INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR JUSTICE IN BHOPAL
CHENNAI, 3 November, 2009 — The Hindu Group of Publications today confirmed that they had cancelled a sponsorship they had received from Dow Chemical India for a celebrated annual classical music concert called The Hindu Friday Review November Fest 2009 between November 17 and 22. Dow Chemical, the owner of Union Carbide Corporation of Bhopal gas tragedy notoriety, has been the target of a concerted global campaign by survivors of the 1984 gas disaster and their supporters. Dow has refused to accept Union Carbide’s liabilities in Bhopal and is accused of sheltering Union Carbide from a criminal case, where the chief accused Union Carbide was declared a fugitive from justice by the Bhopal court. Announcing on Twitter.com, N. Ram, the editor of The Hindu said: “We’ve cancelled the Dow Chemicals sponsorship for The Hindu’s November Fest, obtained by our Events Team without realising the implications.”http://twitter.com/NRAMIND
A public statement by The Hindu is at:
The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal congratulated The Hindu for “doing the right thing.”
“In rejecting Dow’s sponsorship, The Hindu has joined thousands of IIT students and faculty who have in the past years refused Dow’s patronage for the company’s insensitivity in dealing with its liabilities in Bhopal. More importantly, it has restored faith that the newspaper will continue to cover the Bhopal issue with the consistency, fairness and sensitivity displayed in the last 25 years,”said Nityanand Jayaraman, a Chennai-based volunteer with the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
In 2007-2008, Dow was discouraged from recruiting in IITs by students and faculty who told the company that Dow was not welcome. IIT Delhi and IIT Kharagpur returned sponsorship money taken from Dow and removed Dow’s name from promotional material after students, faculty and alumni put pressure on their management to dissociate from Dow.
Controversy erupted on 2 November, 2009, after The Hindu carried a promotional advertisement about the event listing Dow Chemical’s name as an associate sponsor. Incensed by the association between the company responsible for prolonging the misery of lakhs of survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide, hundreds of music-lovers and Bhopal supporters from around the world wrote, called, emailed and smsed The Hindu urging them to return Dow’s money and save themselves from being tainted.
“The values enshrined in Indian music be it of Sufi or Bhakti origins start with he opening of the heart chakra. Head and Heart unite in this music – a lesson Dow has yet to follow in Bhopal. Though the lineup of artists is rare many like me who love music and have been November festival afficionados will have to draw back from attending this year’s programs thanks to Dow’s sponsorship,”wrote one music lover Radha Rajagopalan, a resident of Besant Nagar.
The Bhopal Campaign said this is a small reminder to Dow that people still remember Bhopal, and that they will not let Dow escape its liabilities by engaging in meaningless charity.
December 3, 2009, is the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, and survivors of the Bhopal disaster and second generation victims of Union Carbide’s poisons have planned to observe the anniversary with great fanfare. Joined by a new generation of Bhopali children and youth, the Bhopal campaign has announced that at 25, it is entering its youth and that Dow Chemical and the Government of India can expect severe pressure until justice is done in Bhopal. Youth in Chennai too have planned events around the anniversary.
For more information, contact:
Dharmesh Shah: 9444416546
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
c/o 42A, 1st Floor, 5th Avenue, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600 090