Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Milawat Ke Khilaf Jung: Of Adulteration And Compromised Quality

Fancy gulping down a glass of pure white milk or munching on some chopped salad of fresh, ripe fruits on a Saturday evening? I do. But it seems like a walk down the memory lane. I am yet to find a person who can vouch for the purity of the food he consumes. There is always the uncanny word ‘might’ sprouting up. 

My aunt brought a huge basket of big, red Kashmiri apples with a smug grin on her face. Her answer to the possibility of adulteration was, “It’s not a kirana shop. Big brands don’t indulge in such follies. Look at the size of these apples.
“Yeah, but can you give a word for them being 100% pure?”
“Of course not. There is always a possibility, you never know. But, nevertheless, they look so good.”


Mostly all food-items, today, come to us adulterated in various forms. You can line up fruits to vegetables to cereals to spices to dairy products that have adulterants mixed in shocking proportions. It’s common to come across dirt, pebbles and sand in the raw items purchased, as they are visible to the naked eye. But the story, as we all know, does not end there. Sadly, there are adulterants that are deliberately blended with the consumable products resulting in nothing but loss of health of the consumer and a profit for the adulterer. A profit. But at what cost?

The adulterers not only play with the color or texture of the products but with the life of those who consume them. These substances are harmful, they are undetectable by a common man and they are getting mixed in our diets in large quantities. News channels cover the facts of the chemicals that are a part of our daily lives. Dangerous chemicals, that is. You cannot rely on the festival sweets you lovingly offer the little kids at home because the milk has been diluted. You cannot be sure of the ghee on your chapatti because it must be a doctored version of a vanaspati. You cannot utter out “Oh, divinity” after devouring a large piece of mango because it most probably is injected.

Where does this take us? Should we really consider a life on Mars? Or is there a way we could get back the trust and health we’ve lost? Now I really didn’t have an answer to these till I came across the tagline of an advertisement saying, “Milaawat ke Khilaaf Jung”. The advertisement was no less interesting. One just had to dig into the matter – to know about what Subrata Roy led Sahara group had forayed into. It’s called Sahara Q-Shop.

Launched on Independence Day last year, this venture had caught many an eye and rose many an eyebrow, too. Who wouldn’t wonder if out of nowhere a big name like Sahara comes and promises to fight adulteration? Who wouldn’t be shocked to see the big guns, the star Indian cricketers, in an ad that shows them preparing for the next person’s funeral. That next person could be you, me or our beloveds. How endearing would it be to get our funeral rites from the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni?! A funeral much ahead of when it should’ve been. A funeral because there were toxic adulterants in the food on your table.

The message of the advertisement strikes hard because it’s true. But it’s in a negative light, cynical almost, plus the effect it might have on the mentality of the people could not be underestimated. Perhaps the reason why BCCI asked it to be banned. But, by the end of the same advertisement, Sahara Q-Shop comes with a promise that cannot be ignored. A simple look at their website would tell us of the achievable targets they talk about. Achievable AND effective.

Some of its advantages, as mentioned on the site, are:
● 100% commitment to quality
● Right weight/quantity
● 100% disclosure policy across all products
● Convenience of phone shopping
● 305 warehouses in 285 cities

With the availability of the Q-Shops in various localities and their public claim of reasonable prices with best quality, this venture is here to stay. It will get its customers sooner than later. And who knows if it might just change the whole retail picture. The positives it provides are most welcome in a time of deflating trust and inflating prices.

If Sahara can make its mark this time, it will have won a huge battle – not only for the society in general but for its own staggering reputation. This venture is a drowning man’s straw, in more ways than one. It’s a real challenge in a real world and no one is going to cut them some slack. One can only hope it works out the way it was intended to. Or else, there is always Mars to look forward to.

 Also published on Youth ki Awaaz

Friday, 5 April 2013

My Attire, My Choice

As a kid, I remember, I was never allowed to wear shorts or sleeveless tops. “But Papa,” I’d try to reason, “What’s wrong with it?” He’d squint his eyes and I’d know that I needed to change into something ‘decent’ ASAP, never understanding why.

But, today, when I bring those distant memories and the daily encounters with reality together, the picture is much clearer but absurd at the same time. A woman’s choice of her attire is considered a man’s business. If the man does not find it socially acceptable, she is supposed to ethically withdraw from her ‘whims’ and get into something appropriate. 

Defy it, lady, and you shall be called a slut. Sounds familiar?

This is the society that’s afraid to accept anything new. This is the society that will mock at you just because you care more about your comfort than their chiding remarks. This is the society that will try to disgrace you because you choose to ignore their mocking grins.

Isn’t it purely logical that if it’s my body, it IS my right to dress it up the way I choose? Why is decency weighed by the length of clothes and not by the intentions? How can clothes be a reason to justify a rape or harassment? Does the same society not think that if provoking men by clothes alone is enough, they are too easy? How then are we women the sluts?

Surely, reading about the Constitution of India, we were bound to understand that we have the freedom to express ourselves by the things we talk, the dresses we wear, the professions we choose, the ambitions we follow and the art we create. It’s too late to tell us otherwise.

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