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Of worms in juices & diplomatic gaffes

world Updated: Sep 06, 2010 00:19 IST
Utpal Parashar

Like in Nepal, news of worms in bottled juices appears in Indian media, too. But when one particular brand is frequently targeted by a few media groups, the issue gets bigger than the maggots.

Take the spat between Dabur Nepal and Kantipur Group, Nepal's biggest media conglomerate that has grown nastier and added fuel to anti-India feelings.

The Indian embassy taking cudgels for Dabur and blaming some media groups of negative reporting about their products due to disagreements over advertisements hasn't helped the issue one bit.

Even if there was some basis for the allegation, the embassy could have kept its hands off the dispute. While most media groups in Nepal stayed aloof, the damage had been done.

It was a setback India could have avoided after the machine readable passport row and allegations of threat by a Maoist lawmaker against an embassy official.

Kantipur publications have been highlighting issues like killing of Nepalis in Meghalaya and attributed official Indian involvement in the murder of a Nepali media entrepreneur with alleged links to the Mumbai underworld.

The Indian embassy retaliated first by making Indian business houses in Nepal stop advertisements to Kantipur and then by stopping the group's newsprint imported from South Korea at the Kolkata port.

Meetings between embassy officials and Kantipur's proprietors led to release of newsprint. But when advertisements from Indian companies didn't flow Kantipur decided to hit back.

This led to reports in Kantipur Television questioning quality of Dabur's fruit juice. Another TV channel and a tabloid were carrying similar stories before Kantipur also increased intensity of their attack.

Dabur got itself a quality assurance certificate, approached the Nepal Press Council to take action against the media houses and ran consumer awareness campaigns.