Decidedly, a bookworm who loves life and has been blessed with a warm quirky family in a quintessential country
vendredi, juin 25, 2010
Worlds and billions apart
And the sun sets over BP
NEW DELHI - The contrast between the disasters, more than a quarter-century and half a world apart, could not be starker. In 1984, a leak of toxic gas at an American company’s Indian subsidiary killed thousands, injured tens of thousands more and left a major city with a toxic waste dump at its heart. The company walked away after paying a $470 million settlement. The company’s American chief executive, arrested while in India, skipped bail, never to return. This month eight former senior officials from the company, including one who has since died, were convicted of negligence, but the sentence — two years in jail — seems paltry to many here compared to the impact of their crime.
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. *** Analysts and historians say that the entire episode reeks of the humiliation of a poor and powerless country at the hands of a rich and resourceful Western corporation. India sought $3.3 billion in damages from the American company Union Carbide, but in 1989 settled for less than half a billion dollars. “The victims will get hardly 10 percent of the money and rest will go to the pockets of ministers and bureaucrats,” said Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group for Information and Action, an advocacy group. “Indian people have to pay for the crimes committed by the U.S. corporations.” Hari Kumar contributed reporting.