2017-11-23 at 10:29 AM #185
Nowadays the media is abuzz with the reactions to the judgment for the worst industrial disasters in the history of India, that took place in Union Carbide factory located in Bhopal. Most reasonable persons feel aghast for the very mild punishment that has been awarded to the persons responsible. It is being termed as the travesty of Justice!
That brings me to the subject of Justice. What indeed is justice? According to the Wikipedia:
Justice is the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, fairness, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics.
Justice concerns itself with the proper ordering of things and people within a society. As a concept it has been subject to philosophical, legal, and theological reflection and debate throughout history. A number of important questions surrounding justice have been fiercely debated over the course of western history: What is justice? What does it demand of individuals and societies? What is the proper distribution of wealth and resources in society: equal, meritocratic, according to status, or some other arrangement? There are myriad possible answers to these questions from divergent perspectives on the political and philosophical spectrum.
According to most theories of justice, it is overwhelmingly important: John Rawls, for instance, claims that “Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought.”: Justice can be thought of as distinct from and more fundamental than benevolence, charity, mercy, generosity or compassion. Justice has traditionally been associated with concepts of fate, reincarnation or Divine Providence, i.e. with a life in accordance with the cosmic plan. The association of justice with fairness has thus been historically and culturally rare and is perhaps chiefly a modern innovation.
Studies at UCLA in 2008 have indicated that reactions to fairness are “wired” into the brain and that, “Fairness is activating the same part of the brain that responds to food in rats… This is consistent with the notion that being treated fairly satisfies a basic need” . Research conducted in 2003 at Emory University, Georgia, involving Capuchin Monkeys demonstrated that other cooperative animals also possess such a sense and that “inequity aversion may not be uniquely human.” indicating that ideas of fairness and justice may be instinctual in nature. …………
But, like all social systems, the Judicial system of a country/society can seldom be termed to be perfect, just as human beings can never be perfect. So, do the guilty escape punishment fot their deeds? Does a person responsible for hurt to a totally innocent person can go scot free??
I do not believe it to be so! In my opinion their is a higher form of justice, which is not very popular in western culture. It is often termed as divine justice. A person responsible for hurt to others, not only willfully, but also by callous attitude towards ones responsibilities, indeed gets punished. Sometimes across the lifespan. Not only he him/herself gets the punishment, but even the progeny over several generations feels the punishment. This punishment unlike the punishment meted out by the conventional judicial punishment, may not be apparent to the public at large, but it can be much more severe!!!2017-11-27 at 8:34 AM #277
Here I quote a very interesting thought penned down by a noted Indian Journalist on Indian Judicial System today:
M J Akbar wrote:
…………..The true Bhopal verdict was delivered within four days of the tragedy, in December 1984, not on June 7, 2010, when Anderson was smuggled out of Bhopal on a state government aircraft and then put on a plane to America. Since then we have witnessed a pretend-justice farce played out by government, police and the judiciary, including the Supreme Court. The last is most culpable, since we hold a Chief Justice of India like A M Ahmadi to higher standards of probity than we do politicians or policemen. Ahmadi got his proper thank you note after he retired.
Chief judicial magistrate Mohan Tiwari�s judgment served only one useful purpose. The sheer scale of its magnanimity towards the accused lit a fuse under the volcano of collective guilt. The lava is spewing from myriad crevices, scorching and burning manylayered masks that have hidden deceit for a generation. As memories were stoked, officials, some perhaps frustrated by the fact that their silence had not been rewarded, revealed how successive governments had intervened to slow down the judicial process and sabotage any chance of Anderson�s extradition. Union Carbide and its collaborators, including Indians of course, have sustained themselves with a lie, that it was an Indian disaster since the plant was built and run by Indians. The design is an exact replica of an American plant, and an American who was terrified of being tried in India was in charge of management.
The political establishment assumed that June 7 would be just another day in a long calendar, possibly punctuated by an occasional, futile scream. The court was fortified, and entry denied to petitioners, victims and media. My one memory of this courtroom, gleaned from television, shall be of the smug grin of an obese policemen laughing at two old women, their faces contorted by rage and frustration, who knew that the system which had stolen their lives had also cheated their children in death.
Trust me: if thousands of politicians, or their cousins, the nouveau riche, had died on that apocalyptic night in Bhopal, Anderson would still be in an Indian prison, rather than in America, protected by his company, and the company that his company keeps. But only the poor died in Bhopal. We treat our poor as dispensable chattel whose death is meaningless in the economic calculus, since there is no shortage of supply. Bhopal is class war.
Is it surprising � or not? � that while even the Obama administration jumped in with some gratuitous advice, Dr Manmohan Singh had nothing to say? Perhaps the Prime Minister would have been repetitive. In essence, the signal from Washington and Delhi is the same: forget the dead, get on with multinational life.
Barack Obama was not elected to ensure justice for the Indian victim. He is in the White House to protect American business, and defend the two-laws theory that motivates American international relations, whether in war or peace. When 11 American workers were killed in an oil rig blowup in the Gulf of Mexico, Washington demanded $1.5 billion from BP. Nearly 20,000 dead in Bhopal, half a million affected, and the total compensation is $470 million. Do the math. Obama has promised to penalize BP for the current oil spill to the extent of many billions of dollars. Magistrate Manoj Tiwari wants only Rs 5 lakh as reparation from Carbide for mass slaughter.
When Exxon was fined $5 billion for the Alaska oil spill, nearly $40,000 was spent on the rehabilitation of every affected sea otter. The victims of Bhopal are, so far, entitled to $200 each.
Don�t do the math. It may turn you into a cynic.
To me it is apparent that for the rich and well heeled citizens of the world, the poor are no more then social insects that can be done away with minimal expenditure. The Union Carbide factory was launched to manufacture insecticides, and it served its goals2017-11-27 at 8:35 AM #278
Here’s yet another article that appeared in TOI last Sunday, equally illuminating:
SWAMINATHAN S ANKLESARIA AIYAR wrote:
An outpouring of anger and passion has greeted the conviction of seven former Union Carbide officials for negligence in the Bhopal gas disaster. This caused the immediate death of 3,787 people, and the ultimate death of 15,000 to 20,000 people whose lungs were corroded by the gas.
If this anger and passion results in greater safety and accountability, India will be a more humane and just country. The chances of this happening are zero. India remains basically callous and unaccountable. Tragedies greater than Bhopal are constantly ignored and dismissed as �chalta hai.�
Consider Mumbai�s suburban rail services. Activist Chetan Kothari used the Right to Information Act to get data on people killed in Mumbai by the Central and Western Railway, which run through the city. Answer: 20,706 people have been killed in the last five years. This is six times as high as Bhopal�s 3,787 immediate fatalities and higher than even the long-term fatalities estimated at 15,000-20,000.
On average, over 10 people die every day! If Maoists or Islamist terrorists kill 10 people, that is regarded as sensational news. But if the Mumbai rail system kills the same number every day, it is not even considered news.
The information obtained by Kothari pertains to just five years, and to just one tiny part of the railways. Fatalities across the railways for the last two decades could run into lakhs or the equivalent of five or six Bhopals.
A similar RTI exercise is needed for people killed by state electricity boards through uninsulated, loose and dangling electric wires. One estimate of accidental electrocution deaths in the 1980s was more than 3,000 per year. It is probably higher today. Again, this amounts to several Bhopals over the years. Here again we see no public outrage, only �chalta hai�.
The Times, the British newspaper, used the RTI to get a break-up of Mumbai fatalities. In 2008, 3,443 out of 4,357 fatalities occurred when trains mowed down people crossing the tracks. As many as 853 fell off or were thrown off moving trains. Another 41 were hit by trackside poles while hanging out of doors, and 21 were electrocuted by overhead wires while travelling on the roof.
Cynics will say this is different from Bhopal: those crossing the tracks and riding on roofs were breaking safety regulations and exposing themselves to danger. But in Bhopal too, the Union Carbide plant was located outside the town, and illegal shantytowns came up around it, violating safety and urban laws. Does that lessen criticism of the gas leak?
Union Carbide was lambasted for not using the best technology available to avert risks and deaths. But do we castigate the railways for not investing in the best safety technologies, and creating barriers to stop people from crossing the tracks? Union Carbide was slated for negligence in a shutdown plant. But the railways continue to be negligent year after year in a running organization that runs down people.
Many of us howled for justice after Bhopal. Many demanded the arrest of Union Carbide chief Anderson. Those convicted last week included Keshub Mahindra, the non-executive chairman with a largely ceremonial position. How many of us have demanded even the dismissal, let alone conviction, of the railway staff, Railway Board members or railway minister for the continuing holocaust in Mumbai? The non-executive head of the railways is, formally, the President of India. Has anybody demanded that Pratibha Patil be prosecuted for continuing railway deaths?
Alas no. The public displays not the slightest concern about our dismal tradition of having unaccountable and unsackable government cadres, who remain in their jobs and get promotions despite the most outrageous negligence.
Let me cite a recent PTI report. �Negligence by railway staff caused nearly half of all train accidents in the country during the last five years, official data has revealed. Of the 1,034 train accidents that have happened during the period 2003-2008, 488 of them, which accounts for 47.2 per cent, have been attributed to negligence by the railway staff, joint director of the safety directorate of the ministry of railways J S Bindra said in reply to an RTI application.�
There you have it, from the horse�s mouth. Yet none of those yelling for the blood of Union Carbide staff are yelling for the blood of railway officials. And so railway negligence and deaths continue unabated.
NGOs and the media suffer from a terrible double standard. They will pounce on negligence by a multinational, and rightly so. But they act as though the public sector has a licence to kill. That is disgraceful.
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