18 September, 2008

When milk goes bad ........

Milk.

What is that word synonymous with ?

Or for that matter, what isn’t that word synonymous with ?

Who does not consume milk – in one form or the other ? Almost everybody does. Except, I guess, that percentage of the population which is allergic to milk and milk products.

8000 !!! That was the figure quoted in yesterday’s evening news on TV. 8000 babies have been reported as having fallen sick – many of whom have developed kidney stones –some of whom have died.

Read more about the Tainted Baby Milk Tragedy here.

The scenario is so mutely horrifying. Each and every day this forms a major segment of the news – the only difference being that the number count keeps increasing.

It is heartrending to just sit and watch babies – wee little babies – being carried to hospitals for health checks, undergoing sonograms to check for developed kidney stones.

It is heartbreaking to watch the quiet desperation on the face of the parents, it is painful to watch that look of terror stricken panic on their faces as they clutch their babies close to their chest and wait their turn at the hospital. They hold on tight to their babies, arms around them, wanting to protect them from the ills of this world.

It is extremely easy and feels completely natural to identify with the furious parents, who scream and yell at the television reporters – all in an attempt to make their voices heard, their complaints registered, their pain vocalized.

But most of all, it is distressing to watch those little babies who have no clue as to what is happening, who have no idea why they’ve been taken to see a doctor, who, with their infantile eyes full of trust, have absolutely no clue that it is precisely that factor – one of trust – that has been broken big time.

When it comes to babies and children, parents do place their trust on another institution or a company – even when it is as simple as buying their products off the shelf. It is naturally assumed that sufficient care would have been taken to ensure quality control standards.

How many parents today must be reeling from that feeling of their trust having been broken ? How many parents today must be ruing the fact that they chose that particular brand of formula milk powder for their babies ? How many parents today would be wishing that they could go back in time ?

Judging by the fact that it is quite common among the local population to continue milk formulas for children well upto the age of 8-9 years, there is no saying where this whole thing is going to stop, or when. The enormity of the situation, when it does register its full impact, is horrendous.

Today morning, the radio news reported that this tainting of milk was not restricted to just formula milk. It has been found in the fresh milk too. What kind of possibilities does this raise now ? This same company could have supplied milk to many other companies for use in production of various other milk based products. The possibilities are endless, the scene growing more gruesome by the minute.

And what is being done to remedy the situation in the midst of all this ? From what the general public can see, everybody is busy passing the buck onto someone else, or atleast trying to. The company is passing on the blame over to the local farmers who sell them milk or whose cows are taken over to the company’s factory for milking. The company officials claim that the farmers have been adding melamine in an effort to raise the protein content in the milk ??????!!!!!!!! The farmers, on the other hand, say they are not even aware of the existence of a substance called melamine. So how could we use something we did not even know about ? they ask.

And what makes this whole issue sadder (if at all that’s possible) is the fact that things could have been brought under control much earlier. It need not have gone to this extent. A baby’s death was reported in May 2008, also linked to the chemical-laced milk. This was followed by another fatality in July, also linked to the contaminated milk powder. But there was no action taken. The milk powder was still being supplied, it was still being sold and parents, unknowingly, were quite literally and figuratively ‘paying’ for the milk powder that was being fed to their children.

A New Zealand based company, which has a stake in Sanlu (the company which has supplied the tainted milk powder), reportedly informed smaller local government officials that there was a problem with the milk powder. Apparently, the officials chose to do absolutely nothing. Corruption does indeed run deep. It was only when Prime Minister Helen Clark took a decision to bypass the smaller officials and contact the officials in Beijing directly, that things started to move.

There is a sense of totally misconstrued reality – one in which there is no sense of right and wrong. Principles and ethics have clearly taken a back seat or worse still, have ceased to exist, atleast among a portion of the population – that portion which was aware of what was happening and yet chose to remain silent, chose to continue making money.

It is quite a commonly known fact that values such a morals and scruples are no longer considered a necessity by this “developed or developing society” of ours. In fact, people who still hold on to such values are deemed “Jurassic”.

Where exactly is this moral erosion taking us ? What kind of people must they be, who knowingly choose to do nothing when they know for a fact that they are, by their sheer inaction, maiming and endangering the lives of the future of the country – the children and the babies.

Can human conscience be quelled to that extent ?


post signature

7 voice(s) said so:

--xh-- said...

man, that is shocking.. feels like straight out of a robin cook novel. hope those who are behind it gets proper punishment... it is really shocking.. the extent to which people go to make more money...

the mad momma said...

as i said ... there is no end to the depths we will fall.

btw - awarded.. do collect.

Preethi said...

This is shocking Gauri.. all for the name of money?

Keshi said...

The POWER of money!!! how sad.

Keshi.

Suma said...

oh no!!! that is deplorable...

i'm shocked that they kept quiet when they knew about it...how could they?

your last para said it better than i could have...

:(

dipali said...

This is so awful. How deep has corruption entrenched itself within so many. Terrifying.

Solitaire said...

Corruption and greed!
Mankind is leaving no stone unturned to cause its own downfall.

I would prefer to go through natural disasters than those caused by man themselves!