June 15, 2019


The Face of Snobbery

We all  know that, in India, the Neem Tree is called the village pharmacy and villagers make use of this valuable natural medicinal source, as they have done for centuries. Part of Mahatma Gandhi’s daily diet was a chutney made from Neem leaves.

The “educated” populace, however, are exposed to the media and fall prey to the power of advertising. When I was a child the Indian version of “Top of the Pops” was called “The Binaca Hit Parade”. What is Binaca? A toothpaste from Switzerland? Binaca became the fastest selling toothpaste in the country. Other foreign toothpastes had alread invaded the country and Kolynos, Forhans and Colgate became household names and they were “good” because they were foreign.

Cotton cloth was scarce after the second world war and a pen friend from the UK bemoaned the fact that she could not get whites for tennis but this was not a problem in India. But what did Indians yearn for? Nylon and Terylene.

Europeans and Americans discovered Indian culture and took to things like Yoga, Ayurveda, Yogis, Ashrams, ancient remedies and this regenerated interest in trees like Neem and plants like Tulsi. Indian companies cashed in and started manufacturing Ayurvedic and other herbal  products. Sadly, Indians know of the uses and benefits of the Neem Tree but are afraid of going native.