Thursday, August 13, 2015

How India messed up the Maggi episode! Is there no accountability for the rashness of the state apparatus?

The consumer affairs minister has been recently bragging that India has demolished the "Goliath" like Nestle after filing a damage suit for Rs 600 plus crores after the Maggi noodle was unceremoniously banned by another foolish government agency FSSAI. Where is the sanity gone when such reckless steps are taken by government babus and ministers, in the name of consumers who are being harassed by food adulterators and fraudsters roaming around the country freely without any fear or retribution? Targeting reputed manufacturers like Nestle for "teaching" a lesson is just madness and counter productive. Hear what the Mumbai High court said to day about natural justice not being done by the government agencies, which are drunk with power but not accountable in any way! Read how the government is bragging about its "achievement" and one cannot help feeling a sense of dismay at these developments.

India is suing the Swiss food giant Nestlé for nearly $100 million, two months after banning the company's Maggi noodles for what Indian officials said were dangerously high levels of lead. The government announced Wednesday that it has filed a suit against Nestlé, seeking damages from the Indian arm of the company for "unfair trade practices," AFP reported.  Nestlé expressed its "disappointment" over the complaint in a statement, saying in part, "Nestlé India maintains the highest standards of food quality and safety in the manufacture of all its products." This case represents the first time India's Consumer Affairs Ministry has charged a company before the quasi-judicial National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, reports the Economic Times of India.  "For the first time, the government has filed a class action suit against Nestlé India to send a strong message to companies that they cannot sell sub-standard products in the country and put consumers' health at risk," said an unnamed Economic Times source. In their petition, the ministry charged that Nestlé misled consumers with claims that Maggi instant noodles were healthy, and noted that their packaging claimed "no added MSG," but that government officials found levels of monosodium glutamate well in excess of legal limits.

Now that government has received a rap on its knuckles from the judiciary, will it learn any lesson from this episode? Very unlikely! There are hundreds of claims made by different manufacturers with no scientific evidence and these are ignored by the very same government to the perils of the consumers. How one can justify the claim that a brand of beverage can increase height, brain power, stamina etc of children and such claims are aired day in and day out on the electronic media through saturated and disgusting commercials! It is beyond common sense as to why government has cherry picked on Nestle only? If the out come of this sordid saga goes in favor of Nestle, who will pay for millions of rupees lost by this company because of the action of a few bureaucrats. Is it not natural justice that those responsible for bringing down the image of the country is punished severely? Any reparations to be paid eventually must be booked to the officials and politicians who were behind this reckless episode.  


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