Big Mac Vs. Sacred Cows

News that the Cabinet of Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao had approved an application by McDonald's Corp. to open 20 restaurants in India set off a storm of criticism from Hindu rightist parliamentarians. These politicians, who have become a particularly potent force recently, worry that McDonald's will serve beef--anathema to fervent Hindus, who hold cattle sacred.

Rao's government is interested in McDonald's bringing its agribusiness knowhow to India--in everything from potato farming to poultry raising. A McDonald's spokesman in the U.S. says the chain won't serve beef in India. Meanwhile, the French government has nixed a plan to put a McDonald's near the Eiffel Tower for fear that a foreign fast-food outlet would mar this cultural icon.

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