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Entrepreneurship in India #8 : on Bhopal and corporate responsibility

Team YS
posted on 13th June 2010
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images/stories/Entrepreneurs/social/n537271286_690.jpgThis is a guest post by Alban Leveau-Vallier of Socialter.The aim of Socialter is to spread the good ideas using social media. As they travel, they spot interesting social entrepreneurs and then they write about them on the blog, make video about them, and spread their word and their good ideas through facebook and twitter. They also offer to advise them on the use of social media.

This week the verdict on the Bhopal case was released: two years of prison for eight of Union Carbide Indian branch. One of them was already dead. Warren Anderson, the former CEO of Union Carbide is still enjoying a nice retirement in Long Island.

At the same time, a "nuclear bill" is being discussed, which would limit the liabilities of foreign companies investing in nuclear facilities in India.

For a foreigner who would like to invest in India the message is clear. "Come to India. You will have cheap workers, cheap material, and you will be allowed to cut security costs. In case this cost killing leads to an accident, don't worry, we will take care of everything. Just put a message on your website saying that this was sabotage."

One may argue that foreign direct investement can have a positive social impact on the population. And it is true that is generates employement and revenues. But the human cost of an accident is far more greater. What is more, this positive impact through employement is hard to see. Orissa is supposed to be one of the richest place in the world in terms of minerals.

It is one of the poorest I have ever visited. Many big companies are investing there, but I saw no positive effect on the population, only a nice road with regular landmarks branded "Tata" . Exploitation of the soil by corporations provides only one thing to the population : anger.

Bhopal tragedy was not 26 years ago, it is still going on. The plant is still there. It's 450 tons of waste are contaminating the water. Union Carbide, Dow chemical, the government of India, or the government of Madhya Pradesh, no one is willing to tackle this huge issue. A local journalist told us the sad truth : "every year we talk about on the day of the anniversary, but that is all, and I don't think anything will change." Meanwhile, near the remnants of Union Carbide plant, people develop lung diseases and cancer, and their children are being born with four fingers per hand or a broken palate.

See our interview of physicians in Bhopal

See the reactions of the people after the verdict

See the pictures on Picasa or Facebook

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