Short Term Capitalism and Long Term
London, UK - 20 June 2007, 09:11 GMT - We are grateful to:
. Anouradha Bakshi, based in New Delhi, India, for "Where is the
Empathy? Short Term Capitalism and Long Term Environmental Damage";
in response to the Launch of the International Inquiry
Report - Tomorrow's Global Company - Challenges and Choices signed by
senior figures from businesses and NGOs based in Europe, North America and
Asia. These include: ABB, Alcan, Anglo American, Amnesty International Business
Group, BP, Dr Reddy's, Ford, the International Institute for Sustainable
Development, Infosys, KPMG, Leaders' Quest, McKinsey, Standard Chartered,
SUEZ, and SustainAbility. The international inquiry draws on their experience
and on dialogues, workshops and interviews conducted across the world in
countries including Australia, China, France, India, South Africa, United
Kingdom, and United States by Tomorrow's Company led by Mark Goyder.
Dear ATCA Colleagues
[Please note that the views presented by individual contributors
are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral.
ATCA conducts collective Socratic dialogue on global opportunities and
Anouradha Goburdhun Bakshi is the Director of Project WHY in New Delhi,
India. She is the descendent of an indentured labourer and an Indian freedom
fighter's daughter, born in Prague, then Czechoslovakia, in 1952 and raised
in numerous world capitals where her diplomat father was posted, including
Prague, Beijing, Paris, Rabat, Saigon and Ankara. At 16 she returned to
India, where she completed her studies and obtained a masters In French.
She qualified for the elite Indian Administrative Service (IAS) examination
but preferred to follow a different path. Fluent in French she was Assistant
professor in Jawaharlal Nehru university for a few years. After marriage
in 1974 to a young aviation executive, she pursued a career as an interpreter
and conference manager working for Indira Gandhi, Jacques Chirac, and
many other world leaders. The loss of her parents and the last words of
her father "Don't lose faith in India" made her question the
validity of an almost perfect life in an India were things were wrong.
After a period of retrospection and the realisation that many "WHYs"
needed to be answered she decided to find some of the answers by setting
up Project WHY in 1998. Anouradha was voted "Citizen One" by
the India Today Group in 2005 and has received the Red and White Silver
medal for Social Bravery. Anouradha is a member of The Philanthropia network
and blogs on IntentBlog.
Project WHY came into being as an answer to a simple question: why do
so many children drop out in India's capital city? It began with 20 children
in 2000. Today over 500 children enjoy the education delivered to them
by committed teachers, many of whom are the products of slums themselves.
'Success' as measured by examination results is also remarkable. It has
also established strong ties with the community and is today engaged in
a medley of programmes ranging from medical assistance to children in
distress to community empowerment initiatives! Project WHY does not receive
any institutional funding and is supported by a network of friends and
well wishers. She writes:
Dear DK and Colleagues
Re: Where is the Empathy? Short Term Capitalism and Long Term Environmental
When we met in New Delhi, I had talked about the onslaught of the plastic
metallised pouch in slums and villages in India. these are mostly used
by multinationals to access the huge market of the "poor." A
simple study revealed that one home unit consumes an average of 10 such
pouches and these are just thrown away thereby loading an already choked
environment as they are far from being biodegradable. A simple legislation
from governments directing multinationals to ensure green packaging would
be a step in the right direction. This is a simple suggestion but it could
go a long way to counter the colossal damage to the environment.
In the last seven years of working in an urban slum of India's capital
city I have witnessed the onslaught of multinational marketing targeting
the underprivileged through the plastic pouch often priced at 1 or 2 Indian
Rupees (INR). It began with shampoos and detergents and grew insidiously
to cover what one sees in any supermarket: shaving foams, hair conditioners,
jams, ketchup, coffee, potato chips, instant noodles and more.
The urban poor live in abysmal conditions but in most of the houses one
finds a TV set and hence the very products sold in pouches at every street
corner shop find their way into their homes. The sophisticated marketing
mechanisms utilise well designed TV ad campaigns often using movie and
sports stars and fuelling dreams. People are quick to abandon old ways
and embrace new ones as these are accessible at a tiny price, and hence
each home uses over 10 such pouches a day.
The power of advertising and the irresistible lure of a colossal market
are the two ingredients brewing a heady cocktail that supposedly has the
power to thrill both ends of the spectrum -- the user and the provider.
I am no specialist in any field and would in no way dare to propound any
theory. I simply speak from observation and first hand experience.
One is not questioning the value of the products but in the light of the
ATCA article on "Tomorrow's Global Company: Challenges and Choices"
it would be a huge step in the right direction if governments directed
multinationals to develop appropriate green packaging if they were to
access these staggering markets in the least environmentally damaging
We look forward to your further thoughts, observations and views. Thank
For and on behalf of DK Matai, Chairman, Asymmetric Threats Contingency
ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency
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