THE news from India is that Coca-Cola is back.A victim of...

Salmagundi

November 17, 1993

THE news from India is that Coca-Cola is back.

A victim of nationalism and the government's wrong-headed economic policies for 16 years, now the elixir from Atlanta can again be sold and consumed freely.

Which of course is less than pleasant news to Pepsi Cola. After an intense lobbying effort, Pepsi was allowed by the Indian government to return to the country in 1990 and since then has had the huge and lucrative market for itself.

Or almost. While the American soft-drink giants were gone, a number of indigenous imitators cropped up. None, however, had the fizz or taste of the real thing.

Such are still the political sensitivities in India, however, that Coke's return was launched without any big fanfare or advertising blitz in Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal 100 miles from New Delhi.

"Agra, the city of love and perfection, seems like the ideal place to re-launch Coke in India," said a hired publicist.

This low-key approach is likely to end after the drink is re-launched; Coke vows to regain its market share from rivals. "The whole country is going to be covered in phases which will take up to 18-24 months," a company official said.

Uh huh.

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