I salute Meredith Alexander (Commissioner on the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012) who resigned live on ‘Newsnight’ last week raising the issue of the 20,000 plus who died in Bhopal in 1984. I salute her for having the courage to stand up for her morals and ethics, and to show that in this corrupt world of power, politics and money – that integrity matters. Of course one wonders what values drive the other members of this body given they do not appear to have acted hitherto.
So as you and I celebrate India’s Republic Day let us also reflect and think about the thousands who were killed in that chemical gas leak in Bhopal. Not forgetting their families and the generational ailments that they will have to suffer, and die by, as the years roll on.
The Indian Government (of all colours over the past 27 years) has failed in its duty and responsibility to protect the interest of its citizens. People say that some Indian politicians care more for what they can secure in their offshore accounts than for what happens to their country or its people. India is now a mighty important world player and with such power it has the capacity to make any corporate bow down and take note. Such action would send a clear signal to the rest of the world – every Indian life is precious. Take for example the ramifications for the other global giant ‘BP’ and the recent oil leak (April 2010). The US Government demanded reparations costing BP some $35 Billion and to date significant progress has been made in less than 18 months!
Regardless of the failures of the Indian Government – we in the UK can surely do something? Have you signed any of the many petitions? Written to your local MP? Sent a message to Lord Coe? No? Well maybe some of you just might wish to do that in the near future before all is lost. How about visiting this website to learn a bit more about Bhopal and maybe even make a donation to help the people: http://www.bhopal.org
London 2012 is a great event. It’s one that we in the UK have to be very proud off and rise to the many challenges it brings forth. However, we cannot and should not allow the games, and those with financial muscle, to highjack them for their own ends. To prostitute the games to the extent that the blood of the Bhopal fatalities is exchanged for Gold medals is nothing short of scandalous. So I say to those who will participate in these games – please do so with all your might and perseverance, and do well. However, at some point you should also ensure that your moral compass is switched on so that on the podium, or at a subsequent press conference or even on your person, you show a clear sign that you are on the side of the Bhopal victims. Do the sports personalities of 2012 have the courage to make a stand not just for Bhopal, but the ideal that such atrocities cannot be allowed to go on for so long, unchecked?
When Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave the infamous Black power salute in Mexico City in 1968, it sent a shockwaves around the world as well as a clear message to the American people. Enough is enough. And today, after 40 years America has a Black president. So if Abhinav Bindra or any Indian competitor wins any type of medal, what will they do? Would it not be great if they wore a specially made ‘Gandhi Topi’ with Bhopal printed on the sides when they get up on the podium to collect their medal?
In our British parliament, there have been a number of EDM’s on Bhopal and I suggest you seek out who actually signed them, and also those who did not? You will be very surprised with what you find. Let us also acknowledge that Dow Chemical produces a vast array of products that do help humanity on a daily basis. It makes profits from these worldwide activities including those in India. It is therefore right and proper that we ask it to consider where its moral compass is pointing. All too often the global giants tend to pander to the whims of local politicians, their shareholder and ultimately profit at any cost. Most of the sports (and the participants) depend on products/materials produced by Dow. So one does not need to say ban Dow outright. However, we can and should challenge them and raise all issues, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes their CEO/Chairman, or for that matter, politicians who wish to protect their own interests.
The bottom line, failures of successive Indian governments, the justice system, and corporate greed has led to tens of thousands suffering for decades. Is it now not time for the ‘human’ in ‘humanity’ to come out so that we give closure to this sad and painful episode? Who will have the courage to take that first step?