Monday, July 10, 2006

ek sham bhopali shayari ke naam

Ek Sham Bhopal Ki Shayari Ke Naam'

BHOPAL: The Directorate of Archeology, Maulana National Institute of Technology and Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) would jointly organise a programme " Ek Sham Bhopal Ki Shayari Ke Naam" at Gauhar Mahal, on Monday evening.

The well-known Gajhal singers would recite the selected poems of some noted Urdu poets. Prominent among those who would recite the Gajhals include Ms Kirti Sood, Julfikar Ali, Sanjay Mehta, Umesh Dharmesh, Ms Nupur ,Ms Anupama, Vivek Sharma, Sarfaraj, Ms Tisa Sharma, Ms Asma Mannan, Amarjeet, Harsh, Badal, Rahimuddin, Nirmal, Suraj Prakash and Udai Atrolia.

The Gauhar Mahal would again resound with Gajhals and remind people the old days when there Gajhal programmes are a usual phenomena. The Navabs of Bhopals over the years emerged as enthusiastic patrons of literature, and many literary luminaries from other parts of the country were invited in Bhopal.While Rafat, Miskeen, Ghulam Zamin, Mirza Shaghil Dehlvi, Niaz Fatehpuri graced the city for a long period.

Friday, July 07, 2006

bhopali char bait

7/7/2006 12:58 AM

As varied is the natural beauty of Madhya Pradesh so is its art and culture. Madhya Pradesh is a cauldron of diverse cultures as it has been home to Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Muslims and various tribes. These people have their own folklores, songs, dances, dramas which add to the cultural heritage of India.

Folklore may be defined as roughly comprising the oral-traditional component of culture, complementary or competitive with an official, canonical "written" culture, but this definition presents certain problems.

In India in the 20th century, as in Afghanistan & Persia until recently, a predominantly oral culture has long mingled with an established, elaborate literary tradition, both religious and secular, including prose and verse forms of verbal art. Additionally, most forms of traditional technical knowledge, as well as values, customs and beliefs in daily life, are primarily mediated orally (e.g. in proverbs and aphorisms) and by shared social practice and formal and informal apprenticeships, rather than by documents.

Traditional formal education, purveying various forms of reading and writing competence, is or was also heavily dependent on oral memory techniques; thus, what might be deemed "folklore" or oral tradition is pervasive in daily life and implicated in literary practices.

In Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh state an distinguished form of folklore exists – “CHAR BAIT” which is known to be the long-forgotten ancient poetic genre, a rare performance of an archaic form of qawwali within groups of Bhopal. However, this form has impression of Moslem or Islamic culture including, Arabic, Persian & Urdu languages. But as we all know Bhopal has its own style & own form of dialect called as Bhopali.

Oral and literary traditions may both depend on and support one another, with much overlap in form and content. Some written forms, such as Rubayi and Dastan, have clear oral analogues or co-traditions; in the case of Rubayi, the corresponding oral form, called Char-Bait in Urdu or Bhopali dialect (or Afghan Persian (Dari) language – earlier it was in existence now only urdu), or Do-Bait by literary observers, is an epigrammatic quatrain, usually rhyming reflection, but operating with a stress meter system rather than the quantitative meter of the literary quatrain.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Monsoon-like showers in Madhya Pradesh

Monsoon-like showers in Madhya Pradesh

May 28, 2006
Bhopal, May 25 Though the rainy season has yet to begin in Madhya Pradesh, monsoon-like showers in the state capital rendered ineffective the 'Nautapa' - a period of supposedly extreme summer heat.

Day temperature dipped in other stations as well. A meteorological department official said squalls plus rain would continue for two or three days and in some places a weather warning was issued.

In Bhopal, clouds darkened the skies in the latter part of the day and a windy downpour lasted an hour.

The city recorded a high of 34.9 deg C, four notches below normal, while overnight precipitation was 3 cm.

Day temperature ranged between 32-38 C in other stations while the 'Nautapa' days usually witness the mercury shooting past 43 C.

The cantonment town of Jabalpur was the coolest at 32 C, ten marks below normal, and Sheopur was the hottest at 43 C.

The wet spell is likely to continue for two or three days in Madhya Pradesh due to the influence of upper air cyclonic circulating over coastal Orissa.

Precipitation was recorded in almost all parts of the state over the past 10 days. Life was thrown off kilter at several stations owing to squalls and brief downpours.

Regional Meteorological Centre Director D P Dubey said the circulation was causing showers in Orissa and neighbouring Chhattisgarh as well. "Squalls accompanied by rain are likely to continue over the next two to three days in this state, especially the southern parts," he added.

Lightning hits DD tower

TV broadcasts were briefly obstructed this evening after the Bhopal DD Kendra's transmission tower, on Shyamla Hills, was struck by lightning. "Some equipment got charred," said Superintending Engineer S R Chouhan. "The broadcast was obstructed between 1730-1750 hrs on DD One and between 1732-1813 hrs on the regional circuit."

No heat during 'Nautapa'

The first day of 'Nautapa'- or nine days of extreme heat - remained cool on Thursday due to overcast sky and strong winds.

Unseasonal rains during the last few days have already brought down temperatures and the sun which emerged from the clouds only for brief periods could not unleash its heat.

This has been intrpreted by weather experts and astrologers as a clear sign that this year the monsoon will be weak.

They aver that extreme heat during 'Nau Tapa' is the harbinger of a good monsoon and when 'Nau Tapa' is disturbed or rainfall is recorded during this period the chances of a normal monsoon dwindle.

People in picnic mood

The continuing rainy spell during the sizzling month of May has unexpectedly made the weather pleasant and people who were suffering in the scorching heat are taking this opportunity to enjoy themselves.

An increased number of visitors can been seen at the Boat Club, Van Vihar Zoo and picnic spots and parks in the city. Normally during the nautapa hardly anybody dares venture out of his house at noon. But nowadays at midday the parks are full of people.

The pleasant change in the weather has also brought much relief to the denizens of Van Vihar. The animals that look clumsy and tired during the hot spell are once again lively and active, much to the delight of the National Park visitors.

Tough for slum dwellers

Unseasonal rains during the last five days, have turned several low-lying slum areas in the city into waterlogged quagmires. The thatch of many slum houses has been blown off by gales and the houses have become roofless.

Many slum dwellers had their possessions damaged as water entered their shanties. The residents of these slum are also finding it hard to move about through the water and mud.

Relief for farmers

Agriculturists are advising farmers to take advantage of the unseasonal rainy spell. The moisture will aid farmers in preparing their fields for the next crop. They can also turn their lands to raising green fodder for their cattle. Director of Agriculture R S Manral, said that the unseasonal rainfall was a gift of God for farmers.

He said the fall in temperature would help farmers plough their fields to make them more fertile. The herbs that have sprung up due to the rains would also boost the fertility of the fields.

This is the ideal time for growing fodder for animals, he averred. Fodder crops that can be sown in this period include Jowar, Maize and Lobia.

Does 'Nautapa' rain result in a poor monsoon?

When it rains during 'Nautapa' - nine days of extreme summer heat - people are often worried about whether the monsoon will be healthy but meteorological department statistics reveal that such precipitation has no effect whatsoever on the rainy season.

If Varahamihira's Brihat Samhita - the ancient Indian astrological treatise - is to be trusted, 'Nautapa' is just a natural process. "During this period, the Sun enters the constellation of Rohini," says astrologer Sunil Joshi Junnarkar. The earth's heating up to ferocious levels during 'Nautapa' apparently ensures a healthy monsoon. If it rains during these nine days, claims Junnarkar, the year's monsoon will to be weak.

A look at the last decade's statistics reveals that this has not always been true. Madhya Pradesh's average precipitation is about 800 mm.

In 1996, which witnessed a dry 'Nautapa' from May 24 to June 1, 992.7 mm rainfall was recorded. The following year, the mercury shot up to 43.7 deg C in May but it showered on six of the 'Nautapa' days. Lo and behold the state received 817.8 mm of monsoon precipitation.

Cut to 1998 - a dry 'Nautapa' and 857.5 mm. The subsequent year saw two wet days between May 20-28 and the total rain recorded until September was 832.4 mm.

In 2000, the last day of 'Nautapa' was graced by a drizzle and subsequent rainfall was 419.5 mm. The following year saw three days' showers in 'Nautapa', precipitation measuring 775.5 mm followed. Five days' precipitation during the 2002 'Nautapa' led to only 440.4 mm of rain.

The following year's 'Nautapa' was dry but the rain god wasn't pleased and only 584.8 mm showered on the state.

The 2004 figures were three days' rain and 599.3 mm of monsoon. Last year, the mercury soared to a record 44.9 C on May 25. But the monsoon recorded only 548.2 mm.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Thinking about Bhopal in the Era of Globalization

by: Jasper Vikas George

2004 is the twentieth anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster. Twenty years is a very long time. For the victims of the disaster, twenty years has also been a very hard time. But, for the rest of the world, it is time to start asking hard and difficult questions: questions not only about Union Carbide and Corporations, but also about our own lives.

Like high-altitude bombers, ultimate decision makers in the Global Village rarely need be confronted by the consequences of their actions or inactions.
- Jan Knippers Black

2004 is the twentieth anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster. Twenty years is a very long time. For the victims of the disaster, twenty years has also been a very hard time. But, for the rest of the world, it is time to start asking hard and difficult questions: questions not only about Union Carbide and Corporations, but also about our own lives. It is time to ask ourselves: What is it that we want? How do we want to live? How do we live our lives? What is our contribution to Bhopal? How does Bhopal figure in the choices we make? What does Bhopal mean in this era of globalization?

In 1991, under the Narasimha Rao government, India enlisted the support of the World Bank to get out of a major financial crisis. The World Bank offered aid. In return, India was asked to allow foreign investment. Under the directives of the World Bank and IMF, the finance minister, Manmohan Singh, introduced reforms that attracted foreign investment and liberalized the economy. Once India had complied with the demands of the World Bank and IMF, decision making moved out of communities and regions to New Delhi, from New Delhi to Washington D.C. and Geneva, and from there to the headquarters of transnational corporations.

In the last decade, global corporations have found India a viable market only because of
1. cheap labor costs
2. weak environmental and public health protections
3. a huge consumer market
4. a large commodity base where everything is up for sale - water, grain, turmeric, land, people, and even accents

And thus, a new era of globalization, consumerism and commodification has begun.

The prime rationale advanced for globalization is the economic advancement of the societies that participate in it. But the reality is that it is only about the advancement of select societies and groups; an advancement controlled largely by corporations. It is this reality that the former Indian President R. K. Narayan warned of during his Republic Day speech as he pointed to the growing gap between the rich and the poor. That gap continues to widen.

But corporate control is not a phenomenon of the 90s. You can trace it to the Green Revolution in the 1960s when multi national companies promised the “Third World” a “better” future. In 1961, Union Carbide, as a "partner in progress" in the Green Revolution offered to “build a new India.” When its pesticide plant resulted in the gas disaster, the corporation walked away unaccountable for its actions. The major change that has occurred since the 60s is that multi national corporations are now transnational corporations, which also means that they are not responsible for any mishap that occurs outside the “national” base. Even today, there is no international body to hold corporations responsible for abuse or misconduct. Seen only for the market value, Wall Street followed the case against Union Carbide very carefully and the day the settlement was announced, Union Carbide's stock price rose. And with its merger with DOW in 2000, it has become one of the world’s biggest chemical industries, sending out a very clear message – while corporations have the rights and responsibilities of “a legal person,” they have greater value and protection than people themselves. For twenty long years, the victims of the gas disaster have relentlessly fought for justice.

The tragedy has sparked a debate about the work ethics of corporations whose every move is directed at enhancing profit. Satinath Sarangi, a Bhopal activist, says India has learnt very little from the tragedy. If there are any lessons that have been learnt from the disaster they are lessons of management of consequences and not prevention, with legislative adjustments made to absolve industries of corporate responsibility. Over the last decade, in this “free market enterprise,” the government of India has been promoting investments by transnational corporations, particularly U.S. based corporations. All those who are unquestioning devotees of the “free market” should take a good look at how free market zones really function. How is it that governments adopt neoliberal economic policies giving transnational corporations a big leeway, allowing them to act independently with no question of liability? As Eric Schossler explains, “the free market always seeks a work force that is hungry desperate and cheap. A work force that is anything but free" (Reefer Madness). And, the “free market” is about winners and losers. “Winners” refer to economies in the geographic South that have emerged/are emerging as strong competitors in the global market. “Losers”, on the other hand, are not confined to national economies alone, but include a broader range of economic sectors, groups of people, or regions within countries, that have become/remained poor and marginalized. Bhopal is an example of a “loser” in the “free trade” world order. But, the winner is not just Union Carbide. The winner is the New World Order - the way in which people’s lives are dictated by the global market.

When "globalization" and "liberalization" became buzz words, India started churning out even more engineers to create a solid work force for the software industry. It cannot be denied that a whole new job market has been created by transnational corporations. Transnational corporations have worked for the rich. Managers and executives earn first world salaries. They have worked specially for those in the software industry creating a new ‘upper middle class software’ group. But, the fact is that there is a large group outside this "growth" equation. The average worker still does not get more than $400 a year. The globalization rhetoric counts only those who can be measured in a value system within a framework of market place economics. “Development” is always measured in monetary terms and the labor of a particular economic group is ignored and unaccounted for in the calculation of the country's GDP. What of this group that exists outside this market place? With 350 million people living below the poverty line, what does this kind of poverty mean? What does it mean to know that most of the Bhopal gas victims who lived in the vicinity of the Union Carbide plant lived within that poverty line? The slums around the railway stations metropolitan cities have gotten bigger, but it is an easy sight to ignore because we can literally fly past them. What does it mean to understand that our mobility is possible only at the expense of another's immobility? That our choices are almost always at the expense of others?

Today, in this “business” of development, poor women and Dalits specially, have lost out in the game. Looking at labor structures, P.Sainath says, there are 63 million female workers in India. Of these, 45% are agricultural laborers and around 67% of the female agricultural laborers are Dalits. These women are paid only half of what men are paid and with little or no control over resources or land, they have no means to bargain for fair wages. The Dalits are at an even lower pay scale (Visible work, Invisible Women). What does globalization mean for these women and communities? What does opening the market and offering different opportunities mean to poor women who finish all their household chores and go to work for a transnational corporation? That they who have always been viewed as a cheap source of labor, are now toiling not only for the well being of their families or communities but for the growth of a corporation and people in another continent? The cost to these women is really not one of changing occupations but of changing ownerships which ultimately means they are exploited further by more laws, policies, norms and conditions that they again had no say in creating. Many Indians think that a nation's primary responsibility is to become prosperous. It is not that it is an inconsequential thought, but the question is: Prosperous at whose expense?

The Narmada Dam is being built at the cost of the people living in the Valley. Luharia who lives in the Narmada Valley says "it doesn't matter what happens to us because we are Adivasis, we are the expendable group, we are the human cost of development." When the most peaceful democratic struggle of the largest people’s movement in the world – the NBA – failed, it signifies not a failure of the organization but the failure of the majority that did not care, the failure of people who believe that lives of others are expendable for the “greater common good,” the failure of Indians who have yet to respect life, who have yet to understand the right to self-determination, who have yet to know what it means to fight for twenty years of one’s life.

So, Bhopal, I believe is not just a question of corporate responsibility. It’s also a question of social responsibility. When we examine and question why Bhopal really happened, the questions should at this point be directed at ourselves. What in my attitude and behavior created this situation? Because in the final analysis, every corporation is nothing but an amoral transformation of a resource for a market. Our own part in the enabling and creation of these three key words, the transformation, the resource and the market should not go unexamined. Questioning our lives, lifestyles, our decisions and changing our individual contributions is the first act of social change.

Democracy doesn't work without citizen activism and participation, starting at the community. Trickle down politics doesn't work much better than trickle down economics. It's also a fact that civilization happens because we don't leave things to other people. What's right and good doesn't come naturally. You have to stand up and fight for it – as if the cause depends on you, because it does. Allow yourself that conceit - to believe that the flame of democracy will never go out as long as there's one candle in your hand.
- Bill Moyers

The end note…

I thank Sanat Mohanty for reading, commenting and taking this conversation online. gives details, information and updates about Bhopal.

To understand the Narmada Dam argument, the Friends of River Narmada site is a good place to start.

In the recent elections (May 2004) in India, the votes that upset governments that had catered only to the upper class, has ironically resulted in Manmohan Singh, the man who introduced neo-liberal policies into the country, becoming the Prime Minister of India. Maybe the past 13 years has given him the time to think about the direction the economic policies have taken the country. Though Singh is still very gung-ho about India being a major market force: "No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come. The emergence of India as a major global economic power happens to be one such idea whose time has come," he promises that now economic reforms will continue with a "human face" – “I will build new opportunities for the poor and downtrodden to participate in the economic process."

A disturbing fact in the election results is that the stock markets crashed because the Left emerged as a strong force. The present Indian government is a coalition government with the Left as an ally. The fear was that neo-liberal policies would face even greater opposition, that “trade” across borders would be affected, and “privatization” would not happen. After taking office, the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, assuaged the fears of the likes of Wall Street and said that he had “no problem in dealing with the communists and had great faith in their inherent patriotism.” The question is: Since when has patriotism come to be defined by the market and political affiliations? We have come to link conservatism and neo-liberal policies with nationalism and every “liberal” and “left inclined” is faced with this question of patriotism. As Sanat Mohanty says, “being political has become defined best as engaging in access to economic resources or policies of modes and production and distribution and the role of an individual is largely tied to activities of production, distribution, services and consumption. One is no longer human; economic reality has reduced us to homo economicus.”

On “privatization” the Prime Minister has said that the new government will pursue a "selective approach" - "Wherever privatization is in the national interest, it will be carried out."

While the focus in this piece is largely on India, the questions do not exclude the rest of the world. Our lives are interdependent. We have interdependent economies, markets and governments, and policy decisions no longer have only a localized effect. I believe it is important to understand how markets and people have come to be defined as poorer or richer than others, if we are to understand how our lives are what they are.

The more we take, the less we become
A fortune of one that means less for some
– Song “World on Fire”

This piece was a talk delivered by the author, Pavithra Narayanan, at the Bhopal Solidarity Meeting on Feb 21st, 2004 at the University of Cincinnati, OH, organized by AID-Cincinnati. She also examines Bhopal within a globalization discourse in her film "India and Free Trade: A Closer Look at Bhopal." Pavithra is an Assistant Professor of English/Film/Women’s Studies and can be reached by e-mail at

by Comments:shirish


The concept of globalisation is not a new concept. it is a old wine in a new bottle. The tools of influence has been changed completely but, the dynamism of this concept lead it to the equivalent of welfare state.

The attempt of the capitalists to made this world the "dollar world" is not eventually completely successful due to some incidents which we can not forget. Bhopat tragedy will always remind us the complete failure of the indian judiciary system and strong hold of the capitalists over the Indian economy and policy as such.

The welfare state concept needs more wings to fly. So, that in near future, the Tragedys like Bhopal should not be repeated every where in this world. The corporate social responsibility expanded its arms and included in it the concept of welfare state where the capitalists will not be above the general citizens of the state

Modern Dance in India has a relatively short history. Since the perception of 'modern' or 'contemporary' can vary from dancer to dancer, this dance form cannot be defined as easily as the classical dance styles of India. It is also not codified in a detailed manner, as are the classical styles.

Uday Shankar, who was born in the early years of the 20th century, is widely accepted as the Father of Modern Dance in India. This great dancer had a very wide vision, and he appreciated the wonderful variety and scope of expression afforded by the different classical and folk dances extant in the country.

His search for a personal expression led him to incorporate different dance styles, such as Bharata Natyam and Kathakali into his choreographic productions. He established an idyllic institution in the hills of Kumaon, where he invited teachers from different genres to train his troupe in order to groom their bodies to a state where they could produce a varied, rich and contemporary dance vocabulary. Uday Shankar was an idealist as well as a wonderful showman. He was a catalyst in the renaissance of interest in Indian arts during the 1930s and '40s, and he introduced audiences in the West to Indian dance and music through the performances of his troupe.

Some of Uday Shankar's famous works include the innovative ballet, 'Labour and Machinery' and a path breaking film, 'Kalpana,' on the theme of dance.

The institute established by Uday Shankar is now defunct, but his legacy survives in the work of his children and his many disciples, who have their own troupes and students. Today, in addition to the line established by Uday Shankar, there are other practitioners of Modern Dance in India who belong to other schools.

More recently, Dr Manjushree Chaki-Sarkar created a dance idiom which she called Nava Nrityam. With her daughter Ranjabati Sarkar and their troupe based in Calcutta she did a great deal of research and codification of the dance style and presented a large number of choreographic productions. The untimely death of Ranjabati and of her mother Manjushree Chaki-Sarkar was a tragic loss for the world of contemporary dance.

With growing interaction between dance practitioners all over the country and the world, and awareness of important contemporary issues, many classical dancers have also stepped into the realm of contemporary dance through exploration of one or many dance styles. Often martial arts such as Kalaraipayattu of Kerala and Chhau of eastern India are incorporated into dance choreography, lending greater vigour and variety to the artistic expression.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

bharat bhavan and b.v.karanth

Baba Karanth as I did not know him...


I met B.V. Karanth only once. I was working as a TV reporter and needed a soundbite on the dramatic reception of Shakespeare in India. It was a summer afternoon in Delhi and he was rehearsing with the Sriram Centre Repertory at their basement studio.

He wondered whether my request for a brief interview was to be just another commercial product that used him in or for a film. He must have acquiesced to such requests a hundred times, no questions asked. But this time he asked me what he would gain from talking to me.

I am convinced that had I not chased him out of a rehearsal, the one thing he did not like, he would never have asked me that question. For the ability to give selflessly and devote his entire life tirelessly to his work was his defining trait. One of India’s greatest theatre personalities, and one of its finest musicians, B.V. Karanth died last month, largely unmourned.

Karanth came to NSD through the most circuitous of routes, and joined it at a time (in 1966, I think) when a young Ibrahim Alkazi was securing the future of his baby — the National School of Drama — with a spate of dazzling productions. He was born in a Karnataka village and had run away at a tender age with a Nautanki company, so much was he in love with theatre.

This reminds you of the protagonist in Maare Gaye Gulfaam, a Renu short story. Later, he joined a Yakshagana company. Yakshagana is a Karnataka theatre form that brought the chorus, music and acting together to create magic. At 18, he joined Benaras Hindu University and achieved degrees in Hindi and Sanskrit. He topped this up by training under Alkazi and was thus uniquely at home in two vastly different theatrical cultures.

His other unique quality lay in his utter otherworldliness, a trait Barry John, the well-known theatre personality, who had worked with him in 1977, testifies to. Karanth, John points out, was uneasy with power.

‘He poured his life into his work. He breathed theatre in all senses: language, music, learning and humility. And he always found time to work with children, from the beginning to the end of his life,’ says John. Karanth was in the mould of Ustad Rashid Khan, who once responded to President Radhakrishnan’s query as to what should be done to improve classical music. Replied the ustad, ‘Please do something about Raag Darbari. It is a beautiful raga and upstarts have begun to sing it in all kinds of ways.’

John, who had also worked at Bharat Bhavan — an institution Karnad headed in the early eighties — recalls to this day the music of every production he did. It left a greater impact on the audience than the plays themselves. In addition, Karanth, with his training in Sanskrit, did a breathtaking Urdu translation of Grirish Karnad’s Tughlaq.

Indeed I know that text, for I have already directed it twice and can attest to its majesty. John believes Karanth was Alkazi’s alter ego, and the two together straddle the entire spectrum of Hindustani theatre.

I had seen Karanth a number of times at Delhi’s Mandi House and he was distinctly disorderly in his appearance. He seemed to have poured all the order and shape in his personality into his work. ‘There are clear lines of form in his work,’ says John. Unfortunately, Karanth has left few documents behind to signify his greatness. But his devotion to theatre finds an echo in the work of all those who knew him. He also continues to live in their hearts. That is true greatness indeed.

Monday, July 03, 2006


By now, we're all aware of Ram Gopal Varma's grandiose plans to remake Ramesh Sippy's Sholay, the king among Indian blockbusters.
Here's a quick look at the new actors to step into the shoes of the legendary characters.

Soorma Bhopali: From Jagdeep to Rajpal Yadav
This is a terrific decision, an inspired choice that leads us to say that the new Soorma Bhopali will probably supersede the classic.

Verdict: With due respect to comic icon Jagdeep, Rajpal is one of today's finest actors, and brings a breath of fresh air to even the most hackneyed of his scenes.

With an irresistibly funny character such as this, Rajpal has lots of room to soar. Hilarity is guaranteed.

Stay tuned for more casting announcements.

physical transformation Bhopal

Historic Cities are increasingly being seen as ‘cultural landscapes’ emerging out of the Human-Environment interaction, and not solely as collections of isolated physical entities. This brings into focus what the ‘practice theorists’ emphasise with regard to the human actions being understood through mediating social relations and cultural meanings. With the approach to understanding a city having moved from merely identifying the historic landmarks to finding meanings in spatial relations, the ‘process’ of reading the city would play a great role in shaping our experiences and determining what we see around us. This ‘process’ works at several levels of interaction from creation to perception, and necessitates the configuration of the underlying spatial and social networks.

Post post-modern thought concerns itself more with this ‘process’ rather than the end result. This has meant a marked shift from the ‘freezing approach’ - which manifested itself into an obsession with the past and preservation of the physical manifestation into the present - to a ‘management’ process. With the cultural imprints in a city also now being considered as ‘resources’, there is a need to manage these resources and prevent their depletion through time.

Urban areas are complex multi-dimensional systems evolving out of an interaction of multiple agents at several levels. At any given singular moment of time, several transformations may be occurring simultaneously, which every human being perceives differently and comprehends individually.These individual experiences result from the perceptual and cognitive processes in the human brain that also determine the meanings that we derive from our surroundings. These perceptual processes also determine the image that is created in the human brain of the environment around us, and is a selective process influenced by our cultural and social positions. This process of formation of mental images through individual experiences and recollections is always rooted in the spatio-temporal context and by forming connections between the past and the present it can help us in assigning values to the remains from the past and justifying the need for their continuation into the future.

Bhopal Functional and Physical Form Transformation
In the case of Bhopal, these resources exist in various forms ranging from concrete physical forms to the more abstract cultural values that people may associate with a place. The walled city of Bhopal was self contained unit governing a very small principality. The basic regional functions taking place in spaces were related to administration. This function of administration still continues but with a wide change of scale. Except for a few units not much industrial activity could settle in Bhopal. This was the first impact on physical form of disturbances. Special mention is being made in this period because in latter half of twentieth century.

The whole country physical configuration was undergone a rapid change of urbanisation and industrialisation. Almost overnight, the core area had to function as the center for a whole lot of new spatial developments, with the increase in population at a tremendous rate the walled city had to assume the function of a commercial center .

Land Use and Activities of Innercity Area
This Landuse variation shows the need to integrate the preservation process with the planning and development process. As the focus has shifted from the city to the user, the goals and targets in this process have changed. An integrated planning process needs to be defined which considers the reality as perceived by the user such that the ‘process’ is designed with the user’s expectations providing the ‘pointers’.

This interface of planning has to be flexible and transparent to accommodate the change in perceptions or values through time rather than setting out rigid parameters or design constraints, which predetermine the future behaviour and aspirations of the community. An understanding of the underlying spatial patterns and social systems is essential before any future interventions are carried out. This is important to avoid the dissonance that may occur in the resultant urban structure because of conflicting patterns superimposed over one another. A management plan for a city, especially for one that has strong links to the past, has to then necessarily start with understanding the transformations that have taken place in the city through time. Any planning has to evolve out of this spatio-temporal context of the city, which further emphasises the need for the integration of a research aspect to a statistical process such as urban planning.

physical transformation Bhopal

The Integrated Planning Approach
Most of the planning practices in India are designed for an ‘end state’. This may be a very generalised statement but it is a fact that Urban Planning in India is still isolated from the general Conservation process, and both the processes are considered separate and distinct having only minor overlaps in a very few cases. The Master Plan approach is a very two-dimensional approach and concerns itself with demarcation of conservation zones that are similar to minimum interference zones. The historicity of a city cannot be confined solely to such rigidly demarcated zones but has to be seen in totality over the whole landscape. Conservation professionals in India have been advocating strongly for this ‘integrated approach’ since the last few years, but have not been successful in being able to evolve policies and practices which can bring together professionals from planning and conservation together. It is however unimaginable how a process can be partitioned into planning and conservation needs when both concern themselves with the ‘city’.

As long as we do not move away from the definite constraints of a Master Plan process and do not bring the user to the forefront, the city will continue to be seen as a system of roads, transport networks and dispersed physical entities. Direct application of such mapping techniques in planning and urban management is yet to be seen where the reliance is still largely on the physical networks for analytical purposes rather than on any mental ones.

Application of GIS Possibilities and Limitations
GIS is a useful tool, particularly because of its capacity to support both spatial and non-spatial attributes and also to combine purely representational techniques with analytical techniques. It can also be useful for handling data from diverse sources and forming links and interconnections between them. With a number of agencies and organisations involved in planning and conservation in Indian cities, the integrated process can well be a ‘participatory process’ where GIS can serve as a common platform and interface that permits data exchange and collaborative decisions. Although most data in GIS has to be geo-referenced, non-commercial solutions such as those in the environmental context are now looking at ways to integrate non geo-referenced information in GIS. This can be particularly useful when historical maps are to be used for research .The Bhopal Innercity map was prepared using PAN IRS 1C data of 1999 . The analysis is done using ARCVIEW software.

But increasing reliance on rigid, cartographic renditions makes these historical maps extraneous which can otherwise be a very useful resource for lending an insight into how perceptions of people have evolved over time. Although commercial GIS packages are still incapable of applying statistical analysis to such ‘loose’ representations, there have been a few recent efforts to integrate ‘perceptual maps’ in the process of understanding of our environs and such integrations could be made more effective by developing analytical techniques that need to be and could be applied to such cognate models.

Whether visual renditions can be converted into networks for analytical purposes in the urban context would depend on the kind of information that we seek out of them in the process. It can be highly useful if such statistical analytical packages can be linked with GIS, allowing the interchange of data that is mapped as network structure and as visual spatial representations.

GIS allows an immense possibility of data storage and retrieval. In Bhopal urban centre, the level of complexity is huge and the involvement of multiple agents that influence the urban landscape demands data collection on several levels and across several dimensions. When this data needs to be manually processed, spatial and non-spatial information can be linked only by limited options, such as keys next to maps or by the use of graphical technique such as colours and symbols. Databases for managing large data sources in the listing of historical buildings or census details are now being widely used, but the correlation of data from more than one source is still mostly limited due to data protection policies that exist between various organisations. GIS can provide a base for the spatial and non-spatial data to be interlinked, and by developing techniques such as relational databases or object-oriented databases in GIS an added advantage of linking non-spatial data across several levels can be realised. Research in the field of ‘multiple views’ is working towards the creation of parallel views where the same datum can be viewed across several different maps or layers of spatial information. In this instance, GIS provides the advantage of linking databases to information from maps that may be created in other software packages such as ‘AutoCAD.

GIS allows for data input from such diverse sources as remote sensing, traditional cartographic maps, aerial photographs and other photographic images. It can be hoped that the data dissemination policy in India will soon be defined for less restricted data exchange and data from remote sensing and other satellite information would be easily available for commercial purposes. Most European countries have relaxed their data protection rules, which allows for better exchange of data at a global level. If historic cities are being seen as global resources and the preservation of them is to be seen as a global responsibility, then it is fair to hope for information to be much more conveniently accessible at a global level. With the Internet forming the prominent interface where most global communities interact, more and more data resources are being made available on the World Wide Web, and any GIS application in the Indian context will benefit from a flexible national policy for data dissemination allowing for greater exchange.

The data input in GIS requires spatial units to be enclosed by rigid boundaries, which can certainly be a disadvantage when considering aspects such as historic zones. For example, any representation of the seven historic cities of Delhi should not define strict boundaries between them since most of these exist only as research interpretations from historical sources that are then transferred onto the ground. Cartographic renditions have a tendency to simplify such issues and use rigid demarcations for the convenience of applying planning policies or other such guidelines and also for the sake of adapting such data to largely accepted graphical symbols.

Most commercial GIS packages have some basic statistical analysis techniques available within them that need to be explored for resource management applications. The application of such analysis to abstract attributes such as ‘historicity’ and ‘cultural values’ is certainly an issue for further research although this has been attempted in a few archaeological applications.

Plans are afloat to use GIS as a tool for the preparation of the next Master Plan in Bhopal.The application GIS wll probably involve immense upheavals in organisational and financial terms. However, it has to be realised that an optimum use of this application cannot be achieved unless the benefits that are we hope to derive from it are clearly defined. This will need a two-step methodology. Firstly, the aims and objectives have to be clearly defined for the project and a full review of the limitations of the presently employed techniques must be conducted. Secondly, GIS has to then be assessed to see how it can be used to derive maximum benefit from it, and the changes that would be needed in the present scenario in turn to help derive these benefits.




Binu Mathew

Tears are still flowing down from the eyes of the Bhopal gas victims. Their tears have not dried even after 18 years since one of the worst ever industrial disasters occurred. For someone like Selma, daughter of Razia Bee of Mangalwara, tears run down in blood red colour as though symbolising the plight of the whole victims.

It was on the night of December 2, 1984 that 40 tons of Methyl Isocyanate gas leaked from the Union Carbide Factory (UCC) situated in one of the most densely populated neighbourhood of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India.

The first time the management of the Carbide plant came to know about the leak was at 11:00 pm. The factory alarm meant for workers was started by a desperate worker at 12:50 am. The management not only turned it off within minutes but also delayed the sounding of the public siren until as late as 2:00 am by which time all the gas that could leak had leaked. 8000 people died in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

After 17 years, the death toll has risen to over 20,000 and 10-15 people are dying every month from exposure related diseases. Over 120,000 children, men and women continue to suffer acutely from a host of exposure related illnesses and their complications.

Damage to the respiratory system has led to the prevalence of pulmonary tuberculosis which has been found to be more than three times the national average. In the years following the disaster, the stillbirth rate was three times, prenatal mortality was two times and neonatal mortality was one and a half times more than the comparative national figures.According to a study by Dr. Daya Varma, Mcgill University, Canada, 40% of the women pregnant at the time of the disaster aborted. Another study reported nearly five times increase in the rate of spontaneous abortion as a result of the Union Carbide disaster.
The survivors complain of breathlessness, coughing, chest pains, fatigue, body aches, abdominal pain, numbness and tingling in the limbs, weak sight and runny eyes, anxiety attacks, bad memory, concentration difficulties, irritability, headache and mental illness.

An unusually large number of women have menstrual irregularities and excessive vaginal secretions. Mothers complain of retarded physical and mental growth in children exposed in infancy or born after the disaster.According to a study conducted by Ingrid Eckerman, there are reports on intellectual impairment and epilepsy. Failure to grow, delay in gross motor and language sector development was found in children born a considerable time after their mother's exposure to the gas.

The worst part of the disaster is probably yet to come. Researchers have found chromosomal aberrations in the exposed population indicating a strong likelihood of congenital malformations in the generations to come.
A detailed study of of psychological disorders caused by the disaster has not yet been taken up. But post-traumatic stress disorders, pathological grief reactions, emotional reactions to physical problems and exacerbation of pre-existing psychiatric problems have been noted.

To top it all is the rupture in family and social relations in the affected areas due to death, illness and poverty.All this misery would have been much less had UCC revealed the exact nature of the compositon of the gases released from the plant. To this day they have not done that.

On the December 3 morning of 1984 when victims started to pour into the hospitals, the bewildered Bhopal doctors contacted the plant doctor and the reply they got from him was that " It is only like tear gas. Just wash with water". Without information on the nature of the gases, docotors are still giving symptomatic treatment, which gives only partial relief.

Within the first week of the disaster 4 'medical experts' came to Bhopal on a visit sponsored by UCC. In their interviews to the media, they stated that the leaked gases would not have any long term health effects on the exposed population.This was in sharp contrast to the subsequent research findings. One of these experts was Brian Ballyentine, who was also a toxicologist for the Pentagon. Another expert, Dr Hans Weil, Prof. and Chairman of Pulmonary Medicine at the Tulane University Medical School, New Orleans, has a history of fudging medical data to minimize liabilities of Corporations (a prime example being that of Johns Manville Inc. in the Asbestosis case), and had been reprimanded in the past by a US court for his unethical conduct. He examined victims in Bhopal and said "they have an encouraging prognosis and most would recover fully."

After the disaster Dr. Max Daunderer, a toxicologist from Munich, demonstrated the efficacy of intravenous sodium thiosulphate injections in detoxifying the exposed persons and providing substantial relief in symptoms. This was further confirmed by studies carried out by the Indian Council for Medical Research. Through helpful government officials,

UCC succeeded in undermining official attempts for large scale administration of sodium thiosulphate. The company was quick to realise that the administration of this drug would establish that its toxins had indeed reached the blood stream and caused much more damage than the company would like people to believe.

Greatest sell off of all was the out of court damage settlement reached between Government of India and UCC. On December 14, 1989 it was announced in the Supreme Court of India that Union Carbide will pay $ 470 million as damages to the disaster.The first suit filed by Melvin Belli, an American lawyer, claimed damages upto $15 billion. Later the Indian Government arrogating itself the sole power to represent all the victims, filed a suit for $3.3 billion. 4 years after filing the suit and without informing the victims, the government settled for nearly one-seventh of the original claim. Of the $470 million settlement $200 million was covered by UCC's insurance and another $200 million had already been put aside. Out of an annual revenue of $8 billion a year, the corporation had to find just $70 million to close the books on the worst industrial disaster in history.

After news of the $470 million settlement, Carbide's stock actually increased $2 a share. The then chairman, Robert Kennedy who owned 35,000 shares in the company, personally benefitted $70,000.

The settlement clearly shows a double standard in treating victims of industrial disasters in India and elsewhere. Union Carbide and eight other companies paid US $ 4.2 billion as potential damages for Silicone Breast Implants to 650,000 claimants. This amount was 9 times more than what the Bhopal victims were given and less than a 10th of the $5 billion court award against Exon Valdez for polluting the Alaskan coast. Approximately US $ 40,000 was spent on the rehabilitation of every sea otter affected by the Alaska oil spill. Each sea otter was given rations of lobsters costing US $ 500 per day. Thus the life of an Indian citizen in Bhopal was clearly much cheaper than that of a sea otter in America. If the award amount of $470 million where distributed equally among all the victims of Bhopal disaster each would get around only $200.

Many of the people did not get even that much relief. More than 250,000 claims were never documented or classified, making it hard for these victims to obtain compensation. The largest amount paid for death was around $ 2,000. Many of the victims in the gas trgedy were poor, illiterate people. They had no idea of compensation or the importance of keeping records. When the government agencies demanded documents, they had nothing to provide. And some who had documents lost it in the 1992 Hindu - Muslim riot. There is no provision for providing compensation for severly affected children who are born after the disaster.

According to the settlement the liability to provide adequate compensation and facilities for the handicapped victims requiring long-term follow up and treatment rest with the Indian Government and not with Union Carbide Corporation.

Union Carbide was also exonerated of the responsibility to clean up the affected area. On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the disaster Greenpeace named the area in the vicinty of the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal a "Global Toxic hotspot". Their report based on samples collected from in and around the factory premises - indicates severe contamination of the ground water and soil with heavy metals and carcinogenic chemicals. In 1990 the Bhopal Group for Information and Action(BGIA) reported the presence of atleast seven toxic chemicals based on a report by the Citizens Environmental Laboratory, Boston. Toxic chemicals are reported even in the breast milk of mothers around factory vicinity. Indian government has not taken this matter seriously, only in one community is there a provision made for supplying drinking water in tankers. All the other neighbourhoods are using toxic drinking water.

The Indian Governments attempts in rehabilitating the disaster victims is a picture of total neglect, apathy, inefficiency and corruption. As per officil records of the Gas Relief and Rehabilitation Department, Government of Madhya Pradesh, a total of $ 80 million have been spent on relief and relief and rehabilitation of the survivors of Bhopal since the disaster. The compensation money has multiplied in terms of Indian rupees as a result of the increase in the value of the dollar and the accruing interest. However the interest has not been paid to the claimants as it should have and a balance of about $200 million is likely to remain after all compensaton are to be settled at the present rate.

For legal redressal of this disaster and the wrong done to the victims, seven individuals and five organizations filed a class action suit on November 15, 1999 in the Federal District Court of New York, against Union Carbide Corporation and its former chairman Warren Anderson. The suit charged the Corporation and the official with grave violations of international law and the human rights arising from their "reckless and depraved indifference to human life" in perpetrating the disaster. The support of the Indian Government is crucial to the success of this legal action. But the request of the victims to the Indian Government to present an "amicus curiae" brief has so far fallen on deaf ears.

As the victims are moving from one hell to hell, the perpetrators of the crime are romping free around the world. On Dec. 7th 1984, Warren Anderson, and other Indian officials were arrested on charges of culpable homicide, criminal conspiracy and other serious offences. The arrested officials were lodged in the posh guest house of Union Carbide and Warren Anderson with an annual salary of Rs.10 million, was released on the same day on a bail of Rs.20,000. Summons from the Bhopal court drew no response from him and in January 1992 proclamations were published in Washington Post directing Anderson to face trial in the Bhopal court. In March 1992 the Chief Judicial Magistrate issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Warren Anderson. He continues to abscond criminal justice.

The hope of the victims ever to receive justice received a setback with the merger of Union Carbide Corporation with Dow Chemicals, in February this year. With the merger, UCC has vanished as an entity and Dow became the second largest chemical corporation in the world. In its submission to the Securities and Exchange Commission, USA, Union Carbide has deliberately omitted the the mention of pending criminal liabalites of the corporation. This fact was brought by victims organisation to the notice of the SEC, but met with indifference and deliberate silence.

Manu's law, the ancient Hindu law practised in India, held a person who had injured another to pay damages, not according to the status of the victim but according to the status of the wrongdoer. This law, has never been repealed. This rule of the ancient common law of India, enforced by many rulers in the last thousand years and more, is still the unacknowledged law of India. And it goes on, as we now see in the case of theBhopal victims too.

salam surama bhopali ko

Surma Bhopali is the proud owner of a sexy red Ferrari. He saved 10 paise from every paan he sold in the 55 years of his working life, and at last, there it stands in his garage, all spick and span. Rumor has it that he silently dumped his old, faithful bullock cart in the pitch darkness of a chilly night, and now eagerly looks forward to an early morning drive in his new car.

There you see him in the morning, windows rolled down, both hands on the wheels and smiling at the children, with his old, faithful bullocks flicking their tails and pulling his Ferrari behind them.

Moral of the story - the first rule of buying Macintosh computers. Don’t buy a Mac if you’re going to plug bullocks into it like Bhopali. Rule 2: In case you are itching to buy one, refer to rule 1.

salam surama bhopali ko

Surma Bhopali is the proud owner of a sexy red Ferrari. He saved 10 paise from every paan he sold in the 55 years of his working life, and at last, there it stands in his garage, all spick and span. Rumor has it that he silently dumped his old, faithful bullock cart in the pitch darkness of a chilly night, and now eagerly looks forward to an early morning drive in his new car.

There you see him in the morning, windows rolled down, both hands on the wheels and smiling at the children, with his old, faithful bullocks flicking their tails and pulling his Ferrari behind them.

Moral of the story - the first rule of buying Macintosh computers. Don’t buy a Mac if you’re going to plug bullocks into it like Bhopali. Rule 2: In case you are itching to buy one, refer to rule 1.

Synopsis: A train arrives at a rural station and a lone police officer disembarks, looking for "Thakur Sahib" (thakur, literally "lord, master," is a respectful title for a member of one of the landlord castes who trace their lineage to ancient kshatriyas or warrior-aristocrats; Sahib means "sir"). As the credits roll, we follow his horseback journey through a Badlands-like landscape to the remote settlement of Ramgarh (“Rama’s fort”). Here he meets the Thakur, Baldev Singh (Sanjeev Kumar), a retired police officer who is always wrapped in a gray shawl. Singh requests his visitor to locate and bring him two criminals, the scruffy, ever-smiling Veeru (Dharmendra) and the lanky, brooding Jaidev or “Jai” for short (Amitabh Bacchan). When the officer asks what task these notorious repeat-offenders can possibly be suited for, Singh recounts his first meeting with them, two years earlier, when he was transporting them to jail via a freight train. Immediately after they boast to him of their courage, the train is attacked by bandits, and they defend it and their wounded captor against a seemingly unending troop of horsemen. But their moral ambivalence is revealed when they toss a coin to decide whether to bring the bleeding officer to a hospital (landing themselves in jail), or to escape (leaving him to die). In a motif that will be repeated, "chance" impels them to do the Right Thing. The flashback ends with Singh's visitor promising to search for the pair, but adding that, if they are out of jail and at large, it may be difficult to locate them.

Cut to the first musical number: Veeru and Jai steal a motorcycle with sidecar and burst into a rollicking "song of the road," evoking the antics of Raj Kapoor's "vagabond" persona of the 1950s (cf. Awara, Shri 420). Here, however, it is not simply a celebration of manic, vaguely anti-social freedom, but an ingeniously choreographed male love-duet, as they affirm their eternal friendship (dosti) during a joyride through a scenic obstacle course dotted with banyan trees and hapless rustics.

We next see them approaching a crooked but comical Muslim lumber dealer, Surma Bhopali (Jagdeep), with an unusual offer: he will turn them in to the police, collect the reward of 2000 rupees, and split it with them when they are released from prison. Cut to the prison, and another ludic interlude, including homage to Chaplin's Great Dictator in the crackpot jailer (comic actor Asrani), who boasts of his training under the British. The wily pair easily outsmart him and escape, but when they return to Bhopali to collect their promised thousand rupees, he betrays them to the police. Back in jail, they are located by the Thakur's agent, and Singh awaits them outside the prison gate when they are released, thus ending the comic digression and returning to the frame narrative. Singh asks them to capture the notorious outlaw (daku) Gabbar Singh; in return, he will give them the 50,000 rupees reward offered by the police. He pays them a 5,000 rupee advance, and promises another 5,000 when they reach Ramgarh.

raag bhopali

bhopal realty

hospital ka halat.

in city page

in city page

bhopal tradedy 1984

bhopal tradedy 1984

bhopal tradedy 1984

bhopal tradedy 1984

bhopal tradedy 1984

bhopal tradedy 1984

bhopal tradedy 1984

CASE NAME: Bhopal Disaster



Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to industrial
crises. However, industrial accidents such as Bhopal are not
just an Indian or even a Third World problem but are industrial
disasters waiting to happen , whether they are in the form of
"mini-Bhopals", smaller industrial accidents that occur with
disturbing frequency in chemical plants in both developed and
developing countries, and "slow-motion Bhopals", unseen chronic
poisoning from industrial pollution that causes irreversible
pain, suffering, and death (Weir, pp. xi-xii). These are the key
issues we face in a world where toxins are used and developed
without fully knowing the harm that can come from their use or


Developing countries, such as India, are particularly vulnerable
as they lack the infrastructure (e.g. communication, training,
education etc.) required to maintain technology but are
nevertheless, eager to set up and maintain industrial plants. As
a result, they compete globally to attract multinational
companies for their investment and capital, and in this process,
often tend to ignore the safety and health violations that many
MNC's engage in. "Developing countries confer upon MNC's a
competitive advantage because they offer low-cost labor, access
to markets, and lower operating costs. Once there, companies
have little incentive to minimize environmental and human risks.
Lax environmental and safety regulation, inadequate capital
investment in safety equipment, and poor communications between
companies and governments compound the problem" (Cassels, p.279).

The Bhopal facility was part of India's Green Revolution aimed to
increase the productivity of crops. Considered an essential
factor in the effort to achieve self-sufficiency in agricultural
production, pesticide production use increased dramatically
during the late 1960's and early 1970's. The decision to
manufacture the pesticides in India, as opposed to relying on
imports was based on India's goal of preserving foreign exchange
and its policy of industrialization (Cassels, p.39). In 1969,
Union Carbide (UCC-the parent company) set up a small plant
(Union Carbide India Ltd.- UCIL) in Bhopal, the capital city of
Madhya Pradesh, to formulate pesticides.

Bhopal was chosen as the site for the Carbide plant because of
it's central location in India, a railway system that spanned the
country, a large lake which provided a reliable source of water,
and sufficient electricity and labor to sustain a large scale
industrial plant. The MIC facility was located in the existing
Carbide plant to the north of the city, adjacent to an existing
residential neighborhood and barely two kilometers from the
railway station. Union Carbide claims that the "squatter
settlements" around the plant arrived only after it did.
However, "all three of the worst-affected communities in the
disaster apparently existed before the Union Carbide plant
opened" (Weir, p.36).

Until 1979, the Indian subsidiary of Carbide used to import MIC
or methyl isocyanate from the parent company. After 1979, it
started to manufacture its own MIC. MIC is one of many
"intermediates" used in pesticide production and is a dangerous
chemical. It is a little lighter than water but twice as heavy
as air, meaning that when it escapes into the atmosphere it
remains close to the ground. It has the ability to react with
many substances: water acids, metals, and the small deposits of
corrosive materials that accumulate in pipes, tanks, and valves.
The MIC in Bhopal was used for the production of various
pesticides, mainly Sevin brand carbaryl insecticide and Temik
brand aldicarb pesticide. All the pesticides produced at UCIL
were sold in the Indian market.

According to many, Bhopal is the site of the greatest industrial
disaster in history. On the night of December 23, 1984, a
dangerous chemical reaction occurred in the Union Carbide
factory when a large amount of water got into the MIC storage
tank # 610. The leak was first detected by workers about 11:30
p.m. when their eyes began to tear and burn. They informed their
supervisor who failed to take action until it was too late. In
that time, a large amount, about 40 tons of Methyl Isocyanate
(MIC), poured out of the tank for nearly two hours and escaped
into the air, spreading within eight kilometers downwind, over
the city of nearly 900,000. Thousands of people were killed
(estimates ranging as high as 4,000) in their sleep or as they
fled in terror, and hundreds of thousands remain injured or
affected (estimates range as high as 400,000) to this day. The
most seriously affected areas were the densely populated shanty
towns immediately surrounding the plant -- Jayaprakash Nagar,
Kazi Camp, Chola Kenchi, and the Railway Colony. The victims
were almost entirely the poorest members of the population.

This poisonous gas, caused death and left the survivors with
lingering disability and diseases. Not much is known about the
future medical damage of MIC, but according to an international
medical commission, the victims suffer from serious health
problems that are being misdiagnosed or ignored by local doctors
(Lancet, "Round...").

Exposure to MIC has resulted in damage to the eyes and lungs and
has caused respiratory ailments such as chronic bronchitis and
emphysema, gastrointestinal problems like hyperacidity and
chronic gastritis, ophthalmic problems like chronic
conjunctivitis and early cataracts, vision problems, neurological
disorders such as memory and motor skills, psychiatric problems
of various types including varying grades of anxiety and
depression, musculoskeletal problems and gynecological problems
among the victims. It is estimated that children born in Bhopal
after the disaster face twice the risk of dying as do children
elsewhere, partly because parents cannot care for them
adequately. Surprisingly enough, despite the serious health
problems and the deaths that have occurred, Union Carbide claims
that the MIC is merely a "mild throat and ear irritant" (Lancet,
"Round..." p.952).

The Bhopal disaster was the result of a combination of legal,
technological, organizational, and human errors. The immediate
cause of the chemical reaction was the seepage of water (500
liters)into the MIC storage tank. The results of this reaction
were exacerbated by the failure of containment and safety
measures and by a complete absence of community information and
emergency procedures. The long term effects were made worse by
the absence of systems to care for and compensate the victims.

Furthermore, safety standards and maintenance procedures at the
plant had been deteriorating and ignored for months. A listing
of the defects of the MIC unit runs as follows:

-Gauges measuring temperature and pressure in the various
parts of the unit, including the crucial MIC storage tanks,
were so notoriously unreliable that workers ignored early
signs of trouble (Weir, pp.41-42).

-The refrigeration unit for keeping MIC at low temperatures
(and therefore less likely to undergo overheating and
expansion should a contaminant enter the tank) had been shut
off for some time (Weir, pp.41-42).

-The gas scrubber, designed to neutralize any escaping MIC,
had been shut off for maintenance. Even had it been
operative, post-disaster inquiries revealed, the maximum
pressure it could handle was only one-quarter that which was
actually reached in the accident (Weir, pp.41-42).

-The flare tower, designed to burn off MIC escaping from the
scrubber, was also turned off, waiting for replacement of a
corroded piece of pipe. The tower, however, was
inadequately designed for its task, as it was capable of
handling only a quarter of the volume of gas released (Weir,

-The water curtain, designed to neutralize any remaining
gas, was too short to reach the top of the flare tower, from
where the MIC was billowing (Weir, pp.41-42).

-The lack of effective warning systems; the alarm on the
storage tank failed to signal the increase in temperature on
the night of the disaster (Cassels, p.19).

-MIC storage tank number 610 was filled beyond recommended
capacity; and

-a storage tank which was supposed to be held in reserve for
excess MIC already contained the MIC (Cassels, p.19).

Ironically, in Bhopal, the people living around the Union Carbide
plant were warned of potential hazards in a series of local
newspaper articles, but residents ignored these warnings because
they did not know how to react to them, while local officials
dismissed them as sensationalist reporting (Technology Review,

Interestingly enough, Carbide tried to hide its poor safety and
maintenance record along with the other faults already mentioned,
by claiming publicly that the company was the victim of sabotage
by a 'disgruntled employee'. Yet, Carbide didn't release the
name of this employee or bring charges against him/her. However,
there is evidence to the contrary which supports the view that
Carbide (both the parent company and its Indian subsidiary) was
a negligent company that failed to improve its deteriorating
plant. Incidentally, in a report (May 1982) of the Indian
subsidiary conducted by a three-member safety team from the Union
Carbide headquarters in the U.S., indicated that "a serious
potential for sizeable releases of toxic materials in the MIC
unit either due to equipment failure, operating problems, or
maintenance problems thus requiring various changes to reduce the
danger of the plant; there is no evidence the recommendations
were ever implemented" (Weir, pp.40-41).

Furthermore, "Carbide persistently shows 'wanton and wilful
disregard for the health and safety of its workers and the
communities in which it operates'"(New Statesman and Society,
"Surviving..." p.5). Additionally, a scientific report published
by two U.S. organizations, the National Toxic Campaign and the
international Council on Public Affairs, Union Carbide continues
to be " 'a major discharger of toxic substances into the
environment, and a major generator of hazardous waste'. In 1988,
the company generated more than 300 million pounds of hazardous
waste - an increase of 70 million compared with 1987" (New
Statesman and Society, "Surviving..." p.5).

Carbide had dropped the safety standards at the Bhopal plant well
below those it maintained at a nearly identical facility in West
Virginia. It is also important to note here that Carbide was
able to operate its deteriorating plant because industrial
safety and environmental laws and regulations were lacking or
were not strictly enforced by the state of Madhya Pradesh or the
Indian government making them indirectly responsible for the
tragedy at Bhopal.


VEAL case
BASEL case

Keyword Clusters

(1): Impact = INDIA
(2): Bio-geography = TROPical
(3): Environmental Problem = HEALTH

4. DRAFT AUTHOR: Trupti Patel


5. DISCOURSE AND STATUS: DISagreement and COMPlete

This disaster gave rise to the world's largest lawsuit, one that
spanned half-way around the world and dragged on for more than
seven years. Although the final settlement ($470 million)
satisfied the imperatives of the company and the Government of
India, it was condemned by the victims (Cassels, preface).

For years after the tragedy, the delay in delivering final
compensation to the victims has further propagated the suffering
to the victims. Furthermore, other elements of relief ordered by
the Indian Supreme Court haven't been implemented. These are the
medical surveillance program, the contingency insurance and the
new hospital. There has been much dissent and several
organizations have voiced that the settlement with Union
Carbide, made on behalf of the victims by the Indian government,
should be voided. These petitioners argue that the Indian court
had no authority to dismiss criminal charges or grant immunity
against future charges, to Union Carbide since pleas bargaining
is not permitted under Indian law.

The petitioners also argued that while the settlement amount was
based on an estimated 40,000 severely injured victims, medical
studies suggest the number may be closer to 400,000 (Forbes, "The
ghost..." p.108). Also, many medical experts believe that
liability to provide adequate compensation and facilities for the
handicapped victims requiring long-term follow up and treatment
should rest with Union Carbide Corporation and not with the
Indian Government (Lancet, "Round..." p.952). Moreover, more
than 250,000 claims were never documented or classified, making
it hard for these victims to obtain compensation. Much to the
anger and outrage of these groups and victims and the relief of
Union Carbide, on October 1991, the Indian Supreme Court upheld
the Bhopal settlement of $470 million dollars. Many feel that
this is a clear signal from the Indian government that MNC's
investing in the country will receive only a "slap on the wrist"
in the event that something like this happens again.


Issues of jurisdiction were central to the legal battle that
followed the tragedy. These centered around the relationship of
the parent Union Carbide Corporation to its Indian subsidiary and
the appropriateness of the place where litigation is being
conducted. Union Carbide Corporation maintains that it's
subsidiary is separate from the parent company and so it only
should be liable instead of the whole corporation. The Indian
government's petition argues that insofar as Union Carbide
designed, constructed, owned, and operated the plant from which
the chemical escaped, the company should be held absolutely
liable for all the resulting damage. Second, the company, in
undertaking an activity that it knew was ultra-hazardous to the
public at large, is strictly liable for the harm that was the
material consequence of such activity, regardless of whether the
harm that resulted was through fault of another or its own
negligence. Third, the company was negligent in designing,
constructing, operating and maintaining its plant and thus,
failed to exercise its duty of care to protect the public from
the dangers inherent in its plant and processes (Morehouse and
Subramaniam, pp. 81-82).

Lawsuits were filed in both U.S. and Indian courts but
ultimately, it was decided that the case should be tried in an
Indian court. Lawsuits filed in U.S. courts related to the
Bhopal case were refused on the grounds that the immediate
location of the accident was in India, the victims were Indian,
and he U.S. connection with its Indian affiliate did not appear
to give it an unusual degree of control.



Following the disaster, the Government of India passed the Bhopal
Gas Leak Disaster (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985. The Act gave
power to the Central Government to represent all claimants in
appropriate forums, appoint a Welfare Commissioner and other
staff and to discharge duties connected with hearing of the
claims and distribution of compensation. Under this Act, in
1985, the Government formulated a scheme known as the Bhopal Gas
Leak Disaster Scheme, for the registration, processing, and
determination of compensation to each claim and appeals arising
from thereon.

Since the tragedy, the victims have waged an "unrequited struggle
for justice, but they have been ill-served by the Indian
government, which failed to pursue the victims' case aggressively
in the Indian courts, opting instead to go easy on Union Carbide
and maintain a favorable investment climate" (New Statesman and
Society, "Toxin..." p.18). Union Carbide settled out of court for
$470 million, thus avoiding any damaging legal precedent or
liability. In return, India's Supreme Court ordered the dismissal
of all civil and criminal charges against Carbide and its
officers, and gave them immunity from future prosecution. The
Supreme Court felt that in this case, the victims needed
immediate relief, not further legal delay.

International Law at present plays almost no role in a Bhopal
scenario. Substantive international law remains weak in the area
of pollution, industrial hazards, and multinational business
regulation (Weir, p.46). An international treaty is needed under
which it would be agreed that, if courts in a signatory country
award compensation after due process of law, then the award would
automatically be enforced by courts in other signatory countries
(Economist, p.70).



b. SITE: South Asia [SASIA]




12. TYPE OF MEASURE: Regulatory Standard [REGSTD]

With regard to process standards, it is apparent that Union
Carbide had double standards when operating its plant in India
and in West Virginia. An investigation of both the UCIL plant
and its counterpart in Institute, West Virginia revealed that
"while the latter plant had computerized warning and monitoring
system, the former relied on manual gauges and the human senses
to detect gas leaks. The capacity of the storage tanks, gas
scrubbers, and flare tower was greater at the Institute plant.
Finally, emergency evacuation plans were in place in Institute,
but nonexistent in Bhopal" (Cassel, p.19). Also, the manner in
which Carbide decided to manufacture MIC was questioned at the
design stage when a controversy arose regarding the question of
whether substantial storage capacity or nominal storage of MIC
would be required. UCC, which provided the basic design of the
plant, supervised its engineering, and defined operating
procedures to run it, insisted on the former [despite the fact
that] UCIL felt that the latter was...inherently safer (Morehouse
and Subramaniam, p.3).






Estimates of the number dead and injured vary widely. Poor
documentation, mass burials and cremations, and conflicting
medical opinions ensure that the precise number will never be
known. In addition, death records may not include homeless and
transient individuals who perished. The original count of the
dead was more than 2,000. By 1987, the official death toll stood
at about 3,500 and by 1992, it was over 4,000. Victims'
organizations placed the figure many thousands higher. In
addition, 30,000 to 40,000 people were maimed and seriously
injured, and 200,000 were otherwise affected through minor
injury, death of a family member, and economic and social
dislocation (Cassels, p.5).






Not very much is known about the environmental impacts of the gas
leak from the Bhopal plant. The Indian Council of Agricultural
Research has issued a preliminary report on damage to crops,
vegetables, animals, and fish from the accidents, but these offer
few conclusive findings since they were reported in the early
stages after the disaster. This report however, did indicate that
the impact of whatever toxic substances emerged from the Carbide
plant were highly lethal on exposed animals. Large number of
cattle (estimates range as high as 4,000), as well as dogs, cats,
and birds were killed. Plant life was also severely damaged by
exposure to the gas. There was also widespread defoliation of
trees, especially in low lying areas (Morehouse and Subramaniam,


SPECIES: Homosapiens


23. URGENCY AND LIFETIME: LOW and 70 years

24. SUBSTITUTES:: Biodegradable products [BIODG]



There appear to be have been serious communication problems and
management gaps between Union Carbide and its Indian operation.
This failure to communicate hazards was the result of the parent'
companies hands-off approach to its overseas operation, and can
be traced to cross-cultural barriers. These can possibly be
related to "disruptions and flaws which appear in multinational
operations because of "the absence of common values, norms, and
expectations among managers in different nations, from tendencies
towards ethnocentric attitudes, from psychological impediments to
cross-cultural understanding, and from obstructions and
deficiencies in the flow of information within the transnational
system attributable to distance and shared ownership. The fact
that the operating manuals at Bhopal were printed only in English
is an emblematic example of these problems (Cassels, p.21).



In mid-July 1985, the government of India Health Minister stated
that 36 pregnant women had spontaneously aborted, 21 babies were
born with deformities, and there were 27 stillbirths, all
suspected to have been caused by the poison gas leak in Bhopal.
An examination of 114 women in the field clinics in two of the
gas affected slums in Bhopal three months after the disaster
revealed that an extremely high proportion of these women had
developed gynecological diseases such as leucorrhoea (90%),
pelvic inflammatory disease (79%), cervical erosion and/or
endocervicitis (75%), excessive menstrual bleeding since exposure
to the gas (31%), and suppression of lactation (59%). Also,
there were several thousand pregnant women in the communities
that were among the worst affected by the gas. Respiratory
complication and the resulting hypozyia were bound to affect the
fetuses as much as it did the mothers (Morehouse and Subramaniam,
pp. 33-4).


"After Bhopal". Lancet, Issue 603. July 16, 988.

"Bhopal: Absolutely Liable". Economist, Volume 308, Issue 560.
July 23, 1988.

"Coping With Disaster". Technology Review, Volume 91, Issue 6.
August 1988.

Cassels, Jamie. The Uncertain Promise Of Law: Lessons From
Bhopal. University Of Toronto Press Incorporated. 1993.

Chakravarty, Subrata N. "The Ghost Returns". Forbes, Volume
146, Issue 13. December 10, 1990.

"Editorial: Toxic Futures". New Statesman And Society. Volume
3, Issue 85. January 26, 1990.

"Freaks of Nature: Errors of Man". World Health. January 1991.

"Fresh Disaster At Bhopal Indian Politics Threaten To Compou".
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Hearing Before the Subcommittee in Asian and Pacific Affairs of
the Committee on Foreign Affairs House of Representatives.
Ninety-Eight Congress, Second Session. December 12, 1984.

Jasanoff, Sheila. Learning From Disaster: Risk Management After
Bhopal. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia. 1994.

Khera, S.S. The Establishment Of The Heavy Electrical Plant At
Bhopal. Committee of Case Studies. The Indian Institute of
Public Administration, New Delhi. 1963.

Kurzman, Dan. A Killing Wind: Inside Union Carbide and The
Bhopal Catastrophe. McGraw Hill Book Company. 1987.

"Land That Time Forgot". Barron's. January 22, 1990.

Lappen, Alyssa A. "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do". Forbes, Volume
146, Issue 13. December 10, 1990.

Morehouse, Ward and Subramaniam M. Arun. The Bhopal Tragedy:
What Really Happened And What It Means For American Workers And
Communities At Risk. Council on International and Public
Affairs. 1986.

"Poison Gas, Up Two Bucks". Nation, Volume 248, Issue 9. March
6, 1989.

"Round The World: India--Long Term Effects of MIC". Lancet,
Issue 644. April 29, 1989.

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February 20, 1989.

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127. November 16, 1990.

"The Ghosts of Bhopal". Economist, Volume 310, Issue 590.
February 18, 1989.

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December 2, 1994.

Weir, David. The Bhopal Syndrome: Pesticides, Environment, And
Health. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco. 1987.

Kumar, Sanjay "India: The Second Bhopal Tragedy". Lancet,
Volume 341, Issue 854, May 8,1993.

bhopal slum area

apni bhopal police

apni bhopal police

apni bhopal police

apni bhopal police

Sunday, July 02, 2006

bhopal heatre

films on bhopal

Nightmare in Bhopal

Fictional newlyweds Babulal and Tara are caught in the cloud of toxic gas that enveloped a sleeping city and destroyed the lives of thousands.

India has largely forgotten Bhopal. The site of the world's worst industrial disaster has slipped back into the obscurity from which it was wrenched one terrible December night just over 15 years ago. So when his producer suggested to Mahesh Mathai that the Bhopal incident be the subject of his first feature film, the 40-year-old Bombay director of television commercials was at a loss. "I knew it was something that happened in 1984," Mathai says, "but the details were all forgotten."

Then he visited Bhopal and spoke with activists and survivors. "The injustice shocked me," he says. Even after all these years, the details can turn stomachs. On the night of Dec. 2, 1984, tons of methyl isocyanate gas, used by the Indian affiliate of chemical giant Union Carbide to make pesticide, leaked from a large tank and wafted over the sleeping ghettos around the factory. People woke gasping for breath and choking on their own body fluids. An estimated 7,000 of Bhopal's 800,000 residents died within days, and more than 500,000 were affected. Many survivors remain ill and disabled. Even now, 10 to 15 people perish from poison-related diseases every month; the deaths no longer make the newspapers.

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For Mathai, the shock of rediscovery was followed by resolve. "I decided this was a film that should be made," he says. Although at least four documentaries have told the Bhopal story, they are rarely seen in India. So Mathai decided to make a mainstream feature, using a fictional couple to anchor his narrative. Bhopal Express, released last month to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the accident, is a 90-minute tale of newlyweds Tara and her husband Babulal, who is a loyal employee at the chemical factory. On the fatal evening, he puts his bride on a train to visit her parents and goes off drinking with his buddy Bashir. When they lurch out of the bar late at night, they find panic-stricken people running from the shanties near the factory. Corpses litter the street, and people are screaming in terror about a gas leak. At the crowded hospital, doctors desperately beg for an antidote, but company officials demur. "It's like tear gas," they say. "Just wash your face with water."

Babulal races to the factory to ask his bosses for the antidote and is shocked at their indifference. Relieved that the direction of the wind carried the gas away from them to the slums, they fret about the angry mob outside the factory gates. A despondent Babulal opens his wallet to seek solace from his wife's photograph and finds a note. She had planned a surprise and was returning that same morning. Babulal is hysterical: the station is full of poisonous gas. He races off to stop the train.

Bhopal Express puts the blame for the disaster squarely on the company, though Mathai has changed names and used the standard "this is a work of fiction" disclaimer. The film depicts a meeting of spin doctors at the company's U.S. headquarters, where executives are trying to find a scapegoat for the disaster. "The saving grace," says one official, "is that this happened in a Third World country. Here, a life would cost $25,000. There, it's worth $250."

As it turned out, India's Supreme Court ordered the company to pay only $470 million in damages. The Indian government, which received the money, has not yet distributed it all. The state-of-the-art hospital funded by Union Carbide has yet to open. The firm, which last year had revenues of $5.6 billion, has sold its interest in the Bhopal plant, which is now closed. Though Mathai's film deals only with the night of the leak, a voice-over at the end calls for justice.

The film makes a powerful statement even as it tries to engage a mainstream audience uninterested in sermons. But it suffers from some inept acting and a script that has trouble blending fiction with facts that are dramatic in themselves. The movie's strength is its documentation of the disaster--the helplessness, suffering and desperation. Veteran Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah excels as drinking buddy Bashir, an ex-Union Carbide employee with doubts about safety. "I am scared because the chain that ties down that tiger is rusted," he warns early on.

Bhopal Express will be shown at the Berlin Film Festival in February and is scheduled for international release after that. Mathai hopes the film will force the world--and Indians--to remember a ghastly tragedy and appeal for better compensation. "Sometimes you have to make a choice," he says. "If you see injustice in front of you, are you going to walk away? If you can do something but still walk away, that is trouble."