In today’s interlinked world, such bans based on emotion may not work too well.
There’s a touch of xenophobia to Tamil Nadu traders’ call to boycott aerated soft drinks like Coca-Cola and Pepsi — a throwback to exactly 40 years ago when Double-Seven cola appeared as a fierce nationalism debate erupted in the wake of the momentous events that saw the dethroning of the Indira Gandhi-led Congress. Needless to say, the desi cola had a short shelflife. The rationale behind the current boycott call is that America’s PETA had opposed Jallikattu, the traditional bull-taming sport reflecting the valour of Tamils, and so multinational products from a US base should be shunned. Had the students behind the jallikattu protests voiced an opinion against all aerated drinks as a possible health hazard and suggested natural substitutes, it might have been possible to appreciate these sentiments against colas.
The irony isn’t lost as the movement against the foreign colas started as the two giants just won a case to lift a stay on drawing water from Tamirabarani river. But this was a clear case of discrimination against the cola makers as they were among firms operating from a state industrial park and others were being supplied the same river water freely. In today’s interlinked world, such bans based on emotion may not work too well. While it’s too early to judge what may happen to the sizeable direct and indirect employment to thousands that the two coal giants offer, it was a kneejerk reaction to threaten campus recruitment may leave out Tamils if the boycott persists. A consumer has wide choices in today’s world: it’s best left to him to choose.