At the twilight on March 1st, about a motley group of hundred-fifty youths gathered to awaken the conscience of the society. The order of the day was to expose the flawed notion of progress that rewards the already rich and further marginalizes the poor. What is common between Dubya’s visit to India and the delayed justice to the Bhopalis? The answer is in the title of this report and in the countless posters, banners and signs around the open air theatre of the National School of Drama campus in Delhi. The youths represented organizations such as We for Bhopal, NDS student union, Peopletree, Association for India’s Development and the Jan Natya Manch.
The program began with a satirical street play illustrating the imperialistic designs of the Bush administration. The street play was an unprecedented collaboration between three different colleges in the Delhi University helped by the Jan Natya Manch. It was followed by a chilling performance called ‘Children of the Fog’, a poignant account of an unborn child during the Bhopal gas tragedy, using three different mediums. The narration was accompanied by a bharatnatyam performance by Rashika Ojha, with the visual footage of the disaster, news blurbs and photographs in the background. It was written and narrated by Pawas Bisht (Final Year, Mass Communication, Jamia Milia Islamia). Another brilliant street play – ‘Nahi Kabool (not acceptable)’ – by Jan Natya Manch followed on the effect of new trade and privatization policy by Bush and his cohorts. It communicated how in spite of the ‘booming economy’, the actual food grain consumption has gone down.
The three main performances were interlaced by enthusiastic songs by the NSD students and poetry readouts by Sudhanva Deshpande of the Jan Natya Manch. He also read out excerpts from “Bhopal Gas tragedy, a book for young people” by Suroopa Mukherjee to introduce the gathering to the Bhopal issue. Towards the end, Madhumita Dutta urged everyone to support the ongoing march through actions, and also by physically joining the march in Delhi.
The members from We for Bhopal, collected close to 100 signatures on the petition in support of the march addressed to the Prime Minister. Two main news channels, NDTV and TV 18 (CNN-IBN), filmed the entire proceedings while broadcasting some live action. In the end, the TV channels organized a forum with a few students to talk about the various issues presented in various modes during the evening.
The event was the first in a series of efforts to mobilize the public and media for the Bhopal march in the national capital region. It was meant to elucidate the connected challenges that we face in the light of several struggles for justice around us. Once the cameras went silent, the crowd dispersed resolving to reshape the future of this world in the paints of colors of justice and equality.