With each passing day I become more and more anti big corporations. If you haven’t seen the documentary The Corporation, you need to make it a priority. It is available for online viewing here. Whilst it can be argued that corporations do a lot of good work, that work is far, far outweighed by the damage they do. Corporations have become too powerful and they are not accountable enough. This documentary is about Coca Cola Corporation and the story of one of their bottling plants in India.
1000 Days and a Dream looks at the story Plachimada and what happened when the Coca Cola bottling plant opened there. Coke will tell you that they provide hundreds of jobs and pay taxes, therefore they are providing benefits for the people. But they use half a million litres of water a day from the underground aquifier and have caused the water to become so polluted that it us unfit for consumption of agriculture. This means that all the people for miles around can no longer grow crops and have to wait for a truck to come and deliver drinking water.
That in itself is appalling, but the real travesty is this: When the people tried to have something done about it, they were totally ignored by Coca Cola, their local government and the national government! So they started a sit-in outside the gates of the bottling plant. At the time the documentary was made, they had been there for 1000 days and despite massive support from organisations around the world, the plant was still open. I was very impressed that the people did not resort to violence, I would have bombed the plant after a couple of weeks.
Why does a corporation have more power than people. Who are people meant to turn to if their own government won’t protect them from corporate malfeasance? How can Coca Cola continue to act in this way with impunity. This is not the only place they do this sort of thing. At another place in India, they used all the water in the underground aquifiers so that there was none left for the people.
This is called externalising the cost of production. You (the consumer) wants cheap fizzy drinks, and Coca Cola wants to make a good margin so they need free water. But the water is not free, the farmers in India are paying for your Coke with their lives.
I refuse to support this chain of abuse, I will not purchase Coca Cola products until they become environmentally and socially responsible. I urge you to do the same. They interviewed one of the people who had dedicated his time to ‘the struggle’ and he was in tears as he spoke of how he and his family have no food to eat some days because his time is given to the struggle. In answer to why he does it, he replies that if he doesn’t do it, who will? And if nobody does it, all future families will have no water. If he can make such big sacrifices for others, despite having so little, I can stop buying drinks made by Coca Cola corporation.
Water issues in India is only one of the things that Coca Cola does which needs intervention. Check out this interesting site for more info http://www.killercoke.org/
chilling, isn’t it – that corporations have so much more power than countries… you’ve probably already seen annie leonard’s ‘the story of stuff’? your post reminded me of it – because she very cleverly and simply demonstrates how corporations have become so rich and influential, that politicians, who are supposed to represent us, the people, (and used to do so, for the most part) are essentially now at the beck and call of the big corporates (the cartoon-like image she uses is a fawning politician shining the shoes of the big fat corporate.
anyone who hasn’t seen it (the whole thing is about 20 mins long), really should! storyofstuff.com
that aquifer-draining story is happening everywhere… my dad lives in Elandsbay, on the West Coast, and up there the farmers are sucking the natural aquifers dry for their wastefully irrigated potato farming. the aquifers do replenish themselves, but at a far slower rate than the farmers are allowing for. there’s a delicate osmotic balance, which keeps the ‘sweet’ water flowing. once there’s too little of it, the salty groundwater will seep in and destroy the aquifer (the effect of this apparently cannot be reversed). so selfish! (never mind the fact that they completely rape the land too, in the process of farming the spuds – you can see the damage on google earth, it’s so bad)
anyway, as a result i will neither buy sandveld potatoes, which come from those water-wasting farms, nor buy coca-cola or any of their products! if only more of us would do the same…
Hi Pia, thanks for the comment. I have indeed seen The Story of Stuff and think it’s an excellent piece of work. It’s very easy to follow and everyone should watch it at least once.
It’s amazing how short sighted humans can be. We will not be able to save the world without a complete change in mindset, which I don’t think will happen.
As consumers, we have the power to bring about change, but we need to make that stand, to vote with our wallets. Only when we do that, will companies start to pay attention.
For those of you that would like to read more on the theme of Coca Cola corporation destroying the world in various ways and in various countries, there is a good book on the topic which was published recently:
Belching out the Devil