Union Carbide

Gassed to death: A tragedy India finds difficult to live down

(This is a reprint from NewsBred)).

There were men, women and children, thousands of them, bursting through gates of the Bhopal railway platform, emitting a tornado of wails, the crushing pressure dropping them over each other on railway tracks, rising, grabbing and swinging on the doors of my parked train, lunging at the iron rods of my window with a ferocity which threw a startled me deep into my compartment, now swaying like a leaf under the impact.

I was 20, returning from Mumbai, what we once called Bombay, onwards to my ancestral town Lucknow and the train had met its scheduled stop-over in Bhopal, almost midway through the journey. It was early hours of December 3, 1984 and all I could put it to was some sort of riot unfolding, an eye-witness account I would share with my people back home next morning.

Decades of mornings have passed since then, anniversary after anniversary, deaths after deaths, yet history’s biggest industrial disaster, the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, is still unfolding after it consumed 20,000 lives due to poisoned air of that night which escaped a chemical plant in the heart of the city.  How do I look back when something new has happened all along in these 35 years?

Do I start with that terrible night when tonnes of cyanide-gas burst through the rusted tanks and broken pipes of a chemical plant in Bhopal, owned by then one of West’ poster-boy of a multinational, Union Carbide; the poison that smelled like boiled cabbage enveloping the cluster of slums which had sprang up around the factory in the need for a living. Thousands of poor and unprotected rushed out howling deep in the night, blinded in eyes, choked in throats, lungs which would burst within next few hours.

Do I stop and narrate how an enterprising local journalist had seen it coming three years in advance to the tragedy, his warnings unheeded by the politicians of a system which was new to industrial society and treated the gods of capitalism with reverence and awe. It swallowed the white lie of Union Carbide’s owners in the United States that the functioning of the Indian plant was completely the outlook of local functionaries and they couldn’t be held accountable. When its honcho arrived in India, he went to a plush guesthouse instead of gallows, his return to New York facilitated by a very own aircraft of Indian government. Warren Anderson, the man, was never served a warrant till he died at the age of 92 in 2014.

Do I ask my listeners or readers to worry if India’s environmental laws are weak or if judiciary dithers all too often, sitting on a judgment for decades before slapping the wrist of six local employees with a fine of $2000 and two-year imprisonment in 2010. Do I tell them to work out how the demand of $3.3 billion as compensation was scaled down to $470 million by the offenders and accepted without a murmur by the affected.

Do I draw their attention to Bhopal Gas Tragedy 2.0 unfolding every living minute since then as the poisonous chemical waste was dumped outside the factory which has contaminated soil and the groundwater, consumed by the poor on its periphery. That scores of deformed lives still use these killing fields as their playground. That no other state finds it politically expedient if the clean-up of the factory and its chemicals are shifted and buried on their turf. That the moneybags who are in possession of these abandoned plants now, another American multinationals Dow Chemicals, sees no reason to spare its dollars and clear the mess or pay up the affected. They, after all, came 17 years onwards the tragedy. Of the assets and liability they have negotiated with the former owners, they are only willing to play ball on assets.

Do I talk about how ruthless capitalism exploited weak nations, importing their technology even when safety legal nets were absent in a vulnerable society? How such a toxic presence was allowed a haven within a heavily populated neighbourhood? How a new nation keen to secure its place in the sun overlooked the cost it could entail on its defenceless?

The only reference I can make with certainty is from history books: Union Carbide played an important role with its chemicals in both the World Wars of the 20th century. After DDT was banned by the United States in 1973, Union Carbide began pushing a highly toxic pesticide, Sevin, for the global agriculture industry battling pests, weeds and viruses. They adopted the template of targeting young nations like India, without a thought to responsible supervision or spending towards its maintenance. India is now wiser by the experience but the Bhopal Gas Tragedy lives on, a trauma it still hasn’t come to grips with.

(This article by the author was published in rt.com). 

Ms Sonia Gandhi: Tell us he is not your Hit-Man

Even if it bores you please pay attention to English newspapers closely for the agenda followed by them could be seen even by a blind. Their agenda is to break-up India into parts, to Balkanize it, We must not allow it to happen.

You could find these tell-tale signs by their front and edit pages. These are considered “heart” of a newspaper. For example, Indian Express who is more brazen than others today makes no mention of Indian home minister Rajnath Singh informing the Lok Sabha that key documents related to the preparation of the second affidavit in the Ishrat Jahan case were not traceable in his ministry and an internal probe was on. (Times of India and Hindustan Times did make it a front page story. Kudos).

Then comes the edit page. The Express op-Ed page has two pieces; one by Archana Prasad who feels that BJP is polarizing opinion but since she is a professor of JNU we could take it with a pinch of salt. The second is an issue I want your utmost attention—it’s a piece of Harsh Mander with the scary headline: “Can the Indian Spring be far behind?” (interestingly, there is no mention of Indian Spring in the article!!! But Express is a zealot these days, fit to be pulled up by regulating agencies).

This Indian Spring is a take on Arab Spring. To put the bare-facts of Arab Spring, it’s hailed in western and our media as spontaneous people’s uprisings against repression, from Libya and Egypt to Syria and Yemen, the so-called Middle East North Africa (MENA).

Christopher L. Brennan, in his book “Fall of the Arab Spring: From Revolution to Destruction” views this widespread Arab upheaval, not as authentic grass-root movements for democracy but as a US-engineered destabilization moves.

Similarly, Ahmed Bensaad’s 2011 book “L’Arabesque Americaine” concerns the US government’s role in instigating, funding and coordinating the Arab Spring “revolutions.

Wikileaks cables also support covert funding for such activities.  We all know Libya, Syria, Yemen and Egypt are worse off for these Spring revolutions. Here you have Mr Mander/Indian Express praying for an “Indian Spring” of similar catastrophe to Balkanize our India.

Mr Mander keeps writing edit pieces in Hindustan Times and Indian Express. It’s time readers know about his background.

Mander, a former IAS officer, was a member of the National Advisory Council which was termed as Sonia Gandhi’s kitchen cabinet.

Mander “voluntarily took retirement” but media termed it as “quitting,” anguished as he was because of the 2002 Gujarat riots.

He wrote an op-ed in Times of India, post-Godhra riots, which the Press Council of India (PCI) called “LIES.”

The Press Council of India reprimanded Mander by stating, “guilty of spreading false rumours about alleged Hindu atrocities” in his column: “Hindustan Hamara” dated 20/3/2002. The decision by the PCI was pronounced on 30/6/2002 vide decision reference 14/06/02-03

His modus operandi has been described thus: to organize protests through NGOs against multi-nationals or nuclear projects entry into India. These companies then pay “consulting fees” …, later these protests by NGOs fizzle out or vanish without trace.

For his hard work, Mander was presented by Sonia Gandhi as the recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana award in a function attended by Jstice A.M. Ahmadi (the judge who let Union Carbide off the hook).

A book “NGOs: Activists and Foreign Funds Anti Nation Industry” by Krishen Kak and Smt Radha Rajan claims that Mander was the poster boy of NDTV and Star News (now ABP News).

Kak notes in the book: “Not a single major paper or TV channel reported the Press Council’s exposure of Mander. Not surprisingly, in addition to the Times of India, publications like the Hindustan Times, The Telegraph, Asian Age, Mainstream, Deccan Chronicle and Rashtriya Sahara were found by the Press Council of India to carry reports tending to inflame communal passions and, let it be noted, these were pro-Muslim and anti-Hindu passions (page 127).”

Mander was convenor of the drafting committee for the “Prevention of Communal and targeted violence” bill. Under the bill, Hindus were not to be considered victims of communal violence, even if they were killed, robbed, humiliated, burnt to death or even gang-raped.

Mander was part of ActionAid, the giant British multi-national with a “subsidiary” in India. It’s been said to be a global children exploitation industry. Mander’s association was worth at least 50 times the salary of its lowest paid employee.

Express these days is full of such agendas. You have a full-page devoted to Economist magazine almost daily which is a pathetic, blatant, naked propaganda for the imperial, colonial, Anglo-Zionist cause. If not Economist, then you have monstrous lies of New York Times and Washington Post filling up Express pages. In the edit pages, you have those “gurus” of think-tanks from Brookings, Observer and others trying hard to spread lies,anti-India agenda and serve Western interests.

Readers, please be alert and vigilant to this dangerous agenda.

Remember: THE PRICE OF FREEDOM IS ETERNAL VIGILANCE.

They mean to divide us.

Balkanize us.

Let’s not leave an India for our children, when in order to travel to Ludhiana, Patna, Kolkata or Bengalaru, they would need a visa.

(Actually this Kanhaiya episode is a good thing. As a journalist, I know the best way to preserve a lie is to repeat it again and again till the ”truth-holders” give up. Unfortunately for them, the majority India has taken up cudgels to fight this issue. Being hardened journalists, these “balkanizing forces” are not giving up on Kanhaiya issue. But by stretching this issue beyond a decent limit, all they have done is to lose their credibility. So folks keep up your opposition, and let them shed the last fig-leaf they are keeping in front of their naked reality.)