Mining Giant´s PR Campaign Backfires as Bollywood Celebs Pull Out
LONDON, U.K. -- A bid by British mining giant Vedanta Resources to repair its tarnished international reputation has backfired after two major Bollywood celebrities withdrew from a film competition supposed to show the ‘happiness’ the company creates.
filmmaker Shyam Benegal and Bollywood actress Gul Panag were both part of a
judging panel, which had until the end of this month to pick a winning film out
of the 38 submitted.
Photo: Vedanta´s Lanjigarh refinery. Credit: Survival
were all shot by ‘budding film-makers’, who were escorted by Vedanta around
villages where it has a presence.
objective of the competition was to show the ‘happiness’ Vedanta brings to
local communities where it works.
reputation was irreversibly damaged when it ignored the rights of the Dongria Kondh tribe,
whose sacred mountain it sought to mine for aluminum ore, according to Survival International.
who was crowned Miss India in 1999, was only made aware of Vedanta’s
involvement when it was brought to her attention via social media.
tweeted, ‘My bad. Just got full details. I wasn’t aware that the competition
was part of Vedanta glorification/PR. Have pulled out.’
close to filmmaker Shyam Benegal, whose films have been nominated at
international film festivals such as Cannes, say he withdrew for similar
One of the
participants has also asked for his film to be withdrawn.
Gorakshnath Khande reportedly said all Vedanta cared about was ‘branding
and building goodwill under the name of filmmaking competition.’
contest is part of Vedanta’s wider ‘Creating Happiness’ campaign, which is
being driven by international ad agency Ogilvy & Mather.
campaign comes at a crucial time. Orissa Mining Corporation Ltd is appealing India’s
decision not to allow mining in the Niyamgiri Hills. The final hearing is
scheduled for April 9th.
astonishing the lengths Vedanta will go to pursue its goal of mining in the
Niyamgiri Hills. Not content with losing its fight against
the Dongria Kondh in 2010, it’s now spending millions of dollars trying to
change attitudes and convince the world that it’s working in the interests of
local communities. The actions of these two jury members speak volumes and set
a commendable example,’ Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said in a statement
Photo: The Dongria Kondh reasserted their pledge never to leave the
Niyamgiri Hills, at a festival in February. © Bikash Khemka/Survival
Published by: Magne Ove Varsi