TODAY -

The Power Of Salt :: Of Rumors and the Swift Media

Seram Neken *

Panic buying on rumours about shortage of salt witnessed in Churchandpur :: 15 Nov 2013
Panic buying on rumours about shortage of salt witnessed in Churchandpur on 15 Nov 2013 :: Pix - Thangpu Samte



Rumors rule the world. A few decades back, idols of Lord Ganesh all over the globe drank milk on a single day. The swift communication methods invented by the human race were responsible for the gossip that prevailed over continents.

The media is so powerful these days that the world has really become a global village. Media can be both used and misused. It can mould as well as break the world in seconds.

I got at least twenty phone calls by eight in the morning on Friday, enquiring about the availability of salt in my locality. I was so anxious that I went out to the nearby shop where I could see people thronging out to ask for salt packets.

Amazingly the shopkeeper sold out his stocks in just a few minutes. An hour later, all shops opened despite the Manipur Bandh declared their salt stocks nil. Artificial salt scarcity was caused by the rumors coming in from the media, hastened by the mobile phones here and there. Panic buying of salt in the nook and corner of Manipur caused scarcity of the much-needed kitchen item.

Times of India on the net reported panic buying of salt in Bihar on Thursday following a rumor. In spite of the state government denial of the shortage, shopkeepers sold salt at higher prices upto Rs 150 per kg. The report mentioned the arrest of more than six persons for spreading the rumor.

After the public announcements made by Bihar government, consumers in Bihar stopped the panic buying. In a few hours, the same continued in Manipur, thereby scaring the people of an impending salt scarcity in the state. These are the results of a highly sensitive media, which is swift enough to create havoc to normal life around the globe. Thus, Media always hastened the rumors like anything.

Almost all human beings use salt as a necessary item other than fire and water. People of the state suddenly have realized how powerful and how necessary the salt is to our food. Imagine the curry without salt. Salt is a mineral substance composed primarily of sodium chloride, a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of ionic salts. It is present in vast quantities in the sea.

Salt is essential for animal life, and saltiness is one of the basic human tastes. It is also one of the oldest and most ubiquitous of food seasonings, and salting is an important method of food preservation.

Some of the earliest evidence of salt processing dates back to around 6,000 years ago, when people living in Romania were boiling spring water to extract the salts. By the same period, China also started salt-works. Salt was considered precious by the ancient Hebrews, the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Hittites and the Egyptians.

Salt became an important article of trade and was transported by boats across the Mediterranean Sea, along specially built salt roads, and across the Sahara in camel caravans. The scarcity and universal need for salt has led nations to go to war over salt and use it to raise tax revenues. The famous Dandi March of Mahatma Gandhi was organized on the issue of salt. It is also used in religious ceremonies and has other cultural significance.

It is unfortunate that rumors were spread on the most necessary kitchen item like salt. On the other side of the story, such a rumor has reminded the people of Manipur of the preciousness of salt and its values in every household. At least once, we have realized the value of salt in our kitchen. Thanks to the rumor-mongers for cautioning the public of the salt consumerism and salt trading.

Meanwhile, the traders who always want profit in their business by any means may also ponder over their social responsibility. In the event of panic buying, they may accrue undue profits. However, it is criminal to take advantage of public scare.

The trade associations, social organizations, studentsí bodies etc. will hopefully come out and solve the salt mess in Manipur. Optimistically, today salt will be available as it has been.


* Seram Neken wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao [English Edition]
This article was posted on November 16, 2013.


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