23 June 2010

Bhopal: a lesson in remembering

Things don’t right themselves with the passage of time, unless they are righted. And the way they are righted, is, first, you say sorry. Next, you put things in place and clean up. Thirdly, you learn and remember not to forget.

Bhopal is still all wrong, any which way you look at it. No one has said sorry, no one has mopped up the mess that is the Union Carbide factory, no one has put things in place for the victims. Lastly, nothing has been learned and we have forgotten to remember.

Just because it was all 25 years ago, doesn’t put a distance between us and the poison gas that can be a part of our lives, too, at any time, any place. Think about it, look around you, and you will realize that things have hardly changed when it comes to governmental apathy, corporate cruelty, and general thick-skinnedness of everyone concerned.

The TV channels have taken it upon themselves to set one thing right: the media’s treatment of the whole tragedy. But, far from reassuring me about a sound press, it makes me think if trial- and sometimes government-by-media is our only way out, God help those who are at the receiving end of the media’s cold shoulder.

Yet, the Bhopal ghost couldn’t have reappeared at a better time, when the US is busy being self-righteous and gladly pointing fingers at BP. What did the US government do to penalize Union Carbide? How many billions did it ask Warren Anderson’s company to pay up?

But the US’ hypocrisy is no reason to let off the Indian government easily. The contamination of JP Nagar in Bhopal started right from the day Carbide began operations in 1971 and was a documented fact by 1981. In fact, it is this mess that will take up the thousands of crores to clean up.

And, as we all know, such a violation of our earth and water is commonplace throughout our country.

The real wars that need to be fought are well within the border, they need to be fought for the earth, the air, and the water. But where do we begin..? We all carry a little of Bhopal in our lungs.

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