Nepali Times
Juicy gossip


Business as usual? Dabur Nepal's plant in Parwanipur, Bara

Twenty people died across Canada two years ago when meat-slicing machines at Maple Leaf Foods contaminated the production line and set off a listeriosis outbreak. This summer, salmonella traced to contaminated eggs made 2,000 people sick in the US. And Britain's Health and Safety Executive routinely hauls out rats and cockroaches from London's Chinese and Indian restaurants on live TV, not to mention the rat-in-a-bread-loaf disgrace of 2005.

The mission of feeding the world has never been fully hygienic. But it becomes downright filthy when jingoism is added to the mix.

The recent juice jolt in Nepal could have been triggered by something as mundane as a nail piercing a juice carton, shipments stored in a damp warehouse, a mouldy fruit on a conveyer belt, a disgruntled employee chucking a scrap into the production line, or a combination of all these.

But apparently it is wiser to suppose than to find out exactly what happened. All those wedged in this whirl are now poster boys for a textbook on idiocy.

First, the media went into a frenzy with cherry-picked facts. I wonder if any journalist bothered spending some time in Dabur's factory in Rampur to learn if the juice scare could be traced back to the production line. Some declared war on the company, some sensitised the public, and some just chose to hug the honey pot. The lack of rigorous investigation was appalling.

Then there was the company management. If you get into a fight, you don't go running to your daddy. That's cool only when you're in elementary school.

Take the 'Pepsi panic' in the US back in 1993. A pensioner tampered with a can of diet Pepsi by putting a syringe into it. The media picked up the story, dozens of copycats replicated the hoax across the country, and Pepsi faced a catastrophe. But they simply involved the Food and Drug Administration, traced the tampering, and came out with a full page advert in newspapers over a summer weekend that said, "Pepsi is pleased to announce...nothing". The public were handed out drink coupons with slogan, "Thanks, America."

No one expects Dabur to be that classy and imaginative. But involving the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control to look into its production facility and asking for a clean chit from the government; asking the Nepal-India Chamber of Commerce and Industries to help with damage control; taking the media on a fact-finding trip; and putting across the message that a company of that scale would never mess about with the health of the people who help it to make a profit would surely have saved the company from the mess it is in today.

The government, as one would expect, never got off its sorry ass to find out if Dabur's recklessness was actually to blame. If they had, the ones responsible could have been brought to book and charged with criminal negligence, sending across the image of a responsive bureaucracy. And if Dabur was found to be clean, the government, which pays itself a salary with the money from tax paid by companies like Dabur, should have protected the company with all its might from the sustained slurs.

Then there is Lainchaur's abundance of folly and total lack of finesse. They say a diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip. Someone there could clearly do with a copy of Diplomacy for Dummies if there is one, if their own 'how to screw up' guide to diplomacy has not yet gone to the press, that is.

Sifting through newsprint consignments, switching between being an ambassador and a spokesperson for a private company, and attempting to preach to the Nepali media was all a little bit of diplomatic comedy gone stale. But it went beyond funny when a politician was threatened with his life and a girl's education was used as leverage.

India builds us hospitals and helps us save lives. India also builds us roads so that our farmers can sell their fresh vegetables in the market. India builds us schools in out-of-the-way villages so that our girls end up in classrooms instead of Kathmandu's dance bars. All that and more, while romantic Europeans are busy brooding over inclusive democracy with their handpicked native flatterers over a bottle of Chardonnay in Kathmandu's swish hotels.

But the loathing India evokes in the minds of many Nepalis is once more at peak levels. Our politicians simply do not have the intellectual capacity to strategise relations with a country we should have been best of friends with. So it comes down to the louts at Lainchaur. Someone there is clearly not doing the job right. Is it time for Mr. Sood to go back for good?

Trade diplomacy, SANJAYA BARU
Real respect

1. Marc Luc-Jones
Marvellous stuff, old chap. Must say, this rather excellent article will certainly fuel the dinner conversation between myself, Javier, Annke and Ganesh-ji at the Hyatt tonight. One small point of order though - Chardonnay?! Really, how insulting! This isn't the 1990's you know.

2. pravasi nepali
The embassy didn't beg the maoists mp to admit his daughter at kendriya vidyalaya. I know these kind of people very well. They disturb the education of children throughout kathmandu by staging bandhs; and they keep their children in best of places where there is full security just like kendriya vidyalaya inside embassy.To secure admission; we need all sorts of "bhann-sunn".then ; he tries to challenge his benefactor. This is bound to happen.

3. pravasi nepali
We should protect the foreign companies who are providing us with jobs and revenue. A small attack against dabur will make future investors run away from nepal. Je gare pani; we aren't getting FDI. FDI is very essential for the transformation of our country. Do u know why maoists are opposing it? they want to get crores of chandaa from the businesspersons. nepal is doomed.

4. whatever
businesses are always easy pickens, gather your thugs and shake the tree. And afterwards piss on the trunk. Its extra special, when its a foreign tree. 

p.s. Dabur, I always tell the cha pasal: Dai, chini kum! 

5. Kamal Kishor
Excellent!! I wish I could put it that way!! What a wonderful article??? This is called journalism!!!!

6. chandra Gurung
you are intermixing two things: the conduct of embassy(bad) with the conduct of maoists in extorting (bad). Neither justifies another.

Regarding FDI, I agree with you, but look it cuts both ways. Nepal is 3 crore population and people now have  money. So, it is a market they are best placed to exploit if they have a factory here. Don't tell me that any company is here because they want to serve Nepal. They all are looking at their own bottomline.

Trade is about mutual benefit and we need to protect it, and the long term solution lies in Dabar talking to Nepalese authorities rather than going to Lainchaur and issuing a statement. If anything, Dabar loses its credibility by acting as an Indian agent.

Only one thing can guarantee their interest in Nepal: govt of Nepal and the regulations of Nepal. Not so -odd.

7. nirmal

Very thought provoking. nepal has thinker, futurists. What  the hell is happening to the politics, they are always not doing right things in time.

Hope the beurocrats, NETAs can read this article and provoke their thoughts.

love it!!

8. Rajaram
The writing is excellent. Any one at the top in Lainchour will act like a Viceroy; Mr.Sood or Mr.X. This article should better not have that harsh remark on one individual. This is a typical immaturity of our local thinking which we can never overcome.After all in the ultimate analysis we have to line up with the rest.
Best course for us is to grow;economically, politically,socially.
Ke gar chhas mangale afnai dhangale. If we still continue  accepting these type of Political Orphans as our leaders such things will go on repeating all the time ,round and round.  we are all aware of our politicians approaching Indian Embassy to seek favours like scholarship, free medical treatments,etc etc.  Let one of them without sin cast the first stone.
Because of our political generals we always loose our wars.So at the time of crisis there is none to take over. otherwise when generals fail the politicians take over and vice versa,in other situation.

 Isn't it high time to start Nepal Swabhiman Andolan?

Noblesse oblige.Let us first set our house in order.

9. wtf

So this article is a repeat from last issue.

I'm surprised how everone is liking it so much. Not that the writing is not bad, but what is the premise of the article? What is the dabur issue?

The reader is assumed to know some 'dabur scandal' happened, and he /she should read the author's fine analysis around it, and for dessert, appreciate some India bashing.

Someone replied to be on the same question I asked on last week's post. He said, not in those exact words, the weekly is published in Nepal, the columnist should not have to write the details of the issue (???) and everyone in Nepal knows what the issue is.

Ok, maybe the articles should come tagged with a warning: 'For local reading only' then, since, for someone like me, without knowing the actual plot, I can't even imagine what the ranting around it is for.

Editors listening?

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)