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Knee-jerk responses

When The Da Vinci Code was about to be released in India,  some Christian organizations made a big fuss about it. Concerned about the consequences, the  some states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Meghalaya and Nagaland  banned the movie even though it was cleared by the censor board. Later the High Court of Andra Pradesh gave a well deserved lecture to the Government of YSR Reddy saying that “The Constitution does not confer or tolerate such individualized hyper-sensitive private censor intrusion into and regulation of guaranteed freedom of others”. The Chennai High Court said that it would be dangerous to allow the State to straitjacket the right to freedom of expression.

Due to the intervention by the courts, the movie was released. Kerala did not join this madness and allowed the movie to be released and it did very well. Newton’s third law states that if you don’t have a knee jerk reaction for one controversy, you can always do it for another.

When an NGO lab came up with test results that 11 soft drink brands had pesticide residues more than permissible limits by BIS standards, Kerala State Govt. banned the production and selling of Coke and Pepsi. In a strange twist the other nine brands (Pepsi Caffechino, Mountain Dew, Mirinda Orange, Mirinda Lemon, Duke Lemonade, 7 Up, Thums Up, Limca and Fanta) in which pesticide residue was detected by CSE were not banned. Now both Coke and Pepsi are selling for large prices in the black market.

The state government did not even bother to wait for reports of testing from a Govt. lab before putting the ban order. They did not even question if CSE is qualified to perform these tests. What if I conduct some tests in my home tomorrow and clear both Pepsi and Coke? Will the Govt. withdraw the ban? The West Bengal Govt. in the mean time collected samples from state and sent it to different labs for testing and the results say that the drinks are safe. So why is one Communist state banning the product while the other has no problem with it?

“Bengal isn’t Kerala. There is a lot of difference between the two states. The people in Kerala speak a different language,”Bose said after a Left Front meeting in Kolkata on Wednesday.[Colas get ‘Lal Salaam’ in Bengal]

Who can disagree with that?

See Also: Anand has a better explanation.

2 Responses to Knee-jerk responses

  1. etlamatey August 19, 2006 at 12:06 pm #

    I dont understand this whole thing about “Is CSE qualified to conduct these tests”? CSE is a advocacy and dissemination organisation and they never pretend to be anything but that.

    Their stated job is to whistle-blow on environmental matters and that is what they are doing. When they give you their test results, they fully well expect you to run your own tests.

    CSE’s lab has has only as much legitimacy in such matters as Zee TV’s meteorologist has in matters of weather. To question if CSE’s lab is qualified is like asking if as extraneous as asking if Tehelka.com’s cameraman in sting operations was certified.

    CSE’s message is clear. There are pesticides in your Coke, and it is more than likely that these pesticides are all over your food chain. Useless bickering about CSE’s legitimacy undermines this message.

  2. Chandra August 20, 2006 at 12:35 pm #

    Etlamately, I don’t think your analogy to a cameraman is valid. Chemical testing, especially when looking for contaminants at parts per billion (ppb), is not easy. One not only has to be qualified to do the test, but the equipment has to be high quality and the procedures including sampling and calibration have to follow established procedures. It is not a laymen job.

    1 ppb is equivalent to 1ml pesticide in 10,00,000 liters cola – if one were using 5ml sample of cola to test the contamination, imagine what the contamination has to be. Measuring environmental samples, while done routinely, is not an inexact science.

    If they want to kill the 1000 crore cool drink industry, destroying thousands of jobs, because of ideology, they better be clear what they did and how they did it – not just showing some data and asking us believe it because they said so.

    A more adept analogy would be creating a fake sting just to prove a point. Credibility of test, including methodology, matters.

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