Earlier this year, the Tamil Nadu government said that it was banning Coca-Cola and Pepsi from selling products in the state, and now the state of Kerala is doing the same. While during the drought that’s hit Kerala badly, local shopkeepers have decided to promote local brands over the multinational drinks.
The problem arose when it became clear that these soft drink companies were taking too much water from the rivers to manufacture the products and sell it at a higher price. In Tamil Nadu, this came to light and became a huge point of contention during the Jallikattu protests in the city. Now, Kerala is following suit and focusing on supporting the local manufacturers as opposed to continuing to sell the products from the multinational companies.
Currently, drinks from Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have a 96% hold on India’s $4.9 billion soda market and with this ban, the products will no longer be available in almost 1 million shops.
Fights over water and rights to water is not a new thing, it’s just increased and multiplied over the years due to multinationals like Pepsi and Coke coming in at a time when drought is taking away the livelihood of many a farmer in the Southern States. The onslaught of summer and failed monsoons have dried out the rivers and dams, forcing farmers and others to rely on wells to meet their needs.
“The root cause for the boycott isn’t the multinational companies, but the enduring fight between industrial users and farmers, especially in several drought-hit states,” P.L Beena, an associate professor at Centre for Development Studies in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala said. She also added by saying, “On top of that, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to companies to ‘make in India’ has given rise to a pro-India push and, in some cases, an anti-foreigner backlash — that’s supporting local brands. With Modi at the center, many activist groups and political parties are taking their agenda to the street more strongly than they have in the past instances.”