The Great Bhopal Killing

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If there has ever been a story of a mass murder perpetrated by a corporation then it  is without doubt Bhopal.

This was not a accident. It never had been. The Bhopal incident was the inevitable culmination of a foreign company’s cynical disregard for human life in a third world country. To start off, the Union Carbide plant had decided to go with “untested production processes” for producing and storing some of the hazardous chemicals used in industry. Then when they saw that the demand for their pesticides was lower than expected and that they were hemorrhaging financially, they tried to transfer their plant to another third world country. This particular plant was so unsafe that Brazil or Indonesia would not allow them to bring it to their soil. So now they decided to reduce operational costs by drastically cutting down maintenance personnel. The Union Carbide management, headed by one Warren Anderson, was made aware of 61 hazards (30 of them major) by their own inspectors to which they did nothing except further let the safety systems rot for reasons of economy, installing instead safeguards for the plant in West Virginia (since American lives ARE valuable). [Link]

Later on, when Union Carbide was acquired by Dow, a company that advertises itself as as the Human Element (possibly implying that it harvests human souls having itself  a glorious legacy of Agent Orange[link], Dow Corning Implants [link] and DBCP [link]), it declared itself “not liable” for the liabilities of the “asset” it had bought (it has accepted liabilities for Union Carbide assets in the US though [Link] ), betraying its sensitivity to “third world” slumdogs with the statement of its Public Relations officer Kathy Hunt : “You can’t really do more than that, can you? $500 is plenty good for an Indian.” [Link]

Read that again. The Public Relations officer of a company, yes the Public Relations Officer once again, saying “You can’t really do more than that, can you? $500 is plenty good for an Indian.”

You know what? I think she was absolutely right. $500 is plenty good for an Indian. It is a much bigger price tag on an Indian life than a fellow Indian would give.

After all the government of India is made up of Indians. So is the legal system. And yet it is the Indian government and the courts that have actively protected a corporation that killed 20,000 of its citizens. As is now revealed, Warren Anderson, the butcher of Bhopal, was released from custody on the basis of a phone call from Delhi and escorted to Delhi, isspecial class, in Arjun Singh’s own private plane as a state guest [Link]. It was the Indian government that settled for the ridiculously low amount of US $470 million from Union Carbide and it was the Indian courts that ratified the agreement. It is again the Indian courts that essentially reduced charges of culpable homicide (despite the mountains of evidence against Union Carbide [Link]) to that of a drunk driving traffic accident. Even that mild rap on the knuckles was given twenty-six years later, to the small fry, including one person who was already dead. And most tellingly, it was the Indian government, as revealed by a former head of the CBI, who refused to press hard for Andersen’s extradition, possibly because of the fear of what he might reveal if he was pressed too hard and if that was not enough, also took control of Union Carbide premises with the toxic chemicals still present there once again absolving them financially of the responsibility of disposing of their noxious shit. [The chemicals, never disposed of, have seeped into and poisoned the aquifer, a fact the local government refuses to acknowledge despite the pools of mercury on the ground (Link)]

But even that to me is not the most shocking part. That would be what I heard in the late 80s, of people from Kolkata and other cities, going to Bhopal and through touts registering themselves as victims. Given this is what ordinary citizens do to fellow citizens, how can we expect the government and the courts to be any better, far less the US government which will definitely protect its own, that too one that contributes generously through lobbyists [Link], more so because the deaths have been caused in a non-Caucasian country.

Did I just call the fraud claimants as the most shocking thing? I am sorry. I take that back. The most shocking thing is that even after all this and the BP oil spill off the Gulf coast, the government of India is pushing through a bill that would limit liabilities for nuclear plant operators to a laughable 300 crore [Link]. I have said this before and I will say it again that every time I think I have seen the worst the Indian government can do, it pulls out yet another trick from its anal orifice, almost as if it just wants to prove you wrong.

Infuriating. No make that  f-ing unbelievable.

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87 thoughts on “The Great Bhopal Killing

  1. Been reading your posts for quite some time now. I could not miss the opportunity of commenting first. As you know…”there are tides in the affairs of men…”

  2. I agree Greatbong. I do not see why this is being called the “mocekry of justice”. The court has awarded the maximum sentence permissible under the section. Who has failed us is, surprise! surprise!, the *Government*. Time and again…. at every step during the past 26 years. Be it the ignominy of allowing Anderson to get away; or burying all traces of UCI’s liability; or not chaging the laws for 26 years now (for all you know – another Bhopal tragedy might take place tomorrow and the convicts will still get the same minor punishment).

    I am surprised with the hypocritical attitude of the US though. I always thought that unlike UK, Australia and a host of other Caucasian countries, US in general was more liberal and tolerant of third-worlders. Turns out I was way off.

    Anyways, as usual this is yet another great post which puts everything into perspective. Hats off.

  3. While 300 crore would have not sufficed even during the times of Chernobyl disaster. An optimist, actually make that a delusional optimist, would hope that the government is, actually figuring a way to make Nuclear plants safe, and creating emergency plans to mitigate the risk.

  4. Its so unbelievable that the impossible has indeed happened. Nowhere in the world (except perhaps sub-saharan Africa) could Anderson have gotten away with what he did in Bhopal. Yes its probably unfair to blame Union Carbide alone. When our government is not willing place value on lives of its own citizens, we can’t expect a foreign company to value our life anything more than $500.

  5. After reading your post, I have to come know many more facts on Bhopal, just reading the Indian newspapers, only thing can one read of is how Anderson was letoff , who was behind letting him off and how can we extradite him. Hey how about Indian guys who were involved ? what are safegaurds now, what are the lessons learned ?
    What compenstaion our goverment is giving now ?

  6. Good that you highlighted this issue on your blog. It is really tragic to see what all has happened with these people. I mean, I wasn’t even born when this incident happened in 1984 [to actually ‘feel’ what must have happened then] and yet, today, when I read about the victims or see their fate on television, I feel a deep sense of anguish and anger towards our Government – a government elected by us people who cannot and does not care for its own people. Why? Because they are poor, uneducated and incapable of creating influence? This is really frustrating.

    And btw, a small addition to your piece – the Govt. had initially sued Union Carbide for $3.3 billion, but eventually settled for a mere $470 million of it. The compensation that each affected citizen got was Rs.15,000 – 25,000, sometimes received in as late as 2004. The casualness that we as a country have for the lives of our own people is appalling..

    I had written a post on this issue last year when the 25th anniversary of the disaster took place. You can find it here – [http://pratishgandhi.blogspot.com/2009/12/lessons-from-quarter-century-old.html]

  7. Before this post, I was wondering why should Union Carbide be so harshly judged due to an accident? I thought no human being in right mind will think of gassing so many people to death. Thanks to your post, I get a better perspective.

    We Indians will not get a better deal till we make ourselves pure from within. You told about people from other cities going to Bhopal to get the ‘benefits’. I have heard about people (from Bhopal itself) registering fake deaths to claim more benefit. I have heard something similar about Latur rehabilitation too. So it is us (we the great people) who have diluted the severity of the outrage. Government is merely a faithful reflector of our own attitude and has acted accordingly. Arnab, in your last para, I will rather replace the Government-of-India/Indian-government with ‘we Indians’.

    I sounded rather preachy I guess. To my defence I can only say that I have said nothing new. It has been said before. More than ‘said’, it has been ‘done’ before, way back in 1922. One baldy-shorty-bespectacled fella infact retracted a very successful andolan on similar scruples. By doing so he incurred the wrath of many of his fellow countrymen for generations to come. However, MKG remains relevant. The farce around the Bhopal tragedy proves so.

  8. very well written….one can feel the anguish….i feel whenever justice is delayed there is no justice….and this is a classic case for it….bt then we will never learn….the biggest problem is it always remained ‘Bhopal’ tragedy….it never became an indian tragedy….thats the difference….had it been counted as a national tragedy, which essentially happens in any developed country, the things wd have been far different…

  9. It’s a SHAME really…. I have read an account of Bhopal tragedy in Dominic Lappiere’s “Five Past Midnight”. Arjun Singh is the most vicious villian in post independance era.

  10. A very good post Arnab. Bhopal is a tragedy that makes us feel ashamed of ourselves as a society, as a nation, as a democracy. Civil Nuclear Liability Bill is a disgrace. It’s all so disturbing.

    You have really synthesized all important aspects of the case and woven them nicely into this post.

  11. While I totally agree with you, what has shocked me more than anything else is how apathetic I was/am to the whole case and it’s verdict. At the risk of sounding extremely insensitive I confess that I wasn’t anguished one bit by the outrageous verdict. And when I think about the possible reasons behind why would someone, who has felt about such issues strongly in the past, develop a state of mind such as this, the only cause I can associate is the rampant travesty of justice that the central as well as state governments are subjecting us to.

    Rape a woman first and she’ll yell, scream, complain. Then when she goes to the police officers to complain, to seek justice, to hope for retribution to the offenders(s) and there, the officers rape her again. If she has any courage and hope left she’ll go to the decision makers, who in turn, will rape her again. By that time, I am sure, she would be so used to being raped that she would be a free and fearless woman, she would venture out on streets at nights alone for rape is the worst thing that could happen to her and that would have happened far too often to cause her any discomfort. Isn’t that the state of common people in India?

  12. LONG TIME READER FIRST TIME COMMENTOR

    The 3.3 billion dollars initial compensation was watered down to 470 million dollars with an assurance that criminal charges would be dropped against the accused. Also think about this: from 1984 – 2010 we have increased only 30 million dollars (470 to 500 million dollars) in compensation.

    Anyways the way I see it: its a secular crime perpetrated by a secular party while a secular PM and secular CM were running the country and the state respectively and a secular judge who diluted the charges, hence as secular people we should bear it secularly.

    Rajiv Gandhi has added to his tally of 8000 Sikh deaths with 15000 Bhopal victims.
    VANDE MATA ROME

  13. Its really a Shock.I expected a life-time imprisonment atleast.After reading the judgement in News papers,I was really spell-bound and I doubt whether Justice system in India is independent or not? If it is independent and doesn’t care political will and political pressures,Anderson wouldn’t have been released and hell with every thing wouldn’t have been happened.
    Good insight and I wish you would have given more insights about the things we should take care in future for not repeating these type of incidents

  14. We can vent our anger against “Government,people of India” and every one else except us…..by commenting on this issue i don’t want to exclude myself from the blame game…..i don’t want to be off the perperator list by just saying so so things abt the government…..who are these government …where they come from…..isn’t it possible that one day out of the people here one might become part of the system….including you GB sir….n then it has and it will always be a fight between the ruler and the subject…..everyone has a right to protect their interest even if it is at the cost of lives of some thousand ppl whom no one cared when they were alive and no one care now when they are dead or almost dead…..As is said “The show must go on”…shit will happen ….but if we want to change this why not we do something about rather than writing posts and commenting……

  15. @GreatBong: Less or more, do you have any idea how that compensation of 470 million dollars was given to the Bhopal Gas tragedy victims?
    My family and I (a three year old kid then) were there at the time of the tragedy. 10 kms away from the actual site, no effect of gas would have affected us(more on that later). Number of people killed in Bhopal was in the range of 15k. Number of people affected directly or indirectly was more like 1 lac. If the 470 million dollars were given equally to the victims and the affected, it would still come down to ~5000$ per person. But what happened?
    Only 500 odd dollars were given to gas affected people, 2000 odd dollars to the families of those expired. The compensation was a total farce!

    The immediate social problems that came due to the gas tragedy even greater than the tragedy itself. The chaos in Bhopal was enough to turn everyone around to be a thief and murderer. The scooter that my dad took to run us away to security of Mandideep (a town nearby) was stopped, robbed and taken by another family of desperate men. My mother had to give her kids away to a maid (who would return us back in a couple of days) just to ensure that we live. The stampedes that resulted due to the gas itself killed thousands.

    The next day of the tragedy, when thousands of people from media, and everyone from in and around Bhopal gathered around hospitals, especially Hamidia hospital – where more than a thousand dead bodies lay. The way police handled that situation by throwing tear gas grenades was appalling. Immediate rumours about another gas tanker burst ran through Bhopal and what resulted was more displacement, and more stampedes – more people dead. I don’t know whether we deserved compensation, but we did not get it.

  16. Regarding the Nuclear liability issue for the operator – do note that the nuke industry is not open to private operators in India. NPCIL is 100 % government owned. So it is immaterial what the level of ‘liability’ is. The important issue here is that usually the manufacturers (of reactors) will have no liability. Same as BP was the ‘operator’ and Transocean was the company which owned the rig.

    Even in the case of Union Carbide (India), the Government of India held 26 % equity in that company (The Parent UC held 51%), but has completely abdicated its duty of care.

  17. With due respect to everyone,
    I guess this is what happens when Intellectual people(including Greatbong) go and settle in Abroad and then complain from there!
    Why don’t all of you come here and do something about it collectively?
    When you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain nor point fingers at!

    PS:
    I am anonymous because I did not want to attract traffic to my blog if at all I have any. But this comment is from a deeply felt sadness when I see all the intellectuals leaving the country and go around complaining about the Indian Government.

  18. I was a 3 year old in Bhopal when the gas blew. I just remember we left the city early next morning to stay with relatives in Nagpur.

    What I know is that people who were registered as gas affected got Rs. 200 per month for several years, and some people got a one time settlement of Rs. 25,000 as late as the last years of 1990’s.

    I also know of people who paid bribes/ used influence to get registered as gas affected to get the dole from the government so that they can build an extra room in their one room hovel, where all of their 8 family members sleep.

    Can you really blame anybody in this situation- survival for everybody takes dominance over every other instinct or moral, be it the company, the state, the bureaucracy or the so called fraudulent gas affected people.

    What would you have done GB if you were the company head honcho and had the board and shareholders to answer to, had a quality of life to maintain, or a bureaucrat who has to answer to his political bosses. OR political bosses who has to answer to the party, which needs funds to fight elections

    do you think a mere mortal has the moral capability to sacrifice everything for his ethics

    ‘Apaharan’ has a dialogue between the Ajay Devgan character and his father, where he says that sticking to your ethics so that the society recognises you as a mahatma who stuck to his morals is a selfish act too

  19. US $470 million divided over 20,000 is 23,500 and not 500!!

    This translates to more than a million rupees which is much more than what our own govt or any other Indian agency pays to the victims of any disaster.

    If liabilities for nuclear plant operators at 300 crore looks laughable to you then you perhaps need to get a better perspective.

    Sitting in US you may not realise that our country is reeling under a power crisis which will only worsen in future if we don’t immediately start looking at other options like nuclear energy. If govt. is keeping the liability low its only as an offer to share the burden in the face of any such eventuality, kind of subsidy/incentive for foreign firms to invest in nuclear energy production in India.

    That cap is on the liability of the foreign firm and not on the relief amount victims would receive or the expenditure on safety measures.

    It is equally shameful that the Bhopal victims themselves made an occupation out of their grievance and are trying to endlessly milk money by playing perpetually aggrieved.

  20. @ bong bang

    The 20,000 were killed – more than a 100 000 were disabled, and continue to suffer from various illness including birth defects. $470 million was a bloody joke !!

  21. I have come to a very rude conclusion that Indian lives are far more easily dispensable than most of world. Maybe time we should find a conversion factor for each indian life for an american one like foreign currency exchange rates.

    Lets continue our time-tested, sedated policy of “NOT-GIVING-TWO-SHITS” about anything.

  22. @ shoubhik

    I really wonder what makes a person’s value system so twisted that he can justify anything even murder to explain his/ other’s shortcoming of succumbing to temptation of easy profit?

  23. @Bhanu:

    LOLd. “Vande Mata Rome” –Shocking yes, but its become that bad. And all are happy.

    @ Shoubhik:

    brilliant observation, bravo!!

    @ anonymous:

    the thing is that, you & the people who think like you choose to stay anonymous. So it kinda evens out the “intellectuals-going-abroad-& complaining” thing. either way it doesnt matter.

    & one thing i m sure of, unless one gets really angry & DOES something about it, doesnt matter if its horribly destructive, it wouldnt shake or change people.

    Let me go back to prepare for my v-con interview & fix a date with office hottie later. 😛

  24. Atleast they calculated more for Indian lives @$500. the judiciary has made it @ Re 1. (25,000 dead & bail comes at 25,000)

  25. The law minister is saying the case is not closed. Forget Anderson you may never catch him. How about starting with all those in power at the time of disaster including Union Cabinet and state ministers? Apply Article 302 on them as well.
    But as it goes with our political parties the real culprits would never surface and be even named.

  26. More on this from Dow’s website.

    http://www.dowethics.com/r/about/corp/bbc.htm

    Highlight –

    (2) Union Carbide was originally forced to pay US$470 million in compensation to survivors, which amounts to about US$500 per victim. (Note: Dow hereby wishes to retract the 2002 statement of Dow PR Head Kathy Hunt as to US$500 being “plenty good for an Indian.” The poor phrasing of this statement has often come back to haunt us.)

  27. @anonymous : Its interesting that I had a similar conversation with one of my professor (whom I deeply admire) … He tells me that most of us are either discouraged with the fact that even if we do raise our voices it will all drown in the din of the our daily lives … But what people did not realise that if they can atleast be answerable to their own conscience, things will be much better than what it is now … Articles like this tend to provoke others to think about this … form opinions about this … What I did not like about this article (and yes about myself too) that we never raised our voices about this much before … How did Greatbong knew about all these facts ?? He dug up old archives in Internet and read about this in newspapers and hence could paint a clear picture about this …

    Another thing we are being subjected to this kind of treatment because they realise that we can be subjected … Reminds me of a story of a snake on a road where he promised a passing saint that he would not bite any passerby … As the saint returned he found the snake half-dead …Looks like everybody lynched him because he was now harmless … The saint told him that he asked to never to bite anyone but that did not stop to bare his fangs when cornered … Unless and untill we bare out our “fangs” to politicians can lynch us endlessly … But then if I get my wishes then maybe KKR would have won without dropping even one match …

    @bong bang : let me give you a million rupees to you and your relatives and ask them to go through the same night ?? And one more thing … the money will be given to you after 26 years … Just because you can slowly see your generations suffering and maimed for life … And you have to practically beg on your knees so that you get your money while others (who do not have to go through this ordeal) arrange touts and get a share from this small pie …
    Its also equally shameful that you chose to take sides with an entity who does not have the slightest regard for the average “Indian” life… An entity that point blank refused to extradite Anderson ( http://news.rediff.com/report/2010/jun/09/no-pressure-to-drop-case-against-anderson.htm) … An entity that subjects us to all kind of nuclear threats yet absolve all the nuclear companies from it (http://beta.thehindu.com/news/national/article450968.ece)
    Tell me one thing … If you are thirsty on a road then will you risk drinking from the drain ??? … C’mon now … That is also water … It will surely quench your thirst … Just that there is no guarantee that you will not die from poisoning or worse still contract some disease … Maybe you will (maybe that’s what have addled your brain) … But I would rather have this water purified before I have it … Or maybe go to my home and have water from my trusted purifier

  28. Bhopal was a real tragedy. I read somewhere that the victims are yet to see a penny after 26 years. Not sure if that is true. All the money will probably disappear in Delhi. But then again, look at the pictures you have on your blog banner. How can you expect anything better from the political “leadership” (I am going to puke) India has?

  29. I grew up in Govindpura, Bhopal, my whole family was there, except me, during the time. For some reason ( direction of breeze perhaps), the 5-7 square miles which comprises certain areas of the BHEL community, were unaffected. It was a miracle.
    The aftermath after the incident was perhaps even more shameful and catastrophic than the incident itself which was of Chernobyl proportion. Everyone and their distant uncles cashed in or atleast try to cash in. Politicians and the lobbyists perhaps took the lion’s share and the people who were actually affected got pittances as they were the ignorant, illterate mass. Although Union carbide was responsible, the blame squarely lies on the Government both state and central, which facilitated the loop holes, on which the powerful and smart legal eagles made their argument and made a mockery of the system and the hapless victims.

  30. Thank you for presenting to us the INSIDE STORY of the Bhopal gas tragedy.My heart goes out to all the real victims’ family who are actually witnessing and more importantly enduring the fallacies of our government.

  31. About the nuclear liability bill, it’s not the same situation. Bharat sarkaar is going to operate the power plants. Those fools at NPCIL will cause a mushroom cloud sooner rather than later and blame a foreign supplied nut&bolt for it. The only reason Anderson was let go, was because the GoI would have to accept it’s share of responsibility for the disaster otherwise.

  32. @ Cliffy
    I was at Idgah Hills….smack in the middle of it. Dont remember much of the night as I was quite young. But the thousands of dead lying on the streets, and their green vomit, that I saw the next day morning, are still in my memories.

    For the next 3 months it was a race against time, and all my neighbourhood “uncles” and elder boys would go to our local RSS Shakha and load tons of “khichri”, dal and “rotis” in buses supplied by BHEL for distribution of food in the effected areas.

    Also, I remember my parents cursing Arjun Singh (the then Congress CM), because he supposedly escaped to a safe place along with other “important” people on hearing the first reports about the leak. Dont know if that was true.

    The MIC gas was supposed to be neutralized by water. So my parents gave me a small water bottle to carry with me for the next few months and I was instructed to pour water on my face if there was another leak… 🙂

  33. Gb,
    The 2009 documentary,”The Yes Men fix the world” did an excellent job in re-highlighting the Bhopal gas tragedy to a whole new generation. I recommend you to watch it!

  34. 1) Anderson is culpable. Indian officials/politicians who let him get away are more culpable. Today he is 90 years old. Baying for the blood of a guy who was sitting a couple of continents away when the tragedy happened is of little consequence now.
    2) Dec 2-3, 1984 was very tragic. What happened after was the height of callousness and inhuman behavior. Letting off for just $470MM ; No clean up of toxic wastes from existing site (liability to company) ; decision being made 25 years later….etc..etc.
    Conclusion: Some weird game was/is on to appease US/US corporates. India got short-changed , not by US…but by powerful inhuman people in india.

  35. Well, all those untested process philosophies, crude means of waste treatment/containment and absence of adequate back-ups and redundancies approved by someone when the plant was built. The supplier would have tried to cut corners all times (duh!) but it was some bunch of Indians who let this through, hain?
    BTW, even now this continues…. I had worked in India and abroad in control & instrumentation and this sort of thing still happens. This is not because of callous disregard for human life or greased palms… we simply don’t have the budget for all those gizmos. Moreover, many cutting edge technologies are “black-box” offers where the OEM doesn’t allow us unwashed Indians anywhere near the product for engineering & maintenance. At least we learned a lesson on employee training and cutting shifts and safety system O&M after Bhopal.

    Here are a couple of useful links-
    labourandemployment dot gov dot in/idmis/resources/bhopal-tragedy dot htm
    moreorless dot au dot com/killers/bhopal dot html
    bhopal dot net/oldsite/oldwebsite/UCC25 dot html

    PS: Taking cue from what a very knowledgeable guy had written elsewhere,

    At least the Govt has secured the conviction of the Chairman of the Mahindra Group (this is like the US indicting the CEO of GM)… that is already more than what the US Govt has achieved! So many newswaalahs are slandering the Indian judicial process for having done too little too late and not commenting on how (or why) the US government still refuses to extradite Warren Anderson or on how MNCs routinely place profit over environmental obligations in poor countries like India…. and even in poor quarters of the US/Europe. The media does not ask why the US has done nothing to hand Warren Anderson over….. why is that?
    If the US Govt can’t act on a Great White Shark like Anderson what can a poor starving country like India do?

    On that note I’m quoting verbatim now

    “It is fair to say that the industrial revolution replaced the feudal agricultural setup with an equivalent corporate feudal setup.
    Company groups have become the new jagirs/feudatories, and nations have become what kingdoms/empires of old used to be – uneasy factional conglomerates of competing CEOs.

    In the US – the corporations are separate from the government but they practically control it through lobbying and campaign finance.
    In the Soviet Union – the corporations were integrated into the state and all the big industrial leaders were made into government officials.
    India has is somewhere in between these two extremes and the sheer population size ensures that no one group becomes too powerful for the common good. That is why the GoI can convict the Chairman of the Mahindra Group while such an action would be unthinkable in the US or the USSR.

    In almost all countries, these CEOs control media outlets and try to tune public opinion in their favour. Perhaps now you see why I am not unduly concerned about newspapers that demand that GoI “Declare War” in the face of the Maoist threat. If it is in the media, there is ample reason not to believe it.
    ………..
    As seen in the case of a number of corporate disasters, the American politicians protect the top level leadership for gross violations of public trust and blame is laid instead at the door of some mid level managers. The top level business leaders in the US typically buy their way out of trouble by paying off the politicians. They go to jail only if they can’t pay up.
    This creates a shifting but coherent nucleus of corporate irresponsibility that travels without real hinderance in the marketplace and utilises a number of flexible financial instruments to sustain itself.
    Now with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, neither BP nor Transocean nor Haliburton’s management will be held to account for what has happened. The shareholders however will see dividends fall as these companies are asked to bear the costs of the clean up.”

  36. I think you forgot to mention one significant fact. Just after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the Government of India passed a law that prohibited individuals from suing Union Carbide! Yeah, so you can’t sue UC and government will let them go for free. Ain’t that great!

  37. GB, good post.
    I found this quote from an a**hole among many of queen Cong’s major generals, Digvijay Singh:
    “American pressure could have been a factor that dictated the handling of the Bhopal gas tragedy and its aftermath.”
    As if, it is the job of a elected sovereign government to give in to the pressure of another government even where the life of it’s very subjects are involved. This guy should be declared as national shame !!!

  38. 1984: The Bhopal Gas tragedy, and 1985: The AI Kanishka bombing. One reason why the US didn’t do enough may be because that India used to be a KGB stooge in those days (Mitrokhin archive Vol. II). 2 years later on the in the wee hours of the morning of 26th April, tragedy struck USSR itself, in the form of the worst industrial disaster till date. As for us, as long as this filthy dynasty would be at the helm of affairs … we know how is it going to be ….do we not?

  39. Here is another amazing fact
    by vijaya kumar on Jun 10, 2010

    Abhishek Singhvi who is the spokesperson of Congress is also the legal representative of DOW Chemicals (the company that purchased Carbide). Not only that, he is also a member of the committee that is supposed to investigate the Bhopal incident. So on the one hand he is an investigator, and on the other, he protects the legal interests of DOW.

    It might be recalled that Singhvi is the personal confidant of Sonia as he is representing her on the issue of the book written on Sonia. So it seems that all transactions (whatever kind) between DOW (Union Carbide) and Congress (the Gandhi family) is happening through him.

    It has also been reported in the media that in the last 12 months, Singhvi has gone to St.Lucia 7 times. Incidentally, St.Lucia allows you to keep money in their banks without disclosing anything, much like Switzerland. Now if it is money matters for his visits, whose money is it, and what is the source of earning?

  40. i m 3 year old. During my lifetime so far there has been many event when i felt ashemed to be indian. But This tragedy tops the list. I want to be a proud indian but i think one govt after another let me man my fellow country men down.

  41. i m 3 year old. During my lifetime so far there has been many event when i felt ashemed to be indian. But This tragedy tops the list. I want to be a proud indian but i think one govt after another let me and my fellow country men down.

  42. Shameful and shocking- though did not come as much of a surprise. If the Indian government and the courts had showed some spine in doing the right thing, we would have been really surprised. With everyone in the system out to make a quick buck, it becomes so easy for violators to flout rules with impunity.

    There have been many incidents in the past where the Indian systems rot has come to the fore. But this time it involves 25000 victims and their dependents who have been affected.

    Definitely a dark day for India’s democracy and judiciary. Cannot hope for much in the future.

  43. Disgusting incident.

    Agree with you completely. We desperately need a social conscience. Bet most of the paltry compensation ended up in the pockets of sundry babus and politicians.

  44. World’s Biggest Democracy? This is KLEPTOCRACY! And Voting won’t change a thing, nothing within the existing system can change a thing! In geek terms, what we need is a REBOOT!!

  45. @ DJ
    Because India keeps electing the same dynasty again and again. That is not democracy’s fault. That is the choice of the people. They deserve it.

    @ Krishna
    ‘Reboot’ never works. Only leads to a lot of dead people.

    Stop electing the same people for 90% of the time.
    See how democracy works then.

  46. @dynasty

    The only thing that works is a reboot sometimes. India is so corrupt and f_up that only a revolutionary movement can change the republic. The friggin’ country is shambolic in total. Just about every government institution is a failure. It will leave behind a lot of dead people…sure. Let’s just hope they are dead pols.

  47. @ Anon
    And after all those dead, you feel that the “reboot” will work?

    How many times have you seen that happen in history?

  48. Funnily enough, most of the people who are now balking about the shame(in political circles) were the ones who were least bothered when anderson was released on bail. Sometimes, an activist media(a funny term, they’re only interested in showing the most eye ball gluing stuff) can be of help.

  49. Now some head will be chopped to save mr. Clean ???? rajiv gandhi. even CIA confirmed that there was US pressure on Rajiv gandhi.

  50. If we dont care about our own people, then why would any outsider with lots of money (to pay off other of our people) do any different? You are very much on target there GB.

  51. Like a friend told me:
    This trial took 19 judges to preside over the case in good 26 years. The judgment which came very late gave punishment of two years imprisonment to surviving seven of the eight convicts. This works out to an hour of imprisonment for every murder and completely absolved for leaving a million or two as living dead. UCIL got fined by Rupees five lakhs (around USD 10,000) which is perhaps much smaller than their accounting rounding off error! This is some judgment!

  52. Friends are you aware? Union Carbide India Ltd, that got away with murder in the Bhopal gas disaster, is now owned by Dow Chemicals. The same company is involved in the proposed chemical hub at Nayachar in West Bengal.

    We seem to have taken no learning from the Bhopal tragedy and are set to repeat the mistakes by allowing the burden to be shifted on taxpayers who end up subsiding private corporations.

  53. @ Shehla Masood

    How about forcing Bengali politicians to not take kickbacks and actually apply international safegaurds to Dow Chemmicals (like they do everywhere else).

    In simpler language…how about not throwing the baby with the bathwater.

  54. First time to comment:

    GB- Am an avid reader of ur blog, but more imp what u feel as a person seems more akin to my thought process.

    However disturbing the tragedy is, the point of blame lies in the psyche. I thank you for making an effort to challenge our thought processes. I hope its not long before the nation will rise.

    My biggest grievance is not with the Government, as they say a Government is of the ppl by the ppl…
    What about the opposition – largely deaf, dumb n blind. What u hear is of power jostling happening in UP, Jharkhand, within the party and chaos in Bengal.

    Well Congress will rule badly for a long time to come as the alternative is simply not there.
    They moreover are merely following the divide n rule policy – ref Raj Thackeray voting for the Cong as disclosed yesterday.
    Sometimes I feel as if a dictatorship would have served us better….

  55. Can only be justified by saying –
    It happens only in India.

    The politicians have no remorse, does not care for justice. We, common people always suffer. Don’t know why none of the politicians board a train which collapses, or a flight which crashes.

  56. just what I had in mind… I’ve been following your site for quite sometime now… As a person who has recently lost hope on humanity, I am not surprised.

  57. actually its all bcoz of the “right wingers” and “chaddiwalas”

    the left-of-the-center congress party of rome india has always been socially responsible and secular. it’s the bjp, the vhp, the bajrang dal that are the real issue..

    you people are spending way too much time on a few thousand indians bodies killed few decades back. it was a mere genocide accident which routinely happen in congress era.. you should know by now. not sure what the fuss is all about..

    there are more pressing issues. we need to get rid of bal thackrey. we need to “eject out” modi as our esteemed journalist shri karan thapar has already said … he is the real maut ka saudagar, not the queen of india.

    she’s a poor little widow trying to save this country from nationalist communal elements… we should all stand up and support her in this henious noble effort..

    i also propose building a monument in honor of shri arjun singh. his steadfast support for secularism is under rated. we need more people like him. all people who question the congress party.. suck. you are all communal and anti-national.

  58. Arnab,

    One interesting connection you missed: The Government of India through its many arms held 49% stake in the company (UCC held 51%).
    If Keshub Mahindra – despite being a non-exec chairman – could be found guilty by association, and Anderson – arguably not in the know of day to day working of the plant – is guilty by virtue of hi position, how can one absolve the Government? Why not hold the Prime Minister of the time gulity on the same yardstick?

  59. Arnab, good post!

    Seriously, the one line where you speak about the way fellow citizens try to take advantage of other people’s misery sums it up 😦 .

  60. The gov.’s stance on the current nuke bill reflects how little of a fuck they give for Indian lives. No wonder people turn cynical about the rotting System. But this is not something new so lets not be surprised/enraged/disappointed. Infact I’m surprised that we actually expect the government to act any different after countless such moronic judgements/bills have been passed in the country, that are on the same repulsive disbelief-level, as the Bhopal verdict.

  61. GB:

    Price we pay maintaining these SECULAR values 🙂 Ooops…I forgot even Muslims were martyred in Bhopal.

    However, since it happened during Congress rule, we have to take a compassionate view on this one!!!!!!

    All for the ruling deity of the Congress!!!!

  62. bhopal is the best proof of the apathy the government of india (or rather congress since we have mostly been ruled by them) has for its subject .. for 26 years people are agitating and yet they have gotten nothing .. one feels nothing but bleakness and anger towards this entity ruling us .. only thing we can do is sar utha ke tax ki chori

  63. Your article really scares me. What scares me is not that one Bhopal has already happened… but that every passing day may be leading us to new tragedies, and still most of us Indians do not even understand the real issues we must care about.
    It is my guess that not even 10% of the voting public understand what the implications of the passage of CNL Bill in its current form are. All the public is interested in, is whether a politician called another a dog or not or whether the heir apparent to the party in power is married or not.
    As a member of the voting class and one who does not have the inclination nor the means to engage in any kind of protest , all that I can do to make myself feel more secure in such a state of affairs is to find ways and means to stay at the top of the game and somehow leave this country for a better one… am ashamed to say this ,but this is how disgusted I feel

  64. To me the general indiffernce is shocking. The truth is Arjun Singh should have been behind the bars ages back. What bothered me was after a day or two no one even talked about the issue.

  65. “It was the Indian government that settled for …”
    “It was the Indian government that refused to …”

    Trying to go mainstream, GB? Whom are you trying to fool?

    It was the Congress government led by Rajiv Gandhi that did all that. People might be callous towards fellow citizens, as you correctly said, but only one person was responsible for arresting Anderson and get proper compensation from UC. It was Rajiv Gandhi (of Bofors, ‘when big tree falls’, Shah Bano fame) who got Bharat Ratna 7 years later for his ‘service’ to the nation.

    That’s why you see now all the smalltime slaves, jokers and lapdogs are being thrown under the bulldozer left and right to save the ‘enlightened one who could do no wrong’.

  66. @ Dynasty and @ Anon: Reboot never works because we think reboot = revolution. Not necessary. Remember I said we are a kleptocracy. Well, soon enough, if India continues shining, it will follow in America’s footsteps and become a corporatocracy. It’s inevitable for all developed nations. When that happens, all we need is the will of the nation to progress dominate the will of a few people to subvert every political tool, for e.g. subsidies, quotas, caste divide, licenses, etc..for their own political good. These same politicians who are now eager to please their own fiefdoms (be it caste based or region based or anything else) will then be eager to please their corporate masters. And they WILL be forced to become productive and efficient. The ones who learn and adapt will remain, the old school will be empty. Amen.

  67. Great article. To put the 300 crore liability for nuclear plants in proper perspective, the recent Indian broadband wireless auctions earned the government more than 38,000 crores. As you so aptly said, f***king unbelievable.

  68. To BongBang (a few comments above)

    $470,000,000 divided between 20,000 is indeed $23,500. The only problem is that there were 572,000 officially registered injured (GoI figures), not 20,000. This gives about $820 a head. Not all the money was distributed, hence the figure of $500, about which Kathy Hunt, Public Affairs Officer of Dow Chemical said, “$500 is plenty good for an Indian.”

    The Times of India noted that America sea-otters oiled in the Exxon Valdez oilspill were kept alive by being airlifted fresh lobster at a cost of $500 per day per otter.

    If the 12 lakhs of fines imposed in the recent court verdict were to be shared out equally among all the victims, they would get 2 rupees each.

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