[VIDEO] Behind Movie ‘Tigers’ – Story of a Brave Pakistani and His Fight Against Corporate Giant Nestle

The story dates back to the early 1990s when Pakistan didn't have a proper regulatory body for scrutiny in the food sector.  

The movie ‘Tigers’ shows story of a brave Pakistani whistleblower, Syed Amir Raza Hussain, who alone took the fight against international conglomerate Nestle on behalf of Pakistan’s poorest infants. The underrated movie about an unsung hero is directed by Oscar-winning Bosnian writer and director Danis Tanović and Amir Raza’s character, with name Ayan, is played by Bollywood sensation Emraan Hashmi.

Tigers was initially named ‘White Lies’. Tough the film was premiered at TIFF on September 8, 2014, and was shown in film festivals in New York and Berlin but was never released in India. However, the movie has been brought to limelight again as even though it did not get a theatrical release, it will be getting a sub-continent audience through Zee’s OTT platform.

Syed Amir Raza Hussain   Source: Toronto Star

Why did an ambitious man resign from his job with a multinational corporate giant? – he revealed his reasons in a report in 1999.

He made shocking revelations in his report Milking Profits: How Nestlé Puts Sales Ahead of Infant Health. 

During a regular visit to a doctor in Sialkot, Hussain saw an infant suffering from acute dehydration and chronic diarrhea, which ended up taking his life. Medical reports revealed that the four months old infant had only received mother’s milk for a month. Another doctor had put the child off breastfeeding, suggesting Nestle’s formula feeding as an effective alternative and assured that it will add to his health. Seeing a product that Hussain had been promoting taking a child’s life triggered something in him and he decided to take this costing fight against the global giant.

Fight against Nestle

Hussain issued a legal notice to Nestlé on November 12, 1997, giving them 15 days to stop manufacturing their products in Pakistan. He also asked them to take any existing merchandise off the shelves across the country and also fire anyone who was involved in unethical means to sell the baby milk formula. This landed him and his family in hot waters. Along with his notice, was 80-page long evidence that the whistleblower had collected over the course of time.

After receiving the notice, the Group Brand Manager (GBM) and the Area Detailing Executive (ADE) asked him to backtrack. He was not only pressurized but also threatened along with the doctor serving where he saw the infant die. He then reached out to an NGO named The Network for Consumer Protection in Pakistan, working for customer rights, asking for financial assistance and protection. Though the NGO couldn’t provide both, they helped him in reaching the public.

Leaving behind his pregnant wife, one child, and family, Hussain had to flee to Europe amid threats and decided to disclose his findings to a more attentive audience in Canada. He was also offered a handsome bride but he refused to bow down and instead had to live in isolation, away from his family, for seven years. His parents passed away in this span.

After a long struggle, his efforts finally paid off in 2002. Headed by President General Parvez Musharraf, Pakistan’s military government finally gave a green light to the Ordinance for the Protection of Breastfeeding and Young Child Nutrition. The new law had put out the guidelines of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. Without Hussain’s brave battle, that came at a heavy personal cost, it would not have been possible.

After that, his heroic efforts had been discussed on a number of international platforms and even the neighboring country India, but most Pakistanis are unaware of his journey.

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