Open letter to Participants of Vedanta’s Creating Happiness

Dear  Film-makers

I request you to have a look at my two open letters to Shyam benegal and Piyush Pandey on the creating happiness competition available here

After  Reading  my open letter , Mr  Shyam  Benegal, who was in the jury of your competition  withdrew  knowing that the Creating  Happiness   is just  Vedanta  PR  exercise to promote themselves. The other jury Member Gul Panag informed me on twitter that she withdrew precisely for the same reason on Feb 12th 2012. Now your three member jury has just one member Mr Piyush Pandey, the creator the Ad . This campaign  is a move that eyewashes people and drifts away from all the sins committed by Vedanta. Do you know Vedanta kept a secret from you about their work in Odisha? If you look at your own film list, you will see that only two of the 38 films in the competition are from Odisha. And these films do not give the REAL PICTURE at all; you can find more in Tehlka story here story_main51.asp?filename=Ne030312Creating.asp

Let me share another secret with you all, when I first saw the Ad I fell in love with Binoo, and I thought it was an Advertisement by the Government of India   to promote girl child, An enchanting face of girl child from Rajasthan, and since I am also working on issue of dwindling child sex ratio, the theme of Ad “Binno can smile and she can dream”, made me smile too. But then as the Ad  ended, it was saying VEDANTA creating happiness, it struck be Omi Gosh, it’s a CSR ad of Vedanta, looking for mending its tarnished image worldwide . Vedanta in the ad makes the tall claims that they have helped and supported people, it also patronises the history and poverty when the ad says “shayad iski maan kabhi hansi nahi? And in the end stating our work is in collaboration “with Govt and  NGOs “giving it’s a certificate of being honest is it?

Suppose if Vedanta Officials had said that they provide mid-day meals for 250,000 children? Or that they also provide healthcare for over 2.2 million people and computer education for 1 million students? Or that they work closely with over 3,000 aanganwadis across states like Orissa, Rajasthan, Goa and Chhattisgarh to address the nutritional needs of 125,000 children? Do you think people will believe, obviously not? They chose the brilliant filmmaker Piyush Pandey to tell their story through Binnoo, a little girl from Rajasthan (not in Orissa), or her brothers Nandu or Gosthto to tell you that story through their lives.  And they have hit on the right pulse, the heart of people sure, BUT whether it’s true or fake? The quality of the production of the advertisement and the scale of its dissemination has ensured the success of its message.

The impact can be read in a comment by Priyanka on my blog to the open letter, which voices the feelings of many

I had been admiring 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…’s a really selfish world! I wish I could do something more than just sharing this on FB as I just did

Vedanta has been fighting a negative perception battle which has been eroding its corporate brand equity. There has been an international debate over excessive mining versus human rights and environmental violations. In the name of progress and development” and their mantra is “maximum production” and “minimum cost.” The struggle of indigenous and tribal people versus corporations and states, over land rich in natural resources, is a global issue. The Kondh tribes have been battling to save their livelihood against British based mining company, Vedanta Resources.  This is not the first time, they haves used mass media. In 2010, when the human rights violations by Company in Odisha were at peak, it roped in Leo Burnett to prepare a television Ad, ironically titled

Bianca Jagger (former partner of   Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger) founder and chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, was in India  in 2010 to visit the Niyamgiri Hills in Orissa where the local population is opposed to the setting up of a bauxite mine.

”My visit to the Kondh brought back memories of what I have witnessed in Nicaragua and throughout Latin America. The struggle of indigenous and tribal people versus corporations and states, over ancestral land rich in natural resources, is not a new issue; nor is it unique to India. Throughout history they have been oppressed and forcibly expelled from their ancestral land, their rights violated with impunity by governments that have put the interest of corporations above their survival. I have campaigned for human rights, social justice and environmental protection throughout the world for nearly thirty years. During that period I have seen first-hand the devastating effects the irrational exploitation of our natural resources has had on the environment, communities and indigenous and tribal people.

At Vedanta’s shareholders AGM on July 28th 2010, I asked chairman Anil Agarwal if he would accept the findings of the Saxena committee. Non- executive director, Naresh Chandra replied, “Whatever the government of India decide, we will accept.” I hope that Vedanta stands by this statement. The company has an appalling track record – it has shown no respect for human rights, the environment or for local communities. Until Vedanta adheres to Corporate and Social Responsibility and is willing to comply with OECD guidelines, and agrees to fully inform and consult local communities, I do not think the company should be allowed to mine. ” (

Now tell me isn’t it ironical that a Corporate Mining  Giant accused of so many human rights violations against the tribals of Kondh, will improve its brand equity image through this short film competition , Thanks to you ?

I request you to reconsider your decision to participate in the competition, because in reality all of you are enhancing the image of Vedanta as a benevolent saviour and protector.

Please do sign online petition and share widely

Anticipating a positive reply from all of you

Warm regards

Kamayani Bali Mahabal


You can email me at –

(Please do help me reach out to the 114  film makers, who have contributed to the festival

Married Women in Maharashtra can keep maiden name need not take husbands’ surname

MUMBAI: Women in Maharashtra have another reason to celebrate as International Women’s Day approaches.

It is now perfectly legal for a woman to retain her maiden name after marriage. The Bombay high court recently amended a crucial rule under the Family Courts Act to prevent a woman from being compelled to file any marriage-related proceedings only in her husband’s surname, thus offering relief to many seeking a divorce. It will also help a married woman file proceedings in other courts under her maiden name, say legal experts.

The radical rule says that “a wife who has not changed her name after marriage, by publishing in the official gazette, may continue to use her maiden name”. The law is clear now: a woman is not obliged to take her husband’s name after marriage.

A woman can file proceedings either in her maiden name or another name she may have adopted as long as it is officially registered in the gazette. If she retains her maiden name, a woman cannot be forced by a court to write her name as her first name followed by her husband’s first name and his surname while making a marriage-related petition.

Flavia Agnes of the women’s rights activist group Majlis, whose efforts led to this change, sees the amendment as a “progressive new addition to the law for women”. Majlis’ efforts ensured that a woman can continue to use her maiden name and surname if she so desires after marriage for all official purposes. She is not bound to use her husband’s name and can initiate proceedings in any court using her maiden name. The ‘after divorce’ status, meanwhile, does not force a woman to revert to her maiden surname if she had been using her husband’s surname all through the marriage. She can continue with the ex-husband’s surname, unless her intention is to defraud him, as was held by the Supreme Court.

Unknown to even lawyers, the new law stands published in the state gazette since last November, after the Bombay high court amended a crucial rule under the Family Courts Act in September 2011.

The law has been hailed by women’s rights activists and lawyers. “A woman cannot be compelled while seeking divorce to adopt her married surname if she hadn’t been using it, just as she cannot be compelled to drop her married name and revert to maiden surname after divorce, if she had been,” said a lawyer.

“Prior to the amendment, the Bandra family court staff would not accept divorce or related applications from hundreds of women until they added the first name of their estranged husband as their middle name, and also his surname,” said Agnes. The court staff would compel the quarrelling couple to bear only one surname-the husband’s-in the court case to be filed.

A year ago, Majlis took up the cause with the Bombay high court because it supervises functioning of all lower courts. The issue, said Majlis, was that in Maharashtra, many communities practised the custom of a new wife changing even her first name after marriage and adopting her husband’s full name. But other communities from states across India do not usually follow this custom, though it’s common for women to adopt the husband’s surname.

Read TOI article here


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February 2012
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