Open letter to Piyush Pandey on Vedanta’s “Creating Happiness”


Executive Chairman &National Creative Director India and South Asia

Ogilvy & Mather Pvt Ltd

21st Feb, 2012

Dear Mr Piyush Pandey

Greetings !

You are the Icon of  Indian advertising Industry and I was delighted to know that you  have  been appointed as the brand ambassador for D&AD White Pencil Award. The new award from D&AD has been announced for an idea that raises awareness or changes behaviour around a pressing social, environmental or health issue. This is a significant initiative in the world of communication.

Your  mile sur humara tumhara’ for the National Literacy Mission in 1988  got etched in our collective Indian advertising  memory years ago. . As also your  anti smoking ads  for the Cancer Patient association  which won you  two Cannes Gold Medals in 2002. 

In 1999  “Bhopal Express” – a film based on the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984 that was co- written by you, acted as a catalyst in bringing to the forefront  the human rights violations committed by Union Carbide , a  corporate genocide. You supported the cause of Bhopal gas victims, and  I respect  you for that.

After  so many socially responsible ad campaigns  by you  I was aghast  to see  Vedanta’s  “Creating Happiness” ad . Recently unveiling the campaign you said The Vedanta ‘Creating Happiness’ campaign is extremely close to my heart for it’s all about enabling India. I have worked on this campaign along with my team as an excited young copywriter and I look forward to the people of India not just appreciating Vedanta’s efforts, but getting inspired to do something on their own to make India happier place.

May I ask you, if you really know whether Vedanta has enabled or disabled India ?  Whether  Vedanta has protected the environment of the tribals in India, or has been on land grabbing spree and attacking peaceful protestors?

I urge you to visit Niyamgiri hills, I am sure you will love the paradise on earth, which  Vedanta is hell bent on destroying .

Niyamgiri Hills, named after the Niyamraja, the main deity of the Donagria Kondhs, are one of last untouched wildernesses of Orissa. Rising to a height of more than four thousand feet, it is the source of Vamshadhara river as well as major tributaries of Nagavali rivers. Niyamgiris form a distinct phytogeographical zone because of its height and its highly precipitous topography . It has some of the most pristine forests in Orissa. Niyamgiri flora is of ‘great phyto-geographical importance’ as the hilltops harbor high altitude plants with Himalayan/North Indian and Nilgiri/South Indian elements. Preliminary studies show that it has approximately 50 species of important medicinal plants, about 20 species of wild ornamental plants, and more than 10 species of wild relatives of crop plants .

The forested slopes of the Niyamgiri hills and the many streams that flow through them provide the means of living for Dongaria Kondh and Kutia Kondh, Scheduled Tribes that are notified by the government as ‘Primitive Tribal Groups’ and thus eligible for special protection. In addition, the Dongaria Kondh, whose total population is 7952 according to the 2001 census, are regarded as an endangered tribe. Schedule V of the Indian Constitution which enjoins the government to respect and uphold the land rights of Scheduled Tribes applies to the entire Niyamgiri hills region. While the Kutia Kondh inhabit the foothills, the Dongaria Kondh live in the upper reaches of the Niyamgiri hills which is their only habitat.

In the polytheistic animist worldview of the Kondh, the hilltops and their associated forests are regarded as supreme deities. The highest hill peak, which is under the proposed mining lease area, is the home of their most revered god, Niyam Raja, ‘the giver of law’.

They worship the mountains (dongar from which the Dongaria Kondh derive their name) along with the earth (dharini). These male and female principles come together to grant the Kondh prosperity, fertility and health.

According , ‘Report of the four member committee for investigation into the proposal submitted by the Orissa Mining Company for bauxite mining in Niyamgiri’, dated August 16, 2010, by Dr N C Saxena, Dr S Parasuraman, Dr Promode Kant, Dr Amita Baviskar. Submitted to the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India.

English: An ethnic Wife of Dhaneshwaran from t...

Image via Wikipedia

”As Narendra Majhi, a Kutia Kondh from Similibhata village, said, “We worship Niyam Raja and Dharini Penu. That is why we don’t fall ill”. Sikoka Lodo, a Dongaria Kondh from Lakpadar village said, “As long as the mountain is alive, we will not die”. Dongaria Kondh art and craft reflect the importance of the mountains to their community— their triangular shapes recur in the designs painted on the walls of the village shrine as well as in the colourful shawls that they wear. All the Dongria and Kutia Kondh villagers that the Committee conversed with emphasized the connection between their culture and the forest ecology of the Niyamgiri hills. Their belief in the sacredness of the hills is rooted in a strong dependence on the natural resources that the mountains provide. Their customary practices in the area include agriculture, grazing and the collection of minor forest produce (MFP).All Dongaria Kondh that the Committee spoke to expressed their strong attachment to the Niyamgiri hills, their stewardship of the land, and the legitimacy of their rights arising from their long-standing presence in these hills. They strongly voiced their contentment with life and their opposition to any destructive change of the ecology threatening their culture. As Sikoka Budhga said, “We can never leave Niyamgiri. If the mountains are mined, the water will dry up. The crops won’t ripen. The medicinal plants will disappear. The air will turn bad. Our gods will be angry. How will we live? We cannot leave Niyamgiri.”

Research by Amnesty International and other local and international groups documents the serious and continuing pollution caused by the refinery’s operations. Despite the string of decisions against Vedanta, the company has failed to remedy the pollution.The latest high court verdict states that Vedanta cannot circumvent conditions issued by India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), stipulating that plans for expansion of the refinery should go through a fresh environmental and social impact assessment and a public hearing process. Residents of 12 villages who live in the shadow of the massive refinery – mostly Majhi Kondh Adivasi (Indigenous) and Dalit communities who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods – have long campaigned against the expansion.India’s great land grab continues, with police forcibly evicting tribal villagers in Orissa from land sold to UK-based Vedanta Resources to use as a toxic waste dump .

In your various interviews you have time again said you get creative insights from the people you interact with and also while you make ad campaigns you relate to the common man.I urge  you to go and find for yourself what Vedanta is doing to Niyamgiri Hills and talk to the tribals yourself to know the truth.

Meanwhile I would like you to see  activist Satyabadi Naik’s shocking video of police crackdown on a peaceful protest by women of Rengopalli and other villages against Vedanta’s toxic Red Mud Pond in Lanjigarh. This video was recorded on 23 Jan 2012. Watch the Video  urgent-villagers-protest-against-vedanta-red-mud-pond

Soem more films on the  REAL FACE OF VEDANTA

The Real Face of Vedanta

Niyamgiri – The Mountain of Law

iii. The Protector of the Streams

iv. Controversy over best environmental management award to vedanta

Now after reading my letter and watching  the videos you tell me , is  Vedanta “ Creating  Happiness “ or ‘ Faking  Happiness” ?


Adv Kamayani Bali Mahabal


36 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Open letter to Shyam Benegal on Vedanta’s Creating Happiness « kracktivist
  2. Trackback: Vedanta Won an Environmental Award in 2009? — More Sleazy Brand Remaking in 2012. « Cellar Door
  3. Mini Mathew
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 18:01:41

    I wonder what explanation an Ad guy can have other than money. Selling out .


  4. Debranjan
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 19:42:23

    Does the prostitute care about the moral fiber of her customer…if so she’s wouldnt be in business. There should be stricter antitrust laws that prevents companies under investigation from carrying out PR and so called CSR campaigns.


  5. Soumik Banerjee
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 20:29:43

    Why can’t this White Lie ad be banned from broadcasting on TV channels….??


  6. Soumik Banerjee
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 20:35:34

    This is what David Philip from Kalahandi mailed me when I forwarded this letter……..

    I am from Kalahandi and working in Kalahandi. I am not convinced on the advertisement given by vedanta in TV. What is it doing. Let them name the villages they are working and let them state the achievements. This advertisement is just white wash of the exploitative illegal intervention in Kalahandi. Would you please sugggest me what we can do.



    • Surya
      Feb 23, 2012 @ 16:04:31

      what can be done what is done is not the question? The main concern is what Lanjigarh was all about in the past and what is the present sinario. A company is not a repalcement of the govt. It is only a supliment. As I worked in the village. I agree with the advertisement.

      If you realy want to know that what you can do. Then just got to a remote tribal village, staty there, understand the culture and then speak the truth.
      Do they need change?
      Were we not changed?


  7. GICS
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 21:26:58

    Send it here :


  8. Trackback: Piyush Pandey and the Vedanta open letter « kracktivist
  9. shivmathur
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 22:48:28

    Just to try and be fair:

    1) Did you all know the truth about Vedanta before readng this article?

    2) If not, do you think that Piyush MUST have known, and that he was ‘selling out’ ?

    Or could it be that (like you and me) he DIDN’T know the whole truth?


  10. Priyanka
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 23:03:51

    I had been adimiring the ad all these days and this was the first time that I heard about ‘Vedanta’. The ad creates such a strong and positive brand impression….after reading through your article I detest the fact that some people in our country have the guts to actually create such positive imageries for organizations such as Vedanta…it makes me feel sick!
    If the Govt doesn’t care shouldn’t media care? Shouldn’t the ad agencies also care to check facts sometimes? But who are we kidding here….I’m waiting to see how Piyush reacts to this? What press statements would follow..what kind of cover ups would happen…..its a really selfish world! I wish I could do something more than just sharing this on FB as I just did…


    • kracktivist
      Feb 23, 2012 @ 09:09:35

      Priyanka, thanks for reading lettre, sharing and commenting, it is important that although government is equally guilty of allowing vedanta of human rights violations but somewhere the mass communictaion and advertsising for a brand like vedanta which has soaked their hands in blood of tribals of niymagiri have to take a call on the ethics, shouldnt they say NO irrespective to how much client offers, wouldnt they have certain non negotiables in advertising ?


    • Surya
      Feb 23, 2012 @ 16:08:53

      no body kiding with no body. We being a selfish person in our own comfort zone commenting and feeling sick. Do you have the guts to help the poor people in your native place with out any wanting? Perhaps not.

      Come down to Lanjigarh? Research on the history and then you can find the truth.


  11. Venkat
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 23:32:01

    While writing/reading this story one would have consumed or used some metal items may be its a steel glass, or a utensil or Al. foil or a tea bag stappled with Al pin or ……… the metal in our daily life has come from one or the other ‘x….giri’ hills which was as beautiful as described above. Nature is always beautiful …..where is the paper coming which is used by Ad agencies…its from the same nature….where is the coal power coming from …again nature.. If the economy has to progress then the minerals have to be explored and exploited. Our responsible citizens should force the regulatory agencies to ensure and comply to the legal requirements while approving any such projects may be its for Aluminium or iron ore or coal which one day has to be liberated…..


  12. Prafulla Samantara
    Feb 23, 2012 @ 12:31:21

    Nothing is expected moral from a anti-human company like Vedanta. In the market economy advertisement is used as a weapon to make the customer senseless. Thus the vedanta company makes everybody from the Government to the so called elites in the process of globalisation.
    Prafulla Samantara, NAPM Convenor


    • Surya
      Feb 23, 2012 @ 16:23:06

      Do you thing that the so called for-human persons now a days expresing their concern about the tribals are doing the same with out any vested interst.
      Accept the truth know one can do any thing for any body with out any out put. Perhaves you will not do anyting for your family members also.

      Go to a village called Kunakadu, Lanjigarh Block, then comment. Do not they need change?

      Can you promise that know “GOD”giri will be mined in the worl.

      Where form the other contries getting the mineral. I think it is harvested from a crop field like Rice/ Tamato.

      If so it is ok. Else is not that mountains were worshiped for their beauty and purity.

      Why just washing the brains of the simple tribal brothers and sister who are very loving and only know the right face of the worl. They neither nows the politics nor practicing the same.

      They accept all the persons to their land you are there and pretending to help tthem. They just not bifercating any body where friend or enmy.

      Be a human and let ODISHA be enriched by best utilization of the natural resources.

      If we can aware the public about best uses of the resources than will be a better impact on the human life.


  13. Deepak
    Feb 23, 2012 @ 13:05:10

    Dear Kamayani Bali Mahabal, I don’t care about your opinion on Piyush Pandey’s ad…. But I read your comment seriously on Vedanta and Niyamgiri… and I have some serious questions in my mind… Have you ever spend a day with the Dongarias… before Vedanta happened to them and after that? I am not saying what is happening is all good, but it’s certainly better than the past, at least now they are considered as human beings. Now we have got Vedanta to blame, but where was every one when they were exploited by everyone and were living a life of oblivion…


    • Surya
      Feb 23, 2012 @ 16:27:06

      You are ture. Every body doing the same. We may be in some of the moment of time a party to thay with out our knowledge.

      So we should not blame to a particular person/ company. We should first rectify ourself.


  14. Harish
    Feb 23, 2012 @ 16:55:06

    Dear kamayani have you come to lanjiagh ? have you seen the place where the tribals are staying? Waht your govt or NGOs is going for their development. Mr. rahul Gandhi came here in 2008 and told that he was with them but till now he has done nothing nor his govt for them. But Vedanta is trying to devlop the tribal area to give them better education, healthcare and livelyhood. If you are so serious about the tribals then come here and do development for them.


  15. Trackback: Benegal pulls out of jury on Vedanta-promoted film competition « kracktivist
  16. jacob
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 15:52:11

    these were interesting


  17. Trackback: Vedanta -Creating Happiness? Certainly Not in Puri « kracktivist
  18. Trackback: Open letter to Participants of Vedanta’s Creating Happiness « kracktivist
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  20. Trackback: Faking Happiness- Spoof Ad Competition « kracktivist
  21. almostinfamous
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 13:30:21

    Reblogged this on doop HQ.


  22. almostinfamous
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 13:34:32

    I am not a bit surprised that there are people supporting Vedanta, but it is an indication of the kind of astroturfing being tried by the behemoth. Thanks for creating this, I have reblogged it as well.


  23. Trackback: Happiness Quotient Vedanta’s corporate campaign sparks off a controversy « kracktivist
  24. Trackback: Anil Agarwal mines daughter Priya’s skills for Vedanta Resources « kracktivist
  25. Trackback: Vedanta not ” Creating Happiness ” but pollution causing diseases in Niyamgiri Hills « kracktivist
  26. Trackback: Leader of Niyamgiri Struggle Faces Life Threat « kracktivist
  27. Randeep choudhary
    Sep 17, 2012 @ 12:53:19

    Piyush pandey is the one of the greatest creative man in the world when you will see his fevicol ad campaign you will find all that things.


    • kracktivist
      Sep 17, 2012 @ 14:08:48

      i know he is the godfather of ad industry in india , so what ? my letter clearly asks him to atleast follow basic ethics ?? and not be a party to leis fo Vedanta an its charity which is a charade for the mining giant to grab the lands of the tribals in india.


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