Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bhopal Gas Tragedy : What about the poisonous gas of hypocrisy?

Twenty-five years and a half later what Bhopal exposed is our collective hypocrisy. It is not just a case of too lenient a punishment given by a single judge, but the failure of the entire system. Our Parliament, Judiciary, Executive – both political and permanent – and of course the Press all let us down.
And now we are all enacting a drama titled The Bail-out of Warren Anderson.
The media barons – not just young reporters and sub-editors – think that the readers or the audience are the greatest fools, therefore, should be bombarded with all the old stuffs just to dramatise the situation and earn some fast buck through advertisements. So whatever is appearing in the Press is a sort of re-mix of a quarter century old songs, of course tragic ones. All what is appearing about Anderson is nothing new.
Everyone who matters – and old enough – is aware that he was ushered back into his own country with full state honour by the Indian state.
We all know that we are not going to get the 89-year old Anderson. For a moment, suppose that he is extradited by the United States. What are we going to do with him? After all what have we done to the remaining eight Indian officials – one in fact died in the prolonged legal battle. Two years imprisonment and then bail. If Anderson is being demanded for this much then we must be generous enough to pardon him!
The issue is just not the accidental leak of poisonous gas, but how is it that an industry of such a nature got established in the densely populated part of Bhopal. Why did the government not force the industry to shift from the place?
India is a unique country where industries are situated in the heart of many cities while schools in the suburbs. Or if that is not the case the population is allowed to grow around the industries, which actually were in outskirts.
In many of our cities schools are set up 10-20 or even more kilometres away from the population because most of the private institutes are opened by businessmen who get cheap farm land in the outskirts of the town. Therefore, children are made to travel more than a couple of hours daily inhaling all sorts of gases on way and back.
In contrast, industries are situated in the heart of towns because the government lacks vision and planning. Not to speak of Warren Anderson or anyone else, we cannot influence or force our own industrialists to shift their bases outside, nor can we prevent the growth of population near the industries. The nexus between the ruling class – not just politicians – the industrialists and the land mafia plays a key role in accidents like the one which took place in Bhopal.
What we all need to tell the people frankly is: Yes we cannot bring Anderson because he was the boss of an MNC. No, even our own industrialists are above the law. And that Bhopal is just a small price for the ‘development’ of the country.
Yet one thing should be kept in mind that we were in the Soviet camp then and opposed to the United States’ design in the world. In spite of that the American influence proved so influential. Today when the Soviet Union does not exist and India is wholly in the US camp the amount of pressure the lone Super Power can put on us in any given circumstances can only be imagined.

From Soroor Ahmed's article in Radiance. More Here.

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