Satire Shot

The bias against Maggi has disenfranchised millions, but the biggest victim is Madhuri

She has given so much, and asked for so little. This is all a conspiracy of the lead industry.

Maggi is the only thing I can cook, apart from toast. There are millions like me. All of us are about to be disenfranchised. The current government has mainly been pursuing non-veg items, so this unexpected U-turn has been a horrible shock. 

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.

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Behind the garb of wealth and success, white collar criminals are hiding in plain sight

Understanding the forces that motivate leaders to become fraudsters.

Most con artists are very easy to like; the ones that belong to the corporate society, even more so. The Jordan Belforts of the world are confident, sharp and can smooth-talk their way into convincing people to bend at their will. For years, Harshad Mehta, a practiced con-artist, employed all-of-the-above to earn the sobriquet “big bull” on Dalaal Street. In 1992, the stockbroker used the pump and dump technique, explained later, to falsely inflate the Sensex from 1,194 points to 4,467. It was only after the scam that journalist Sucheta Dalal, acting on a tip-off, broke the story exposing how he fraudulently dipped into the banking system to finance a boom that manipulated the stock market.


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Call it greed, addiction or smarts, the 1992 and 2001 Securities Scams, for the first time, revealed the magnitude of white collar crimes in India. To fill the gaps exposed through these scams, the Securities Laws Act 1995 widened SEBI’s jurisdiction and allowed it to regulate depositories, FIIs, venture capital funds and credit-rating agencies. SEBI further received greater autonomy to penalise capital market violations with a fine of Rs 10 lakhs.

Despite an empowered regulatory body, the next white-collar crime struck India’s capital market with a massive blow. In a confession letter, Ramalinga Raju, ex-chairman of Satyam Computers convicted of criminal conspiracy and financial fraud, disclosed that Satyam’s balance sheets were cooked up to show an excess of revenues amounting to Rs. 7,000 crore. This accounting fraud allowed the chairman to keep the share prices of the company high. The deception, once revealed to unsuspecting board members and shareholders, made the company’s stock prices crash, with the investors losing as much as Rs. 14,000 crores. The crash of India’s fourth largest software services company is often likened to the bankruptcy of Enron - both companies achieved dizzying heights but collapsed to the ground taking their shareholders with them. Ramalinga Raju wrote in his letter “it was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten”, implying that even after the realisation of consequences of the crime, it was impossible for him to rectify it.

It is theorised that white-collar crimes like these are highly rationalised. The motivation for the crime can be linked to the strain theory developed by Robert K Merton who stated that society puts pressure on individuals to achieve socially accepted goals (the importance of money, social status etc.). Not having the means to achieve those goals leads individuals to commit crimes.

Take the case of the executive who spent nine years in McKinsey as managing director and thereafter on the corporate and non-profit boards of Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble, American Airlines, and Harvard Business School. Rajat Gupta was a figure of success. Furthermore, his commitment to philanthropy added an additional layer of credibility to his image. He created the American India Foundation which brought in millions of dollars in philanthropic contributions from NRIs to development programs across the country. Rajat Gupta’s descent started during the investigation on Raj Rajaratnam, a Sri-Lankan hedge fund manager accused of insider trading. Convicted for leaking confidential information about Warren Buffet’s sizeable investment plans for Goldman Sachs to Raj Rajaratnam, Rajat Gupta was found guilty of conspiracy and three counts of securities fraud. Safe to say, Mr. Gupta’s philanthropic work did not sway the jury.


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