The world largest industrial disaster, killing and maiming thousands more in the years to come as the Hindustan Times says today (The haunting by Indrajit Hazra, HT Dec 2, 2009), is a reflection of what India has come down to. Not drawing any lessons from the Bhopal tragedy, India merrily goes on relying on such hazardous and toxic technologies. In fact, it has opened its doors wide enough for dirty technologies and products.
India is literally on sale.
You can market any dirty technology to India. All you need to do is to allocate a few crores for 'education' (remember, the phrase used by the erstwhile Enron boss in India), and make claims about creating employment by bringing in foreign direct investment (FDI), and say loudly: Khul Ja SimSim. The door opens.
No wonder, India has become the world's biggest dustbin.
I was amused to read when Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, during his visit to the Union Carbide site in September 2009, picked up a handful of soil and said: Look, I'm holding this and I'm still alive. A similar act was performed by Babulal Gaur, Madhya Pradesh Gas Relief Minister, when he told journalists that he had handled some waste and not become ill. And in the words of author Indra Sinha (who was short -listed for the Booker, for his fiction Animal's People): A cynic remarked that this was like touching a cigarette and saying, "Look, I haven't got lung cancer."
Such stupidity is not only a trade mark of Indian politicians. Alan Hunter, author of Curing Food Allergies wrote in a communication: Tony Blair stood on the steps of 10 Downing Street years ago and ate a GM tomato. He said, "See I've eaten it. I'm fine."
That's like the Prime MInister of the time of Sir Walter Raleigh who brought tobacco to the UK, standing on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street smoking a single cigarette and saying "See? I'm fine. I'm not dead." It is the long term consumption of GMOs that will bring about early deaths and organ damage.
Nevertheless, Indra Sinha goes on to say that why Union Carbide's victims are still dying in Bhopal is because India itself is dying under the corrupt and self-serving rule of rotten leaders. Bhopal will not be healed, cured or cleaned, as long as the power-brokers and the money-brokers are allowed to get away with it. [Read his provoking article in the HT, Poisoned and shut http://www.hindustantimes.com/Poisoned-and-shut/H1-Article1-482020.aspx]
In an accompanying editorial, the Hindustan Times talks about the Kaiga nuclear plant leak, which I consider as another disaster in the making. A lot has been said and written about the signing of the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement. Newspapers (including the Hindustan Times) have gone ga-ga over it shouting from the rooftop on how important it will be for India. Already pacts have been signed with France, Canada and Argentina for civilian nuclear technology sales, and an agreement with the US on enrichment and reprocessing technology in on way.
Again, it is worth mentioning that while the love-affair the west had for nuclear plants is on the wane, India's excitement is unpalatable. Canada and France had for long been looking for places where they could dump their nuclear plants, and India has come to their rescue.
Ship-breaking too is an exercise which is highly polluting, and damaging to the people who are involved. Yet, India has emerged as the prime destination. Asbestos, which has been banned in several countries for its carcinogenic properties, is again welcome in India. PET bottles are sent all the way from the US to India for recycling, and shipped back. The US does not allow recycling of PET bottles.
The list of such hazardous imports is endless.
As if this is not enough, India is now awaiting its first genetically modified food crop -- Bt brinjal. Once again, India is ready to open its flood gates to a risky, unhealthy, environmentally polluting and an unwanted technology. GM crops are also being pushed and promoted under the Indo-US Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture Research, Development and Marketing (KIA). The nation feels proud in signing the KIA, just like it boasts of the advantages from the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement.
Dirty trade too needs to be legitimised. Otherwise the needle of suspicion will point in only one direction. India is therefore eager to sign agreements, so that the blame get deflected to the faulty system. You can always dub it as an example of bad governance.