By Supratim Dey
There’s some good news for the Indian tea industry which has been demanding that tea be declared the ‘national drink’ of India. A parliamentary standing committee on commerce, which was constituted on August 31, 2011, and submitted its report on August 9, 2012, has recommended that the beverage be given the status of ‘national drink’.
“The joint forum of Assam Tea Planters’ Association (ATPA), North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) and Bharatiya Cha Parishad (BCP), is extremely happy to know about the recommendations by such a high powered committee of the level of department related parliamentary standing committee on commerce,” said Bidyananda Barkakoty, chairman of NETA.
Barkakoty said that the committee wondered as to why tea had not been given the status of national drink despite its presence in everyday life of Indians. “Though the matter was examined by the ministry of commerce in the year 2006, no decision has been taken yet. The committee is of the view that tea is an integral part of the socio-cultural milieu of the country and enjoys a space in the hearth of every home irrespective of caste, class, religion and economic status of the person,” said Barkakoty.
“In view of the recommendations of the committee, we would like the Centre to consider declaring tea as a "national drink" keeping in mind the growing demand from the stake-holders of the industry and the heritage value it carries. Also, its essential presence in the life of every Indian, directly or indirectly, assumes sufficient reason to declare it as a national drink. Its declaration as national drink would give it desired prominence in promotional schemes and activities strengthening the beverage's association with India in global markets and helping in exports,” he said.
Barkakoty said that fears were expressed before the committee that declaring tea as a 'national drink' would be at the cost of coffee or other beverages.
“However, the committee agrees with the submission offered before it that the declaration of mango as national fruit did not undermine the position held by apple or other fruits for that matter. Similarly, declaration of tiger as the national animal did not endanger other animals. So the fear that declaring tea as national drink will shadow any other beverage appears unfounded. Such a declaration will only help tea further build its brand image,” he said.