Rapping Some Sense into Unilever for Mercury Pollution

Sent to Kafila by Nityanand Jayaraman
Hitting where it hurts Unilever most, a new music video that is turning many eyes uses rap to expose Unilever’s crimes in the South Indian hill town of Kodaikanal. Sofia Ashraf, a Chennai-born rapper, wrote the lyrics and sang the song which was set to video by Chennai-based filmmaker Rathindran R. Prasad. 
Set to Nicki Minaj’s racy song “Anaconda,” this song asks Unilever to clean up the toxic contamination in Kodaikanal and compensate mercury-affected workers. Unilever operated a mercury thermometer factory in Kodaikanal for 18 years, and was shut down in 2001 after it was caught having dumped broken thermometer waste in a scrapyard in a crowded part of the town. Now, 15 years later, Unilever has neither cleaned up the contamination nor compensated workers.

The video is being used to promote a petition targeting the Anglodutch MNC’s CEO Mr. Paul Polman. Unilever spends more than $8 billion marketing itself as an ethical, transparent, caring and environmentally responsible company. However, for more than a decade, it has failed to walk its talk in Kodaikanal. Its CEO talks exhorts other corporate leaders to be responsible and compassionate, and is a great proponent of a concept called “Inclusive Capitalism.” Kodaikanal is proof of how Unilever is no different from Union Carbide.

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