Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Coca Cola and Goodness; evil multinationals and a response to Raashid Riza

Raashid Riza carried a post about a campaign by Coca Cola to try and promote unity amongst the people of Pakistan and India. He then goes on about the supposed evils of capitalism and cites a fire in a textile factory in Bangladesh to support his argument.

I try to avoid junk food in general and sugary drinks in particular. I can't even remember the time I last drank a Coke but I have no particular object to them selling their products or other people consuming them.  

Coming to Coke's project; if the same act were carried out by a group of citizens would it be considered good? If so, why does it become bad or negative if Coke or a crook (say a underworld gangster) does it?

I think we should judge an act on its own merits. Something that promotes reconciliation or understanding is probably good, regardless of who does it.

On the subject of evil capitalists, lets take a look at a recent example; the collapse of Rana Plaza that killed about 900.

Lets consider the facts:

1. "The building was called Rana Plaza after its owner, Sohel Rana, a strongman of the youth wing of the ruling Awami League."

2. "Planning approval had been given for only five of the building’s eight storeys."

3. "Cracks appeared in Rana Plaza the day before its collapse."

4. "Both the police and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), a powerful lobby, told the owner his building was unsafe but he ignored them and the factories stayed open. Workers said they had been pressed to show up because orders were overdue."

Bangladesh has laws and systems that could have prevented this. They did not because the owner had influence, to bend or break the rules as he wished.

That power could have been either bought for cash (the conventional idea of corruption) or the result of political patronage-the unseen, sometimes unacknowledged component of corruption.

Who is at fault here? The Government (for being incapable of enforcing laws due to corruption), the local manufacturer (Rana) or the multinationals to placed orders with Rana?

The knee jerk reaction has been to blame the "evil multinational" but what are we really saying?

That we expect the multinational to uphold standards that both the local Government and local businesses are incapable of upholding?

Most probably the only people who will do anything at all will be the multinationals, even if whatever steps taken are dismissed as being an eyewash or not going far enough.

Who is really evil here? 

Details of the collapse sourced from here. Further reading here.


Addendum:

Letter to the Economist on the disaster in Bangladesh


SIR – How odd that foreign clothing companies are being targeted as the main culprits for the factory disaster in Bangladesh (“Disaster at Rana Plaza”, May 4th). International companies should check on their suppliers and abide by local laws and international standards, but let us not forget the simple fact that it was the building’s owners and management who chose to ignore these standards. Let us also stop pretending that they did so wholly in order to survive. Their actions were the result of a calculated bid to maximise profits, which they did on the backs of their less fortunate fellow Bangladeshis.
The owners and managers of factories in Asia, as elsewhere, have a responsibility for their workers, legally and morally. Blaming companies in the West for a disaster that happens in Asia stops local owners from taking responsibility for their business.
Matthias Eckert
Dubai






1 comment:

raashidriza said...

Thank you, I have responded to this as an update to my post.