After the clumsy decision over Bhopal Gas Tragedy, in the past few days, newspapers and news channels have asked a question- “has the system failed us?” After writing yesterday’s article, I woke up in the middle of the night, and a question disturbed me- ‘who’ is this ‘system’? To find answers to it, I peeped into this chronology of events.
Soon after the disaster, in 1985, the Indian government filed a law-suit in a US court and claimed damages worth $3.3 billion. In 1989, the Indian Government, led by Rajiv Gandhi, settled with Union Carbide for $470 million- about one-seventh of what they originally claimed! Union Carbide’s share prices went up after this settlement. So the government’s decision not only put a cheap value to citizen’s lives lost, but also ensured that the stakeholders in the tragedy become richer!
That disaster just didn’t kill thousands of people then- 26 years have passed and it is still killing people. Generations have been affected- crippled, blinded and deafened! And what are we left with? A mysterious, faceless system to blame!
The then CM of Madhya Pradesh, got a mysterious call from somewhere, and Warren Anderson- the chief of Union Carbide, received the state guest treatment and was released on bail. While, Arjun Singh was at an election rally, he received a call and immediately asked his officials to release the American. Three hours later, Anderson was released on a personal bond of Rs 25,000, put on a state government plane and flown to New Delhi!
I wonder how death of 15,000+ people can break even with 2 years imprisonment of 7 people. The charges filed against Dow chemicals were extremely lenient, and there were even plans by the government to drop charges against Anderson! Moreover, the lawyer for Dow chemicals is Abhishek Singhvi– the spokesperson of the Congress party. Does that ring a bell?
Now, can we see faces of the ‘system’? I’m forced to believe that it is never the system that fails, it is ‘us’ who fail to recognize the ‘people’ responsible, and then what do we do?