Reacting to the study, officials from Procter & Gamble, the company that makes Vicks VapoRub, told TOI from Mumbai that the product's label already advises against its use in children under two years of age. The label also clearly states that the ointment should not be used inside the nostrils but should be rubbed on the chest or throat.Of course, Procter and Gamble has the warning on the label (we checked). But the problem is - the label is not in the language spoken by users in India! It's in English, a language in which only 7% of Indians are proficient.
However, many parents continue to use Vicks on their sick children below two years. Rubin said, "Most parents aren't aware of the risks as most people don't read the warning label."
While it's common sense that the label has to be printed in Kannada in Karnataka, P&G continues to print it in English - probably to save printing costs while riding on the prevalent inferiority complex about the Kannada language and the slavish glorification of the English language in India. We wouldn't be surprised if there are people who argue that this is proof that everybody should learn English in India - just like some argue that the tail should wag the dog.
However, as this whole episode shows, it's more prudent for P&G to print it in Kannada and avoid earning the bad name which it now has earned. Yeah, we understand that P&G is "clean" because there's no law which specifies that the label has to be printed in Kannada in Karnataka. But being legally clean and subjecting children to serious respiratory distress is not acceptable.
Also, is our government clean in not enacting a law that medicine labels must be printed in Kannada? What is the government doing, if it's not even enacting laws which are required for keeping its citizens alive and healthy? And yes, what are Kannadigas doing? Why aren't we persuading the government to enact such laws? Well, of course we understand that some people may not read the label even if it's in Kannada. But certainly the percentage of readers will increase, and certainly the government will then be clean, unlike now when 80% of Karnataka thinks that those labels are not for them to read. Take a poll of Kannadigas, ask if they know that the English label is meant to be read by them, and you'll know what we're talking about.
For the full news item, read: Vicks can cause respiratory distress in infants: Study