Great American anti-caste-virus Initiative

07May07

Students Against Caste Discrimination

 A COORDINATED EFFORT BY
Black Buddhist Community in America

THE CAMPAIGN : It is estimated that U. S. Corporations spend in excess of $200 Billion annually conducting business in India. In recent years many U. S. corporations have come under public condemnation due to questionable employment policies and practices allegedly used by U. S. corporations abroad. This event addresses these conditions and invites U. S. corporations to issue policy statements as to their position regarding caste discrimination.

DESCRIPTION: The event is a nation-wide demonstration by U. S. High School and Middle School students. The event will commence on Monday, October 15, 2007 at 10:15 morning hours and will last for 45 minutes. At the commencement of the event, students will walkout of their classrooms en mass and rally to the front of their schools. The event finishes at 11:00 am with students returning to their classes.

ISSUES: The event is promoted as a youth movement; as U. S. youth demonstrating their support for other youth – Dalit youth, victims of caste-ism in India. Specific issues include:
-Caste-ism and the general abuse of human rights as they relate to the practice of caste-based discrimination in India.
-Bonded child labor,
-sex trafficking of Dalit girls and the general social and
-economic conditions of Dalit children particularly in rural areas.

PURPOSE: The primary purpose of the event is to raise public awareness around matters of caste discrimination and the practice of untouchability in India. The event encourages U. S. corporations to join-the- team by either issuing or signing-on to policy statements that fall within the pail of commonly accepted definitions of human rights thus facilitating Dalit relief.

Further objectives are:
-To heighten U. S. public awareness around issues related to caste and caste-ism in India.
-To invigorate current supporters both nationally and internationally and to foster new support into the campaign.
-To bring about individual and group (school) contact between U. S. youth and Dalit youth while promoting classroom discussions on the topic of caste discrimination.
-To focus U. S. media attention on caste and caste-ism.
-To identify and publicize U. S. Corporations who either subsidize caste discrimination in India or who’s policies or practices fail to guarantee freedom from caste discrimination in India. This project calls for corporate accountability by targeting stock holders and consumers.

SOME U. S. FIRMS WITH INVESTMENTS IN INDIA: American Chamber of Commerce in India, which has seen its membership base grow from zero in 1992 to more than 400 today, states that a majority of US firms with a presence in India have been reporting double-digit year-on-year growth. Citibank and Bank of America are more profitable in India than their global average. General Electric does over $ 1 billion worth of business in India annually and has recouped more than four times its investments. Further, GE employees more than 23,000 people in India. GE also makes money in 31 additional businesses in India. India is one of Reebok’s fastest growing markets. India is Motorola’s third largest market. Ford arrived in India 7 years ago with 12 dealerships in 8 cities; today it has over 100 dealerships in 80 cities. Further, Ford recently completed what it calls “its best ever year” in terms of sales.

The US automotive systems company Viseton does $43 million in annual sales and is the largest exporter of automobile alternators out of India. US agrochemical giant Monsanto started selling BT cotton seeds in India in 2003 with about 75,000 farmers supporting BT cotton. The number was 300,000 in 2004 and in 2007 about 700,000 farmers are expected to cultivate the crop. Nine out of top 20 Indian IT firms are from the U. S.. These firms make up over 37% of the turnover of the top 20 firms operating in India. Oracle recorded operating margins of over 40 per cent between September and November of 2004. IBM led India’s server market in 2004 with a 30 per cent market share. India imports $1.5 billion worth of military hardware annually.

The lifting of U.S. sanctions against India in October 2002 allowed U.S. defense suppliers to meet India’s growing defense requirements. Caterpillar, the construction equipment company, makes backhoe loaders and with new infrastructure projects being commissioned every day, backhoe loaders are the backbone of the Indian construction industry, and they account for approximately 50 % of the earthmoving equipment sales. Caterpillar therefore operates a 183 acres facility which is now cashing in on India’s construction boom. PepsiCo India which recently saw a 20 per cent increase in sales has 19 company owned factories and 21 franchisees. The company has set up 8 Greenfield sites and is planning an investment of approximately $150 million in the next two years. Similarly, from 1993 to 2003, Coca-Cola invested more than $1 billion in India, making it one of the country’s top international investors.

Since then, India has been identified as one of Coca Cola’s most profitable global markets. The U. S. fast food chains of McDonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC have established a strong presence in India. KFC has 160 restaurants in India to date. Their target in 2014 is 1,000 restaurants. Cisco, Compaq and Intel all do business in India. Reebok International’s golf apparel and accessories brand Greg Norman Collection, the $100 million brand, which retails at US $60 to US $90 per piece globally, sources about 30-40% of its total apparel needs from India.
These are some of the U. S. corporations currently doing business in India.

Coordinator: Paul Gutherie



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