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When our leaders forsake us during tragedies, is it Obama’s duty to ensure justice for the gas victims?
Posted On Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 11:08:19 PM
He might have had his own children by now. But the nightmare of Bhopal refuses to go. People, who were convicted for criminal negligence, have been punished with light sentences that are bailable.
The event unfolds a new tragedy each time, just when we had begun to forget the gas tragedy.
The latest happened just in time when America is fighting its worst-ever oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. You see pictures of pelicans dipped in oily sludge and feel horrendous about it, going by the status updates of my Facebook friends.
My hunch is the little kid with bulging eyes, being buried in Bhopal, has got a deal worse than the pelican in the picture. The pelican has America and Obama on its side; this kid had no one.
The leaders, the nation, the police, the regulatory bodies, the government… and, finally, judiciary too failed it. One after another, the city sleepwalks through the rooms of nightmares. This picture only tells one such story of the 25,000 dead.
He is someone else’s kid. That is the only difference — probably, which creates this gap — and apathy. Someone in his tweet wants Barack Obama to acknowledge, if not apologise, the hand of an American corporate in the Bhopal tragedy — the world’s worst industrial disaster.
President Obama was chosen by the American people and he is fighting for them, as we see in the case of the BP spill. He is fighting for the people of America.
To expect the US president to fight our battles in all fairness may be a decent thing, but probably we need to know if our chosen leaders are going to fight it out from our side.
Bhopal shows that leaders chosen by us were helping MNC executives abscond and 26 years later, when the judiciary finally decided on the very feeble case made out against the prime accused, there is hardly any punishment for their criminal negligence.
In the case of Bhopal, as in many other tragedies, our leaders were not seen fighting on our sides. India is realising 26 years later that the roles of our leaders and government have been suspect in the Bhopal gas case.
It is now asking questions which should have been asked then. And we can see how the level of discourse will stoop to newer lows and, in the end, be so muddled that people’s attention will move to a hotter controversy.
I was not there when it happened. But later when I worked in Bhopal, one could sense the issues the gas-affected people faced — making a choice between going to hospital or doing some paperwork in the compensation court or going to work for the livelihood of family. And there is/was this breath to catch up.
Why just Bhopal? Isn’t it already an established pattern that the citizens chose leaders who would lobby for industrialists and profiteers?
Cities will grow when industries come to a place. Industry will come when concessions are given in terms of taxes and relaxations in terms of regulations. Industry will come where cheap labour is easy to get.
Easy-to-get cheap labour will be available in slums. At each level there was to be some check, balance, stock-taking and regulations to be followed.
There are so many low-level Bhopals happening around us in terms of slip-ups in regulations, getting industry to invest at any cost, allowing slums to come up and harming the environment. Urban India is full of such muck and all questions against it would be seen as ‘anti- development’.
You can get away with Bhopal and nothing happens in this country, even after a generation has passed after the 1984 disaster.
The exception in this case is the bail out which was decided the day government, the machinery and the politicians helped Mr Anderson escape from India. India is a great country to invest, you see.
Obama says he needs to know whose ass he should kick in the case of the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. What comes to your mind?
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