In a Soup

Madhuri Dixit, a leading Bollywood actress of the nineties, is in a thick soup. Not an ordinary soup. A thick Maggi soup. 

It appears that a packet of Maggi, of which she is a brand ambassador, has been found to contain Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), a taste-enhancer, which is a restricted substance, without a declaration on the packing of the product. To add salt to Maggi, or insult to injury, the discovery has been made simultaneously in Barabanki and Muzaffarpur, remote towns deep in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, as well known across the nation for their rule of law and morally upright administration, as they are for the ethical, uncompromising stand on testing of food taken by the common man.

Such amateurish behaviour was not expected from an actress of her stature. It is learnt from reliable sources that she did not even rush to her private lab to check the ingredients under a microscope before signing on the dotted line. All she is reported to have done is seek confirmation from company officials regarding the quality of the product.

Such negligence deserves punishment.

The government, poor souls, have been forced to take this action against the brand ambassador, since they have no way of knowing that the product was manufactured by Nestle, one of the world’s leading packaged food manufacturers.

How can they?

Are they children who consume the product?

Or are they expected to read the printed matter on packets of the product?

Or are they expected to maintain records and governance information that could lead people to believe that they have some idea of what is going on in their jurisdiction?

Even if they did, how are they expected to know how to contact Nestle or how to serve a notice to them? So, as smart, reasonable government officials, they sent a notice to Madhuri Dixit.

The government is sending out a clear signal to the younger generation. It is just not enough to be a good, popular actor. You also need to have a private product testing lab.

Salman Khan, a popular Bollywood actor, who endorses a brand of cotton vests, is running scared. As is Aishwarya Rai, former Miss World, who is endorsing a commercial real estate development in Mumbai. With a fair and transparent government at work, there is no knowing which product MSG might surface in next.

Shopkeepers around the country who have stocked it are already under the scanner. Why did they not check the packets in their own labs before selling them, is a question baffling experts?

Sooner or later, it is bound to come back to the parents. What were they thinking? Don’t they even have labs at home where they can test the products they are feeding their children? Do they expect the government to do even that? When will they start taking responsibility?

The Information and Broadcasting Minister, having failed to detect the presence of MSG in the product, and allowed product ads to be aired on TV, in a principled stand, has resigned his position as Minister and become the governor of a state.

Realising that Madhuri Dixit started endorsing Maggi only recently, the government machinery is leaving no stone unturned to uncover the names of celebrities who have endorsed Maggi in the past so that blame can be placed where it belongs.

Following the lead given by the government, the courts are creating a precedent whereby responsibility for future indiscretions regarding a product can be clearly assigned.

If it is found that Fair and Handsome does not really make you any fairer or more handsome, who will the blame lie with? Of course Shahrukh Khan, another leading Bollywood actor, who endorses the product.

We don’t need to tell you whose responsibility it would be in case it is discovered, in Barabanki or Muzaffarpur, that Boost, the chocolate energy drink for children, does not really give any additional natural energy to children. Of course it will be Sachin Tendulkar’s responsibility. Everyone knows Sachin. And everyone should know why it is his responsibility.

The government and courts have also given a resounding endorsement of the decision-making capability of the common man. They possess such sound judgment, the government believes, that they are forced to buy all products endorsed by a celebrity, even though they have no use for them.

The product will be banned with retrospective effect, as has been so successfully done by some of our leaders.

But wait! Why should the product be banned? Is it the fault of the product? No way. It is the fault of Madhuri Dixit.

32 thoughts on “In a Soup

  1. Point well made 😀 Love the sarcasm oozing here. Because obviously it is Madhuri’s fault that we are eating Maggi. Idiots everywhere!
    And you know, here I thought we were supposed to avoid cigarretes, drugs and alcohol. And oh… McD and Dominoes

  2. One problem, Ankur, is that anyone who can make a dollar or a rupee by selling anything to the common man, probably also has good contacts in the Government. On a slightly more serious note we have a brand of Rice in Australia called Koala Rice. The company is is a very Australian company and it donates some of its profits to a Koala protection society. But the rice comes from Thailand.
    Have a look at if you have time.

    • Bit like an oxy-moron. “Helping Australian farmers by buying rice from Thailand”. But, in my view, the fault is with our expectations. Why do we expect a company to do good? Its sole purpose is to make money. It is upto us humans to frame regulations in a manner that we can protect what needs protecting. What is the point of, say, intruding upon the Koala habitat for the sake of business, threatening their existence, and then getting the business to do good by donating money for saving the Koala which they, or one of their ilk, may have threatened in the first place?

      • I am always amazed when people expect a a company to “do good”. That is not their business. Their business is to make a profit. If people don’t like what they do, people can not buy. Then the profits go down, and the company pays attention. I know it can get more complex, but basically that’s it, and I don’t know why it’s so hard to understand.

      • But that makes total sense if the company is protecting Koalas by selling Thai rice: the Thai farmers grow rice in Thailand, so that less forests would have to be cleared in Australia, and a larger habitat would then be available for Koalas.

      • Now that you put it like that, Koalas can breathe easy. Their future is in safe hands. Some day the company might graduate to producing weapons on that land and endangering lives, and using the revenue to protect endangered Koala habitat.

  3. The blame game grows ever more ornate and sophisticated in bureaucracies….Your point about people being forced to buy certain products by ads—they just can’t help it, they must follow what the movie star says….. is one I often ponder. Are there really that many sheep out there?

    • I totally agree. I don’t think there is a single sheep out there. Self-preservation is perhaps the most basic animal instinct. Despite what the film star might say, I will buy it ONLY if I think it will be good for me in some way. I am saying that governments make out as if there are sheep who need protection.

  4. Loved your take on the brand ambassador landing in a soup 🙂 I am not a marketing guy so I find it difficult to believe these Brand Ambassadors. They sound so hollow 🙂

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