Recently the ghosts of the past have awoken and there’s been a lot of talk about the controversial sponsorship of the London Olympics by DOW Chemicals. The problem with this is the fact that the infamous Union Carbide is a subsidiary of DOW Chemicals. Naturally this has lead to protests, in India and in the UK. A lot of conflicting viewpoints have come to light and I found it worth my while to pen down my take on the issue. At this point, I find it wise to include a disclaimer- although born and brought up in New Delhi, I am basically a Bhopali. I am quite sure this deeply affects my view on the issue. Nonetheless, here it is..
The aftermath of the Bhopal gas tragedy is more of a mindset issue rather than anything else. Even though we are one of the world’s strongest and fastest growing economies,we still don’t receive the respect we deserve on the world stage. A major reason for this lack of respect, is us Indians. India is always the country with population, poverty and corruption problems. While in no way diluting the severity of these problems and the need for attention, I find it necessary for everybody to realise that we are a very young country, a teeny bopper in comparison to the old fogies that are US,UK,France,Germany etc. And for our 60 odd years, we are remarkable. Progress is resonant in every corner of India and we are the world’s largest stable democracy,en route to being the world’s model for success. And our success is even more remarkable considering the path we’ve adopted, so starkly different from others in the same fray, namely China. My point at the end of this monologue on national pride is the fact that we cannot afford to be pushovers any longer, we are better than that. So even though we don’t have a gazetted holiday commemorating the bhopal gas tragedy, our pain,our suffering is no less than any other disaster in the ‘first world’ not only because india no longer classifies as ‘third world’ but also because we don’t adopt a classist mindset towards human life and death. Let’s not kid ourselves, safety measures were overlooked in Bhopal and the result is before us all. Why,how,what when..well those are question for Union Carbide to answer, their internal functioning is not our problem. Everything that goes wrong in India cannot be attributed to corruption. Let’s get real, we are neither the first nor the most corrupt country in the world. The fact remains that UC,and thus DOW, are responsible for the death,poisoning and illness of thousands and what we get from them is arrogance and a refusal to own up to their mistakes. An example must be set, in a nation of over 1.2 billion-every life is precious. And if a multinational company wishes to operate in India,as they mostly do, well they’d do well to keep that in mind. UC and by default DOW must be treated on the world stage for what they are- under trial murderers. UC’s inept handling lead to the world’s largest industrial disaster so to allow them to sponsor a prestigious event such as the Olympics is downright blasphemous. And if, in it’s greed for corporate money, the UK does continue with DOW as a sponsor of the event then our foreign policy should register and reflect this insult to the victims. India is no longer a playground for the Europeans and the Americans, we are a world power in our own right. Its about time we, as a nation, demand the respect that we rightly deserve.