PRESS RELEASE: Unilever Named as Unsponsor for Justice Rocks “Un-Making India” Concert

Taking a potshot at the Government’s corporate-coddling “Make in India” campaign, a Chennai youth collective has chosen “Un-Making India” as the theme for this year’s Justice Rocks concert naming the mercury-tainted Unilever and Government of India as the chief unsponsors. The concert is to be held on 3 October from 6 p.m. at SPACES, near Besant Nagar beach. Justice Rocks is an unsponsored copyleft platform where young artists use music, performing arts and stand-up comedy to highlight social and environmental injustices. Unlike sponsored concerts, where performers and organisers sing praises of their funders, at Justice Rocks young artists write songs and stand-up scripts lampooning their unsponsors.

As a special side event, Justice Rocks will feature an awards ceremony where Unilever CEO Paul Polman will be conferred the “Two Monkeys Award.” The Award recognises Polman’s firm refusal to see any evil in the handling of the Kodaikanal issue by his company.

“Unilever’s mercury legacy in Kodaikanal is an obvious case in point to highlight the dangers of the Make in India campaign,” said Sofia Ashraf, the 28-year old rapper who shot to global fame with her Kodaikanal Won’t music video. “Unilever’s Make in India has ended up harming the watershed forests’ ability to make clean water for India,” said Ashraf, a regular performer at the annual Justice Rocks events. Ashraf’s band “Mallipoo & the Alwas” will open the concert with another original song written for this theme.

“The Government’s Make in India is all about mega-ports, big dams, coal power plants, expressways and industries. Extending sops to multinationals, relaxing environmental and labour safety norms and letting your guard down are what led to the Kodaikanal and Bhopal legacies,” said Archanaa Seker, a 24-year old who has been part of Justice Rocks since 2010. “The Government’s proposal will Unmake India by replacing the infrastructure of survival with the infrastructure for big commerce,” she said.

Make in India can mean many things to many people. Justice Rocks organisers are quick to point out that they too have a vision of Make in India. “We need to recognize and nurture what we firmly believe to be a highly moral and essential Make in India. More importantly we want to make for India. If resources are what we are talking about, the earth is the biggest resource – making clean water, air, food. We need to Make in India sustainably, without hurting the earth’s ability to make for us and our future generations,” said Vishnu Ramprasad, a Chennai-based musician who will perform with his band the “Vishnu R Collective.”

At least five other bands, including high school bands, will perform that day. Other performers include the bands Kurangan (Tamil) and Sid Hande & the Drama, well-known stand-up comedians Bhargav Prasad and Shyam Renganathan, and debutante performers like Harish, Gokul and Krishnakumar.

Justice Rocks is pitched as a low-budget, moderate decibel, high entertainment event. In earlier years, Justice Rocks has organised Don’t Work for Dirty Dow unsponsored by Union Carbide and Dow Chemical, Lever Fever unsponsored by Unilever, Unclear Energy (on nuclear power) unsponsored by the nuclear establishment, Culture Unplugged by culture bullies and fundamentalists of all hues and Leaky Bucket which was an event about Tamil Nadu’s leaky electricity sector unsponsored by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board. Entry is free.

For more information, contact:

Archanaa Seker: 9840523235

Sofia Ashraf: 9840987186

Vishnu Ramprasad: 9940156668