Vedanta Corp: Creating Happiness or Creating Misery?

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By Rizvi Amir Abbas Syed, used by permission

Vedanta, a UK-based corporation that mostly operates in India, has a big PR problem of its own making. For example, it has been implicated in creating a toxic red mud pond that threatens the lives and livelihoods of thousands of tribal people in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

You would think that Vedanta should do what’s right and take steps to ensure that the environment and livelihood of the neighboring villages are protected. Vedanta might have taken steps to apologize, compensate and clean up the mess that they’ve already made in those communities.

Nope…instead, they launched a film festival with the tag line “Creating Happiness”.

I don’t begrudge aspiring filmmakers from taking part in such a competition as it’s otherwise very difficult to get adequate funding for films. But, if you have a look at the FAQs (frequently asked questions) of the competition, it ought to make you suspicious about whether Vedanta’s mission is about encouraging filmmaking or it’s something else:

“Vedanta will ensure all logistical support for the teams, including travel from the college to the location of shooting, local travel, boarding and lodging. A local Vedanta team will accompany the students during the film-making process. Vedanta will also screen the films in Mumbai in April, 2012 and take a compilation of the best films to various film festivals.”

Vedanta also tapped some well-known filmmakers to participate in the juried portion of the film festival. However, once activists apprised these artists of Vedanta’s role in environmental crises in Orissa, they withdrew from the competition, one by one. It’s a smart decision of the filmmakers to stay away from Vedanta’s PR campaign.

Vedanta’s “Creating Happiness” campaign is nothing but a “greenwashing” of Vedanta’s image. The reality is that Vedanta is creating misery for the people of Orissa.

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