Hello family and friends! It’s been a while since we’ve posted, but our SJPD group just got back from our two-week field visit throughout North India (Delhi, Agra, Varanasi and Bhopal). Here’s an update and reflection I wrote during our last stop in Bhopal (it’s adapted from a personal blog post I wrote):
I’d like to shed light on an issue that the world has been reflecting on for 29 years. On the night of December 2nd 1984, 30 tons of methyl isocyanine gas as well as other toxic chemicals escaped from the Union Carbide (now Dow Chemicals) pesticide factory in Bhopal. Some numbers say that between 2,000-3,000 people died that same night. The exact number of how many died that night varies depending on whom you ask, but it all doesn’t matter when we find out that damage and struggle continues to this day from exposure-related illnesses or drinking severely contaminated water, poisoned by the 347 tons of hazardous waste that lie exposed on and around the site.
Bhopal is a place significant to not only the community of people affected directly who reside here, but there is a great significance to our global community as well. In efforts to raise awareness and prevent another big accident like the gas leak in Bhopal from occurring again, the phrase “No more Bhopal” was coined. Today, the phrase has shifted its perspective to now focus on the slow contamination that is concerning not just for the people in Bhopal, but also for everyone else in this whole world. The current Hindi phrase used (Hindi is the prominent language in this region) is “We are all Bhopalis” and the English translation is “We all live in Bhopal.” We all live on the same Earth. The direct contamination in Bhopal is knows no limits. The disaster in Bhopal is not an isolated event.
Our whole SJPD program group is incredibly amazed by the Bhopal gas tragedy survivors’ strength to continue on this long running campaign for justice and the courage they have to stand up and demand justice. Achieving justice in Bhopal should be regarded as a public health initiative with the potential to inspire significant and widespread change. The survivors and efforts for justice in Bhopal show how it is possible to generate opportunities for hope through creative and collective intervention in a situation of despair. In moving forward, a starting place a lot of us have been reflecting on is how and in what ways “we ALL live in Bhopal.” It’s been 29 years since the Bhopal crisis – it’s time to demand justice and join in solidarity with those who have been demanding.
Bhopal was a moving, inspiring and powerful last field visit for myself personally and I know for many others as well. Our time in Bhopal encompassed all of what we’ve been learning about this whole semester. It’s the last stretch here with our time in India and I’m soaking it all in! Hope all is well with you, from wherever you may be reading this from!
Curious to learn more about the long running campaign for justice in Bhopal?