The long-running and hard working campaign against the extreme behaviour of the Coca-Cola Company – the makers of soft drinks synonymous with The American Empire (which, of course, included trading with Nazi Germany, just like the Bush family and IBM, Ford etc.) – by the India Resource Center, has written an open letter to the celebrity writer, diplomat and capitalist Shashi Tharoor.
He is the perfect “cute”, intellectual poster boy for the celebrity-industrial complex, who after failing to succeed Kofi Annan as Secretary-General of the United Nations (“he came a close second“), has become a figurehead of Coke’s greenwashing front, called the Coca-Cola India Foundation. Poster-boy responds, showing for all to see just how corporate the UN world and all the rest of those claiming to represent the people (who pay for their extravagant life styles) are:
“You express your “shock and dismay” at my membership of the Advisory Board of Yatn, the Coca-Cola India Foundation and go on to “condemn [my] insensitivity and unconcern to align with the criminal Coca-Cola against the people of Plachimada.” First of all, I should point out the difference between the Foundation and the company. I serve, alongside several renowned social activists and human rights leaders, under the chairmanship of the former Supreme Court Chief Justice and former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Justice J.S. Verma, on the advisory board of a purely philanthropic organization. The Foundation is financed by the Coca-Cola Company as part of its corporate social responsibility, which is a practice that I have encouraged around the world since my United Nations days, when UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan launched the “Global Compact” to encourage corporations around the world to adhere to certain globally-accepted principles and practices. Far from “aligning against the people”, the purpose of encouraging such a Foundation is precisely to ensure that the company looks beyond its commercial bottom-line and serves the people of our country”
Mister Greenwash continues:
“On the question of ground-water toxins and toxic sludge, I have seen reports from reputed governmental bodies, including the Kerala State Pollution Control Board and the Central Ground Water Board, New Delhi, refuting your charges. Once again, I am unable to understand the scientific basis for your continued charges against the company, and can only conclude that they are politically-motivated.”
Hey-ho! Your community is being destroyed by a multi-national corporation and resisting such violence and defending yourself is invalidated because it is “politically motivated”? Now that is a Coca-Cola classic statement by a diplomat, that colonos and a million other concerned inhabitants of the planet sincerely hope will be destroyed in the eyes of the public. Here is an excerpt from the “Response to Tharoor from S. Faizi, Environmental Expert Member, Kerala Groundwater Authority”:
“I have read with interest your response to the Plachimada Struggle Solidarity Committee’s criticism of your being in a PR project of the Coca Cola company in India, in Hindu and the full text on a web site that carries your PR material. I do not have a grain of opposition to your being in the cola PR outfit, for it is natural for people like to you to be in places like that. However, I am writing this public response to you in order to address the misinformation contained in your letter, outdoing even the PR staff of the company, and the unwarranted sweeping remarks you have made on Kerala development.
The High Court Division Bench verdict in favour of the company that you have referred to was made subsequent to a single bench verdict against the company. And the Division Bench verdict is being challenged in the Supreme Court by the Perumatti Panchayat and by the people’s groups agitating against the company. The CWRDM-lead report was flawed in many respects, as is being argued in the SC, which is also an issue of concern for CWRDM scientists as the institution has suffered an erosion of credibility. The very assumption of the report, in estimating the total groundwater availability in Chitoor block, that 20 per cent of the rainfall can be recharged is flawed as the Central Groundwater Board’s (CGWB) assessment in 2003 had put the recharge in areas such as Chitoor at 5-8 per cent. While the committee report put the annual recharge in the block at 74.1 million cubic meters (mcm), based on the CGWB’s scientific estimation of recharge rate it is only between 16.6 to 33.2 mcms. The report also suppresses the domestic and agricultural water needs. The central question in the High Court case was not as much about pollution and depletion of water resources, land pollution by heavy metals, or the right to life provision of the Constitution, as about the power of the local panchayat to ask for the closure of the factory. The Groundwater Dept, in a report on the groundwater of Palakkad dist prepared in 2006, presented an alarming picture of the state of groundwater in Chitoor block.”
And here is the recent press release from the India Resource Center:
“Providing the Facts for Mr. Tharoor on Coca-Cola in India
March 23, 2009
Last month, key activists from Kerala who have succeeded in shutting down one of Coca-Cola’s largest plants in India wrote an open letter to Mr. Shashi Tharoor deploring his role as an advisor to the recently formed Coca-Cola India Foundation. What followed was a response from Mr. Tharoor which confirmed that he is not aware of the facts surrounding Coca-Cola’s operations in India.
Mr. Tharoor – former UN Under Secretary General – has recently confirmed (at a Coca-Cola sponsored lecture, no less) his ambitions to become an elected member of Parliament of India. Mr. Tharoor’s letter has evoked strong responses, including one from us. http://www.indiaresource.org/campaigns/coke/2009/ircresponse.html ”