Looks like Vedanta’s ‘happiness’ has met with a stumbling block the size of Niyamgiri Hills
The British mining corporation’s Vedanta Resources’ PR campaign has backfired with two Bollywood celebrities pulling out of it. Renowned film maker Shyam Benegal and actress Gul Panag have decided to opt out of a panel which was supposed to judge a number of short films by budding filmmakers which would show the ‘happiness’ the company brings to the villages where the company has its presence.
This is not the first time that Vedanta has run into trouble. Its presence at Niyamgiri in Odisha has drawn severe criticism from Amnesty International, Survival International and Action Aid; who have slammed blatant violation of the rights of the local Dongria Kondh tribes. Bianca Jagger, human rights lawyer and The Rolling Stone’s lead singer Mick Jagger’s former wife has been campaigning against the mining company and in 2010 submitted 30,000 signatures on a petition asking Vedanta to respect human rights. She famously called Vedanta as one of the ‘worst companies’ she came across, which misled the world with a dubious PR campaign.
Vedanta launched its ‘Creating Happiness’ campaign a couple of months ago. Incidentally, the final hearing is coming up in 9th April on Orissa Mining Corporation’s appeal in Supreme Court against the decision to stop mining in the Niyamgiri Hills.
Also, the Sesa Goa-Sterlite merger is on the cards, both the companies being owned by Vedanta Resources. Vedanta will own 58.3% in Sesa Sterlite post-restructuring. It showed a little girl Binno and her village, where Vedanta has supposedly done a lot to promote anaganwadi and mid-day meal initiatives. It is Sterlite which was to start mining bauxite in Odisha.
Filmmakers were asked to make short films for the campaign. However, the campaign drew a lot of criticism. Ms Panag declared on Twitter that she was unaware that the competition was part of Vedanta’s PR initiative, and pulled out. She tweeted, “My bad. Just got full details. I wasn’t aware that the competition was part of Vedanta glorification/PR. Have pulled out.”
The darling of parallel cinema, Shyam Benegal, also reportedly pulled out for similar reasons. Even a filmmaker, has asked for his film to be withdrawn.
Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, an activist group that is opposing Vedanta’s project at Niyamgiri and supporting the tribals, said, “It’s 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.”
Vedanta’s reputation received a severe blow when it ventured to mine aluminium ore in the Niyamgiri Hills of Odisha, and trampled on the rights of the Dongria Kondh tribe to whom the site is sacred. The company planned to go ahead with its plans without addressing environmental or humanitarian concerns, but a popular movement built up which garnered support from all over India. Independent media concerns and activists opposed its presence, the project was stalled.
Several shareholders have sold their shares due to human rights concerns. This includes the Church of England, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the Marlborough Ethical Fund and Millfield House Foundation. The BP Pension Fund and PGGM (a Pension Fund from the Netherlands) have also divested their shares. The British and Norwegian governments have both condemned the project, and Martin Currie Investments has also disinvested following pressure from Survival.
Investors can make online investments using these cards
Quantum Mutual Fund, India’s first completely paperless online mutual fund has offered Prepaid cards as an online payment option for its investors.
After logging in to Quantum Mutual Fund’s Invest Online platform, investors can complete their usual online mutual fund transaction and then select “Prepaid Card” as payment option. Investors will then have to enter their prepaid card number in order to complete their transaction.
Quantum is currently the only mutual fund house in India to offer such a payment mechanism. The fund house is known as the country’s first direct-to-investor mutual fund, and early last year launched India’s first completely paperless invest online platform.
Jimmy A Patel, Chief Executive Officer, Quantum Asset Management Company Pvt. Ltd said, “When we launched our paperless Invest Online platform last year, we were aware that one of the challenges that we would face would be convincing investors about the security of their transactions. To address this concern, we ran an ISO 27001 Certification and increased our SSL Encryption. Prepaid cards are another step in this direction to cater to investors who are still wary of or uncomfortable with using their net-banking to transact online.”
This feature is only available for online investors who can choose Prepaid Cards as their payment option for transacting on the company’s website. The transaction limit for investments via such Prepaid cards is Rs50,000 and all entities that issue such cards are regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Quantum is initially accepting such payments only through iCash Cards which aim to offer a safe and easy payment option to Indian investors, without compromising on their safety or privacy. iCash Cards are available in various denominations and can be purchased online on www.iCashCard.in.
During FY10-11, Max New York Life undertook cost management initiatives which had its long-term impact. The cost ratio improved to 31% in December 2011
Private life insurance company Max New York Life today reported 18-fold jump in net profit at Rs572 crore for the nine-month period ended December 2011, on the back of increased productivity and cost effective techniques.
"This impressive rise in net profit was a result of continued revenue growth coupled with better productivity and cost efficiency," Max New York Life said in a statement.
The total premium income for April-December 2011 period rose by 8% to Rs4,470 crore. However, new premium income declined 13% to Rs1,282 crore.
"Though the market continues to remain challenging, we have responded extremely well ... We are confident of a sustained profitable growth for Max New York Life ... Through superior claims and complaint management," Max New York Life Insurance CEO & managing director Rajesh Sud said.
During the financial year 2010-11 the company undertook cost management initiatives which had its long-term impact. The cost ratio improved to 31% in December 2011, the statement said. The company's paid up capital as on December 2011 stood at Rs2,126 crore.
Max New York Life Insurance is a joint venture between Max India and US-based New York Life.