15 December, 2007. New Delhi — Responding to the calls of IIT Alumni, students and supporters of the struggle for justice in Bhopal, IIT Delhi decided to return Dow Chemicals’ sponsorship for a three day International Conference organized by the Department of Chemical Engineering. The eleventh hour decision to bar Dow from sponsoring the event was taken after an Institute level meeting between the supporters of Bhopal gas survivors and the authorities at the Institute yesterday. The sponsorship amount is not known.
Last October, more than 1000 alumni and former faculty members signed a petition addressed to the directors of all IITs urging them to bar Union Carbide’s owner, The Dow Chemical Company, from any partnership or role in the premier institutes. Learning of Dow’s plans to recruit from IIT-Madras, students and 22 faculty signed a petition urging the Director to bar Dow from recruiting on-campus. A similar petition was signed by more than 300 students and faculty in IIT-Bombay. Both IITs cancelled the pre-placement talks scheduled for Dow without giving reasons. Learning of the plans by the controversial company, IIT-Kharagpur decided not to invite Dow for recruitment. The Chemical Engineering department, which had sought sponsorship from Dow for a departmental cultural festival, decided against seeking support this year despite a paucity of funds. After considerable pressure was brought to bear on IIT Kanpur, the Mechanical Engineering department mysteriously withdrew Dow Chemical’s logo from its list of sponsors for a mid-December conference.
“IITs have sent a resounding response to Dow that they can keep their blood-tainted money to themselves,” said Magasaysay Award winner and IIT alumni Arvind Kejriwal. “The fun is just beginning. We are looking forward to stonewalling Dow at every step of its way. I’m glad our students and youth had more sense than the elders in the Government,” he said.
Dow Chemical’s recruitment plans in India have run into rough weather, with top-notch engineers shying away from Dow’s 10.5 lakh/year job offers because of Dow’s intransigence in the Bhopal matter. Many students and faculty also said that Dow was not only guilty of sheltering the fugitive Union Carbide from its Bhopal liabilities, but was also guilty of bribing Indian agricultural officials to license the pesticide Dursban that is banned in the US due to its harmful effects on children’s brain development.
Survivors and their substantial supporter base across the world have opposed the UPA Government’s plans to write off Dow’s liabilities in return for investments in India. School students in Chennai too recently began a campaign to evict Dow from an upscale shopping mall where it has a temporary office.
Shalini Sharma, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, 9891 44 2037