Archive for June, 2010

Refereeing Howlers at FIFA World Cup

Controversy reigned in this FIFA World Cup in South Africa as refereeing howlers has renewed calls by football fans to introduce video technology to assist referees and review their decisions. This World Cup has seen so many refereeing bloopers, here is the list: 

Argentina 3, Mexico 1: In this second-round game, the opener goal in the 26th minute by Argentina striker Carlos Tevez was yards offside. After the replay flashed up on the big screen angry Mexico players surrounded the Italian referee Roberto Rosetti and linesman Stefano Ayroldi but the goal stood despite the protest.

Germany 4, England 1: In the 38th minute of the second-round game, with England behind 2-1, Lampard sent a shot off the crossbar. The ball came straight down at least a foot inside the goal line, but referee Jorge Larrionda waved play to continue. Television replays confirmed the ball was in the net.

United States 2, Slovenia 2: In this Group C game moments after the Americans tied the score in the first round, Landon Donovan took a free kick from the side of the penalty area in the 85th minute as players jostled in front. Maurice Edu spun away from Bojan Jokic and, one step into the 6-yard box, stuck out his left foot and put the ball in. But referee Koman Coulibaly had whistled play dead for a foul. He never explained who on the U.S. team did what.

United States 1, Algeria 0: In the final Group C game, Clint Dempsey scored in the 21st minute off the rebound of Herculez Gomez’s shot. But the goal was called offside by the Belgian referee Frank De Bleeckere. Again, replays indicated Dempsey was in a fair position.

Mexico 2, France 0: In a first-round Group A match, Javier Hernandez ran onto Rafael Marquez’s pass as the France defense stopped, believing Hernandez was offside. He dribbled around goalkeeper Hugo Lloris before guiding the ball home to give Mexico a 1-0 lead in the 64th minute. Television replays showed that Hernandez was in an offside position.

Brazil 3, Ivory Coast 1: In this Group G match Brazil striker Luis Fabiano handled the ball twice as he juggled it past two Ivory Coast defenders before scoring for a 2-0 lead in a 3-1 group win that secured advancement for the Brazilians. The referee later came over and patted his own upper right arm.

Slovakia 3, Italy 2: In this Group F match Fabio Quagliarella thought he scored a late equalizer for Italy — the loss eliminated the defending champions in the group stage — but he was ruled offside by the smallest of margins, a ruling that was disputed by the Italians and appeared to be an error on replays.

Ghana 1, Australia 1: In this Group D match Aussie forward Harry Kewell was sent off in the 24th minute after blocking a goal-bound shot with his upper arm. The arm was pinned against his body, but Swiss referee Roberto Rosetti showed Kewell the red card in the first-round match.

In 1986 World Cup Maradona was coyly evasive and cheeky to describe the handling of the ball in the crucial match against England as “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.” Maradona later said, “I was waiting for my teammates to embrace me, and no one came… I told them, ‘Come hug me, or the referee isn’t going to allow it.’  English felt that they had been cheated out of a possible World Cup victory and the angry British press later coined the phrase “Hand of God”.

Even in this World Cup play off against Ireland, in Paris, last month, saw France striker Thierry Henry’s handling the ball in the buildup to France’s crucial goal that saw the French secure their place in the finals in South Africa. But refereeing bloopers have come to all time high, this 2010 World Cup Final.

Wake up FIFA.

Photo: Courtesy Getty Images

Demise of D.E.M. O’Cracy – Emergency

George FernandesAt the stroke of the midnight hour of 14-15 August, 1947, when the world slept, India awoke to life and freedom. Making this historic announcement, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, dared the people and their leaders: “Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?”

And, at the midnight hour of 25-26 June, 1975, when India slept, his own daughter, Prime Minister Indira Priyadarshini, responded in kind by choking life and extinguishing freedom from this vast subcontinent. President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, upon advice by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, declared a state of emergency under Article 352 of the Constitution of India, effectively bestowing on her the power to rule by decree, suspending elections and civil liberties. Her cabinet ratified the ordinance only the next morning.

According to historian Ramachandra Guha’s book  India after Indira, 12 June, 1975, was an awful day for Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. She awoke to be told that one of her key aides had died. Then she got word that her Congress Party was trailing badly in the state elections in Gujarat. And to top it all that morning Justice Jagmohanlal Sinha of the Allahabad High Court the upheld accusations made by Raj Narain, stripped her of her Lok Sabha seat after holding her guilty of misusing government facilities in the 1971 General Elections and also disqualified her from running in the Lok Sabha elections for next 6 years.

For more than a year the Prime Minister has been besieged by a nation wide movement against her led by her father’s old friend, the veteran Gandhian Jayaprakash Narayan, popularly known as JP, who came out from retirement and lead the sampoorna kranti or Total Revolution movement.On 25th June 1975, a massive rally was held at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi, attended by all major opposition leaders led by JP. Fiery trade union leader, George Fernandes succeeded in organizing a 3 week long railway strike, something unthinkable till then, adding to the troubles from runaway inflation coupled with a food shortage (At its peak, inflation touched 33 percentage). The Indian economy was buckling under a set of other cumulative strains caused by recurrent failure of monsoons, Bangladesh refugee crisis and war with Pakistan, the ensuing termination of aid by the United States, and the international oil crisis following the Arab-Israeli war of 1973. The oil stocks had made a deep dent in the Indian economy and we were rapidly sliding into a balance of payments crisis.

Siddharth Sankar Ray, the then West Bengal Chief Minister, proposed to Indira the imposition of “internal emergency”. He drafted a letter for the President to issue the proclamation on the basis of information Indira Gandhi had received that “there is an imminent danger to the security of India being threatened by internal disturbances”. He showed how democratic freedom could be suspended while remaining within the ambit of the Constitution. Buying into this argument President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed put his signature to the order on promulgation of Emergency that fateful intervening night of 25-26 June, 1975.

These momentous events – 35 years ago this month and the 21 months (25 June, 1975 – 21 March, 1977) that followed, was the darkest period of Indian history. In effect India became a dictatorship. The press was muzzled, civil rights were abolished and tens of thousands of political activists were arrested. According to Amnesty International, 140,000 people had been arrested without trial during the Emergency. Prominent protest leaders like JP, Morarji Desai, Raj Narain, Vijayaraje Scindia, George Fernandes, Lawrence Fernandes, Michael Fernandes, Charan Singh, Biju Patnaik, Chaudhary Devi Lal, Madhu Dandavate, Pramila Dandavate, Jyothi Basu, J. B. Kripalani, Jivatram Kripalani, Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L. K. Advani, Ramakrishna Hegde, Deva Gowda, Chandra Shekar, P.G.R. Sindhia, J. H. Patil, Ramesh Bandagadde, S Venkatram, C.G.K. Reddy, M.S. Apparao, M.P. Veerendra Kumar, Mohan Dharia, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Nitish Kumar, Karunanidhi, T R Baalu, M. K. Stalin, and others were put behind bars.


Many political workers who were not arrested in the first wave, went ‘underground’ continuing organizing protests. While the who is who in the opposition movement from the RSS to the Communists were incarcerated. The only exception was CPI that had extended support to Indira’s emergency.

Interestingly the judiciary, which was accused of the tendency to override the executive in the judiciary–executive battle in the landmark Kesavananda Bharati case, under Chief Justice A. N. Ray, remained a mute spectator the throttling of democracy. Chief Justice A. N. Ray was appointed earlier by Indira Gandhi superseding three more senior Judges – J. M. Shelat, K. S. Hegde and A. N. Grover, who had expressed dissent in the case.

Then there was bold Justice H. R. Khanna, chose to fogo his Chief Justiceship of the Supreme Court rather than undermine judicially the concept of fundamental rights in the famous Habeas Corpus judgement. In an atmosphere where a large number of people had been detained without trial under the repressive Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA), several high courts had given relief to the detainees by accepting their right to habeas corpus as stated in Article 21 of the Indian constitution.

The bench comprising the five seniormost judges was convened to hear the case and they in April 1976 opined, with the majority deciding against habeas corpus. Through their decision Justices A. N. Ray, P. N. Bhagwati, Y. V. Chandrachud, and M.H. Beg, permitted unrestricted powers of detention during emergency.

But Justice Khanna resisted the pressure to concur with this majority view. He wrote in his dissenting opinion: “The Constitution and the laws of India do not permit life and liberty to be at the mercy of the absolute power of the Executive… What is at stake is the rule of law. The question is whether the law speaking through the authority of the court shall be absolutely silenced and rendered mute… detention without trial is an anathema to all those who love personal liberty”.  Because of this dessenting note Justice Khanna  was superseded for the post of Chief Justice of India by Indira Gandhi, despite being the senior-most judge in the Supreme Court.

Emergency also marked both high and low of press freedom and a turning point. While most newspapers scraped and grovelled to accommodate the State during Emergency in an iconic tale of defiance, The Indian Express got away with this message in its obituary column “ O’ Cracy: D.E.M. O’Cracy, bellowed husband of T. Ruth, father of L. I. Berty, father of Faith, Hope and Justice on June 25”.

This ingenious yet sly advertisement designed to escape the censor’s eyes had originally appeared in a Sri Lankan newspaper when emergency was declared in the island country. Another neighbour, Pakistan, who went through birth pangs along with India, had by 1975, had the second coup and was ruled by General Zia-ul Haq then. (And third by General Pervez Musharaff was in 1999).  But unlike its neighbors and the other developing world countries, India was a nation, ill at ease, with Emergency.

It is a comment of sorts on the Emergency and the triumph of D.E.M. O’Cracy and L. I. Berty that Indira Gandhi suffered a humiliating defeat in the 1977 General Election. All the tall leaders of Congress including Indira and S. S. Ray were punished by the electorate. But due to the infighting and miss governance by the Janata Party Government Indira came back to power, spectacularly in 30 months flat although in Vajpayee’s words, ‘she had been consigned to the dustbin of history’.

But, today, the views towards Emergency has undergone a massive change, as shown in the discussions in the ‘neo liberal’ media on the 35th anniversary of declaration of Emergency and the 25th Death anniversary of Indira Gandhi on 31 October last year. A very important reason for this that more than half India’s population is born after 1975. This generation knows little about the Emergency and cares even less. But then the most reassuring point about the Emergency is that it cannot be repeated. We have established huge Constitutional safeguards and the configuration of political forces in India also has hugely changed.

The material fact is that if Indira Gandhi’s Emergency proved anything at all, it established that India would be governed, to the extent it can be governed, democratically or not at all.

Photo Courtesy: Rediff

(While searching for a image for the article realised that there is no enduring image of Emergency except George Fernandes in shackles)

Domenech’s Wagging Finger

Last Sunday I got a text message on my mobile “Latest from FIFA 2010: On Monday, Portugal meet Korea in Cape Town. On Tuesday, Spain meet Italy in Johannesburg and on Wednesday, England meet France at the Airport”.

I really felt it was cruel joke, but the last week showed how increasingly unpredictable this year’s edition of FIFA World Cup has been, with so many upsets at the tournament. With a 1-0 win against Slovenia, Fabio Capello’s England, however, scraped through to the second round. 

But this week saw for the first time both finalists of a preceding World Cup failing to enter the last 16. Italy the defending champions of 2006 edition bowed out of the competition after their 3-2 loss to first–timers, Slovakia. With only 2 points against their name and no wins in their group games, Italy lost in the first round only for the fourth time in the history of World Cup.

However exit of France, the 1998 World Cup Winner and 2006 World Cup Runner Up, was a mutinous disgrace.  After the crushing 2-1 defeat against hosts South Africa, France coach Raymond Domenech said he felt a “genuine sense of sadness” about his teams exist. But Domenech’s refusal to shake the hand of South Africa coach after the game was un-befitting of a coach and has brought the unpopular coach’s six-year reign to a suitably contentious end.

The 58-year-old Domenech, never popular with players or fans since taking over in 2004, has left his job with his reputation at the lowest. (Laurent Blanc was named Domenech’s successor before the tournament even started.) The coach who oversaw the French campaign to the final of the 2006 World Cup also oversaw a catastrophic end to this years campaign, which saw star striker Nicolas Anelka sent home in disgrace after a foul-mouthed triad against him, followed by a players’ strike over the expulsion and finally team’s sponsors abandoning them.

On Tuesday, once the final whistle blew, when South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira began the customary ritual of shaking hands with those around him, offered his hand and a smile, Domenech shook his finger at him and tried to walk away.

But post match, the colourful yet controversial coach refused to discuss the incident. He said despite the rancour in the camp over the past week he had greeted his players, at the end of the match. He praised the players for their efforts. He said no player had refused to play though he made several changes, including dropping Captain Patrick Viera to the bench in  the crucial match. 

The Manchester United defender had been at the center of drama last Sunday, when the squad refused to train at their base in Knysna to protest against the expulsion of Chelsea’s Nicolas Anelka.

Video : Courtesy YouTube

Attitutdes in Professional Life


• I have the most boring job on Earth.

• My boss is too demanding.

• This company needs to pay me more and treat me better.

• I should get more vacation time.

• I always have to do the “grunt work.”

• No one here appreciates me.

• I may have to work with these people around me, but I don’t have to be nice to them.


• I am so thankful to have a job.

• I am going to do my very best every day.

• I believe that God gives me favor every day with my boss.

• I am glad to be part of a team with my coworkers even though none of us are perfect.

• The work environment may not be ideal, but I will do my part to make it pleasant for myself and those around me.

• I am committed to be focused and diligent while I’m on company time.

• I would like a raise, so I will work hard to earn it 🙂 

{Source by Joyce Meyer.}

God of ‘Smaller’ Things

After the marathon meeting at White House with President Barack Obama, the other day, the British Petroleum Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg’s expression of concern for ‘the small people’ of the Gulf of Mexico region though ill phrased, the acceptance of blame, was complete. But in India unfortunately there is no blame or closure for ‘the even smaller people of Bhopal’.

Half a century have passed since the country’s worst industrial disaster in Bhopal which saw a cloud deadly gases explode out of a faulty tank in a pesticide factory owned by Union Carbide, and silently wafted over the sleeping city of Bhopal, killing over 20,000 people within days, and maiming another 5,00,000. The horrific effects of the gas continue to this day.  Thanks to our greedy politicians,  judiciary and bureaucracy, the Bhopal verdict which took almost 26 years to come and the compensation of Rs. 12,412 paid out to the victims, was too little too late. The verdict sparked nationwide anger. To drowse the fire the Government of India has set up a Group of Ministers to go into the same and submit a report tomorrow. Headed by Chidambaram, who at one point in time was rooting for The Dow Chemical Company, the current owners of Union Carbide, has had marathon meetings (even over the week-end) is expected to submit the report tomorrow.

I am also not dwelling into the hurry the Prime Minister has to ask the GoM to submit the report in 10 days. Neither am I expecting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to be firm like President Barack Obama nor to have Dow Chemical Company or Union Carbide bigwigs to hand over their swords like the British Petroleum barons, in a submissive mea culpa. Here is what I believe is needed for ‘closure’ for the Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims and the next generation of Bhopal’s living children – blind, lame, limbs twisted or missing, deaf-mute, brain-damaged, with hare-lips, cleft palates, webbed fingers, cerebral palsy, tumours where should be eyes (still-born are still not recognised as human, unfortunately).

1) Rehabilitation

1. Set up an Empowered Commission on Bhopal with adequate authority and funds to be able to design and implement plans for medical care, training and employment generation, monthly pensions for those in need of support, supply of clean drinking water and protection from poisons in the soil and ground water in and around the abandoned Union Carbide factory. The earlier GoM headed by Mr. Arjun Singh in its meeting on June 11, 2008 has already approved the setting up of the Empowered Commission on Bhopal (ECoB).  The proposal for the ECoB has been approved by several ministries and the Planning Commission.

2. Make good the shortfall in compensation in accordance with the directions of the October 3, 1991 revised order on settlement of the Supreme Court of India. There is documentary evidence to show that the settlement amount of 470 million dollars was not decided on the basis of deaths and injuries caused by the disaster but on the ease with which Union Carbide Corporation could pay the amount from its insurance coverage and special fund. The actual number of people who died and are injured as a result of the disaster is at least five times more than the figures used in arriving at a settlement amount. There is also substantial documentary evidence to show that injuries suffered by claimants were deliberately under assessed so that the overall damage caused by Union Carbide could be tailored down to fit the paltry settlement amount. While exposure related deaths continue to occur to this day, registration of exposure related deaths was stopped, without forwarding any reason or basis, in 1997. I believe that it is still possible to right the wrongs deliberately committed in the distribution of compensation if the Central government summons the necessary political will to do so.

3. Ensure provision of clean drinking water to the residents of the communities within 3 kilometers of the abandoned Union Carbide factory particularly in the North and North-east directions as per Supreme Court order of May 7, 2005. Despite allocation of Rs. 14.12 crores in 2006, due to the negligence of the Madhya Pradesh government in this vital matter, today over 20, 000 people are forced to drink water contaminated with cancer and birth defect causing chemicals and heavy metals and chemicals that cause damage to liver, kidneys, lungs, brain and the skin. The toxic contamination of ground water in these communities has been documented in 12 government and independent studies starting from 1990 and most recently in December 2009 by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Centre for Science and Environment.

4. Ensure excavation and containment of thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste that lie all over the surface in the factory premises and are buried within the factory premises and the Solar Evaporation Landfill 400 meters north of the factory. The safe excavation and containment of hazardous waste will stop the ongoing leaching of toxic chemicals and heavy metals in to the aquifer and prevent further environmental damage.

2) Criminal Liabilities

1. Work out a comprehensive industrial disaster legislation that fixes culpability and provides for a transparent mechanism for disbursement of compensation money in the event of an industrial disaster. Significant deterrents need to be in place to avoid a repeat of a tragedy like Bhopal.

2. Set up a Special Prosecution Cell in the CBI for securing the extradition of the absconding foreign accused and enhancement of sentences against the Indian accused.

3. Send appropriate requests for extradition of authorized representatives of Union Carbide Corporation, USA and Union Carbide Eastern Incorporated, Hong Kong and Warren Anderson. A Prime Minister who could pull of a Nuclear Accord with USA should be able to pull this off too.

4. Ensure execution of summons issued by Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bhopal against authorized representative of The Dow Chemical Company, USA on January 6, 2005. There has been a stay on the execution of summons in the MP High Court for the last 5 years.

5. Ensure that the prosecuting agency inspects the Methyl Isocyante plant in Institute, West Virginia, USA as per order of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Bhopal, on 06 July 1988, to substantiate charges of double standards of design safety.

6. Ensure that the prosecuting agency takes cognizance and criminal action against the sale of Union Carbide patented technology to Reliance Petroleum Limited and other agencies while it is absconding.

7. Ensure that a revision petition is filed by the prosecution against the June 7, 2010 order of the Bhopal, CJM against the Indian accused in the Sessions or the High Court.

8. Ensure that the Central government files a curative petition in the Supreme Court for a revision of the order dated September 13, 1996 that diluted the criminal charges against Indian accused.

3) Environmental Liabilities

1.Pursue the application filed by the Union Government in the High Court of Madhya Pradesh in May 2005 for making The Dow Chemical Company, USA pay Rs. 100 Crores as advance for cleaning up the toxic contamination in and around the abandoned Union Carbide factory. Enforce the appearance of The Dow Chemical Company, USA in the case by piercing the corporate veil and taking action against its Indian subsidiary, Dow Chemical International Private Limited.

2.Ensure safe transportation and disposal of the thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste in hazardous waste treatment facilities in OECD countries.

3.Join the ongoing litigation in the US Federal Court against Union Carbide and others for environmental clean up, payment of compensation for personal and property damages and costs of health monitoring.

4) Action against The Dow Chemical Company

1. Revoke registration for Dursban and three other pesticides registered by payment of bribes by Dow to Agriculture Ministry officials.

a) Revoke the registration of the pesticides registered by payment of bribes.

b) Initiate prosecution against Dow AgroSciences India Ltd and responsible company officials for abetting the commission of the crime of bribe taking by Agricultural Ministry officials, under Section 12 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

c) Prosecute Indian officials including members of the Central Insecticide Registration Board who received the bribe totaling 200 thousand dollars.

2. Revoke approval given to Reliance Industries to purchase absconder Union Carbide Corporation’s trademark UNIPOL (PP) technology through Dow Global Technology Inc.

a) Get CBI to submit application before CJM Bhopal in MJC 91/1992 seeking attachment of licensing and service fees paid by Reliance Petroleum Limited to Dow Global Technology Inc. towards UNIPOL technology.

b) Revoke the approval given to Reliance for licensing UNIPOL

3. Stop all work on Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd-Dow’s joint venture factory in Dahej, Gujarat.

a) Direct FIPB to decline permission to Dow-GACL joint venture, or revoke any such approval if already given.

b) Investigate and take action, including prosecution of GACL-Dow officials for violation of environmental and labour legislations. The plant on which work has begun has no environmental clearance, no Consent to Establish and no permission from the Directorate of Industrial Safety and Hygiene.

The expectation of the suffering people of Bhopal would be to focus on cleaning up and decontaminating the plant site and ensure that systemic shortcomings that brought us to this pass are quickly mitigated. But the tax payers of India, like me, sure hope that this correction is with dough from Dow Chemicals.   

All the Best Prime Minister

Who Betrayed the Bhopal Gas Victims

Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) was established in India, in the year 1934, when Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) became one of the first US companies to invest in the country. UCIL shares were publicly traded on the Calcutta Stock Exchange and the stocks were held by more then 23,000 share holders. UCC held 50.9 percent of the stock and 22 percent owned by government run insurance companies.

 UCIL was a diversified manufacturing company producing batteries, carbon products, welding equipment, plastics, industrial chemicals, pesticides, and marine products, The company was employing approximately 9,000 people and operating 14 plants that were organized in five divisions. The Bhopal plant produced pesticides for use in India, was built in technical collaboration with UCC in the late 1970s.

In 1984, UCIL was celebrating its 50th anniversary and the company’s sales was about $200 million annually. Its parent company, UCC had $9.5 billion in sales, reflecting its position as one of the largest industrial companies in the US and the world. International operations represented nearly 30 percent of its total sales for that year and the Indian operations accounted for less than 2 percent of corporate sales.

UCC as a company had huge clout with the US government, as a generous campaign donor, pushed its way with the Indian Government to manufacture SEVIN, a pesticide which was considered high technology status.

Unfortunately UCC had neither studied the Indian market nor the psychology of the Indian farmer. Sevin was very efficient in large US farms, but not in small patches of land the Indian farmers farmed in India. Insects fleeing from farms treated with Sevin ravaged neighbouring untreated farms. The Indian farmer was also unwilling to switch over to a hazardous pesticide. Moreover, the country faced severe drought and farming was substantially reduced. Stocks began to accumulate in Bhopal, with demand for Sevin not picking up.

The Bhopal plant became sick and beyond redemption which led the parent UCC to impose savage cost-cuts. The critical air-conditioning for methyl isocyanate (MIC) tanks was shut down. Many studies done later clearly revealed that the unwise and imprudent steps taken by UCIL to cut on safety systems. Net result was that across the Bhopal plant, there were signs of neglect and indifference. By 1981 several instances of neglect leading to gas poisoning and deaths had come to notice. A special team sent from UCC also drew pointed attention to several lapses and suggested rectification.

In 1982, Rajkumar Keswani, a local journalist, wrote a series of articles in Hindi titled ‘Bhopal on the edge of a volcano’, predicting that the disaster was waiting to happen. But all these early warnings went unheeded. It was very poor satisfaction for him that he got a young journalist award months after the disaster.

By October 1984, the possibility of dismantling the plant and shipping it to another developing country such as Brazil or Indonesia was considered and abandoned. One important factor which worked against the idea was that the MIC plant was so corroded that it could not be dismantled! A week before the tragedy, a decision was taken to sell the plant to a willing Indian buyer.

Just after midnight on December 3, 1984, a defective valve introduced a large amount of water into one of the MIC holing tanks (Tank 610) causing a massive chemical reaction.  The reaction caused the release of MIC through the relief-valve system. This, in turn, resulted in the Bhopal tragedy, the largest industrial disasters of the World.

On 4 December 1984, on hearing about the gas leak, the US-based Warren Anderson Chairman of UCC had flown down to Mumbai, India. He was arrested on 7 December, 1984 from the Bhopal Airport, four days after the world’s worst industrial disaster. According to reports, Moti Singh the then Bhopal Collector recalled how the Anderson landed at the airport casually with a gas mask in hand. He added that  “Anderson was taken aback when we told him that he was under arrest.” The arrested Anderson spent a few uncomfortable hours in the UCIL’s Research and Development Centre on the picturesque Shymla Hills near Bhopal.

But a couple of hours later, the State and Union Government started treating him like a ‘state guest’ and went the extra mile to make him feel comfortable. Just four hours after his arrest, a magistrate was taken to the Union Carbide guest house. Anderson was granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 25,000 and then he was taken in a police car to the airport where a state owned Cessna plane was waiting to take him to Delhi.

He was flown out of Delhi by a Continental flight to the US not to be seen in India again – I’m trying to be kind here – in an absurd drama enacted to cheat the Indian public. Anderson had been charged with culpable homicide, a charge which was later diluted.

Now that we know the history, here is ‘my charge sheet’ against the ‘mighty’ who betrayed the Bhopal Gas victims in the order of culpability.

Rajiv Gandhi (Prime Minister of India)

 Rajiv Gandhi had become Prime Minister only weeks earlier following Indira Gandhi’s assassination on 31 October, 1984. Reports allege that there was a mysterious call to Arjun Singh, the then Chief Minister of MP from Delhi and was given instructions to go soft on Anderson. Moti Singh, the then Collector too says that there was a call from Delhi to free Anderson.

Once the message reached Arjun Singh, he rushed in and made sure that the authorities treated Anderson well and was released without delay. Considering the haste and urgency with which Arjun Singh acted, it is obvious that the call from Delhi was from the highest authority – the Prime Minister’s Office. No Congress man would want the blame to fall on the Gandhi family and rightfully so as Rajiv was still guided by the chanakya of the Party, Narasimha Rao.

But Rajiv Gandhi must bear ultimate responsibility for allowing the government’s claim for settlement of US$ 3.3 billion from Union Carbide to be whittled down to a paltry US$ 470 million that was eventually paid, in 1989. The Gandhi family also should answer what was the hurry in dropping criminal charges immediately, without taking the victims into confidence and much before the VP Singh Government is sworn in.

Did the Congress Party fight 2 General Elections (1984 and 1989) with Bhopalgate? Who cut the deal both times? Why was there a hurry in dropping criminal charges in 1989?

Arjun Singh (Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh)

 He was the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh when the Bhopal gas tragedy happened on the intervening night of 2-3 December, 1984. He is the fall guy of the Congress Party today, but he has kept a stoic silence. After the initial enthusiasm to arrest the ‘villain of Bhopal’ Arjun Singh suddenly turned around and treated Anderson like a state guest. Unless he had given specific instructions, how could Anderson have got a plane to flee to Delhi and then to the US. On Dec 4th Arjun Singh and Rajiv Gandhi addressed a joint press conference confirming Anderson’s arrest.

Was Anderson the milking cow in the Congress Party’s hands before the General Election of 1984? Was Bhopal tragedy and subsequent electionwin a gateway to Delhi?

 Narasimha Rao (Home Minister, Union of India)

 The chanakya of the Congress Party till he became too ambitious and fell out with Sonia Gandhi, was the Home Minister of India then. He was also the patron saint who used to advice the young inexperienced Rajiv Gandhi when he was in need. With his position in Cabinet the mysterious call from Delhi which prompted Arjun Singh to release Anderson and use government plane to fly out of Bhopal could have originated from the Home Ministers Office rather than the Prime Ministers Office.

Narasimha Rao had also arranged Anderson, a man accused of killing 15,000 people and injuring thousands in the world’s worst industrial disaster, a meeting with him at the North Block as well as meeting with the then President Giani Zail Singh once he landed in Delhi.

Also Rao controlled the actions of the CBI, which operates under the Home Minister and later as the Prime Minister of India during the crutial phases of the Bhopal Investigation. 

Under whose authority did Anderson step into the Rashtrapathi Bhavan and had tea with the President? What deal was cut by the Home Minister that day? How much was milked from Union Carbide?  Was that the funds for fighting the General Elections?

Ministry of Law & Justice, Union of India

By 7 December 1984 the first multi-billion dollar lawsuit was filed by an American attorney in a U.S. court.  But in March 1985, to the detriment of the victims of the largest Industrial tragedy in the World the Ministry of Law & Justice of India enacted the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act in the guise of ensuring that claims arising from the accident would be dealt with speedily and equitably and to protect the victims from hundreds of ‘ambulance chasers’ from the US who descended on Delhi and Bhopal.

The Act, made the Government of India the sole trustee of the victims in legal proceedings both within and outside India. On 14 January 1987 , the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a decision by the US District Court to send the legal case against UCC to India and reaffirmed that UCIL, which operated the Bhopal plant, was a separate and independent legal entity that was managed and staffed by Indian citizens. So this Act eventually led to taking out all cases against UCC out of the US legal system and placed entirely under Indian jurisdiction with a rider that both the companies were separate entities.

Why was sole trustee hoax thrusted on the Bhopal Gas victims? Was the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act intended to speedy and equitable resolution of claims?  Why did India not contest ‘the separate and independent legal entity’ verdict of the US Courts?

Justice A H Ahmadi

It was Justice A H Ahmadi who in 1996 ruled that vicarious criminal liability was unknown to criminal law; meaning, legally, UCC was not liable for the acts of its subsidiary, UCIL. Ahmadi’s legalism helped the UCC to get away by handing petty sums to the tragedy victims and reducing the criminal charges from Section 304, Part II – culpable homicide – that would have attracted 10 years in jail to that of Section 304A – causing death due to negligence – that could attract just 2 years in jail for killing over 15,000 people and miming about 5,00,000 people.

Justice Ahmadi, is now the Chairman of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) which was set up on Supreme Court’s direction with money given by Union Carbide. The BMHRC, which was opened to public in 2001,  is another sham, as now 5 of its 16 departments had been closed down and around 300 staffers, including doctors, had left it for various reasons.

Why was UCC let of hook by Justice Ahmadi? Isn’t it judicial impropriety to become the Chairman of the trust funded by UCC? Why the charge of culpable homicide not slapped on Anderson to ensure that he was extradited to India?

 The Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court directed the final settlement of all litigation in the amount of US$ 470 million to be paid by 31 March, 1989. The UCC accepted moral responsibility and settled all liabilities related to the accident, including cleaning up the site, with a $470 million out-of-court settlement with the Union Government.

Both the Indian Government and UCC accepted the court’s direction for payment of US$ 470 million. In May, 1989 the SC offered its rationale for the settlement. It stated that the compensation was higher than ordinarily payable under Indian law. But what missed the Supreme Courts eyes was that upon announcing this settlement, shares of UCC rose $2 per share or 7% in value.

The Bhopal Gas Tragedy was a catastrophe that has no parallel in industrial history but our judges overlooked conveniently. Did the honourable Judges pay any attention to international law? In the same year 1989 Exxon Valdez spilled 10.8 million gallons of crude oil in the waters near Alaska. Exxon had to shell out US$ 5 billion for a disaster in which no human lives were lost!

Why was there a huge gap between 3.3 billion US$ claimed by the government, and 470 million US$ received by it? Why did the Court take up the responsibility of negotiation rather than fix culpability? What was the amount pocketed by politicians?

The Central Bureau of Investigation

The CBI has always been used by the political bosses to meet their end. On 6 Dec 1984 the Bhopal Gas Tragedy case was handed over to the CBI. Under the Home Ministry the CBI could only endorse what Narasimha Rao the then Home Minster instructed. On 30 November, 1987, CBI filed chargesheet against Anderson, UCIL Chairman Keshub Mahindra and 7 others. The charges included culpuble homicide.

The CBI also failed to persue Anderson after 2 warrants were issued against him. The first court warrant was issued in 1992 and the second in 2009. The CBI had even failed to give any written response to the second warrant but met Chief Judicial Magistrate Mohan P Tiwari and orally conveyed to him that for the agency, Anderson’s case had been closed.

B R Lall, the former Joint Director of CBI and the officer investigating the case in 1995 when Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister, has openly come out and claimed that it was the Ministry of External Affairs that had written to the CBI asking them not to pursue Anderson’s extradition.  

K Vijay Rama Rao, the CB Director in 1995, J S Bawa CBI Director in 1984 and Joginder Singh, CBI Director who handled the case in the wake of the Supreme Court’s watering down the charges against the gas tragedy accused in 1996  has much to answer as the premier investigating agency which probed the tragedy did not question Anderson even once (in person or in writing or through other legal methods).  

Why did CBI not give in writing that the Anderson case was dropped as far as the agency is concerned? Who prevented CBI from questioning Anderson before filing of charges? Was it Washington pressure that led India to let Anderson off the hook? Why did the CBI not apppeal when Justice Ahmedi decided to drop charges?

The Indian Council of Medical Research 

The ICMR was entrusted to study the long terms effects of the gas tragedy initially put the estimate to 8,000-10,000 deaths, which grossly understated the tragedy. But during the settlement in 1989 another figure was used only 3,000 people died and 1,02,000 suffered permanent disabilities’. But, the actual casualties were five times more — 5,54,895 survivors and relatives of 15,310 dead. In another study commissioned by ICMR in 1994, the estimates were revised to 25,000 deaths, from gas-related diseases. But N R Bhandari, a principal investigator for the ICMR in 5 out of 20 projects commissioned, says the government has suppressed, and never fully published the data.

There is evidence that, on 3 December 1984 at the time of the disaster, the storage tank temperature was 200°. MIC when exposed to this level of heat forms degraded MIC that contains the more deadly hydrogen cyanide (HCN). Doctors say that some of the patients of the gas tragedy responded to anti-cyanide therapy. Initially UCC also recommended anti-cyanide therapy, but withdrew the recommendation later as an afterthought.

Why was a second study commissioned in 1994 much after the settlement in 1989? Why was ICMR not given permission by to publish the data ? Why was UCC allowed to manipulate, obfuscate and withhold scientific data of the disaster? Why was Cyanide poisoning evidence (‘cherry-red colour of blood and viscera’) not investigated? Why did the government’s own medical evidence work against the gas victims?

Dow Chemical Company

In February 2001, Dow Chemical Company, another US multinational acquired UCC for $11.6 billion, and made UCC a subsidiary. But Dow claims that in 1994 UCC sold its Indian subsidiary UCIL, which had operated the Bhopal plant and subsequently UCIL changed its name to Eveready Industries India Ltd. Legally and morally Dow has a huge liability, on hand for cleaning the Bhopal factory, which has been lying in an ‘as-was-where-was’ state since the tragedy, but Dow claims otherwise. The remaining toxic stocks continue to leak and seep into subsoil threatening the life of future generations of Bhopal.

 This is the same company Chidambaram and Kamal Nath lobbied for with the government to write off the compensation for Bhopal victims due from it, in return for promised foreign investment. Abhishek Singhvi the Congress Party spokesman has been pleading as legal counsel for Dow. Funny as it may sound all the 3 claims that there is no conflict of interest.

 In 2001 when asked about possible Bhopal claims, Jon Musser, Dow PR, said, “It won’t ever happen.” How confident. Another Dow PR official, Kathy Hunt, said, “$500 (compensation) is plenty for an Indian.” How arrogant.

What is the reason for this arrogance and confidence of Dow officials? Why is our political leaders so openly courting Dow Chemical? How can Dow claim it has no liability? Where is Confederation of Indian Industry and Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry?  Way are our Industry bodies silent in light of the worst industrial disaster of the world?

Brahma Swaroop, (Madhya Pradesh Chief Secretary)

Brahma Swaroop, the then Madhya Pradesh Chief Secretary. He allegedly called up the Collector to inform him that a plane was waiting at the airport for Anderson to be taken to Delhi. Moti Singh, the then Collector claims “The chief secretary summoned me to his chamber in secretariat and said that Mr Anderson was to be released and sent to Delhi by a plane which was awaiting him at the airport,”

Will Swaroop tell the nation under whose instructions did he call the collector? How could instruct the Collector to grand bail to Anderson who was arrested on a non-bailable offence on a case on which Madhya Pradesh government had no jurisdiction having issued a notification to hand over the case to CBI on 4 Dec 1984 itself?

Soraj Puri (Madhya Pradesh Superintend of Police)

Instead of following the rule of law and buckling under pressure from his political bosses, he along with the Bhopal Collector escorted Anderson to the Bhopal Airport. His own officers had booked Anderson immediate after his arrest on 7 December 2010 under IPC Section 304, Part II – culpable homicide – that would have attracted 10 years in jail.

Who gave Soraj Puri the authority to grand bail to Anderson when Madhya Pradesh police had no jurisdiction as the CBI had already taken up the case ? How could he grand bail for a non-bailable offence?

Moti Singh (Bhopal District Collector)

Moti Singh, the Bhopal Collector, is the only one who has come out in the open. But he is on a holier than thou mode. He says he was just following instructions and he never questioned his boss,  Brahma Swaroop, Chief Secretary because “he was a man of few words and would not have liked it.”

How could he grand bail to Anderson who was arrested on a non-bailable offence? Did the court/magistrate go to the Union Carbide guest house on 7 December, 1984 to grant bail to Anderson?

British Petroleum is not an American Company and that doesn’t stop President of United States of America, Barak Obama from cracking the whip at them.

Where are our whips?

Though I think we should only self flagellate first. So, instead of chasing Anderson, let men of few words and others – the Congress Party, the district magistrate, the officers who investigated the Bhopal Gas case, the CBI, the Pollution Control Board, the CII, the FICI and the CAG come out in the open. Like in the days of kings and queens, let the traitors be tried first, not Anderson. Traitors can let down the nation many times, criminals like Anderson only once.

Recommended Reading – Copyright 2005 Broughton; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. – Copyright Gurumurthy; Indian Express South Ltd. Copyright Author

The Oil Spill

The Best Video on the Oil Spill

And the Best Joke

British Petroleum officials are now saying that the campaign to clean it up could last till fall.

You know why it’s called a campaign?

Because it’s like an election: it’s dirty, it’s slimy, it never seems to end. ~ Jay Leno

While I empathise with the whole situation in the Gulf of Mexico, am kind of tired of American hypocrisy and double standards.