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War stirs storm in Cola cup

Students of Jadavpur University claim that their newly 'invented' Cola-hol will not only quench thirst but also be the conscientious Indian's alternative to the American beverages.

india Updated: Apr 14, 2003 16:08 IST

At a time when US merchandise faces the ire of anti-war protestors worldwide, students of an Indian university claim to have invented a new drink to take on American beverage giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

Students of Jadavpur University here claim that Cola-hol -- literally meaning uproar in the regional Bengali language -- will not only quench thirst but also be the conscientious Indian's alternative to the American beverages.

The university has been seeing widespread protests against the American-led war in Iraq and its teachers are even boycotting programmes sponsored by the US government.

Cola-hol, which comes in four flavours and is served in earthen cups, has replaced Coca-Cola and Pepsi products on the shelves of the university's numerous canteens.

Students and teachers of the English and geology departments said they had jointly "invented" the drink.

"Cola-hol is a statement against the war. It is also a healthy, indigenous quencher," said Sajani Mukherjee, a professor of English.

The drink is available in lime, orange, mango and sweet-and-salt flavours. Canteen managers inside the university premises claimed the sale of bottled aerated drinks had gone down steadily, and Cola-hol was selling about 400 cups a day.

A cup of Cola-hol costs Rs 5, half the price of a 300 ml bottle of a standard aerated drink.

"Cola-hol can be the alternative to Coke and Pepsi as it, like the foreign drinks, comes in multiple flavours," said Sugata Hazra of the geology department, one of the brains behind the new drink.

The students said the research and development for the new beverage was carried out at a popular canteen inside the university campus.

"The formula is simple and doesn't need to be hidden away in some heavily-guarded vault," quipped Hazra, referring to the secrecy surrounding the ingredients of the colas produced by the two soft drink giants.

Another English teacher, Abhijit Gupta, said Cola-hol draws from the numerous Indian summer drinks and sherbets that the new generation is almost oblivious to, thanks to the aggressive marketing by multinational soft drink brands.

Students of other Indian universities, including one in New Delhi, have also been boycotting Coke and Pepsi as a statement against the American-led war.

Anti-war sentiments have been running high in Kolkata and various leftist groups and Muslim community leaders have called for a boycott of American and British goods.

Such a boycott seemed well in place in at least two Muslim-dominated Kolkata neighbourhoods where corner shops have stopped stocking aerated drinks like Coke and Pepsi.

The city has been witnessing anti-war protests almost daily, with the biggest march so far drew at least 300,000 people.

Anti-war activists have also attacked stores selling American and British goods, forcing some shop owners to seek police protection.

Constables have been posted outside at least four shops, including showrooms of US sports goods manufacturers Nike and Reebok.

First Published: Apr 11, 2003 17:58 IST