Coca-Cola and Pepsi harm India’s ecology

Last Updated: 29 Jun 2021
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Coca cola and Pepsi are MNC’s localized in almost every country. Their approach towards making profit is strategically not the same everywhere. India is a developing country, are the rules and regulations strict enough to stop these corporations to exploit the Indian locals. We are focusing on marketing communications strategy followed by these corporations also other unethical activities carried out in India. The purpose of this research is to explain that the rules and regulations of a developing country are not enough to stop the localized MNC’s to continue their unethical activities keeping India as an example. The objective of our research is to analyze weather the actions of these MNC’s are ethical.

Coca cola entered India in1956 since they had no foreign exchange act it made huge profits. After the formation of Indian foreign exchange act coca cola left India in the late70’s. Coca cola made its reentry in the 1990’s when the environment was liberalized and deregulated. Pepsi entered in 1986 as a joint venture with two local ventures in India. Both companies soon discovered competing in India requires special knowledge skills and local expertise…”what works here not always work there” (Cateora & Graham, 2008, p. 604).

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Literature review

Our research is based on different issues regarding environment and consumer rights violation. Previously Dr S.K. Chokroborty in 1997 wrote an article on the journal of business ethics about business ethics in developing countries. Harvard law review wrote on international environmental law Also Dr Panchali das researched on deception on advertising ethics. Chicago journal on Nationalism and Ideology in an Anticonsumption Movement. The global strategies of coke and pepsi are explained in economic and political weekly 1999 by Arijit biswas and Anandya sen

Proposed study

Our research study seeks to analyze three controversial issues related to operations of coca cola and Pepsi in India

  • Advertisement in rocks of India
  • Use of ground water in India and dumping of chemical wastes
  • Pesticides in products of India

The research seeks to study the background and the regulatory framework within which it functions.

Issue 1: advertisement in the rocks of India

“Advertising is a non-moral force, like electricity, which not only illuminates but electrocutes. Its worth to civilization depends upon how it is used.”

– J. Walter Thompson

International soft-drink rivals Pepsi and Coke spend millions of rupees on a marketing war in the mammoth Indian market. They have marketed many super stars of Bollywood, who are admired in whole South Asia. The most prominent cricketers have also been roped in. As brand ambassadors their well-known faces are seen on billboards, newspaper pages and television. The Coke-Pepsi rivalry is so vigorous that nearly every shop, bus-stop stall and roadside restaurant has been created into the one or the other’s empire.

In September 2002 both companies were blamed for winding mountain road from manali to the 4000 metre-high Rohtang pass in himachal Pradesh, Northern India. There were averages of 4 to 5 ads per kilometer either painted on to rock faces or nailed on to trees on the mountainsides, the billboards for almost 56-km stretch. The forest conservation act 1980 of India makes it clear that no individual must use forest as a source of making personal gain. It was a clear violation of the act. The first to react was Indian express with an article “rape of the rock”. The Supreme Court had put a stop to the advertisement campaign. . The intervention brought to the notice of the Supreme Court the painting of huge Pepsi and Coke logos on rocks that has destroyed geological evidence dating back to 45 million years. Geologists understand the geology of the area by studying and observing rocky outcrops. If the area has been painted over they cannot do research. The newspaper quoted a professor in the Geology Department of Punjab University saying “these mountain facades have a huge eco-system. There is moss that grows on these rocks, and then there are innumerable species of microorganisms. All is completely destroyed when the rock surface is painted.”

After the case was solved both the companies had to pay 10 million for compensating the damage done to the ecology. The Supreme Court also asked the forest department to look around for such activities prevailing in some other states.

Issue 2: use of ground water in India

The village of Mehdiganj is located approximately 20 kilometers from the holy Indian city of Varanasi. In Mehdiganj, a resistance was started in 2002 by farmers under the banner of Gaon Bachao Sunghursh Samiti to protest the pollution and water shortage attributed to Coca-Cola. Farmers in Mehdiganj and surrounding villages are agitating against the Coca-Cola bottling plant located in Mehdiganj.

The anti-Coke activists further claim that the Coca-Cola plant is destroying the region by consuming 2.5 million liters of water every day and is contributing to a serious water crisis. In highlighting the problem of water, activists claim that Coca-Cola uses its financial muscle to buy government favor and influence its functioning as a regulatory authority. They say

The company dumped sludge in the fields around. People started to develop sores on their feet after they walked through the water discharged was the flooding of their fields. Mosquitoes were a serious threat, and malaria cases have increased. Many have said that some hand pumps in the area have been issued for errors, unsafe drinking water.

Still both cola rivals are carrying out operations in India putting their future at risk.

Issue 3: pesticides in products of India

In 2003, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a non-governmental organization in New Delhi, said aerated waters produced by soft drinks manufacturers in India, including multinational giants PepsiCo and Coca-Cola Company, contained toxins including lindane,DDT,malathion and chlorpyrifos–pesticides, that can contribute to cancer, a breakdown of the immune system and cause birth defects. Tested products included Coke, Pepsi, 7 Up,Mirinda,Fanta,Thums Up,Limca and Sprite.

Today’s youth icons from the cricket world like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Dhoni freely endorse Pepsi & coke. The sponsorship of a sport like cricket in particular may cultivate positive attitudes by associating the product with characteristics which young people admire. In the wake of the recent controversies shrouding Coke and Pepsi, regarding allegations of containing pesticides, these stars not only endorsed these soft drinks but also went so far as to claim that they were safe. This was advertising going too far

Aerated soft drinks, apart from promoting the wrong kind of images, have long been suspected of leading to lower calcium levels and higher phosphate levels in the blood. When phosphate levels are high and calcium levels are low, calcium is pulled out of the bones. The phosphate content of soft drinks like Coca -Cola and Pepsi is very high, and they contain virtually no calcium.

In the Indian state of Kerala, sale and production of Pepsi-Cola, along with other soft drinks, has been banned. Five other Indian states have announced partial bans on the drinks in schools, colleges and hospitals

East India Company that came into the country for trade robbed India of its wealth for 200 years and soon invaded us. Today in place of East India Company, 14,000 multinational firms are robbing India. Leading this pack are Pepsi and Coca Cola. These firms sell several varieties of cold drinks and are taking away 5000 million rupees.


  1. Nationalism and Ideology in an Anticonsumption Movement
  2. Author(s): Rohit Varman and Russell W. Belk
  3. Source: Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 36, No. 4 (December 2009), pp. 686-700
  4. Published by: The University of Chicago Press
  5. 1997 A Conceptual Review Of Advertising Regulation And Standards: Case Studies In The Indian Scenario -panchali Das*
  6. Ivan L. Preston (1987). A Review of the Literature on Advertising Regulation, 1983-87. Current Issues and Research in Advertising, 10 (2): 123-152.
  7. Michael A. Kamins and Lawrence J. Marks (1987). Advertising Puffery: The Impact of Using Two-Sided Claims on Product Attitude and Purchase Intention. Journal of Advertising
  8. 1997 A Conceptual Review Of Advertising Regulation And Standards: Case Studies In The Indian Scenario -panchali Das*
  9. Agrawal, Anil, and Sunita Narain 1991 GlobalWarming in an UnequalWorld:ACase of Environmentalism. Delhi: Centerfor Science and Enviroment.

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Coca-Cola and Pepsi harm India’s ecology. (2019, Apr 12). Retrieved from

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