the outcome. Ideally, the central government should review the reservation issue on a state-by-state basis, examine such anomalies as Karnatakas backward and more backward communities, and decide the extent to which the policy of reservation has upgraded the depressed classes and helped to strengthen the common Indian label. Being identified as community leaders, hamstrings Ms Mayawati and Mr Kanshi Ram, even the late Jagjivan Ram would say that he was an all-India leader who happened to be a Harijan. Ideally, too, and subject, of course, to the surveys confirmation, special privileges should be phased out gradually.
But while nothing can be done before the elections, it is doubtful if the new government that emerges at the Centre would be strong enough to contemplate so bold a step. These practical difficulties would be less daunting, however, if all political parties were at least persuaded to acknowledge the need to rethink the problem. It would be advance enough for the time being if they accepted that the salvation of historys downtrodden lies in a realistic prescription for economic growth and not in prolonging short-term palliatives that become counter-productive in the long term.
UN: the coming Indo-Pak showdown
THE UNs activities will get into top gear next month with the presence of dozens of Heads of State or Government and Foreign Ministers on the occasion of the 54h annual session of the Central Assembly. While the worlds major trouble spots would come up for a comprehensive survey and scrutiny, the Kargil conflict is certain to figure prominently both during the Assemblys deliberations and in bilateral talks in which world leaders will be engaged during their short sojourn in New York.
For Islamabad, which is still licking the wounds it suffered in its brief misadventure on the border, the General Assembly session provides a forum from which Pakistani leaders could seek diplomatic mileage over an issue that has been at the top of their national and international agenda. That they are unlikely to succeed in their desperate bid to win international support should act as a damper, but, for Pakistan, the Kashmir issue had been a hardy annual at the United Nations, and the Kargil debacle gives a new impetus to its familiar obsession.
Pakistans strategy will be to project itself as the victim of a big brothers hostile posture, but that will be a non-starter, since the world by now knows beyond any doubt that it was Islamabads armed intrusion beyond the Line of Control (LoC), which triggered the crisis and provoked Indias measured military response.
There was a time at the United Nations when India used to exercise its right of reply to repudiate Pakistans distortions on the Kashmir issue with the result that the exchanges turned into a ping-pong battle. But in recent years, India had adopted a new stance opting to ignore Pakistans allegations and charges. At the 50th commemorative session of the General Assembly in 1995, the then Prime Minister, Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao, in his address to the world body, skipped bilateral issues, saying the UN was not the appropriate forum to discuss them. In the following year, the then External Affairs Minister, Mr I.K. Gujral, despite the vituperative attack on India by Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, confined himself to telling the delegates that New Delhi attached highest importance to developing friendly relations with its neighbours. Indias non-reaction to Ms Bhuttos outburst was a great disappointment to Pakistani diplomats.
It is obvious that at the forthcoming General Assembly session India will have to give up that strategy, since Pakistan can be expected to pull out all the stops in trying to put New Delhi in the dock and to pursue its objective of internationalising the Kashmir issue. Already, Pakistani commentators have been gloating over the assumption that the Kargil conflict has helped to attract world attention on Kashmir. They are also making much of the assurance of President Bill Clinton that he would take personal interest, interpreting it to mean that he intends to bring India to talks with Pakistan.
Pakistan probably starts with an advantage in the coming diplomatic battle at the United Nations for the simple reason that India will be in the midst of the general election, when that General Assembly opens its session on September 14. World leaders will start arriving in the following week that will mark the beginning of a three-week general debate on the international situation. The indications are that the Pakistani Prime Minister, Mr Nawaz Sharif, will be in New York to personally solicit international support for his country. On the other hand, his Indian counterpart, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, will be in New Delhi in a state of uncertainty over the future of his coalition government. He can only despatch his Foreign Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, who being a Rajya Sabha member, can afford to airdash to New York in late September in the midst of the elections. Not that Mr Singh cannot handle the situation competently, but in bilateral talks Mr Sharif as Prime Minister will have an edge while meeting his counterparts. President Clinton, as the head of the host country, will open the Assemblys general debate, and he and his Secretary of State, Mrs Madeleine Albright, will spend a day or two in New York interacting with other world leaders on issues of international concern. The current tensions between India and Pakistan will certainly be on their agenda.
Pakistans efforts at the United Nations will also be aimed at persuading the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, to take a more active role in finding a solution to the Kashmir issue, but if recent statements of Mr Annan on the India-Pakistan confrontation provide any clue to his intentions, it is clear that the UN chief executive would prefer that the dispute between the two countries be resolved peacefully through bilateral talks, especially in the context of the firm rejection by India of any outside mediation or intervention. The same can be said of the stand of the Clinton administration. If the objective of Islamabad is to pressure the international community to get involved to settle the Kashmir issue, a senior US official was reported to have said recently, we are not going to play that game.
Like last year, international concern over the flexing of nuclear muscle by India and Pakistan will once again be voiced with appeals to both countries to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The nuclear issue assumes more significance in the context of the recent conflict between the two countries and New Delhis draft nuclear doctrine. Mr Jaswant Singh has indicated that he is ready to discuss the draft with Mrs Albright in New York next month and assuage Washingtons concerns in this regard.
apparently bent on pursuing its customary exercise of
bringing up the Kashmir issue at the United Nations,
Indian officials will be required to sharpen their
diplomatic skill more than ever before in order to expose
the Pakistani game. If the past record is any guide,
Pakistans attempts to internationalise what it
describes as the core issue will once again
end up in failure.
TRUTH, as the scriptures and visionary thinkers affirm, is the highest human value, and, therefore, inviolate, supreme. But we know from experience and reality, its not always possible to honour it, such being the nature of ethical complexities. Certain occasions do arise in certain extreme situations when to tell the truth could cause endless suffering to innocent people, and unwarranted injury to those trapped in this kind of crisis. How, then, are we to adhere to the truth as we know it, and still remain authentic, true to the salt of the spirit of things when a lie an honest, benevolent, compassionate utterance becomes an inner moral imperative. Thats an ethical dilemma which in the end carries us into a minefield of compromises if the spirit is weak, or into the fields of ambivalence if the imagination in travail has a Shakespearian range. However, in truly religious personalities, truth and dharma, or righteous conduct and duty, tend to coalesce at the highest level. For Guru Nanak, for instance, truth was indeed a very high virtue, but it needed to be lived in the context of human weal:
Truth is higher than everything else, But higher still is the living by truth.
This, of course, is not the place to get involved in the theories of truth in its relativity, in its indeterminacy, or in its partisanship. Great philosophers have voiced all manner of opinions, though in most cases, we end up on an agonised note of doubt and inquiry. Is the truth a divine category, and therefore, sacrosanct and immutable, or is it in the eye of the beholder, as a Japanese saying puts it? Were not likely to resolve the issue when the truth assumes the smile of a sphinx.
I referred earlier to the question or concept of ambivalence that needs to be explained if the drift of our argument is to be maintained. Those familiar with Shakespeares History plays or Roman plays in particular and with say, Melvilles American classic, Moby Dick, know how a sensitive, truthful and moral person caught in an ethical cleft has to clear his visionary path through equivocations and dodges to reach that stage which leads first to ambiguities, and then to ambivalence. Its perhaps the only ground that can hold an honest, perplexed soul. Ambivalence, then, compels the trapped spirit to swing between two equally attractive or plausible truths, and remain uncertain in a state of double truth, so to speak.
Let me clear up one thing at once. To talk of Janus-faced truth is not to talk of the Orwellian double speak or double think. For the latter category is meant to divert or bend or twist the truth. This dilemma becomes only real and authentic when the two truths in question appear to be equally valid, and equally distant. It is thus that a harassed mind seeks refuge in polarities, in fruitful ambiguities etc.
Which argument returns
us to the theme of benign or even
bright lies. Human history is full of
occasions when a person pushed into a moral
black-hole, or against a wall may have to
tell a lie to be true to the larger truths of life
truths that exceed facts and witnesses. For
instance, you may have to tell a lie in a court to save
the honour of an innocent woman, or in some other
context, save the life of a child, of a stricken old man.
For your alibi then overtops the situation, and affirms
the truth as you know it. Who knows when and where a
person may wither into the truth, to recall
Yeats beautiful line?
A mother-figure to all
SHE is the woman next door imple, soft-spoken, cordial and prompt to make friends with anyone that she comes across. Always bothered about hospitality like a typically traditionally Indian woman, she has not allowed modern surroundings and wide exposure to erode her conventional style of leading life. Full of compassion and kindness, she is like a mother-figure to all.
Manorma Jha, President of the Indian Revenue Service Ladies Association (IRSLA) of the northern region, has been brought up in a home where sharing and caring for everyone in society was the way of life. Our parents taught us not to be selfish and self-centered and to think beyond ourselves. She has been using this moto in her life ever since she can remember. Involved with IRSLAs activities from day one, she feels women should not waste not their life in leisure and pleasure.They must return and contribute whatever they can to society which has enabled them to be better placed than many unfortunates.
Yet she dismisses the compliment that she has been involved in the IRSLA activities day-in and day-out.Today my children have grown into their own lives which allows me to devote much more time to the activities of IRSLA, which is devoted to the service of our society. However, I respect my team of young ladies like our secretary Savy Singh, who despite loads of personal and official responsibilities have been whole-heartedly working for the IRSLA. It is they who need to be appreciated.
IRSLA has been active all over the country. It has 15 centres across the land. An annual review of the activities of all these centres is held to gauge the performance and expansion of their aims and objectives. IRSLA is primarily dedicated to the welfare of women and children, yet it has over the years spread its wings covering larger aspects as well. Every year all 15 centres compete with each other for various National awards. This year IRSLA of northern region has won three of these awards. Besides a rolling trophy for General Social Welfare, it was adjudged the best in the field of Welfare Activities for Children and welfare of Women. Interestingly the latter two awards have no second or third category thus pointing to the fact that out of all 15 centres, the northern region centre of IRSLA has done best in these two fields under the Presidentship of Manorma Jha.
In conversation with her:
Question: What is IRSLA? Would you elaborate?
Answer: IRSLA is a non-government organisation like many others that we have in our country. Initially we concentrated on the welfare of women and children only. However, as time passed and we gained experience, we realised that their welfare depends on many other aspects as well. For instance, the family atmosphere husbands attitude and habits, surroundings and environment, health and hygiene etc. So gradually we have begun covering all these grounds.
Q: What kind of activities is IRSLA involved in this region?
A: I think IRSLA is the first NGO to open a creche in its office premises itself. Our women employees can bring their children to office and they are taken care of. On the ground floor we have their creche and women can breast-feed their children and even supervise or feed older children.This not only keeps the mothers stress-free but also ensures that all these mothers jointly monitor hygiene and cleanliness that now even working women from adjoining offices have begun to bring their new-borns and toddlers to this creche. Within no time it has become economically viable and self-sufficient.
Q: Besides the creche, what are the other activities of IRSLA?
A: We have a couple of regular vocational courses for women. Besides we have opened a homoeopathy dispensary in our office colony in Sector-38. Then there is also a regular library for children. IRSLA regularly visits destitute homes, old age home, nari niketan, kusht ashram to help them with their dire needs like dentures, cycles for the handicapped, artificial limbs, scholarship for the needy etc. Recently we adopted seven destitute children. We have taken the responsibility to educate them besides providing them with clothes, books etc and a monthly allowance of Rs 100 for their better health-care.
Q: What else has IRSLA done especially to win three national awards?
A: Our IRSLA centre has been particularly appreciated for its role in adopting a village called Manaulli, near Chandigarh. We have tried to make it an ideal village. We take count of all its possible hassels and drawbacks. We have opened a homoeopathy dispensary there with a qualified doctor. In addition for a government-run allopathic dispensary IRSLA has built a room for gynae-related problems. Besides we have erected sheds for the patients in-waiting, put up fans and a motorised hand-pump.
At Manaulli our members
have been practically teaching children as to how to take
bath and take care of health and hygiene. They also
educated villagers as to why not to use polythene bags.
In fact we are stitching carry-bags made of cloth which
we intend distributing (at least two) in each home of the
village. We discuss with women about their problems and
try best to help them. We make sure in Manaulli that
children dont drop out of school for any reason. We
have been monitoring it regularly and thankfully today
every child from that village goes to school.
All not well with cola consumption
EXCESSIVE intake of soft drinks can stimulate de-calcification in living organisms, according to physicians reports and consumer watch dogs in Mexico.
Medical associations have been using the media, conferences, and workshops to raise public awareness about the side-effects of consuming high quantities of soft drinks which, in Mexico, average some 160 lts a year per resident.
This consumption, according to figures from the Non-governmental Mexican Association of Studies for Consumer Defence (AMEDEC), represents annual sales of $ 11.8 billion for the transnationals soft drink manufacturers.
Excessive consumption of soft drinks constitutes the gravest distortion of our eating habits, says AMEDEC. Besides the zero proteins, vitamins and minerals contained in soft drinks, they can cause appetite loss and malnutrition.
The giant corporations that dominate this sector spend $ 500 million a year on advertising, with which they influence Mexicans to lower their intake of nutritional foods like milk, which costs 35 cents less than a bottle of soft drink, says AMEDEC.
To reverse the deep-rooted trend among Mexicans of drinking excessive amounts of cola, the best thing we can do is to unconditionally tell our patients not to ingest these products, Claudio Argote, one of the doctors campaigning against soft drinks, says.
After extensive research, doctors are focusing on the dual objectives of educating the population about their nutritional needs and the harmful effects of drinking sweetened carbonated beverages.
The campaign only recently has begun to receive wide attention, adds Dr Argote, who is Vice-President of the Medical College of Cirujanos de La Laguna, headquartered in the city of Torreon in the northern state of Coahutla.
Medical studies support the hypothesis that cola consumption increases the incidence of fractures and reduces the amount of calcium in the bones. Soft drinks contain substances that are harmful to living organisms, but caffeine and phosphates are what makes these beverages particularly unhealthy.
Caffeine, in addition to creating an addiction, affects blood pressure, speeds up the heartbeat and provokes cerebral stimulation, doctors say.
The combination of refined sugar and fructose with phosphorous acid alters the balance of calcium and phosphorous, eventually even blocking iron absorption into the body, according to Dr Argote. At the same time, excessive consumption of phosphoric acid impedes calcium absorption.
THE President of the All-India Swaraj Party Conference, Mr C.R. Das, said yesterday that the question was, how Indians could secure Swaraj. He had put forward from different platforms his views of non-cooperation. He had been told that was not the correct view.
They must not fight about views. Whatever non-cooperation meant to other people, he did not know, but he knew what it meant to him and in the light of his understanding of the word he would maintain it that the only possible method of fighting this Government and winning Swaraj was by applying non-cooperation everywhere.
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