Thursday, February 03, 2011

Blood Diamond

The impact of this movie is still lingering long after. It introduced a new term, 'conflict diamonds', where civil war rages in Sierra Leone, and presumably similar countries, because of rich diamond mines. The warring factions fight to take control of these mines and the Government is weak and/or corrupt. People are used forcefully to work in the mines and in the process have their families ripped off*.

Large diamond corporations, though not directly responsible for the situation, make use of this opportunity to get diamonds cheaply, create artificial scarcity and are indirectly involved in a pipeline that provides arms to these groups which creates a cycle.

The movie depicts a gross greed that causes people of the same nation to hurt each other in very incisive ways. The lead character Djimon Hounsou painfully observes in one moment - "We're doing this to each other."

Later, a diamond association comprising members from many countries agrees to stop importing "conflict diamonds" (where that glittering piece of stone might have caused someone in Africa to lose his limbs - literally). Eventually, the final burden is on the consumer, to ensure his or her diamond is conflict free. Actually, another character in the movie says that diamonds from Africa mined these way are exported to places like India and mixed with legitimately mined ones to eliminate all possibilities of verification.

My thoughts go back to several years back (ten years ago, when I was in the US), exactly during the time frame where this movie's story might have been contemporary, where I got a diamond for my mother. But coincidence or whatever, it was never used for many reasons and is still safely locked up. I looked up that provider and they state their diamonds are conflict free [but honestly, I had zero clue at the time - it could have been either way] . Read this as well.

So - one more item to add to the list! It is true - human greed poisons everything it touches.

Update: Speaking of Africa, a big big thumbs up to the people of Egypt. We are a far far way away from unified world Governance and it is important that democracy is installed everywhere, at least on paper, as a precursor. This is quite unique as it involves the entire nation and not a set of opposition leaders doing it for vested interests! There is very little that can be compared to the power of the will of millions of people operating as one.

* - The current state might be different
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