PM, Tata win Mir Zafar awards for treachery above and beyond the call of duty

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The opening speech
The Multinational Anthem: “Hindustan gulam, kampani ko salaam”
Photos of the event
English & Hindi press coverage & here.

11 August, 2007. New Delhi — In a dramatised ceremony, spiced with satire, Bhopal survivors’organisations posturing as “Dalal Foundation” gave away Mir Zafar awards for treachery to twelve eminent people.

These politicians, bureacrats and others were “awarded” for their efforts to bury Dow Chemical’s liabilities in the Bhopal tragedy cases, and clear the way for Dow and Carbide to freely do business in India.

Award winners

The list of award-winners include senior Ministers Kamal Nath, P. Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh, noted industrialists Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani and Ashok Punjwani, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, and senior bureaucrats such as PMO Principal Secretary T.K.A. Nair and former Cabinet Secretary B.K. Chaturvedi. Madhya Pradesh Gas Relief Minister Babu Lal Gaur came in for special mention for a lifetime spent in betraying Bhopal victims. Aside from these, Indian Ambassador to US Mr Ronen Sen, and Planning Commission Vice-chairman also were given the Mir Zafar Award.

“Nobody has named their child Mir Zafar over the last two centuries. Our appeal to people of this nation is to shun the names of the new Mir Zafars while naming their children,” Bhopal survivors’ organizations said.

News clip from Kairali TV – *see fair use notice below

Organisers said the Prime Minister, through the Trade and Economic Relations Committee he heads, has taken a personal interest in the Bhopal legacy issue for all the wrong reasons. “Twenty three years of suffering of nearly half a million Bhopal victims has failed to move the Prime Minister. But he is catalysed into action at the frustration of Dow Chemical in being unable to profit from setting up polluting factories in India,” said Rashida Bee, survivor and leader of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh. “Our awards ceremony may be a spoof, but the award winners will have to face our wrath,” she said.

Bhopal, Nandigram and Singur play the fools

Significantly, the awards were given away by Bhopal survivors, and residents of Nandigram and Singur. Ratan Tata – played by Bhopal activist Satinath Sarangi — received an award from a resident of Singur. The award was given to highlight his offer to lead an effort to mop up Union Carbide’s toxic wastes and facilitate Dow’s investments in India.

In an MP High Court case regarding clean-up of Carbide’s wastes in Bhopal, the Ministry of Chemicals had filed an application seeking Rs. 100 crores from Dow Chemical following the “Polluter Pays” principle. However, files unearthed from the Prime Minister’s Office using the Right to Information Act reveal that most of the award-winners are strongly pushing to exempt Dow from this principle. A note by the Cabinet Secretary dated 6 April, 2007 is categorical that given the scope for future investments in the petrochemical sector, Dow’s Bhopal liabilities should be resolved out of court. “An important aim is to remove uncertainties and pave the way for promoting investments in the sector,” the letter says.

Special two-faced award

Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Adv. Abhishek Singhvi also represents Dow in the legal case in MP High Court. A letter from Dow to T.K.A. Nair refers to Dow’s plans to meet Singhvi and seek his guidance. “It is shameful that the PMO is openly referring to Dow’s meetings with the Congress spokesperson. Even more irregular is the fact that Singhvi’s confidential legal opinion to his client Dow has found its way into the PM’s files within days of it being sent to Dow,” said Satinath Sarangi, a long-time Bhopal activist who acted as Ratan Tata to receive the award.

The Mir Zafar Awards will be an annual affair considering the Indian elite’s penchant for perfidy. This year’s ceremony was officiated by noted film and TV personality Suhasini Mulay who spoke for Dalal Foundation. Noting the impending 60th anniversary of India’s freedom, she said “We, at Dalal Foundation believe that freedom is okay as long as it is recognized and respected that the freedom to exploit natural and human resources for profit generation takes precedence over all other freedoms.”

The delighted winners of the Mir Zafars, 2007 take the plaudits

Rashida Bee/Champa Devi Shukla (09425688215)
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Syed M. Irfan/Nawab Khan (09329026319)
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha
Rachna Dhingra/Satinath Sarangi (09826167369)
Bhopal Group for Information and Action

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