10 – 12 th grades
Subjects : Global Issues, Cultural
Author : Katie Marien, Ashwaubenon
High School , Ashwaubenon , WI
Est. Time : 3 – 4, 90 minute blocks
Kids will be interested to learn what is happening to
kids just like them around the world. This is focused on a major corporation
that kids contribute to every day. They’ll be interested to find
out what really goes on behind the scenes.
Students will study the presence of Coca Cola in India
and what it has done to the water supply there. They will then conduct
research for evidence to role play a trial between Coke and the people
of India .
I spent six weeks on a Fulbright Scholarship and experienced
an amazing variety of things. We listened to a multitude of speakers
from different NGO’s that we were working with but none stuck
out in my mind more than Ekta Parishad. It is a Gandhian NGO that has
a number of different issues it is working for in India . One of them
is the presence of Coca Cola in their country and the negative effects
it has had on the great people of India . I was moved to research it
further after speaking with the people of Ekta and hearing their side
of the story. I want to inspire students to do the same and find out
first hand what globalization can do, both negatively and positively.
Coca Cola first came to India after many years of a closed
economy. It appeared to be a great thing! India had fought for political
independence for years and gained it in 1947. They continued to fight
for economic independence and they gained that as well and Coca Cola
was one of the first companies there. Here are a few facts about Coca
- During the past decade, the Coca-Cola system has
invested more than US$ 1 billion in India
- Coca-Cola business system directly employs
approximately 6,000 local people in India
- In India , we indirectly create employment
for more than 125,000 people in related industries through
our vast procurement, supply and distribution system
- The Coca-Cola system in India comprises 27
wholly-owned company-owned bottling operations and another 17
franchisee-owned bottling operations
This all sounds pretty good, right? Are its products
and job production really worth people’s lives? Here’s
the story. Local people in Kerala and Tamil Nadu are losing 100,000
liters of water a day because these corporations are taking their drinking
water to produce soda and run their factories. You would think that
in a democracy people would have the say to make a difference and change
things. Farmers can no longer cultivate their land because there is
no water for irrigation. Solid waste is being used as fertilizer. Locals
can not even hydrate themselves and people are getting sick because
of the lack of drinking water. Not only are these Coke plants taking
people’s water they are taking away their freedom.
Shouldn’t the government step in? The Kerala state
government allowed for Coke to come into their state but local governments
did not. Those local governments are the ones who are affected most
because this is taking place in rural areas.
Here are some helpful links to articles to further understand
Students will approach global issues, problems, and
challenges with neither undue optimism nor unwarranted pessimism.
- Students will demonstrate an appreciation of universal
- Students will compare and contrast diverse cultural
points of view and try to understand them.
- Students will be assigned an article from the websites
above to read as background information for homework.
- (Optional) Begin class by handing out cups and pouring
Coke for each student.
- As they are drinking ask questions about the articles
they read. Make a class chart of the pros and cons (so far) of Coca
Cola’s presence in India.
- After the discussion, ask them if they want some
bottled water from India . This will hopefully jumpstart a conversation
about fear of drinking water and put them in the shoes of people
living in India every day.
- Hand out the trial explanation
sheet. Use that as a guide to explain to students they will
be participating in a mock trial between Coke and India to assess
whether or not Coke is guilty of the following charges:
- It has violated individual rights and freedoms
of the Indian people.
- The toxins this company has put into its soda have
caused bodily harm to Indian people.
- Coca Cola has caused severe water shortage and
damaged communities across India.
- Students will next be divided into two groups: the prosecution and
the defense and given time to research
their points of view. They should use the defense and prosecution
handouts as a guide for the trial.
- When the research is complete the trial will begin.
The instructor may act as the judge.
- Upon completion of the trial students will write
a reflective essay about the trial.
- Student opening statements, witness statements, and
closing statements will all be used to assess their knowledge of
the global problem.
- Collect trial info sheets as an assessment of their
- A “Dear India” letter
will be assigned to students to assess their understanding of different
points of view of the Coke controversy and how different cultures
might view it in different ways. Use the “Dear
India” Rubric for grading purposes.
- Research water pollution here in the US and make
- Write to Coca Cola and speak your mind!
- Have students email/write to NGO’s that are
working on the issues with Coke in India .
- Conduct penny drives within school to send to NGO’s
working on the issues.
- Start an awareness campaign within your school so
other students are aware of the issues.
Wisconsin Social Studies Performance Standards:
- A.12.12 Assess the advantages and disadvantages of
selected land use policies in the local community, Wisconsin , the
United States , and the world
- E.12.14 Use the research procedures and skills of
the behavioral sciences (such as gathering, organizing, and interpreting
data from several sources) to develop an informed position on an
- B.12.9 Select significant changes caused by technology,
industrialization, urbanization, and population growth, and analyze
the effects of these changes in the US and the world.