Of Cineplex food and Schoolbooks: Unchecked profiteering

There are two unconnected areas where I see unethical and unchecked profiteering going on; I came across one because of having to buy two sets of books, notebooks and other school materials for my grandchildren, and the other, when I made a rare visit to a mall with friends.

Schools should practice what they preach, and recycle books from one set of students to the next set who follow them. But instead of doing this, they make a package deal of books, notebooks and art and craft material, which it is mandatory for parents to buy. I think the total was about Rs. 6000 (I am not joking) for each child. This makes profits for the school and encourages waste of all of last year’s unused material (I know some story books from last year that were never used in school at all, though bought at a very inflated price.)

Cineplex food is another thing that gets my goat. My friend bought two cups of very dreadful tea-bag tea and a large tub of popcorn and the cost was (I am not joking, again) Rs.600. “Security” staff at the entrance of the theatres confiscate any food that we bring. Obviously the idea is to make us buy the overpriced and extremely unhealthy food sold there. I put the word security in inverted commas because they are there to check food, not security.

Is there a way to check these very unhealthy and unethical practices? Yes. Similar to the way the Government ordered that bottled water cannot be sold in the cineplexes above the Maximum Retail Price (MRP), they should bring in a ruling that patrons should be allowed to bring in their own snacks if they so wish, ban the practice of confiscation by the theatre staff. This will have the effect of bringing down the usurious rates.

In schools, too, there should be a rule that students moving to the next grade should be able to return unused text books, which can be given to the children entering this grade, on a first-come-first-served basis. Unused notebooks and craft materials also can be returned.

What is the use of parroting “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” as a sterile, feel-good mantra, without practicing what we preach?

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