Posts tagged ‘India’

November 20, 2011

Dow and Bhopal….dragging the nightmare along wherever you go

Dow is a sponsor of the London Olympics but probably never thought that Bhopal would follow them around to London and emerge like their worst nightmare one more time. The tragedy of a flawed inheritance compounded by corporate resistance to do more than legally mandated, the fire of social protest fed by an unrelenting sense of moral rightness….how much longer will this go on? The Economic Times today has the latest on the London protest

January 28, 2011

Dow makes $10 million commitment to sustainability. Is any of it coming to Bhopal?

Bhopal disaster: Amongst the 10 worst according to environment experts….. 

In terms of death toll, lasting injuries, and damage to the environment. Also seen as the worst industrial tragedy of all times. Wholly man made and a result of total corporate negligence. The Gulf Oil Spill has displaced all such earlier tragedies in people’s minds but when this kind of “do good” news comes out this question must be asked. Dow bought out Union Carbide. Union Carbide was the culprit. Dow preferred to look at legal and statutory agreements and not at the moral and ethical requirements. Up till July 2010 the people of Bhopal were still fighting it out in court with Dow.

This sites tell it all:

August 8, 2011

Bill Gates’ obsession with polio is being criticised

Why? Because he has decided that he will succeed no matter what? Because the virus has become his personal armageddon? The only real point his critics have is that perhaps some part of the donation should be made to pinstitute fresh research into the virus and its mutations. Why doesn’t it die like smallpox did? The oral drops have made a huge difference. But now the vaccine makers say that you must add the injection to the drops to ‘fully’ eradicate polio. The injections are hugely expensive. Government in India does not have the funds to include the injection in the national immunization program. There are so many candidates waiting in the wings to enter this program. How should these be prioritised? It took the government over 15 years to include hepatitis B in its national immunization program for children. Cost played a role in this decision as well till Indian companies were able to wrest control from MNCs and bring down this cost. Perhaps the point both sides are missing is that polio control and eradication could require not just immunization but publc health improvement, sanitation for example. So unless this rides in tandem polio recurrence is a given in some form or other. Add in the inherent nature of a virus: mutation and we have a far more complex problem. Bill Gates is a man committed to a course. He has a vision and gaol and it is hardly fair to go after him with categorial requests and unfair criticism. No one who does as much as he does in so many health areas should be actively criticised.

January 30, 2011

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

RIM in India refuses to agree to the government and is slammed. Vodafone in Egypt accedes to the government’s demand and is slammed.

What is the right stance in such situations? Can there be a legitimate global code of conduct that guides multinational brands in all such situations? Or at least most of them. And can this code accommodate the challenge of local disparities in legal and cultural situations? Companies have been known to quietly taken advantage of loop holes in local laws. And when these generally arbitrary legal systems have turned around to bite, they have complained and protested. In India it is not just multinationals who have done.The local biggies have led the way. 

Is there a World Corporate Council – and we are not talking about a wining and dining three-day festivals of grunts and groans – anywhere on this globe? No probably nothing serious and committed to taking dilemmas by the horn. 

Just as with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, can there be a single universal people oriented code of corporate conduct that we can use to see whether our actions are legally right or wrong ? Global law versus local law is a debate in the human rights space. Can business join in? 

When local governments violate human and social rights, is there any way for companies to come together and take them on? Without business there is no economy and without an economy there is no government. Think of the clout business in every country really carries to make the right kind of changes. BUT… have to take the people with you. Are the people with business today?

A fitting end to this piece is an articulate and objective view of Davos this year:

January 3, 2011

Developing a Crisis Consciousness: Need for a Chief Vigilance Officer

Citibank and the employee fraud news is just one in a long line of brand crises that have hit the financial sector in India and abroad. How hard would it be for big global brands such as Citibank to actually do some anticipation of risks and plan response strategies. The first of which would not be to muzzle the media. It would be to put in place a system of whistleblowers. It would also be to appoint what could perhaps be called a Chief Vigilance Officer…not in the tradition of the Government however.  

In fact this is the crisis management concept I would like to offer to corporate India. You spend so much money on so many branding initiatives, how much do you invest in crisis planning? How regular are your vulnerability audits? How current is your crisis manual? When was the last time you had a simulation session for a crisis scenario? Did your CEO participate???

Would it be correct to say that crisis prone brands actually have a history of arrogance and carelessness which form the nucleus to which adhere a host of little incidents, not tracked, not reported, ignored , brushed under the table till over time they gain the mass to convert into the legendary snowball rolling down the mountain, gathering momentum and hopefully taking the inept senior management with it!

In the Mint today there is a Wall Street Journal full-page article on the “PR lessons from 2010”.  The main burden of this article is that 2010 saw more than its share of corporate crises and this probably if not certainly caused untold misery to the Public Relations people who were probably asked to fix a number of unviable things. Point is that a brand crisis is NOT in the first instance a communication problem. It is a business problem stemming most likely from a number of wrong strategic decision perhaps or from not recognizing change in the business environment or even violating laws because the hope was that they could get away with it.

Stay with me on this discussion please and let me have your comments.