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 

Harvard Business School’s HBX brings the future of business education to India with online programs

HBX is not only offering courses online, but also connecting students to the power of its network.

The classic design of the physical Harvard Business School (HBS) classroom was once a big innovation – precisely designed teaching amphitheaters laid out for every student to participate from his or her seat with a “pit” in the center of the room from which professors orchestrate discussions analyzing business cases like a symphony lead. When it came to designing the online experience of HBX—the school’s digital learning initiative—HBS faculty worked tirelessly to blend these tenets of the HBS classroom pedagogy with the power of new technology. With real-world problem solving, active learning, and social learning as its foundation, HBX offers immersive and challenging self-paced learning experiences through its interactive online learning platform.

Reimagining digital education, breaking the virtual learning mold

Typically, online courses follow a one-way broadcast mode – lectures are video recorded and reading material is shared – and students learn alone and are individually tested. Moving away from the passive learning model, HBX has developed an online platform that leverages the HBS ‘case-based pedagogy’ and audio-visual and interaction tools to make learning engaging.

HBX courses are rarely taught through theory. Instead, students learn through real-world problem-solving. Students start by grappling with a business problem – with real world data and the complexity in which a business leader would have to make a decision – and learn the theory inductively. Thus even as mathematical theories are applied to business situations, students come away with a greater sense of clarity and perspective, whether it is reading a financial report, understanding why a brand’s approach to a random sample population study may or may not work, or how pricing works.

HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program
HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program

“Learning about concepts through real-life cases was my favorite part of the program. The cases really helped transform abstract concepts into observable situations one could learn from. Furthermore, it really helped me understand how to identify situations in which I could use the tools that HBX equipped me with,” says Anindita Ravikumar, a past HBX participant. India’s premier B-school IIM-Ahmedabad has borrowed the very same pedagogy from Harvard. Learning in this manner is far more engaging, relatable, and memorable.

Most lessons start with a short 2-3 minute video of a manager talking about the business problem at hand. Students are then asked to respond on how they would handle the issue. Questions can be in the form of either a poll or reflections. Everyone’s answers are then visible to the ‘classroom’. In the words of Professor Bharat Anand, Faculty Chair, HBX, “This turns out to be a really important distinction. The answers are being updated in real-time. You can see the distribution of answers, but you can also see what any other individual has answered, which means that you’re not anonymous.” Students have real profiles and get to know their ‘classmates’ and learn from each other.

HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort
HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort

Professor Anand also says, “We have what we call the three-minute rule. Roughly every three minutes, you are doing something different on the platform. Everyone is on the edge of their seats. Anyone could be called on to participate at any time. It’s a very lean forward mode of learning”. Students get ‘cold-called’ – a concept borrowed from the classroom – where every now and then individuals will be unexpectedly prompted to answer a question on the platform and their response will be shared with other members of the cohort. It keeps students engaged and encourages preparedness. While HBX courses are self-paced, participants are encouraged to get through a certain amount of content each week, which helps keep the cohort together and enables the social elements of the learning experience.

More than digital learning

The HBS campus experience is valued by alumni not just for the academic experience but also for the diverse network of peers they meet. HBX programs similarly encourage student interactions and opportunities for in-person networking. All HBXers who successfully complete their programs and are awarded a credential or certificate from HBX and Harvard Business School are invited to the annual on-campus HBX ConneXt event to meet peers from around the world, hear from faculty and business executives, and also experience the HBS campus near Cambridge.

HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand
HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand

Programs offered today

HBX offers a range of programs that appeal to different audiences.

To help college students and recent graduates prepare for the business world, HBX CORe (Credential of Readiness) integrates business essentials such as analytics, economics, and financial accounting. HBX CORe is also great for those interested in an MBA looking to strengthen their application and brush up their skills to be prepared for day one. For working professionals, HBX CORe and additional courses like Disruptive Strategy, Leading with Finance, and Negotiation Mastery, can help deepen understanding of essential business concepts in order to add value to their organizations and advance their careers.

Course durations range from 6 to 17 weeks depending on the program. All interested candidates must submit a free, 10-15 minute application that is reviewed by the HBX admissions team by the deadlines noted on the HBX website.

For more information, please review the HBX website.

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