Gandhi’s Swadeshi movement still motivates Indians to rebel against foreign brands

June 16th, 2009 - 1:27 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, June 16 (ANI): Mahatma Gandhi’s Swadeshi movement still motivates people to rebel against global brands in India, according to a Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta researcher.

Rohit Varman came to this conclusion after examining the connection between nationalism and the anti-consumption movement in India, in collaboration with Toronto-based York University researcher Russell W. Belk.

The authors particularly examined a movement against Coca-Cola based in the village of Mehdiganj in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

They found that the movement employs a version of the nationalist ideology of swadeshi, which has been associated with the overthrow of British colonialism.

“According to swadeshi, indigenous goods should be preferred by consumers even if they are more expensive and inferior in quality. The contemporary processes of globalisation have again unleashed a resurgence of opposition, this time involving neo-nationalism. As a result, the ideology of swadeshi continues to shape the ongoing debate about the concept of nationhood in India,” write the authors.

With a view to examining the practices of organizations involved in the struggle against Coca Cola, the researchers carried out interviews with activists, villagers, and Coca Cola workers and managers.

They observed protest activities, besides analysing written material on the movement.

The authors found that the concept of swadeshi has morphed from its origins.

“Whereas Gandhi’s villain was colonialist Britain symbolized by its machine production, postcolonial India faces the invasion of Western branded goods. The anti-consumption movement against Coca Cola in Mehdiganj is shaped by this discourse against globalisation,” the authors write.

The authors found that the anti-consumption movement invokes imagery of foreign invaders, poisoned farmland, and exploited workers.

“We offer an understanding of how prominent global brands run the risk of becoming anti-national icons of oppression. These results have implications for multinational corporations, policy makers, and civil society groups,” they write. (ANI)

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