Even though a clarion call was given by the Confederation of Tamilnadu Vanikar Sangangalin Kootamaippu (Confederation of Tamilnadu Traders Forum) to ban the sale of MNC soft drinks including coke and Pepsi by its President A M Vikrama Raja in March 1, 2017, it seems the practice of selling those MNC drinks by shop keepers, cafes and hotels have returned and continue unabated to this day, uninhibited in most of the city shops.
Over 70% of total traders ( over 15 lakh ) have acquiesced to boycott the sale of the MNC drinks and most of the traders have stuck to their pledge initially when the call was given by the trader body; but later they threw their pledge to the winds and continue to sell those “boycotted” drinks.
An offshoot of Pro Jallikattu protests largely dubbed as “Thai Puratchi” was spearheaded by apolitical youth force in Tamilnadu. During the week-long protests the call for banning MNC soft drinks was taken up and it reached the crescendo of war cry, the sentiments of which was echoed by the decision made by the traders confederation, which led to the much-advertised boycott.
The youth of Tamilnadu including the ones who made VOC ground their venue in January 2017 smashed Coke and Pepsi bottles and vowed that they wouldn’t consume it again, as they wouldn't want an MNC to suck the natural resources of their state and yet inturn give the back, a product which is hazardous to health. Indeed, the protestors proposed the shop keepers to turn attention on authentic and healthy drinks like elaneer, fruit juices etc.,
Instead they promoted the sale and consumption of desi drinks such as tender coconut, Pathaneer, and badam milk which are nutritious drinks.
“But the initial euphoria has died down and many shops in the city continue to sell MNC soft drinks to the customers. Except a few youth and adults who are sticking to the pledge others too have conveniently forgotten their pledge” says a social activist.
SimpliCity spoke to Irudayaraja, District President of Vanikar Sangagalin Kootamaippu, which is behind the move to boycott the soft drinks, but did not enforce it on the members afterwards.
"When we have appealed to the traders to boycott the sale of MNC drinks, the move had received a good support from the traders across the state, who lent their whole-hearted cooperation and agreed to boycott the sale of the drinks. But the momentum was lost, when the MNC soft drink companies defaulted when the traders asked to return their deposits of Rs.10,000 and more. Competition from non-members also forced members to take to the sale of MNC soft drinks again”, Irudayaraja said.
Adding that the trader’s forum could not simply dictate anything to the members but only request for compliance, he said that the public should also stop drinking the MNC soft drinks to make the boycott a wholesome victory.
“However, the sale of coke and pepsi has dropped down to 50% of what it was before the ban", Irudayaraja said.
It is obvious that the youth force and the general public who took up the cause of boycotting these MNC drinks should practice it, as they preached during the protest to make the boycott campaign a successful one.