Sunday, December 14, 2008

What is all this fizz about?

Little drops of joy- a captivating tagline, claiming to offer a second of satisfaction, an instant of happiness and a bubble of hope with every sip of coca cola one takes.Behind that joyous, dewy cool facade lies something more hideous than the phosphoric acids and pesticide content that we know of.A little bit of browsing through revealed how coke is on its heel, heaping atrocities on the developing countries of the world.

Coca cola, a U.S based multi-national company and a political product of it's domination and global sucess, has it's straws down in Indian wells siphoning away much needed water.Recent news read that so much water was being pulled out for the manufacture of the drink that the sites with bottling plants, and the villages around,from uttar pradesh to kerala, are left with little water to drink, cook and wash.The condition is even worse in Mexico where coke has accounted for land privatisation program that allowed free access to all the resources on the land, including water.And it seems it needs four litres of water to produce one litre of tasty-tasty coke.Need of the day!

Coke does not directly employ child labor.Not violating the law, and by it's own guiding principles coke only buys sugarcane from the fields of El Salvador which employs around 5000 to 30,000 children,some as young as 8 years.Sugarcane farming, from what I know, is one of the most hazardous of practices.One is bound to sustain several injuries and health hazards, inspite of experience.Imagine what plight little children will have to undergo. Some children also get to miss school during the harvesting period.

At colombia, the killings of union leaders at Coca-Cola's bottling plants has evoked truths about the company taking paramilitaies' help to threaten and harass its union leaders.Columbia is a country already famous for its paramilitaries belonging to its self defense forces itself who treat trade union leaders like pests taking their lives in dozens every year. Claims show that the company benefits from paramilitary violence and is also one of the orchestrating powers of right-wing paramilitaries.

Big Cola is a famous mexican cola company, now under rapid supression from coke.Market positions in Mexico are taken by power and the retailers are put under immense pressure not to sell rival drink Big Cola. Coke also has found a brilliant niche market in there that is made to believe cola induces burping, which releases the evil from the soul!

Denials and evasions are all that comes from the company's side of the story.Coca cola is just the parent corporation that markets the drink.So,technically coke is not produced by a single global company, but a global network of bottling companies that are either wholly or partially owned by Coca cola.That gives coke reason enough to elude the enlisted abuses and keep up the high-value brand name.

For some reason ,I feel,coke gets picked up first against its more conservative cousins.May be its the extensive ad campaigns, costly brand ambassadors, or simply for the cool dude/dudette image it creates.Whatever it is,coke may well be your favourite soft- drink but for many ruralites clean water is still their drink of choice.You can spare them some by refusing a bottle of the not-so-healthy fizzy pop!


Ashwin Hariharan said...

Well, nice research, but the same opinion was voiced by certain people, about children working in fireworks factory in Sivakasi, children working in brick factories of bihar, farmers forced to give off their land to "Evil Corporations" in WB etcetera. Media raised hue and cry, industries were driven away. But nobody bothered to check up on the fate of the children and farmers who were employed. Last time I visited Sivakasi, families who were involved in fireworks manufacturing were now banned to produce any by the activists. They had no other source of income and either ended up as beggars or became thieves.
And if you purchased fireworks last Diwali, you'd have noticed that china has take over the market. I'd rather my money go to some kid in India than some kid in China.

Ashwin Hariharan said...

@Priya - I've lived in Calicut for 2 years. Please do not believe their communist propaganda. They hate industrial development and especially hate the US. No wonder majority of keralites are expats. And ask any mallu from kerala, he'd readily agree that majority of mallu's who're in kerala hate to work for a living.

Priyadharshini said...

@ashwin what u say abt wb n keralites is true.But there r abt 52 bottling plants in India and a reported shortage of ground water in almost all the sites.A common man would be more concerned abt his daily need of essential water than mass-instrumenting anti-US sentiments.
And abt the Ex-child-labourers, I really don't know what their plight is to be.Buying crackers out of their labor,inspite of the good intention,i'm afraid will not help much in the long run.That'll only encourage a generation of child labor and the situation'' never improve.

«charlie|thotti» said...

1. Regarding child labour, devoiding of their only livelihood without providing them(children or parents) without a viable alternative is an equivalent crime to letting them work in inhospitable conditions. The parents have no money to put them to school and will be happy to get an extra hand at work.

2. Yes, all Coke is is sweetened carbonated water. The resolve has to start with everyone... I have became a frequent consumer of Coca Cola in the US, but I feel lax industrial policy is to blame. Regarding it's policy worldwide, that is what is taught to all the MBA grads. It is the sort of job and application they dream of. On the one hand we are proud of Indra Nooyi for being head of Pepsi. And the other ridicule Pepsi for violations. It's just business.

Priyadharshini said...

Childhood is the best years of a person's life and robbing them of it is a crime in itself.Inspite of the heavy work, they do not acquire any particular skill that is detrimental both to the children n the country as a whole.The more pitiable fact is that most children dont realise that they r being exploited(hazardous working condition, low wages, insanitation and the likes) by ruthless manufacturers.That is why the legislations r not very well received by them. The problem is that the few legislations that are passed fail to make the intended impact.People should more exposed to poverty alleviation programmes,corrective measures should be taken by NGO and more importantly something has to be done abt the deep-rooted structure of village economies.
And now coke n pepsi have started their "all natural" campaign to target health conscious market.Their hold is quite strong!

«charlie|thotti» said...

I wish I could personally do something to reduce the clout of these mega companies and increase really healthy choices for people....