Traders in southern India call for ban on Pepsi, Coke

"Most of the small traders have already boycotted; bigger shops still continue to sell".

The boycott call comes at a time when Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo's global chief, who incidentally hails from Tamil Nadu, is on a week-long tour to India to discuss investment proposals.

However, it is unclear how numerous state's 20 lakh (2 million) retailers will join the call.

Only an estimated 50% of traders across the State have completely stopped selling soft drinks from the house of Pepsi and Coca Cola.

The traders say they have been partly spurred by the mass mobilisation that helped youths in Tamil Nadu to force the authorities to bow to them over Jallikattu, the traditional bull-taming sport that had been banned under directions from the Supreme Court. In Salem, shopkeepers stopped selling Aquafina too, a drinking water brand from PepsiCo.

The two largest trade bodies, TNTAF or the Tamil Nadu Traders Associations Forum, and FTNTA or the Federation of Tamil Nadu Traders Associations said the ban has been proposed to save the state's water, which is a key natural resource that can not be allowed to go to waste like this.

The decision to boycott these cola brands had been taken in the month of January during the protests against the Jallikattu ban. "When there is demand, the brand owners will beef up their supply chain and retailers will go for them", he said. "But it gained momentum when we extended support to the pro-jallikattu movement", Tha Vellaiyan, president of FTNTA, told BBC Tamil.

He said that both Coca-Cola India and PepsiCo India had made major contributions to the Indian economy, providing employment to around 350,000 people besides improving the livelihoods of over 500,000 farmers and about four million retailers in the country. The traders have also affirmed that they want to promote swadeshi brands. "IBA is open to engage with any organisation that has a diverse point of view". The companies also sustain the interests of thousands of Tamil Nadu farmers, by procuring agri-produce.

"The shopkeepers are being offered three or five crates free for every 10 crates of foreign colas bought".

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