Anita's Bhopal Protest

Anita’s Blog, Chicago, December 2, 2006
Tomorrow, Dec 3 is the 22nd anniversary of Bhopal. Satish and I visited the Dow Board of Directors (BoDs) who live in Chicago, to give them prison jumpsuits :-). Last year we visited them and presented them with a Bhopal Posterboard. This year Satish painstakingly spent time ‘decorating’ the prison jumpsuit. Was fabulous, check out the pics.
People’s responses when we told them we are planning to go has been – “Why are you going? Is it useful? Isnt it risky? Is it safe? Is it legal? etc”. Valid questions. But I dont think there is any one ‘right’ answer. It could get risky, it could get unsafe, it could be useful. One never knows. I do it for a very simple reason – I live in Chicago, where 2 of the BoDs live and so I go to their homes. And if it is of any use, well and great. I do it because I think it is important to remind them that there are people who are living in completely different conditions because of Dow’s action (rather inaction). Though we have not had much luck meeting with any one of them either last year or this year.
What has been interesting to see is that last year as well as this year, whoever opened the door for us, has either refused to accept a letter or has tried to daunt us by saying they will call the police. It is not as if we were trying to threaten them! In fact, there was not even a big crowd, just the 2 of us. How often have people knocked on our doors in India, to sell something, to talk about something etc. It seems to me that these people live in such secure and secluded communities, that anything different alarms them. And of course what we did is going to alarm them. And perhaps that is the point. Not that I go there with the intent of dharna or morcha.
Yes, I would prefer not to interfere in people’s personal and private lives. But I dont live in an ideal world where every thing is perfect and everyone is caring. So, I take sides and do what I can, what I am comfortable doing – from a place of wanting fairness for the Bhopalis. At this point, I dont have a strong sense of resentment for the 2 Dow BoD’s. Will it change if I meet them? I dont know. I hope not. I dont want my action to come mainly from a place of anger and resentment against Dow, but more from a place of solidarity with and compassion for the Bhopalis.
So am I a mindless activist, doing one thing and living another way – maybe. And all of us have out contradictions, dilemmas and struggles. What is important for me is the struggle, the process of trying to get to the place where I am living in harmony within and without and my actions emerge out of there. I am not there yet fully and all the time.

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