Dr. Veda Pratap Vaidik
It is disturbing that India tops the list of countries where adulteration is continuing unabated. This does not mean that other nations are free of this dreadful menace. But certain countries award even death penalty for adulteration. These countries treat adulteration at par with criminal offences like murder and decide punishments accordingly. In fact, the adulterer is far more a bigger killer than any murderer. Hundreds and thousands who consume adulterated foods are pushed to death, though slowly. Since the death is silent and appears natural neither the dead nor the killer is identified easily. Generally, no one is suspected or blamed for this callous crime.
The murderer may at the most kill a couple of people, but the adulterer is a mass murderer. These ruthless criminals, through selling spurious and adulterated food materials end the life of millions. They still go scot free and thrive with impunity in the society. Such a heartless killer was recently apprehended by the police red-handed in Palwal, Haryana while selling spurious ghee. He was selling ghee adulterated with chemicals as desi ghee. His modus operandi was simple. This criminal purchased spoiled ghee from many big companies and sold it in attractive packing to petty shopkeepers at a very low price.
These anti-socials amassed huge profits by selling spurious ghee, labeled as desi, at exorbitant prices. Such contaminated ghee can cause serious health hazards like heart problems, blood pressure and diabetes. Such adulterated products are found to enhance the risk of cancer. Such fake food products can potentially cause damage to our vital organs like kidney and liver. This spurious ghee is also dangerous for pregnant women. Adulteration in ghee may not affect so many, but that is not the case with adulterated flour and salt. Flour and salt are consumed daily by the poor and the rich alike.
Recently in Surat samples of many famous brands of flour and salt were found adulterated. Consumption of these products could lead to serious illness, experts have warned. There are hundreds of such adulterated food items sold openly in the market and every day millions buy these spurious products and consume it Most of those who consume such adulterated food products are poor and deprived of proper healthcare, thanks to their paltry income.
It is not that the government is not active or does not take any action against these adulterers. The government has provisions to impose a fine up to Rs 10 lakh on adulterants under the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006. Provision has been made for fine and imprisonment from 6 months to life time. But has anyone got life imprisonment for adulteration, till date? Hefty fine of 10 lakh rupees is welcome, but how many adulterers have been fined so far? In fact, this law should be made stringent. The punishment should also be based on the seriousness of the adulteration. If a few adulterants are awarded capital punishment and the penalty is widely publicized, it could spend shockwaves through the spines of the adulterers.
If there is a provision for some minor punishment for those working in factories producing adulterated products and shopkeepers sell spurious things, it will help to contain adulteration considerably. In fact, adulteration is a crime equal to genocide and death penalty could be an effective deterrent.
*Dr. Vaidik is a widely travelled scholar-journalist. He has visited more than 80 countries on diplomatic and educationalmissions. Dr. Vaidik has won more than a dozen National and International awards for academic and journalistic excellence. He has been a member of several Advisory Committees of Government of India.