Whizzing along the road in the little Tata Indica, driven prestissimo by Sudhi, we crossed the state line from Tamil Nadu into Kerala, branched off the main road and ended up in the settlement of Plachimada, mostly inhabited by extremely poor people.
There on one side of the street was the Coca-Cola plant, among the largest in Asia, and on the other a shack filled with locals eager to impart the news that they were now, as of April 2, in Day 1076 of their struggle against the plant.
Coca-Cola came to India in 1993, looking for water and markets in a country where one third of all villages are without anything approaching adequate water and shortages are growing every day.
Indeed India is facing a gigantic water crisis, even as Coca Cola and other companies haul free water to the cities from the countryside and water parks and golf courses metastasize around cities like Mumbai.
The bloom was on neoliberalism back then when Coca-Cola came in, with central and state authorities falling over themselves to lease, sell or simply hand over India’s national assets in the name of economic “reform”.
They still are, but the popular mood has changed.
The apex posterboy of neo-liberalism, Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh, feted by Bill Clinton, John Wolfenson and Bill Gates and such nabobs of nonsense as Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, was tossed out in elections a year ago.
Naidu’s fans in the west and indeed in India’s elites, were thunderstruck.
The reason was simple.
Below the top tier, hundreds of millions of Indians went to the polls last year to register a furious No.
There are hundreds of parables to explain this.
Here’s one, courtesy of Coca-Cola.
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN in http://www.thewe.cc news