Olympic fever has finally caught me. I am glued to the TV watching swimming, boxing and of course Usain Bolt. We went for the women’s tennis final on Saturday, watched Serena William play for gold, Andy Murray at mixed double, and cheered to the heart’s content for Sania Mirza and Leander Paes. And of course one can never get bored of the beautiful Wimbledon stadium on a sunny day.
I intended to boycott the London Olympics 2012 for its association with Dow Company. But I guess sports events like Olympic has the power to bring people together positively and it also bring a sense of positive nationalism (this only get confirmed when you see how people all over world have cheered for Usain Bolt or Michael Phelp). Moreover, it has the power to attract someone like me who has no interest in sport whatsoever, to be glued to watching swimming, boxing, archery and cheering for
However with great power comes great responsibility. I cannot shake away the discomfort I am feeling with Olympics’ association with Dow and Bhopal gas tragedy.
I would have like to believe that no one needs a reminder of that day .People will be aware of the plight of the people ,how victims were treated back in 1984, how little or no compensation were given to them until today, how thousand continued to get effected and will continue to get effected by the toxic legacy of the disaster and how Indian state and corporate like Union Carbide & Dow, attached to the gas leak have shaken all responsibility and people’s voices have been ignored.
People within system, corporate and states surprise me- not because they don’t know but because they don’t care. The difference between knowing and caring seems to be increasing every day. No wonder Dow gets to sponsor a world class even like Olympic despite of protest from Indian people at large, people all over the world, survivors, academia, NGO, Indian Olympic association, people UK.
The Bhopal Death Toll:
Initial deaths (3-6 December): more than 3,000 – official toll
Unofficial initial toll: 7,000-8,000
Total deaths to date: over 15,000
Number affected Nearly 600,000
Compensation: Union Carbide pays $470m in 1989
In 1989, Union Carbide reached an out of court settlement with government of India and the company agreed to pay $470 million. The money built a hospital for those who suffered ill health and the survivor got $ 1000 each in compensation. The agreement stand for a full and final settlement of Union Carbide of any Civil and Criminal Liabilities. Dow have merged with Union Carbide Corporation whose subsidiary Union Carbide Indian ran the Bhopal pesticide Plant in 1999. However Dow denies any liability of the leak and argues that $ 470 million as settlement is fair. This surely is a sponsor whose lack of appropriate action runs entirely counter to the Ethical Sourcing Code, says Peter Boocock an activist with https://www.change.org/en-GB/members/3040019. DOW Chemical, currently declared revenue for 2010 53.647 billion (2010), declared operating income 4.238 billion (2010, declared Profit 2.310 billion (2010). Cost of cleaning up Bhopal estimated at 135 Rs.crores = £16,735,304.804 or $26,230,145.237 cost approximation, however you measure the billions of profit that DOW makes [1,000 million US $ to a billion US $], that still leaves a substantial sum available for the directors, shareholders and DOW’s day to day running costs yet they cannot clean the site or compensate the people.
Mr.Sarangi who runs Sambhavna Trust says, “what we find is a very high incidence of diseases: damage to the kidneys, the liver, the brain, the skin. The incidence of birth defects in these areas is at least 10 times what you would find in similar socio-economic populations.” In a neighborhood just north of the Union Carbide plant, we found people drawing groundwater from a pump. We took a sample and had it tested at a laboratory in the United Kingdom. The test found that it contained nearly 4,000 micrograms per litre of carbon tetrachloride – nearly 1,000 times the World Health Organisation’s safe limit. “Carbon tet”, as it is known, is a highly toxic pollutant which is known to cause cancer and liver damage” (source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8390156.stm).
In 25 years no one has been successfully persecuted for the leak or ground water contamination. On June 7, 2010, nearly 26 years after world’s worst industrial disaster left over 15,000 dead, former Union Carbide India Chairman Keshub Mahindra and six others were sentenced to two years imprisonment. 89-year-old Anderson, the then Chairman of Union Carbide Corporation of USA, who lives in the United States, appeared to have gone scot-free for the present as he is still an absconder and did not subject himself to trial. Almost thirty years after the horrific Bhopal chemical disaster, the factory site has still not been cleared up and the survivors and their families continue to fight for compensation. If it is not Dow responsibility then whose it is?
“Speaking on Indian TV Mr Cameron said Dow was a “reputable” firm and the Games should not be used for industrial or political purposes. He said his heart went out to those who had suffered in the incident but that it happened before Dow was involved” (Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17340658). If an event which has participation of over 200 countries does not included voices of the unheard, then what is the point of having such an event whose ideology is to bring nations together. If this is not political, then what is? What would have UK said had the tragedy been in here?
For Union Carbide or Dow the matter is legally and officially closed. For people of Bhopal it is far from close.
And for me, I continue to cheer for the spirit of the sport and continue to protest Dow’s involvement with Olympics
Recipe for Libyan Chicken Shorba (Libyan Styled chicken Stew)
Serves: 2 as main course on its own
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 1Hr
- 4 chicken leg pieces (approximately 250g) washed and cleaned
1 big finely chopped red onion
- 50g Canned Chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
- 50g Orzo (Rice shaped pasta)
- 3-tablespoon tomato puree
- ¼-teaspoon cumin powder
- ¼-teaspoon coriander seed powder
- ¼-teaspoon red chili powder
- ¼-teaspoon dried mint
- 1 cup finely chopped coriander/cilantro
- 1200ml water
- 1-tablespoon oil
- Salt to taste
- 2 lemon wedges to serve
- Heat oil in a large heavy bottom stockpot. Fry the onion until translucent, pale golden and soft
Add the chicken and fry for 3/4 mins. Add cumin powder, coriander seed powder, chili powder. Fry for another 5 mins. If it sticks at the bottom sprinkle little water.
- Add tomato puree and chickpeas and cook for another few minute until the puree mixes well with other ingredients
- Add the water to the pot and cover. Simmer over a medium heat for 30mins
- Add the orzo, coriander and cook for another 15 mins or until the Shorba have reduced to 1000ml in total and is flavorful. Adjust seasoning.
Add little dried mint, lemon and serve in a bowl