Never Again: Culinary Colonisation: Fast Food and Big Pharma in India
Indian food is famous the world over. But ever since India's neoliberal transformation in the 1990s, an ever-growing invasion of big food corporations poses a threat to the country's deep-rooted food culture and public health.
As junk foods increase in availability, so too do food related illnesses like diabetes. And now, multinational pharmaceutical companies are capitalising on loose regulation to profit from India's increasing market of sick people.
redfish explores how neoliberalism is at the core of India's developing health crisis.
Radha Holla, a campaigner and writer, told redfish that "globalisation has devalued a lot of our products. [It] has brought in a whole lot of new products which are replacing our traditional foods… And where the rich are concerned, there's so much emphasis on creating status symbols which people are supposed to meet. And that includes: McDonald's, KFC."
Dr. Mira Shiva, founder of the All India Drug Action Network, says of the impact of massive food corporations moving into India: "You see a lot of processed food by the big companies just flooding, with trans fats, too much sugar, too much salt and in those non-biodegradable plastic packets. The ecological cost of it is not counted. The social cost of it is not counted. The public health cost of it is not counted. Most of the food processing industry are basically increasing increasing ill health."
Sickness is being capitalised on by pharmaceutical companies like Cipla, the largest in the country. Redfish found these companies involved in the running of 'health camps' that are seen by many as alternatives to the overcrowded public hospitals.
Amitava Guha, who worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 40 years and now works at the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, says: 'See health camps are basically organised by the companies pharmaceutical companies. They will give free medicine, they'll also pay for pathological testing of the patients. But then finally it will give you a result of prescribing their own drugs."