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/