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Friday, August 10, 2007

Time to get flooded...with money!

Heidelberg Cement has appeared to be a soldier fighting the evils of recent floods in Bangladesh. Yesterday they published a front page advertisement in Daily Star saying that 'for every pack of their cement we buy, 1 taka from it will go to the aid of flood victims of Bangladesh'. Amazing example of charity isn't it? The company has never forgotten the misery of the flood-hit people of Bangladesh, their hearts bleed to see the plight of rural Bangladesh in despair. At the same time, the cement manufacturer never overlooks another opportunity to squeeze out money of our pockets at the cost of the flood victims, their business acumen is worthy of praise, they have clearly shown how to take opportunity of circumstances and increase sales figure. So I buy 100 packs of your cement say at 100 taka and you will pay 10 taka to the flood victims and I will go home happy thinking that I have made my minutest but morally significant contribution to help the flood affected countrymates. But hang on hang on hang on....where does the rest 90 taka go? Oh...pardon me for explicitly mentioning that it will go to your pocket, after all its your business, so its taken for granted that you will make money, no matter it floods or cyclones or fire, as long as you are safe and sniff out money, you will dig out money. Thanks.

In a world of 'cause and effects' we at Bangladesh get bothered about the effects, we do talk about the causes once in a while but we, till now, never have managed to do something definitive about the root causes of the 'most of the time miserable' effects that follow consequently. Floods in Bangladesh are a predictable natural calamity, we all know it. But until and unless we are hit by it, our homes...sorry their homes are washed away by it and we stand in front of epidemics and human disasters, we don't seem to take any proactive measures against it. A word of wisdom is to be able to distinguish between what is controllable by us and what is not. To what extent we can prevent floods from happening in Bangladesh? Geographically speaking, being the largest delta of the world does come with a heavy price. We live in a land which is the mouth of many mighty rivers...rivers which are the lifelines of any human establishments. Now we cannot change we don't. But many a times the lifelines that flow through our country are grabbed by the throat by highlanders...leaving us grasping for water...leading to droughts. And when we don't want any more fluid, the highlanders let loose all gates and we have floods in our pants. Now this is man made and we can change this....politically. But we could not..thanks to our politician babas and babes. Pigs, prostitutes, politicians all start with a P. Pigs are unconsciously dirty by nature, many prostitutes unwillingly trade fleshy entertainment due to circumstances, but politicians have the unique ability to consciously show characteristics of both from time to time. Poverty, pollution, prime ministers, presidents, political parties, prices etc. all start with a painful P, beyond the 4Ps of product marketing and 7Ps of service marketing, we in Bangladesh need to devise N number of Ps to tackle the evil Ps eating up Bangladesh.

Prevention is also better than cure. When we know that we are going to have floods every year, why don't we take measures to prevent it? Why don't companies like Heidelberg Cement make use of their cements to build dams and embankments before the disaster strikes? Will they accuse the government and their bribe-ridden bureaucratic processes even to accomplish a CSR? Well its always easy to blame the government but the business-motived actions of the corporates during times of calamities do not make them look like saints sent from heaven to ease away our misery. I am sure in the coming days you might see the event management firms of Bangladesh making best use of the 'event' (floods) when they will arrange charity concerts, fashion shows, dinner etc......just to aid the poor and flooded of Bangladesh. The rich and the affluent will sway away with the tunes of Ayub Bachchu or Atif Aslam in the concerts in Radisson or Regency and will keep praying that floods don't reach their mansions in Gulshan, Baridhara, Dhanmondi or Banani. I wonder why these mushrooming event management firms don't arrange awareness, health safety events in villages, other city centers when there is no flood. Where is their sense of charity when our grounds are dry? No wonder they wait for the right moment to come, the floods...when they can apply emotional advertising to raise funds, give a portion to the flood victims, take lots of good photos, publish them in the national dailies and go home...flooded!


Bangladesh Blogger said...

I am becoming a fan of this blog. Thanks for honestly exposing the corporate sharks.

All the best.

ZI said...

In KL (Malaysia) they built a huge canal surrounding the city which is also a underground highway. Thats a magnificient technology just four hours air-way from here. That multipurpose canal can divert and hold water - just what we need surrounding the northern part of our country. During monsoon such a canal can divert water flow into the Bay of Bengal and in the dry seasons can supply water for irrigation. If you want to see it all I would request you to keep your eyes on the Discovery channel's "extreme engineering" program. Its time to think BIG, something sustainable.