PALLAVI SINGH, Express India, December 18, 2007
New Delhi — In a strong message to the owner of Union Carbide, involved in the Bhopal Gas tragedy, the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi has joined ranks with other IITs in opposing Dow Chemical Company.
Following an urgent meeting on Saturday, IIT-D has decided to reject the sponsorship offered by Dow for an international conference — Gas Liquid Solid Symposium (GLS-8) — being organised in India for the first time.
The matter was put up before the institute after a section of its alumni and students submitted a petition opposing the sponsorship.
Confirming the decision, Dr Surendra Prasad, director, IIT-D, said: “We decided to respect the sentiments of our alumni and students. We are not accepting any money from Dow for the event.”
While Dow Chemical’s name was removed from the brochures of the event soon after the decision, Dr Prasad didn’t rule out the company’s absence in campus recruitments at the institute later this month. “As of now, we haven’t felt the need. But if there is any objections from the alumni again, we may have to consider it,” he explained.
Organised by the Department of Chemical Engineering at IIT-D, the GLS-8 conference was inaugurated on Sunday and will conclude on December 19.
A year ago, over a thousand IIT alumni and former faculty members signed a petition, urging directors of all IITs to bar Dow from any partnership or role in the premier institutes. Earlier, IIT Kanpur’s Mechanical Engineering department withdrew the Dow logo from its list of sponsors for a mid-December conference.
“The IITs have sent a resounding message to Dow that they can keep their blood-tainted money ,” said Magasaysay award winner and IIT alumni Arvind Kejriwal, who is leading their campaign against Dow. “The fun is just beginning. We are looking forward to stonewalling Dow at every step. I’m glad our students had more sense than the elders in the government,” he added.
While IIT-Madras, IIT-Kharagpur and IIT-Bombay have already cancelled pre-placement talks scheduled with Dow without specifying reasons, IIT-D is yet to decide on it. But with the tension brewing across IITs, Dow’s recruitment plans in India are likely to run into rough weather. “Dow is not only guilty of sheltering Union Carbide from its Bhopal liabilities, but has also bribed our agriculture officials to license the pesticide Dursban, which is banned in the US for harmful effects on children’s brain development,” said Shalini Sharma, member, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, which has tied up with IIT alumni to keep Dow out.