It’s tempting to blame the prime minister. So many people are doing it. “Achhe din,” you will say, nodding your head bitterly. “First it was farmer’s land, now it’s Maggi. Where does it end?” Please try to be fair. He has a lot of things on his plate, and Maggi is unlikely to be one of them. Shahi paneer with a hint of saffron, perhaps. A thick creamy dal, with his name written on the surface. A glass of chhaas on the side, next to the monogrammed napkin. Once in a while, vegetable chow mein, in order to maintain cordial relations with China. But not Maggi.
Also, why drag in politics? The prejudice against Maggi cuts across party lines. The Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi has just announced a 15-day ban. Health Minister Satyendra Jain has announced that they will be filing a case against Nestle, making the AAP the first entity in history to have simultaneous cases running against Reliance, Nestle, and Nitin Gadkari. On the plus side, Kerala, Maharashtra and Goa have given Maggi clean chits. So shifting home is still an option. But there is no point in becoming too optimistic. Dark clouds are looming above us. Big Bazaar has removed Maggi, and so has the army. Once Big Bazaar, the Indian Army and Arvind Kejriwal are against you, it is hard to view the situation in a positive light.
Faith and belief
We have only ourselves to blame. Our faith has caused this. The problem is, we have too many gods, which makes us very gullible when it comes to miracles. It’s why we all believed that a densely packed mass of indeterminate origin, with the consistency and texture of plastic, could contain the same level of nutrition as three rotis and a small amount of sabzi, once we added the magic powder. The fact that it decomposed into a gooey mass if cooked for a minute too long never made us suspicious. In fact, we have joyfully participated in the process, cooking three-minute Maggi, and four-minute Maggi, just to see how gooey it gets. For decades, we have reposed full faith in a chemistry experiment.
But this is not a time to be selfish. We need to rise above personal interests. The biggest victim here is not you or me. It’s Madhuri Dixit. About Amitabh I’m not so concerned. Ever since he portrayed all Bengalis as constipated, my sentiments have been hurt, and I’ve become far more nervous about bowel movement. But how can they victimise Madhuri? What kind of heartless, ungrateful wretches are they? She has given so much, and asked for so little. When she held a steaming bowl of Maggi close to her cheek, we were unable to resist her. Is this a crime?
For her sake, we have to get to the bottom of this. It looks like she’s in trouble because of lead, although some people mention glutamates. As usual, I did intensive research, at the end of which I discovered that we are victims of a conspiracy by the lead industry. Lead is everywhere. Lead is in everything. 31% of the water samples taken from the top 26 cities in India failed World Health Organisation standards on lead content. So did 41% samples of the ground water, and 15% of the municipal water. This is water the government provides us. Hospitals in the US and Canada document cases of lead poisoning from prolonged use of ayurvedic medicines, which some of us munch like candy. Why is there no action in these cases? It’s because the government is taking a step-by-step approach. First, they are looking at packaged goods made by big companies. Once these are done, they’ll move on to the rest. A system is being followed.
Which means that Maggi could just be the beginning. What's next? Rasna? Kurkure? Hajmola? Hot and Sweet Tomato Sauce? Will all the icons of our childhood be stripped naked one by one? The picture is grim. If things proceed at this rate, the unthinkable could happen. Someday they might ban cigarettes, which contain 599 different chemicals, including ammonia, arsenic, benzene, cadmium…and lots and lots of lead.