This university is a cola free zone

by Ritwik on October 18, 2011

For the last few months, all shops and canteens in Jawaharlal Nehru University have been banned from selling aerated drinks such as Coca Cola, Pepsi, Fanta etc. While on the surface it may seem like a “revolutionary” step against polluting corporations, closer examination would reveal that products like Minute Maid, Mazaa, ¬†etc are easily available. These products are manufactured by the Coca Cola Company, and a message to this end is displayed prominently on the bottles.

I fail to see any logic here. Regardless of whether I buy Coke, Mazaa or Minute Maid, the profits go to the same firm. So how this move achieves anything as far as a “war against corporations” goes eludes me.

Perhaps there is a “health” argument here – since aerated drinks are bad for health they should not be sold in universities. There are many problems with such policing:

1) We are talking not of a school, but of a largely postgraduate research university. Surely the residents should be allowed to decide whether or not and how much of aerated beverages they want to consume? Besides students, the campus also hosts teachers, non teaching staff and their families. It seems excessive to deny them the simple pleasure of buying a bottle of cola.

2) The argument that “let the authorities/students union decide what is good for you” strikes at the heart of the concept of a university, especially one such as JNU. A university is supposed to equip people to make rational and enlightened choices – to be able to determine what sort of life they want to lead and how they intend to go about it, as long as it is not actively harmful to others. Freedom is central to making an enlightened choice.

3) Taking off from the last point, unlike smoking, you are not harming anybody else by drinking a bottle of Coke. And if I need to be protected from myself to such a degree, then all kinds of snacks, oily food etc should be banned – perhaps JNU can be converted into a dharmashala offering only sattvik food and goat’s milk.

I conclude that the move is either mind-numbingly hypocritical or absolutely stupid, or both. This is sad, because at one point in time, things in JNU used to make more sense than this.

3 comments

I agree. I never liked the banning of coke and all in schools also. Schools are not hypocritical about it, they ban Mazaa also. And I grudgingly admit that it is important in schools.

by Neelakshi on October 18, 2011 at 9:25 pm. #

Yeah, schools are different. That is why I support school uniforms too. Given how we’re are going nowadays as a nation, soon we shall have college uniforms too, with salwar kameezes.

by Ritwik Agrawal on October 18, 2011 at 9:27 pm. #

It is absolutely essential to ban bad things like aerated drinks. After all, big brother knows the best for you, and we have more than one big brothers these days. Some more unhealthy things and habits carrying forward from bad old days of JNU need to be banned. To begin with, it will be good to ban Awaragardi in the night, as it is a health hazard and also waste of precious human resources( what did you say- human beings…no chance you are just a resource) and also late library hours which are waste of precious electricity, which is badly needed for Malls and multiplexes. In fact talkativeness ( a hallmark of bad old days) must be banned forthwith, people should talk only after having due clearance from the powers that be…
Good carry on banning left and right..

by purushottam agrawal on October 18, 2011 at 10:50 pm. #

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