Revisiting Bhopal tragedy

Union Carbide and British Petroleum have been in the news regularly during the past few days. Quite a lot has been written and discussed about both disasters.
Virtually every Indian is talking about double standards on the part of America and Americans. In this post I will attempt to examine this issue dispassionately and try to present a contrarian view.
Agreed that UC India had thrown all safety norms to the winds and the American Principal should own both moral and legal responsibility for the tragedy. Agreed further that justice was not only delayed but also denied. But isn’t it strange that our politicians have woken up now after 25 years and formed a PANEL to rehabilitate the victims? The fact of the matter is that as a nation we do not care for or value life. When we do not have value for human life how can we justifiably expect America to show respect for the life of Indians? In our country,the lack of respect for life is demonstrated time and again. What is even worse is that the value for life in India is directly proportional to the status of an individual. Take the case of the terrorist attack in Mumbai(26/11). It would not have hit the head lines nor would it have grabbed the attention of the entire nation and the media if the victims had been limited to the passengers at the VT station in Mumbai. Obviously we value the life of a rich man more than that of a poor man. For the same reason,an air crash gets more publicity and media coverage than either a road or train accident.
Yes,Americans don’t care about loss of Indian lives but they are much better than us in the sense that they at least care about loss of life of a fellow American,unlike us. You can clearly see this in all their actions – quick and efficient investigations,fast track delivery of justice or implementation of a system of checks balances etc.
In contrast,even as we are discussing Union Carbide tragedy today,there are numerous factories spewing out toxic chemicals with impunity. It is public knowledge that Factory inspectors and Pollution control boards exist only for enriching individuals through organized corruption. While the politicians are merely paying lip service to industrial safety and pollution, government agencies and factories are happily colluding with each other and greedily amassing wealth. And all the while,the helpless common man is a silent onlooker. The common man is not innocent either. He is happy to be left alone and not be disturbed from his ‘Comfort Zone’. Therefore we are left with very few pockets of resistance in the name of ‘Activism’ which go largely unnoticed.

Crises like these always throw up interesting philosophical perspectives. One is reminded of the great thinker JK(J Krishnamurthy). He would say with great conviction that if one wants to bring about order in the society,one has to first understand disorder. The question is how does one understand disorder. The disorder arises from greed to be successful ,selfishness,ego,ruthlessness,anger,jealousy,misery etc. Success is defined and determined by accumulation of wealth,prestige and position. Such a success,in the midst of chaos and disorder, is achieved by erosion of basic goodness at the individual level,corporate level and the national level. How can such a disorderly and selfish mind and society, bent on achieving success at any cost, show any concern at all for human lives?

If disorder is the order of the day,then what is the prescription? How does one come to grips with it? The approach of JK is indeed very interesting and illuminating. JK says the answer lies in ‘Total awareness’ of what constitutes disorder. Once we become completely ‘aware’ of disorder,we will at once negate all that it stands for. In that negation,JK says,a different kind of energy is liberated leading to instant positive action. To put it differently,according to JK,Order is nothing but absence of disorder achieved by negation of forces causing disorder. A tall order,I suppose!(pun intended).

It is all nice to talk of philosophies and philosophers but it is a different ball game altogether to act,which is the need of the hour!

Published in: on June 13, 2010 at 2:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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