Arijit Sen, CNN-IBN, December 03, 2007
New Delhi: Petitions are doing the rounds of the seven IITs asking their directors to ban Dow Chemicals from campus. The company is thought to be responsible for the Bhopal gas tragedy that left over 3,000 people dead in December 1984.
Now, over a thousand IIT alumni, students, professors and technical staff are protesting against Dow’s attempts to recruit engineers from the IITs and the direct fallout is here:
On October 25, IIT-Madras cancelled pre-placement talks by Dow Chemicals. IIT-Bombay followed suit on October 28.
Dow did not get an invite for placements at IIT-Kharagpur and even their sponsorship for a college festival stands cancelled.
And in IIT Kanpur, students are demanding that the institute refuse Dow sponsorship for a big international seminar in December.
The IIT petition gives specific examples of Dow Chemicals facing resistance in campuses like Berkeley and Stanford, but is this something truly in the interests of the students of IIT and of a greater cause?
IIT alumni, Praful Bidwai says, “It’s going to raise awareness about the ethical issues of taking up jobs with companies that have caused a great deal of harm to the public through irresponsible corporate conduct.”
Dow Chemicals declined to come on camera but issued a statement which read:
“We are aware of the on-going debate in IITs and respect different views. However, we are focused on growth of business in the country and will keep hiring more talent from within the country.”
But with a demand for screening recruiters on the basis of human rights and environmental records gathering steam, this might just stand in the way of Dow trying to make a clean start in India.