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Water as a human right!!!!

Globalization. As a Global Studies student the meaning of this word is a constant struggle. I have tried so desperately to clinch onto the idea that we are moving faster and faster closer to the close knit, fair trade, cultural exchanging, global community that might have a new future. However all I can see lately is this community that takes the voices from the few and implements laws that push the agenda of the few. It is not cultural exchange but rather cultural domination and hegemony. Fair trade is a myth that has to stay alive so that the weak don’t lose hope or worse rebel. The documentary that we watched this week “Life and Debt? has made me think about the countless human rights violations that are justified by Wallstreet and economist as market driven Economy. One of these violations I wanted to talk about in this blog is Water. I am sure you all heard about the leading concerns of the water industry. I mean we all know that we shouldn’t buy plastic bottles, or support bottle companies that kill of the sovereignty of weaker nations, however this issues goes so much deeper. Can you afford to live? This question seems absurd and unreasonable in our contemporary community. It is well established and affirmed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCR) that every human has a "right to life", this means that no human can be deprived of the elements that make life possible. What happens if the government or a corporation asks: "Can you afford to drink?" For 1.1 billion people in the world the answer to this question would be, "NO". The global society is constantly being challenged by war, diseases, and the collapse or instability of states. However in the 21st century, with the realization that water has become a finite resource, it is the lack of fresh water that concerns most nations. With the combination of pollution, population growth, and climate change the water cycle has been damaged and water scarcity has become an increasing threat to many nations. Water is essential to every aspect of human life; our health and welfare depend on it. What happens if it isn't made available to us. It is essential that water is seen as a human right rather than a commodity. With the help of privatization of water sources, water has changed from a human right into a human need. Thru the process of Globalization countries are made to believe that water is a good that is supposed to be provided by the most competitive company, rather than the local government.

The privatization of water, which allows companies such as Coca-Cola to extract large amounts of ground water for a minimal price, is leaving the Indian people without access to water. The communities surrounding the 52 Coca-Cola bottling plants are experiencing severe water shortages thought to be caused by the massive extraction of ground water by cola companies. The Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) of India has conducted studies that confirm a significant depletion of the water table in the areas surrounding the bottling plants. One example is Rajasthan, India, where the CGWB found water tables had dropped 10 meters within five years of Coca-Cola starting bottling operations in Kala Dera, Rajasthan (India Resource). In another study of water conditions in eight villages within a three kilometer radius of the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Mehdianj found the number of wells that had dried up increased seven-fold since Coca-Cola began operations in the area (India Resource). This severe depletion of the local ground water table is prompting further investigation into the overall environmental degradation of the area as a whole. Coca-Cola claims on their website that throughout all of their operations in India, stringent quality monitoring takes place covering both the source water they use as well as their finished product. All of the water used for beverage manufacturing conforms to drinking water standards, making it safe and ensuring that it meets the highest international standards, including BIS and EU standards for drinking water. They also test for traces of pesticide in groundwater to the level of parts per billion. This is equivalent to one drop in a billion drops. The water intensive production practices of Coca-Cola have raised concerns about the contamination of the remaining ground water and surrounding land. Coca-Cola discharges hazardous waste water into fields and rivers surrounding the bottling plants, resulting in ground water and soil pollution. In some areas of India, the water wells and pumps have been labeled with signs that state the water is unfit for human consumption. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) found excessive levels of lead and cadmium in all Coca-Cola waste and confirmed contamination of ground water and soil contamination in areas where this waste was disposed (India Resource). Prior to the CPCB study, this waste was distributed to Indian farmers as fertilizer for their crops (India Resource). As a result of the study, seven states in India have imposed partial bans on the sale of Coca- Cola products due to the high levels of pesticides in the waste products (India Resource). This
contamination of land and water supply coupled with a declining water table has caused severe interruption of agricultural practices in India, a country in which 70 percent of the population earns a living from agriculture and related practices, resulting in oppression of the people of India. In the face of the oppression resulting from water privatization, the Indian people are taking action in movements and protests that demand their basic needs to be considered before corporate profit. In this case the sovereignty of the local government has been pushed to their threshold by Coca Cola undermining the needs of the locals. One such movement in Kerala, India began with Indian women who were upset about having to travel greater distances because their wells were contaminated or dry from the activities of the bottling plant. While the IMF, WTO, and the World Bank define this as perfectly legal activity, Economist go as far as talking about creating a rich industry in developing countries through open market and free trade. After watching the “Live and Debt? movie Free trade has a new meaning to me. The rich and powerful a “FREE? to steal, exploit, and oppress the weak. Wait a sec that sounds like it happened before…yup Imperialism has a new name and face: Free Trade!