Chennai

‘Kodaikanal Still Won’t’ sings of environmental racism

Rapper Sofia Ashraf, singer-turned-social activist T.M. Krishna with others during Unilever's Racist Fever concert and music video launch in Chennai on Friday.   | Photo Credit: R_RAVINDRAN

In 2015, Sofia Ashraf's song ‘Kodaikanal Won’t,’ criticising multinational company Unilever for polluting Kodaikanal with mercury, went viral.

Three years after ‘Kodaikanal Won't’ flagged the issue of mercury contamination by Unilever’s thermometer factory, environmental activists are back with a second music video, ‘Kodaikanal Still Won't,’ which was released in Chennai on Friday.

Apart from singer Sofia Ashraf who featured in the first song, the second also features renowned Carnatic singer T. M. Krishna and Amrit Rao.

 

The second music video, which accuses Unilever of environmental racism and demands that the company treat the residents of Kodaikanal like they would ‘White’ people, has been conceived by environmental activist Nithyanand Jayaraman and is directed by Rathindran R. Prasad.

The activists claim that the company continues to leak toxins into the environment and the forests nearby. They also say that the company refuses to apply the same standards that it would in Europe.

Filmmaker Rathindran R. Prasad had also directed the first music video ‘Kodaikanal Won’t’ and ‘Porombokke’ songs.

Speaking about how he got involved with these campaigns, Mr. Prasad said that he was initially approached to do a documentary on mercury pollution in Kodaikanal.

Song over documentary

“I told Nithyanand that a rap music video will be better. I said that if it has to reach a lot of people, documentary may not work,” he said.

The song accuses the company of treating whites and non-whites differently.

Jayaraman said, “Between 2001 and 2015, we tried to bring this issue to the attention of the world. We took to social media with the music video ‘Kodaikanal Won't.’ We now want to focus attention on Unilever's environmental racism,” he said.

He added, “No amount of petitioning has been able to convince Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to adopt a firmer stance and enforce best international standards on Unilever's clean-up,” he said.

Fathima Babu, who was one of those who led the protests against the Sterlite Copper plant, said that marginalised people are made to suffer the consequences of development.

“First world countries are exporting outdated and dangerous technology that produces dangerous chemical produce to third world countries for profit...it is a form of violence against us,” she said.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 7:21:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/kodaikanal-still-wont-sings-of-environmental-racism/article24295255.ece

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