The need for a second salt satyagraha!

We are held to ransom by our own ignorance and our unwillingness to stand up and fight for rights. The Right to Information act issue being one such incident. There are several other issues that face us and it is our unwillingness to ask questions, demand answers that have led to a deterioration in the quality of life in our country.

A shocking issue is that of ban on the sale of non-iodized salt in India. I heard about it first when Guruji (Sri Sri RaviShankar) mentioned this in one of his talks. The issue is that Govt has issued a notification in May proposing ban on the sale of non-iodized salt in India due to the rising Iodine deficiency disorders in certain states in India. The core issue is that the Iodine deficiency occurs predominantly in the financially backward sections of the society and the ban ironically increases the price of salt by over 5 times! So how affordable does it remain for the poor?

Consider this, the original iodising agent is potassium iodide, but that is unstable in Indian tropical climate. So what is used instead is Potassium Iodate, which by the way has been banned by western countries. Potassium Iodate is expensive and is already being replaced by cheaper adulterators like Potassium Bromate etc, which act as slow poison.

Most of Indian soil contains iodine. Exceptions are hilly areas like Himachal where soil gets eroded. Percentage of population affected by IDD is hardly 2%. Putting a blanket ban like this subjects the remaining population to the risk of

  • adulteration and food poisoning and
  • excess iodine leading to thyrotoxicosis.

Healthcare facilities reach only about 10% of the Indian population right now. How is the govt going to handle potentially 90% of the population when health complications arise in a few years?
This is a repeat of how pesticides and fertilisers were introduced few decades ago. Innocent farmers were told, scientific research says pesticides are good for the soil. The result – after 3 decades. Take any day’s newspaper at random, you will find news of farmers committing suicides. It is very possible that few years down the line, it is discovered that Selenium, which is needed to break down Potassium Iodate in the body, is becoming deficient in the population. In which case, there’s a need to introduce “rice with selenium” and ban sale of natural rice! All this assumes importance in the context of the global markets for genetically modified food. Europe doesn’t want it. Australia doesn’t want it. India… of course, we’ll take it! Consider the economics – the price rise is about Rs 8/- per kg of salt. Market size – about 1.25 billion people guaranteed to eat salt everyday!

P Venu, assistant salt commissioner in Gujarat discusses this issue is his article here

Let us empower the people and talk about this and spread the awareness.

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