Bhopal and the London Olympics

16 Nov

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.

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2 Responses to “Bhopal and the London Olympics”

  1. anonymous January 8, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    First, thank you so much for saying that India is a very young country. I am tired of correcting people that we are not a thousand year old country, they were civilizations that originated on this land mass but as a nation state we are extremely young.

    Second, here is a state – India has more poor than the rest of the Africa. We are still third world. Growth in certain towns and metro doesn’t mean development for the entire nation. Also, I sort of hate it when I hear ” oh even villages have mobile phone connectivity, look at India developing/growing/shining ( hate shining bit the most)”. Irritates me to an extent that I want punch them bad but then 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 (anger management). I have studied and lived in the western part of the globe and also in India – and in my assessment – even the certain developing pockets of India are nothing but tad bit over-hyped traffic jam, screw all, run run run sweat shops. Real development is yet to come. Too broad a topic to cover here, so I better shut up :)

    Third, Bhopal Gas Tragedy, I have just no clue why it makes no noise – Political, media, social forums. It has been a real tragedy, of-course many people lost their lives but that is not the real face of the tragedy – The coming generation has been crippled, mutated and it is horrible, just horrible. But, look at it like this, Dow acquired UC recently, now how can Dow be held responsible for a past crime of UC. Which on me paper let me remind you is settled. The real blame is on the people of this nation, who elected representatives for themselves but they played broker for UC to get the case settled, allowing top executives to leave the country. Ofcourse, Dow was wrong to acquire UC, UC was wrong with flouting of rules and settling the case, London Olympics could have handled it better – but then what else can one expect from any corporate? It was for people of this country to fight this war, but then never mind.

    I reckon, this has been quite a long comment! No I have a life and am definitely not a troll :P, . Keep writing, am following you on twitter and your tweets are also mostly my view points. Keep writing :) . Also my avtaar here is not doing the right job! :)

    • anonymous January 8, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

      “Second, here is a stat” and not state, so many typos! please ignore.

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