Coca-Cola Varanasi

I worked with a journalist named Bart Spellers from Holland who was writing an article about the Coke issue in India. He wanted to visit all the disputed Coke sites in India including Mehdiganj, Varanasi and I worked with him in Varanasi as his local assistant and translator. I also look for an opportunity of visiting Mehdiganj and talking with people about their problems created by Coke so I was happy to get this job. I took Bart to Mehdiganj, arranged interviews with Nandlal Master, a few employees, the union leader at the Coke plant, a few women and a few farmers. Bart did not want so many interviews but he wanted to talk with the right kind of people because he did not have much time for Benares.

I was kind of surprised to hear that he did not have much time for his work. He was writing the article on a very controversial subject and I think he should have spent more time in Benares in order to come closer to the fact. Anyways, I think they did good job because they talked with few but the right kind of people. I had an idea but was surprised to talk with the people in Mehndiganj. I was very well aware of the situation but thought it might get better this year but after talking with the people I realized that the situation is still the same as it was four years ago when I went there the first time to work.

All of the people were still angry at Coke and the government. They all said that Coke is responsible for the lack of water in Mehdiganj and the government is doing nothing against Coke. They said that the situation has been getting worse and worse year by year which did not surprise me at all. We had less than average rain last year and I heard that Coke’s market increased within the past year in India which would of course cause more ground water shortage. Nandlal Master said that the committee constituted by the prime minister of India to study the issue has submitted its report to the PMO but has not made it public yet which sounded strange to me.

Why not make the report public since the study has been completed? Nandlal said that he has used a RTI to ask when the report will be given to him and the concerned department replied to him that they have asked the district magistrate to get him the report. It is okay if they are going to provide the report but I still do not understand why they tried to hide it? Why was it not given to the media? After all it is a big issue . So many questions again and the government and Coke both seem suspicious to me. Hopefully someday something will happen, but it is not sure when.

Finally the article is published here:
http://www.depers.nl/buitenland/497352/Coca-Cola-zuigt-de-grond-leeg.html

Coca-Cola research for book


broken pipe of rainwater harvesting system

broken pipe of rainwater harvesting system

I worked with the American writer Mr. Michael Blanding for two days (14th and 15th of June) in Mehndiganj as his translator and local assistant. He is writing a book on the Coca-Cola issue. This book is called Coke Machine and will be published under Penguin Publications, USA. (update – purchase here) I met him on the 14th at Lok Samiti’s office in Mehndiganj. Michael has already written a few articles about the Coke issue in Columbia but this time’s article is going to focus on Indian, Columbian and Mexican issues. One of his most popular articles is “Coke: The New Nike?”

another broken pipe

another broken pipe

I already knew about the Indian and Columbian issues but I did not know that Mexico was also affected. Michael told me that Mexico is the biggest market of Coke products and now they have a huge problem of obesity and other health-related problems. Obesity was not a problem in Mexico a few years ago but since Coke’s sale has increased in Mexico, obesity has also increased with it. He told me that Coke and Pepsi both are going to introduce Nariyal Paani (Coconut water) in India, which sounded crazy. What is the need to do it? I am sure that they will never ever be able to provide the natural drink, after all it will be mixed with chemicals.

jammed pipe

jammed pipe

We interviewed about ten people, visited Coke’s rain water-harvesting sites�at different places and saw Coke’s waste-water discharge system. I was hoping to see something better this time but the situation is still the same. We went to Coke’s two rain water harvesting sites, one of them was on the roof-top of the Agriculture Research Center, Kallipur village and another one was at the roof-top of the Mijramurad Police station. We saw that none of the water harvesting sites were in working condition and most of the pipes were either broken or jammed.

rainwater harvesting at the roof top of Mijramurad police station

rainwater harvesting at the roof top of Mijramurad police station

We talked to people working at the Agriculture Research Center and all�of them said that Coke had started the site about two years ago just to show off. It stopped working within the next few months and no one from Coke ever came to repair it. Even though they informed the Coke officials about it but they did not entertain villagers. People said that now the roof-top over-flows and their rain-water harvesting site doesn’t work at all. We saw the well also which was supposed to hold all the rain water and then recharge the ground water, and we found it was completely dry. People said that they never saw any water in the well because the pipes connected with the wells are jammed.

We went to see other rain water harvesting sites at the roof top of the Mirjamurad police station and the situation was the same there as well. Most of those pipes were either broken or jammed. We talked to a journalist who lived near the police station and few police officers and all of them had the same opinion as the Agriculture Research Institute employees. They also said that the site was started about two years ago and then it stopped working within the next two-three months and no one from Coke ever came to see it.

We talked to people living near the plant, and all of them said that they were suffering with water problems and all of them blamed Coke for this problem. They said that they had never felt any water shortage before Coke had arrived in Mehndiganj. Many people showed us their wells which were completely dry and they showed us their hand pumps which do not work any more. Farmers told us that they buy the water to irrigate the land because their bore wells do not work any more. There are a few rich people who have submersible pumps to get water and they sell the water to poor farmers.

We visited two of the ponds dug by the village committee. They showed us how their ponds are different from Coke’s ponds or rain water harvesting sites. They told us that they have chosen the land that has lime in the soil which filters the water very well. The village committee has connected nearby villages to the pond through pipes and this way all the rainwater will run towards the pond and will recharge the groundwater. It did not seem to me that Coke had done anything like this with their ponds. It seemed that the village committee is doing a great job.

Nandlal Master, President of Lok Samiti, said that Coke had conducted a groundwater testing through an agency called TERI (TATA Environmental Research Institute) and they have also advised that Coke leave Mehndiganj. I also think that Coke should leave Mehndiganj as soon as possible because I have been visiting Mehndiganj for the past three years and I see situation getting worse and worse every time I go there. I am so excited for Michael’s book to be published. I hope that he will also support the struggle of Mehndiganj’s people.

Airtel mobile phone scam

The SIM card I use for my mobile is an Airtel, which is the biggest service provider of India. I had received a call from them a few months ago which was about choosing a caller tune for my mobile. The computer played some songs first and then said to press the button 3 if I wanted to choose the song as my caller tune. It said that if I press the button 3, I will be subscribed for the service for next week and they will charge me Rs. 10. I wanted to hang up but by mistake I pressed button 3 instead of red button which was just above button 3 and got subscribed for the service.

But I did not mind it as I knew that I had got subscribed only for a week. The next week they sent me a message saying that they had renewed my subscription which I did not want to do. I tried to contact customer care but I could not because I had a lifetime validity plan. I went to their office and they said that lifetime validity plan customers can not talk to the customer care, it was crazy. I think they do this because life timeplan customers pay less money.

It continued like this for three months and I kept loosing my balance but I did not know where my balance was going. I used to recharge my mobile and did not get proper balance. I used to think that somebody had used my mobile and my balance was negative and when I recharged my mobile, they deducted the previous balance. After few months I changed my plan. I chose a monthly billing system where they send the detailed bill. I was shocked to see my first month’s bill. They were charging me Rs. 68 per month for that caller tune.

If I had subscribed for a caller tune on a monthly basis, then I would have paid Rs. 30 per month but since I had chosen this weekly subscription they were charging me Rs. 68. They used to charge me Rs. 10 per week for the caller tune and Rs. 7 per week for an SMS which was sent automatically to renew the service for the next week. I never sent that message. Computer used to send the message and then charge me for it. It was crazy. This amount of Rs. 68 was not a big deal but I did not like the way they cheated me.

I went to their office to get unsubscribed from this service and the representative there asked me to call on a number. I asked her to unsubscribe me from that service by using her office computer but she said that it could not be done by any office; it could be done only if I call that number. I called that number and it was really crazy. I still remember when I had subscribed for that service that the computer was talking to me in Hindi. Actually there was an option for choosing the language but when I wanted to unsubscribe, there was no option for choosing the language.

The computer was talking in English. I hung up the call and connected again just to see if there was any option to choose language or not and again it was same- no option for Hindi. The thing that made the process more difficult was the accent; it was a very hard American accent. Even though I often talk with the Americans and am very familiar with the American accent but still it was hard for me to understand what the computer was talking about. The computer was speaking too fast with some strange accent.

I listened to the computer’s voice twice and then I could understand and could unsubscribe from the caller tune service. But I wonder what the people can do if they do not know any English or are not familiar with a foreign accent. What they will do, keep paying Rs. 68 per month for nothing??? These crazy corporations can do anything, just anything to make money.

Stupid Coca-Cola manager

Once were passing by Coke’s plant in Mehndiganj and saw one house just next to it. My researcher friend was very much interested in interviewing someone near the plant so she told me to ask people if they would permit us to interview them. We were right in front of Coke plant and as I got off the taxi I saw few security guards at the plant gate. They saw me and went inside the plant but I never thought about why then went inside the plant after watching me.

I found one old person in that house who wanted to be interviewed because he was really in deep trouble. I called my friend to come and at the same time I saw the same security guards watching me from roof of the plant. They were standing there and watching me and as they saw a white girl coming towards me then immediately they went downstairs. I thought they just wanted to see what I was doing there.

After five minutes a car came from opposite direction of the plant and one very well dressed guy came to us with 4-5 security guards. He said that he was regional manager of Amar Ujala, leading news paper of India, and doing some research about Coke issue for his next article. He showed me his id card also which was issued by Amar Ujala and after watching this I became sure that he was from Amar Ujala.

He asked my friend about her research and offered to work together. My friend was so happy to meet a Indian researcher who was interested in same subject as her. They both shared contact details of each other. At the same time our interviewee was abusing Coke a lot. He said that he used to be a land lord before Coke came to his area but after Coke he could not grow enough crops even for his family.

Amar Ujala guy said that Coke provides a lot of job to locals but interviewee was not agree with it. He said that his son was a graduate but he had no job so Amar Ujala guy gave him a written paper and said to contact Coke manager with that paper to get job for his son. He said that Coke’s manager was his very good friend. Our interviewee was so happy hoping that his son will have a job tomorrow.

After a while he left and we also completed interview and left. Then we contacted Mr. Nandlal Master to inform him about it and he said that Amar Ujala guy was not Amar Ujala employee but he was the Coke’s area manager. It was shocking for me, I was little scared because they were asking about me to my driver and I had already watched some videos of protest against Coke where bribed police was beating people. I didn’t understand why he told us a lie.

We also did our research and found that he was really Coke’s area manager. His name was Mr. Amit Sinha. He used to be regional manager of Amar Ujala but left the job few months ago and now he was Coke’s employee. The id card that he showed was issued by Amar Ujala when he was working for them but he never returned it.

He called my friend again evening time and asked to meet her tomorrow and they fixed the appointment. He again called night time and this time he was so rude talking to her. He was telling my friend to come and stay with him at his place that night but my friend said that she would feel better if she meets him in any restaurant. Then he said that they will have fun whole night if she stays with him and again my friend said no. But he was kept asking her to come, have drink and fun.

My friend said that she was married and did not want to stay with him and then he said that her husband was not watching her so why not stay with him and have some fun. After hearing this my friend started shouting at him and he hanged up the call. She was so disturbed, I had never ever hoped for this kind of behaviour from a Coke manager.

After this everybody started pressing me and my friend to lodge a complaint against him. But she was not comfortable doing it because she was worried about her name to be public. Mr. Nandlal Master contacted Amar Ujala also and they were also wanted to lodge a case against him for using their name but they wanted a written complaint from my friend which she didn’t want to do.

After few days we visited Coke’s plant after special permission from Coke US and I found his name in the employees list. Everybody was trying to butter up my friend, they took her to all their near by rain water harvesting sites, they had sent over 5 people with her. We visited their three rain water harvesting sites and none of them were near the plant, the nearest one was about 8 KMs away.

After few days Coke’s manager started contacted Mr. Nandlal Master offering some money to get everything settled but obviously Nandlal Master didn’t except it. It was more than 15 days of drama, everybody was contacting me to tell my friend to lodge complaint against Mr. Sinha but she was not agree. Finally she left India hoping that Coke’s manager will be fired someday because all the Coke officers knew about it. But he is still Coke’s area manager.

Because of the privacy, I have not used her name in any of the posts related to her work.

Mehdiganj Conference 30/03/08

It was last day of conference and protest day in Mehndiganj and we wanted to cover it as much as we could. As we reached near the conference place, I saw more than 10 cops sitting there. I had seen the video of protest in the year 2006 when Police bate protesters hard. I was a bit sacred to see them but I knew they couldn’t do it again because everything was covered on camera and Police had to answer the court for beating people.

We wanted to interview few people who were from out of Varanasi. Amanda was interested inactivists from Kaladera, Rajasthan. There is a Coke plant in Kaladeraalso andhave created same problem as Mehndiganj. We interviewed a activist named Mr. Kudi ji who runs movement against Coke in Kaladera. He was very niceand honest person. He told usabout the problem in Kaladera. He told us that they had verygood qualitywater before Coke but now it is very bad.Ithas sour taste and bad smell. TERI (Tata Energy Research Institute) have alsosuggested Coke to leave Kaladera.

He had two other activists with him who were wearing Rajasthani turban.I had heard a lot about length of Rajasthaniturban. I wanted to see someone wearing it.Ihad heard that it could be made of up to 15 meters long cloth. I toldthem to tie their turban. I was shocked to see the length, it was 11 meters long. Amanda and me couldn’t believe it.

After interviewing him, we interviewed a guy from a laboratory based inChandauli district that had done some researchat Coke’s rain water harvesting sites. He told us that he went to several rain water harvestingsites of Coke but no one was working properly. He said that most of the water filter compounds were stuffed withbricks. Coke says that they are trying to balance the ground water by rain water harvesting but hesaid that if there is no rain how Coke could do it. I agree with him. We have less rain sincepast5 years. His ideas were different. He thinks that we should try to bring rain, which is possible by only planting huge number of trees.

Mehdiganj Conference 29/03/08

On the 29th we moved to Mehndiganj around 12’o clock. I was so excited for Medha Patekar. When I reached there, I found Regional Pollution Control officer giving speech. I was shocked to see him. I just couldn’t believe it. He is anti Lok Samiti guy. I had interviewed him 2-3 times with other researchers and he was always so rude with us. I remember once he got mad on us while interviewing him and told me to don’t come again to his office. But his speech seemed so nice, he was talking in favor of Lok Samiti. He said ” I am here because I care about environment, and I am so happy to see that other people also think about it. Usually I am so busy but when Nandlal invited me for this conference I couldn’t stop myself by coming here. ” I knew that everything was a lie.

I asked Nandlal about how he was there. Nandlal said that he went to his office to invite him but he was not agree to come. Then Nandlal told him that if he would not come, he should be ready to face the result. It was funny. During this time Medha Patekar came in conference. She was sitting next to me. She was so simple dressed. Regional pollution control officer wanted to meet Medha Patekar. He contacted Nandlal and Nandlal got him meet to Medha Patekar.

Regional pollution control officer came and touched her feet. Then Medha Patekar asked him about the water and pollution condition in Mehndiganj and he said “water level is decreasing in Mehndiganj.” Then Medha Patekar asked why it is decreasing in Mehndiganj? Then Pollution control officer replied because of less rain. Then Medha Patekar asked if Coca-Cola is doing any damage? He said “NO”. It was funny to hear him saying “NO”. Everybody knows that less rain is the biggest problem in Mehndiganj but we cant say that Coke is not responsible. We don’t have any control over rain but we can control Coke.

While Medha Patekar was talking her, other social activists also jumped at him. Everybody was asking him about pollution level and he was trying to satisfy them but hecouldn’t do it. He was like a goat with 10-15 other lions. He was sweating a lot. He had brought some official documents to show to Nandlal and Medha Patekar. He showed a letter written by Coca-Cola to state pollution control board, Lucknow requesting them to renew their license of waste disposals. That letter was written in July last year.

That officer said that government had not renewed the license yet. As social workers heard it, they all jumped on him. Coke was not supposed to operate the plant even for one day without that license but the plant had operated several times after July. It was a new issue for social activists. They wanted a copy of that document but officer didn’t want to give it to them. Somehow while watching the document Nandlal went to market and got it xeroxed. I also got copies of those documents.

The officer invited Nandlal and other social workers to his office in Varanasi to discuss about the situation and he promissed that help them as much as he can. I know he would not help Nandlal or his organization.
After he left, we went for lunch. After the lunch it was Medha Patekar’s turn to hold the mike. She was something, she was a true lady, very strong. She could make others do what she wants them to do. She had very practical ideas. I liked her speech a lot.

She talked about situation in other states also. She was notonly against bad companies, but she was talking against government policies also. She said about a story from Chattisgarh state where state government had sold a part of river to some private bottling company and that company covered that part of the river with ropes and hanged a board saying that “this river is property of the company andno individual is allowed to use the water of this river without company’s permission.”

It created a huge problem for the people who live along the bank of the river. Sheis still fighting against that issue . After her amazing speech, 29th was over. It was amazing day in Mehndiganj. I heard Medha Patekar and other social workers. I saw Regional pollution control officer sweating. Amanda talked to Sandeep Pandey, Medha Patekar and Amit Srivastava also. It was incredible day in Mehndiganj.

Mehdiganj Conference 28/03/08

I hired my auto rickshaw driver to take us to Mehndiganj. We went to Mehndiganj on 28th of March. We reached there and saw that there was a big conference going on. There were more than 500 people attending the conference. Amanda was shocked to see that number of people. When we reached, there was a musical group presenting folk songs regarding Coke issue. I had already seen them a lot of times and always liked their songs. Ienjoyed them. It was too noisy there but I liked everything. Lok Samiti was to inaugurate a pond in Mehndiganj. There were no famous people when I reached there, everybody was at inauguration function of pond which was about 2 Kms away from conference place. We went there and found that Nandlal Master, Sandeep Pandey and other social workers were distributing sweets to villagers. The pond had already been inaugurated. I missed it but took lots of pictures.
I met Anurag who was Sandeep Pandey’scousin and working with ASHA. He was so interested in people. He wanted to talk everyone. I met Mr. Rajiv who was from New Jersey. He was also very nice man. He was also a member of ASHA. Amanda wanted to interview few people but it was too noisy there so we decided to record the speeches and not interview anyone that day.

Lok Samiti had arranged lunch for everyone. We had lunch with 1000 other people. Everybody was trying to feed Amanda and Dave hard. I don’t know if Amanda likes Indian food or not but Dave was in love with India. He finished all his food but Amanda left the food as she always does. After the lunch we came back to conference place again.

It was Dave’s turn now. He gave a big speech. Anurag was translating his speech. I know he didn’t do a good job but it was OK. Dave talked about a river in the U.S. that got fired because of heavy pollution. It immediately made me remember about Ganga’s future. I don’tknow what is going to happen with Ganga. Well, I liked Dave’s speech. He told about importance of wetlands and government’s role in preventing the environment. He thinks that government should come forward. I agree with him. He was so nice.

After Dave’s speech a lot of other social workers gave speeches and everybody was so nice. One of them was from south India. When he came to hold mike, his first wording was ” I couldn’t speak Hindi because I am from south India. I would give my speech in English and need a translator.” I thought he really didn’t know Hindi. He started giving his speech in English and one translator started translating his speech but he was not happy with translator’s job. Then he started speaking Hindi and if I know Hindi then I must say that he spoke perfect Hindi. There was no problem with his Hindi. I don’t know why he wanted to give his speech in English where 99% of the people were villagers who don’t understand a single word of English. I think he was targeting foreigners, who were in number of 7-8, as his listeners.

As I wrote about literacy in villagers of Mehndiganj, it made me remind about 7 months ago when I was in Mehndiganj working with a student from University of London. We were there to interview Nandlal and fortunately there was some cultural program organized by Lok Samiti that day in village. There were more than 500 people in that program, we were sitting with other villagers. Suddenly Nandlal went on stage and invited my friend to light up the candle and start the program.Nandlalsaid that we have a very special guest from London.

As my friend moved towards the stage, all the people started talking about him. I heard two people talking each other about where London was situated. One of them asked other “Is it far away from Lucknow? Another one replied “What are you talking about. London is near Delhi.” Bothhad already been to Delhi so one of them told other that “I have heard that London is at other side side of a ocean but we didn’t see any ocean while we were going to Delhi” His friend replied that “All the oceans are after Delhi.”

I just mean to say that most of the people in Mehndiganj are uneducated and don’t know anything about what is going on besides of Mehndiganj and that social worker was trying to speak in English. If he was targeting western listeners then it was his very big mistake. He was there to help Mehndiganj’s people not to interact foreigners. Then there was a folk song show again. After it 28th conference was over and we came back to home.

Production work for CBC’s documentary

It was Nagnathiya today and CBC guys were in Varanasi to start shooting for their documentary called Myths and Might. Mr. Shubhranshu Chowdhary called me to inform about it. I had already helped him in researching for characters. I met them at Veer Bhadra Mishra’s house who organizes this play in Benares. There was huge crowd to see the play, more than 25,000 people. I had already seen the play several times before but this was the first time when I was sitting on a boat. It was fun to watch the play by sitting on a boat. There were lots of VIPs around my boat.

CBC’s camera was amazing, it was a HD camera. I had never seen such a camera like that before. I was with them for the whole play shooting. After that we went to Dashashwamedh ghat to shoot Aarti which was last work of that day. CBC wanted to shoot Mr. Veer Bhadra Mishra next morning which I always wanted to see. I requested Mr. Chowdhary to let me see Mr. Mishra talking and he said he will call me tomorrow when they start shooting.

I was so excited to see Mr. Mishra’s interview and was waiting for Mr. Chowdharys’s call but he didnt call. Finally I called him and he said that I could not see this interview because of some boundations created by Mr. Mishra. After Mishra’s interview they filmed Raja Babu, one of our characters, for the whole day. After spending two days with Raja Babu they left Benares.

Work with MTV Italy

My brother was working with MTV Italy as Italian interpreter asked me if I would assist them in Benares and Allahabad. They were making a documentary called Camminando which was joint production of MTV Italy and LA 7 (Channel 7). They were in Lucknow when they contacted me and their next stop was Allahabad where they wanted to shoot Patalpuri temple and Ghats of Allahabad but they did not anyone there. Even they did not know whom they will shoot.

Then they contacted me to choose their characters and schedule appointment with them for interview. I had only 4 days to complete everything for Benares and Allahabad part. I contacted Mr. Shubhranshu Chowdary who was my boss during CBC documentary to ask about if he knew someone in Allahabad. He gave me contact of a journalist in Benares. I contacted him and he gave me contact of another journalist in Allahabad.

I went to Allahabad next day and met him. We visited all the places MTV wanted to shoot, met the people and scheduled appointment for interviews. They wanted to shoot in Patalpuri temple also which was inside the Akbar’s fort and now it was army base camp. We tried to contact army officers but it seemed long process to me and I did not have much time. Finally I left everything on that journalist and returned to Benares because I had to do the same work in Benares also.

They wanted to shoot Sadhus, Babas and Aghoris in Benares. I went to the Kina Ram monastery first, which is head office of Aghor society, but could not get permission because few TV channels had already done shooting there and edited the video with asking them. They added the shots that were not shot inside the monastery. I was told that Aghoris use alcohol during their rituals, eat dead body flesh and do sex with it which I asked them but they said that it is all rumor, there is nothing like it.

So finally when I realized that they would not let me shoot there I talked them for long time asking about their society so that I could get some idea about their society because the things that we know about Aghoris are completely different than reality. They were so helpful, they answered my each and every question but did not permit me to shoot there. I visited few other Aghor monasteries also and everybody had same opinion about Aghor society – nobody eat dead body flesh and do sex with it anymore.

I went to Bhagwan Avdhoot Ram Ashram which is at other side of Ganga and found it very interesting. They have a hospital that has its name in Guinness Book of World Records for treating most number of leprosy patients in the world, a school for street children, a library and a press. They were so nice but they were also considered about letting MTV Italy came and shoot inside monastery. They also knew about what had happened with Kina Ram monastery. I had to talk to lots of people and finally some how I was able to make them agree to let us shoot there.

I went to few other monasteries as well who were willing to be shooted. I went to one monastery that had a lot of Italian Aghoris but they did not know anything. I showed them question sheet but they were not able to answer any of those questions about Aghora even they were living in the same monastery since last 5 years, 7-8 months every year. But they wanted to be shooted anyhow, they were not interesting for me but very interesting for MTV. MTV said that they would be so happy to shoot a Italian Aghori.

MTV wanted to shoot a Aghori character that could eat dead body flesh on camera. It was very hard to find characters like this because Aghoris said that they used to eat it but not anymore. They said it was prohibited about 400 years ago by Baba Kina Ram and if anybody still eats dead body flesh it means he is not real Aghori. They said that motive of Aghor society is to help people and if the continue doing this then nobody will come to them, I believe it. But I knew where I could find these kind of characters, I contacted my few friends near the funeral place and they got me meet to one Aghori who was agree to eat dead body flesh.

That Aghori said that he does a special puja which is called Mahabhog once in a year when he eats dead body flesh and use it during special puja but would do another puja specially for MTV. It was shocking for me to see what people could do just for money. He gave me a list of all the materials that he wanted to use for puja and 2 bottles of whisky was one of them. I asked him where would he find dead body from and his answer was- dont take any tension, I would arrange it.

He said that when somebody dies in any accident, Police gets the body cremated in electric burner. Usually they give the body to Doams, people who work at funeral place, and go back so he could take some part of heirless body. It was most shocking moment of my life to meet a person who was talking about eating dead body flesh. MTV Italy was happy to hear that there was a person agree to eat dead body flesh and they informed their head office about it in Rome but they were forbidden because Rome office said that they will not get permission to show a person eating dead body flesh on air.

Finally MTV Italy reached Benares after completing Allahabad’s part and we started shooting in Benares. We did shooting with all the character including a Baba called Lali Baba. He was very interesting character, had two skulls, wears more than 350 necklaces all the time that weights over 40 KG, does all kind of things that I had never seen before in my life. MTV said that Lali Baba was the best character of the documentary. I was happy to meet him, he was a nice person. We did shooting with Mother Teresa Home also.

Finally they left Benares. They were most unorganized people I had ever worked with. They did not have any schedule, did not know what to do in Benares right before 4 days of coming here, did not know anyone, did not know anything about the characters they wanted to shoot. Later my brother informed me that the whole crew members were arrested in Khajuraho for shooting inside the temples where nobody is allowed carry even a camera. The whole group jumped inside the temple from back wall and got arrested. They were in jail for more than 8 hours. No words to say how unorganized were they.

History of Coca-Cola in India

Coca-Cola came to India in the year 1956. Since India had not any foreign exchange act, Coca-Cola made huge money operating under 100% foreign equity. Indian foreign exchange act was implemented in the year 1974 during Indra Gandhi time. The foreign exchange act stated that foreign companies selling consumer goods must invest 40% of its equity stake in India in its Indian associates. Coca-Cola agreed with investing 40% foreign equity but stated that they would still hold full power in technical and administrative units with no local participation allowed.

This demand was against the foreign exchange act. The government instructed Coca-Cola to either write up a new plan or to leave the country. In 1976 Indira Gandhi called for elections and all of the other political parties formed one party in her opposition. They called themselves the Janta Party (Public Party). The Janata Party came into the power in 1977 and stressed that Coca-Cola should either accept the foreign exchange act or leave the country. Coke India left that year. After the departure of Coke company from India, George Fernandez said:-
Coke had 100% equity in India. Their investment was not much. They came into the country with Rs. 6,00,000, which at the present rate of exchange is less than $20,000. On this Rs.6,00,000 investment, they had taken out of the country, by a modest estimate, 250 million rupees (about $ 8 million) as profit in the twenty years they had been in the country.
In 1993 Coca-Cola re-entered after government approval, due to the new liberalization policies that were coming to India. The foreign exchange act which had once prevented companies from keeping too much equity had now been completely modified.

The modification made it so that companies which exceeded foreign equity by 40% of the total were to be treated on par with Indian companies. Automatic approval was to be granted for equity investment of up to 51% and for foreign technology agreements in high priority industries. Non-Indian residents and companies owned by them abroad were allowed to invest up to one hundred percent equity in high priority industries, allowing greater freedom for repatriation of capital.


In 1999, Coca-Cola bought Parle, India’s top soft drink brand, which bottled Thums up, Limca and Gold Spot. Before Coke and Pepsi re-entered India, more than 50 Indian soft-drink brands had been developed and 200 production plants set up. As time passed after Coke and Pepsi entered India, people witnessed the progressive disappearance on indigenous drinks and the demand for healthier drinks lowered as well.