LOCAL PROTEST

Why Mumbai's Muslim neighbourhoods aren't selling soft drinks during Eid

To protest against Israel's strikes on Gaza, some shop owners are boycotting products made by companies headquartered in the US, whom they see as a silent spectator.

As Muslims celebrated Eid after fasting during the month of Ramzan, one popular item was missing from several tables in Mumbai’s Mohammad Ali Road: aerated drinks.

For the past two weeks, hotels and eateries on this street, which is famous for its festive food during this month, have boycotted Israeli and American products to protest against Jerusalem's continuing missile strikes on the Gaza Strip. They have stopped serving products made by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Kraft, among others.

Tensions escalated between Israel and Palestine after three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered in June. On July 8, Israel launched air strikes, and Hamas, which is in control in Gaza, sent rockets across the border.

According to Palestinian health officials, more than 1,100 Palestinians, most of whom were civilians, have died since then. Fifty-three soldiers and three civilians from Israel have died.

“From Colaba to Byculla, nobody is selling Israeli products,” said Mohammad Saleem, a textile wholesaler, referring to a swathe of the city with a high concentration of Muslims. “How many people have died because of Israel? The least we can do is hurt their profits.”

Mohammad Ali Road is a magnet for food lovers during Ramzan. The street and its side roads become an open-air food hall in the evening as observers break their daily fast. Several eateries in the area carry posters saying, “The call for boycott has been given because we do not want to strengthen the hands of the killers of humanity.”

Two weeks ago, a group of unidentified people visited these shops, distributed the posters and asked the owners to stop serving Israeli and American products, shopkeepers said. Many popular soft drinks are manufactured by companies based in the US, which supports Israel, so the boycott is one way to protest, they said.

“Normally for Eid we make arrangements to get three fridges and at least two ice boxes,” said A Siddiqui, a manager at Hindustan Restaurant, one of the few eateries open on Eid. But this year he has wrapped even the one fridge he owns in cardboard packaging to hide the brand names.

The demand for aerated drinks has also dropped because much of the initiative for the boycott has come from the public, Siddiqui said.

Two customers, a young boy and a middle-aged man, did wander in asking for Thums Up, once an Indian brand that Coca-Cola now owns, and Mirinda. Both are on the list of drinks to be boycotted, so Siddiqui turned them away.

“It is not as if demand has disappeared,” Siddiqui said, smiling. “But compare this with last year and you will see the difference. It is not like other times when there was violence. The public now knows what is happening because of the media, social media. That is why people themselves took the initiative to boycott.”

Social media appears to be among the chief reasons people are joining the boycott. Many people on the street told Scroll.in that they were responding to the horrific images they had seen on Whatsapp.


One of several images circulated on Whatsapp groups.


Hindustan still has old stock, but Siddiqui does not plan to sell any of it until the boycott is over, which may happen in a matter of days or take weeks. But the absence of aerated drink sales has not hurt his business, he said.

Winners and losers
The boycott has, however, hurt distributors of cold drinks. The 100-year-old Hind Cold Drink House still has a vast stock of cold drinks and will not accept any new American or Israeli products for the time being, at least until it can sell off its old stock.

About 90% of its hotel customers have stopped ordering aerated drinks altogether and customers who walk in are asking for Indian drink brands, said Mohammad Fahad, one of the shop's proprietors. Over the past two weeks, the fortunes of Fresh Jeera, an Indian brand, and Oro, an English brand, have risen. Retailers of general stores are not participating in the ban and his business from them has not reduced.

Indian soda manufacturers are also seeing a temporary surge in business because of the boycott. One of them is Farhan Jummani, the owner of Kraze. The company manufactures its soda in Kurla, but runs a shop selling flavoured soda on a road off Mohammad Ali Road. Only three years old, his store has seen a boost in popularity over the past two weeks.

“People can’t have Pepsi and Coke, so they come here instead, for our jeera masala drink,” said Jummani. "So business has indeed been better."

There was a similar boycott around five years ago, he said. At that time, his shop sold Coke and Pepsi and did see a dip in business.

 
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Not just for experts: How videography is poised for a disruption

Digital solutions are making sure it’s easier than ever to express your creativity in moving images.

Where was the last time you saw art? Chances are on a screen, either on your phone or your computer. Stunning photography and intricate doodles are a frequent occurrence in the social feeds of many. That’s the defining feature of art in the 21st century - it fits in your pocket, pretty much everyone’s pocket. It is no more dictated by just a few elite players - renowned artists, museum curators, art critics, art fair promoters and powerful gallery owners. The digital age is spawning creators who choose to be defined by their creativity more than their skills. The negligible incubation time of digital art has enabled experimentation at staggering levels. Just a few minutes of browsing on the online art community, DeviantArt, is enough to gauge the scope of what digital art can achieve.

Sure enough, in the 21st century, entire creative industries are getting democratised like never before. Take photography, for example. Digital photography enabled everyone to capture a memory, and then convert it into personalised artwork with a plethora of editing options. Apps like Instagram reduced the learning curve even further with its set of filters that could lend character to even unremarkable snaps. Prisma further helped to make photos look like paintings, shaving off several more steps in the editing process. Now, yet another industry is showing similar signs of disruption – videography.

Once burdened by unreliable film, bulky cameras and prohibitive production costs, videography is now accessible to anyone with a smartphone and a decent Internet bandwidth. A lay person casually using social media today has so many video types and platforms to choose from - looping Vine videos, staccato Musical.lys, GIFs, Instagram stories, YouTube channels and many more. Videos are indeed fast emerging as the next front of expression online, and so are the digital solutions to support video creation.

One such example is Vizmato, an app which enables anyone with a smartphone to create professional-looking videos minus the learning curve required to master heavy, desktop software. It makes it easy to shoot 720p or 1080p HD videos with a choice of more than 40 visual effects. This fuss- free app is essentially like three apps built into one - a camcorder with live effects, a feature-rich video editor and a video sharing platform.

With Vizmato, the creative process starts at the shooting stage itself as it enables live application of themes and effects. Choose from hip hop, noir, haunted, vintage and many more.

The variety of filters available on Vizmato
The variety of filters available on Vizmato

Or you can simply choose to unleash your creativity at the editing stage; the possibilities are endless. Vizmato simplifies the core editing process by making it easier to apply cuts and join and reverse clips so your video can flow exactly the way you envisioned. Once the video is edited, you can use a variety of interesting effects to give your video that extra edge.

The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.
The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.

You can even choose music and sound effects to go with your clip; there’s nothing like applause at the right moment, or a laugh track at the crack of the worst joke.

Or just annotated GIFs customised for each moment.

Vizmato is the latest offering from Global Delight, which builds cross-platform audio, video and photography applications. It is the Indian developer that created award-winning iPhone apps such as Camera Plus, Camera Plus Pro and the Boom series. Vizmato is an upgrade of its hugely popular app Game Your Video, one of the winners of the Macworld Best of Show 2012. The overhauled Vizmato, in essence, brings the Instagram functionality to videos. With instant themes, filters and effects at your disposal, you can feel like the director of a sci-fi film, horror movie or a romance drama, all within a single video clip. It even provides an in-built video-sharing platform, Popular, to which you can upload your creations and gain visibility and feedback.

Play

So, whether you’re into making the most interesting Vines or shooting your take on Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’, experience for yourself how Vizmato has made video creation addictively simple. Android users can download the app here and iOS users will have their version in January.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Vizmato and not by the Scroll editorial team.