What Is Sugar Tax?

What Is Sugar Tax?

Nations across the world are imposing sugar tax or soda tax on sweetened beverages to tackle the problem of diabetes type II and obesity. Let’s understand what sugar tax is and its impact.

Crux of the Matter

Sugar Tax
Sugar tax or soda tax is a tax on carbonated soft drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks. It has been introduced with the aim to reduce the consumption of drinks with added sugar. Global companies like Coca-cola, PepsiCo, Red Bull, etc. have opposed it.

Some experts argue that it is an example of Pigouvian taxation aimed to discourage unhealthy diets and to counter the growing economic costs of obesity. In simple terms, Pigouvian tax means a tax imposed on any market activity to suppress its demand and consumption or to have a desired negative outcome.

This tax is also termed as a policy intervention to tackle the critical problem of obesity and overweight. However, sugar tax has remained a matter of public debate in many countries. Some experts argue that there are no impactful results and medical evidence to support the benefits of a sugar tax on health.

Similar To Tabacco Tax
Tobacco tax was introduced to tackle the problem of cancer caused due to Tobacco. Tobacco tax proved to be successful in many developed countries. Thus, proponents of sugar tax are hopeful that it will help to tackle diabetes. Soft drink companies are also adapting strategies that were implemented by tobacco companies such as funding research that downplays the health risks of their products, introducing alternative products, etc.

Impact

  • As per one study, sales of soda in Mexico declined 6% after the imposition of the soda tax in 2014.
  • In 2018 Australian Beverages Council announced that to cut sugar content by 10% by 2020, and by another 10% by 2025.
  • In 2017 United Arab Emirates announced a 50% tax on soft drinks and a 100% tax on energy drinks to tackle health problems
  • In 2016, a comparative study of consumption of soft drink and water before and after the imposition of the soda tax was conducted in Berkeley, San Francisco, and Oakland, a drop of 26% in soda consumption was observed in Berkeley (where sugar tax was imposed) and a 10% increase in San Francisco & Oakland (where sugar tax was not imposed), while water intake increased by 63% in Berkeley and 19% in the two neighboring cities.

Taxation Methods
Countries use different methods to impose Sugar tax. Some countries tax it on the basis of volume. For instance, France applies a tax of 0.0716 euros per litre of regular or diet soft drinks, flavored mineral water, and fruit juices with added sugar. Whereas some countries tax it on the basis of sugar content. For instance, in Britain drinks with total sugar content above 5g per 100 milliliters are taxed at 18 pence per litre and drinks above 8g per 100 milliliters at 24 pence per litre (100 pence = 1 pound).

Did you know that consumption of carbonated drinks in US and some developing countries has been declining over some years, whereas in developing countries its growth is giving positive signs? What could be the reasons? Go read this data-studded piece to understand what soft industry looks like: A Look At Soft Drinks Industry

Curiopedia
  • Costa Coffee is the second largest coffeehouse chain in the world and the largest in the UK. Coca-Cola Company acquired Costa Coffee in 2019 for $5.1 billion.
  • Coca-Cola sponsored the 1928 Summer Olympics and has subsequently remained a sponsor to the current time. Coca-Cola Olympic City was an 8-acre plaza in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, built in concurrence with the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta.
  • Campa Cola is a soft drink brand in India. It was a market leader in the Indian soft drink market in the 1970s and 80s in most regions of India until the advent of the foreign players Pepsi and Coca-Cola. Campa Cola was created by the Pure Drinks Group in the 1970s.

75th UN General Assembly Session Held

75th UN General Assembly Session Held

As the 75th UN General Assembly meet was held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic, let us take a look at what the leaders said in context of the worldwide situations as well as their interpersonal relations.

Crux of the Matter

Virtual Meet
The 75th anniversary of the United Nations was marked this year, which was formed when World War II ended in 1945. The UN General Assembly meeting was held online this year from 22 September, with pre-recorded messages from World Leaders being played.

Donald Trump (US President)
Trump continued blaming China for Covid-19 damage while describing the achievements of his tenure. Some of his statements are given here:

We have waged a fierce battle against the invisible enemy, the China virus, which has claimed countless lives in 188 countries.

Even as [China] canceled domestic flights and locked citizens in their homes, the Chinese government and the World Health Organization, which is virtually controlled by China, falsely declared that there was no evidence of human to human transmission.

Our military has increased substantially in size. We spent $2.5 trillion over the last four years on our military. We have the most powerful military anywhere in the world, and it’s not even close.

Xi Jinping (Chinese President)
Jinping downplayed China’s expansionism, took covert jibe at the US and made grand promises.

We will never seek hegemony, expansion, or sphere of influence. We have no intention to fight either a Cold War or a hot war with any country.

We aim to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

In particular, major countries should act like major countries. They should provide more global public goods, take up their due responsibilities and live up to people’s expectations

Vladimir Putin (Russian President)
Putin offered aid to the UN members while pushing for more open trading across the world.

Russia is ready to provide the UN with all the necessary qualified assistance; in particular, we are offering to provide our vaccine, free of charge, for the voluntary vaccination of the staff of the UN and its offices.

I would like to draw attention once again to Russia’s proposal to create so-called ”green corridors“ free from trade wars and sanctions.

In general, freeing the world trade from barriers, bans, restrictions and illegitimate sanctions would be of great help in revitalizing global growth and reducing unemployment.

Emmanuel Macron (French President)
Macron discussed a multipolar world besides the US and China while highlighting unlawful actions being taken across the world.

The world as it is today cannot come down to simple rivalry between China and the United States, no matter the global weight of these two great powers.

I repeat once more to Russia the need for full light to be shed on the murder attempt on a political opposition figure using a nerve agent, Novichok.

We will not compromise on the activation of a mechanism that the United States is not in a position to activate on its own after leaving the agreement (reactivated sanctions on Iran by the US).

Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkish President)
Erdogan raised the issue of Kashmir, again.

The Kashmir conflict, which is also key to the stability and peace in South Asia, is still a burning issue. Steps taken following the abolition of the special status of Jammu & Kashmir further complicated the problem.

In order for the Kashmiri people to look at a safe future together with their Pakistani and Indian neighbours, it is imperative to solve the problem through dialogue and on the basis of justice and equity, but not through collision.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey in 2019 UN General Assembly

Narendra Modi
Modi called for structural reforms while declaring a need for “multilateralism”.

The declaration acknowledges the need for reform in the United Nation itself. You cannot fight today’s challenges with outdated structures.

Without comprehensive reforms, the UN faces a crisis of confidence. For today’s interconnected world, we need a reformed multilateralism that reflects today’s realities.

T S Tirumurti, India’s permanent representative to the UN, tweeted that “Turkey should learn to respect sovereignty of other nations and reflect on its own policies more deeply”.

Curiopedia
  • The Charter of the United Nations is the foundational treaty of the United Nations. It establishes the purposes, governing structure, and overall framework of the UN system, including its six principal organs.
  • The secretary-general of the United Nations is the chief administrative officer of the United Nations and head of the United Nations Secretariat. As of 2020, the secretary-general is former prime minister of Portugal António Guterres.
  • Trygve Halvdan Lie was a Norwegian politician, labour leader, government official and author. From 1946 to 1952 he was the first Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Toy Manufacturers And Their Revenues

Toy Manufacturers And Their Revenues

The Indian toy industry began with the manufacturing of traditional toys such as whistles, wooden carts, and unbranded plush dolls, but with the increase in demand for international brands and due to the influence of pop culture and social media the Indian toy industry is transitioning.

Crux of the Matter

Prominently Manufacured Toys
Some of the most popular types of toys are licensed toys that are manufactured globally from popular shows and Disney animated movies like Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, Frozen, DC, and Marvel Cinematic Universe. Plush toys are among the most popular categories of toys for children as they are considered safe and for all ages.

Other popular categories include sports and outdoor play toys, puzzles, board games, construction and building toys, and electronic toys.

Largest Toy Manufacturers in India
Geographically, the largest toy market currently is in Maharashtra, followed by, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Delhi.

  • Mattel’s subsidiary, US-based Fischer-Price is among top 10 toy companies in India. It manufactures more than 5,000 different types of toys and also manufactures products for babies like booster seats, strollers, baby car seats, etc.
  • Started in 1968, Mattel’s Hot Wheels is also a leading toy company in India which produces a collector’s item which is popular among children as well as adults.
  • Funskool (India) Ltd was established in 1987, at Chennai, Tamil Nadu. It is a joint venture between US-based Hasbro Inc. and MRF Ltd in India. They have more than 20 retail stores across the country and two factories in Goa and Ranipet.
  • MEGA Bloks, K’nex, Masoom Playmates, Simba Toys, etc are some of the other notable toy players in India

If you want to have a look at statistics around the toy industry, read this now: Indian And Global Toy Industry

Curiopedia
  • Funskool (India) Ltd. is an Indian toy manufacturing company founded in 1987 with headquarters in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. In 2014, Funskool surpassed Mattel to become the market leader in the mid to premium range of the Indian toy market. Funskool has published the Monopoly board game in India since 1987. 
  • Hamleys is a British multinational toy retailer, one of the oldest and largest in the world. The chain has 15 outlets in the United Kingdom and also has more than 90 franchises worldwide. In May 2019, Reliance Industries announced that it had acquired Hamleys for £67.96 million (around ₹620 crores) in an all-cash deal.
  • Kondapalli Toys are the toys made of wood in Kondapalli, Andhra Pradesh. Bommala Colony translates to Toys Colony in Kondapalli is the place where the art of crafting takes place. It was registered as one of the geographical indication handicrafts from Andhra Pradesh.

World’s First Human Bionic Eye

World’s First Human Bionic Eye

Researchers at Monash University, Australia, have built a bionic device that has the capability to restore the vision of the blind. As the team prepares for the first human clinical trials of the bionic eye, let’s understand the tech behind it and how they did it.

Crux of the Matter

How Did They Start?
They started with the Gennaris bionic vision system, which is a decade-old project, dedicated to bypassing damaged optic nerves to allow signals to be transmitted from the retina to the brain.

What Is The Retina?
It is a thin layer of tissue that lines the back of our eye and is located near the optic nerve. It receives light that our lens has focused, converts it into neural signals, and sends them to the the vision section of the brain, for real-time recognition of our surroundings and its components.

How The Eye Works And The Retina GIF | Gfycat
Source: VMR

Prosthetic Eye v/s Bionic Eye
Prosthetic eyes, also called glass eye, replaces the entire physical structure and appearance of an eye which was removed due to pain, disfigurement, or a disease.

Bionic eye implants work with the existing eye structure and are designed to achieve functional vision goals, and not serve physical/cosmetic purposes.

What Is The Bionic Eye Made Of And How Does It Work?
It is made up of a custom-made headgear, that includes a camera and a wireless transmitter. A processor unit takes care of data analysis, while tiles are implanted inside the brain to deliver signals.

  • The images from a video camera are converted to a high-contrast image representation, of which a part is selected for further processing.
  • The processor converts this part into electrical parameters, which are sent to electrodes implanted in the eye.
  • This allows the bionic eye recipient to recognize the presence of people and objects in both indoor and outdoor environments.

Is This Artificial Vision?
Yes. It is formed using the phenomenon of phosphenes – experiencing seeing light without light actually entering the eye, similar to swirling mosaics/colours you may see on closing your eyes.

So the vision provided by a bionic eye is not like natural sight, but a series of flashing spots and shapes the person uses to interpret their environment through training.

Has It Been Tested?
A trial in July this year, had the bionic transplants safely inserted in the brains of three sheep, with 2,700 hours of stimulation not causing any adverse health effects.

What Can We Look Forward To In The Future?
If successful on humans, the system can help those with untreatable neurological conditions, like limb paralysis, to regain movement along with giving vision to partially or completely blind people.

In fact, research is going on finding newer nanotechnology materials, that would allow electrodes to be small enough to produce high-quality resolution pictures too.

Curiopedia
  • Dr. Bill Dobelle was a biomedical researcher who developed experimental technologies that restored limited sight to blind patients. He was the former director of the Division of Artificial Organs at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.
  • The Six Million Dollar Man is an American science fiction and action television series, running from 1973 to 1978, about Colonel Steve Austin, portrayed by Lee Majors. Austin has superhuman strength, speed, and vision due to bionic implants and is employed as a secret agent.
  • The word bionic was coined by Jack E. Steele in 1958, being formed as a portmanteau from biology and electronics. It was popularized by the 1970s television series like The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman.

A Look At Soft Drinks Industry

A Look At Soft Drinks Industry

When the global soft drink market, especially in developed countries is slowing down or contracting, its demand in developing countries like India seems to indicate faster growth. Let’s have a comprehensive look at the global and Indian soft drinks industry.

Crux of the Matter

Global Soft Drinks Industry
In 2019-20, the global revenue from soft drinks was $667.4 bn in 2020 and the US contributed $200.29 bn to it. Moreover, the soft drinks market is expected to grow annually by 6.5% (CAGR) from 2020 to 2025. In relation to the total population, $89.67 per person were generated from soft drinks revenue in 2019-20.

Reasons For Declining Trend

  • Nourishment Based Food – Consumers are focusing on nourishment and nutrient-rich food.
  • Sugar a slow poison – A big impact on purchasing decisions due to awareness among people about the anti-sugar movement.
  • Shift in preference for ‘naturally healthy’ – Consumers preferring natural and organic products for better health. Carbonated beverages are being replaced by Fermented drinks, ready-to-drink teas, and products with natural sweeteners.
  • Business model promoting Sustainability – Consumers making more conscious purchasing decisions keeping in mind a business’ values so as to have a positive impact on the world.
  • Increasing Prices and Tough Competition – Profit margin on carbonate-sugar contained drinks is shrinking.

Experts estimate that non-carbonated drinks are expected to overtake their carbonated rivals.

Soft Drink Market In India
Experts say that the soft drink market in India seems promising and might continue its “robust growth trajectory”. Carbonated beverages account for 51% of PepsiCo’s sales volumes in India. Demand for lemon-based soft drinks is expected to increase rapidly in the Indian market.

The bottled water category is expected to see a robust volume growth with increasing awareness among consumers about water-borne diseases and shortages in drinking water in the urban areas.

Varun Beverages Limited

Covid-19 Impact
Indian Beverage Association’s (IBA) preliminary assessments for full 2020 indicate a contraction of ~34% in the soft drink industry, i.e. of ~₹70,000 crores. Due to lockdown, the industry suffered a loss of ~₹1,200 crore as raw material expired. Recently IBA sent a letter to the Finance ministry to reduce GST on beverages.

Curiopedia
  • Costa Coffee is the second largest coffeehouse chain in the world, and the largest in the UK. Coca-Cola Company acquired Costa Coffee in 2019 for $5.1 billion.
  • Coca-Cola sponsored the 1928 Summer Olympics, and has subsequently remained a sponsor to the current time. Coca-Cola Olympic City was an 8-acre plaza in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, built in concurrence with the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta.
  • Campa Cola is a soft drink brand in India. It was a market leader in the Indian soft drink market in the 1970s and 80s in most regions of India until the advent of the foreign players Pepsi and Coca-Cola. Campa Cola was created by the Pure Drinks Group in the 1970s.