off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

Let us discourage the
use of White Poison

It was in 1970s that one required Ration Card to get white sugar as per allowed quota per person in the family and the latest sugar crisis has revived those memories. Later the Government paid special attention and we had more sugar mills installed and the production increased. Sugar crisis came to an end and this was freely available all over the country.

However, more recently this White Poison has not only become scarce but its prices has also shot up and the Government has failed to find out the reasons so far. It is also a fact that in the past vast majority of the population living in the rural areas and small towns did not use white sugar and were content with using Guru or Shakkar which was prepared by the farmers in the villages. However, the so called modernization has also brought with it many problems and one of them is the increasing use of sugar in various ways. We need to discourage the use of this White Poison by highlighting its adverse effects and promoting the use of balanced healthy diet through health education.

While we have not yet controlled the communicable diseases, many non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like Hypertension, Heart Diseases, Diabetes have assumed epidemic proportion while Cancer and other NCDs are also increasing. There is a massive campaign all over the world on reducing salt consumption yet another White Poison to control high blood pressure. We desperately need to reduce the use of sugar in our food and particularly when diabetes is increasing fast. Excessive use of sugar is not healthy at all and increased us of salt alongwith sedentary life style, unhealthy diet, cessation of smoking are some of the modifiable risk factor for heart diseases and numerous other medical disorders.

While in some cities, now educated people have started using brown sugar, brown bread, use of Gur in Tea which in fact has become more expensive than white sugar, in the rural areas and smaller towns, there is increasing trend of using White Sugar. The people needs to be educated on its harmful effects to discourage the ever increasing demand for this White Poison. The massive publicity by the industry producing Cold Drinks has also increased their sales manifold particularly in the rural areas which in the past never thought of it and would prefer to use Lassi or Shakanjbeen and other indigenous drinks. Even today in countries like Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey, Bottled Lassi is very popular drink served at parties as well. We also need to promote such practices through health education which will bring with it many benefits.

Let us not forget the fact that till a few years ago Pakistan was exporting not only Sugar but also Wheat but now we have been forced to import these commodities to meet our needs which has also seriously affected the country’s foreign exchange reserves. More import bill for food commodities like Wheat and Sugar will remain a constant drain on our foreign exchange reserves which can be checked by reducing the demand for Sugar at least.

If on one hand we have now been forced to import these food items, the Builder’s Mafia is working overtime establishing Housing Societies on agricultural fertile lands adjacent to major cities like Lahore, Rawalpindi-Islamabad, Peshawar, Faisalabad and Multan etc. If this trend continues and in view of the enormous incentives provided to the building industry by the present government, the use of agriculture land for housing societies is likely to pick up further momentum. Hence in the days to come we will also have less land for agriculture. People will have to buy not only Vegetables at higher price as they will also become more expensive, our import of Food items will also grow further. The Builder’s Mafia in collaboration with the corrupt bureaucracy has already converted many sports grounds and parks in major cities in to housing units through what is now known as China Cutting. All those responsible for this crime should have been brought to book and given exemplary punishment but what has happened is less said the better.

Those at the helm of affairs must wake up and make sure that new housing societies if needed, should be built on barren non-agriculture lands and there should be no exception for this to any segment of the society. At a time when a vast majority of our population do not have their own Homes to live, when they see the advertisements of Golf Courses being developed on vast areas in the cities and new housing societies being developed, it is like rubbing salt into their wounds. We need to give up the practice of owning large Farm Houses by the affluent and Elite, restrict the size of houses to a maximum of five hundred yards. At the same time Housing for the poor and lower middle income group should be given due importance. The present government has done well to offer loans on soft terms to this segment in the society to build or own a house, this is something which needs to be commended. Widening gap between the rich and the poor is very dangerous and it can have serious repercussions in the days to come, hence everyone must take note of it before it is too late and we see people on the roads protesting at the lack or absence of the basic facilities.

Tail Piece: Those who wish to be respected, must learn to respect others. Respect is something which should be earned rather than asked for, ordered or demanded.

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