"We are not flowers offered at the altar of profit and power. We
are dancing flames committed to conquering darkness and to
challenging those who threaten the planet and the magic and mystery
of life". So said Rashida Bee, a Bhopal survivor who lost six
family members in the disaster. In December 1984, a massive gas
leak killed thousands in and around a Union Carbide chemical plant
in Bhopal, India; tens of thousands have died since, and many more
have had their lives and livelihoods devastated. The US-based
company and its CEO remain absconders from Indian justice. They
have consistently denied, obfuscated and used the resources at the
disposal of the powerful to evade any legal judgment. This book
draws on a considerable literature to make a social scientific
judgment of their liability for the world's worst industrial
'disaster'. It attempts to convey some of the horrendous events and
consequences of the gas leak itself, before examining Union
Carbide's responses to and 'explanations' of the disaster,
contrasting these with more persuasive explanations. The book then
poses, and answers, a key question: was the disaster unforeseeable
and therefore preventable? In conclusion, we explore corporate
rationality and in particular reflect on the view that everything
has its price, that money can compensate for any loss or injury. It
is this view which helps to explain the manoeuvrings that went into
the determination of the deeply problematic legal "settlement" for
the victims of Bhopal - a sordid compromise between unequal parties
which offers no justice, but underlines why the struggle of Rashida
Bee and others around the globe continues. "This is the most
incisive, persuasive and detailed account of the Bhopal disaster
yet written. In clear, beautiful prose, using hundreds of documents
and contrasting accounts, Pearce and Tombs meticulously document
the causes, effects and aftermath of the world's worst industrial
"accident" (so far). Through its own corporate documents they trace
the lines of responsibility from the parent company, Union Carbide
(now Dow), to Bhopal, revealing the duplicity and venality of its
efforts to distance itself by laying all blame on Indian management
or the elusive "saboteur". Their concluding argument shows how the
world-view championed by neo-liberal economics - that market values
must take primacy in all human relationships and that everything
has its price - both legitimates Bhopal and fuels continuing
cultural, environmental and social damage. This superb, important
book should be read by activists, politicians and everyone working
for a more just, equitable world." (From the Foreword by Laureen
Snider, Professor Emerita, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario)
All authors' royalties from this book will go to the Bhopal Medical
|Country of origin:
• Steve Tombs
||Electronic book text
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