June 25, 2010

Bhopal Disaster and the BP Oil Spill

An article in The New York Times yesterday looked at the 1984 Bhopal disaster through the eyes of Indians comparing it with the current BP spill in the Gulf.

From the Times:

No matter how halting the Obama administration’s response to the gushing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico might look to Americans, Indians cannot help but marvel — and envy — the alacrity with which the United States government has acted.

BP’s $20 billion cleanup fund, as vast a sum as it seems from here, is in all likelihood merely a down payment on what the company will probably pay for the damage caused by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A criminal investigation has begun. And while the environmental toll is huge, the cost in human lives, compared with Bhopal, has been minimal.

Now, almost 26 years later, in the face of public outrage prompted by the light criminal sentences and the inescapable contrast with the BP disaster, the Indian government is trying shake off the shadow of Bhopal, an episode that has become synonymous with ineffectual governance and humiliation at the hands of Western capital.

It makes you wonder: if the BP spill happened in India what would the media coverage and government response look like?

Read the rest here.

Image: Bhopal memorial, from Wikipedia

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Leon Edwards's picture

There are times when I feel ashamed to admit that I am a member of the "in"-human race. All my life I have fought injustice and intolerance, I have tried my best to put aside my predudice and look positivly on the other person nomatter what his colour, or religious background. Because when we look deeply there is no difference between you or I, and it is only by an accident of birth that I was born "here". Is it not better that we benifit each other or at least, act mindfully and not cause each other any harm. It is time that we in the west scrutinise our values and not be so greedy, to live within our means as individuals and as nation states and remember that the Bhopal, that climate change and every drop of spilt oil or nuclear waste is a tragedy for all of us.

Western companies move to Eastern countries for the benifit of the shareholder and satisfy their GREED!!! Increasing the return on their investment by reducing pay, overcoming health and safety laws, and developing the "NIMBY" (Not In My Back Yard) approach to the environmenal issues, thereby exployting good people and resorses in the third world. If we as indivuals remember the Bhopal disaster, the Torry Canyon's the Exxon Valdes, the Amaco Cadis and the BP Blow outs of this world and act accordingly then the lives lost will not have been invein. (With apologies for bad spelling). LE.

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