29 OCTOBER Smiles and affability were
the order of the Dow as the Bhopal survivors' siege of Dow Europe
continued this week. It is scarcely a week since Dow's European
CEO ran from the room when presented with a Bhopali broom by Champa
Devi and only a few days since the public humiliation of Dow CEO
Michael Parker at an environmental luncheon in Houston when he was
presented with a broom and told to clean up his act by Bhopal activists.
pointedly refused to accept the broom, creating a glorious photo-opportunity
for reporters - the sight of an Indian woman with her arms outstretched
while he studiously ignored her - yes, Greenpeace has the pictures.
It seems that Dow has now realised that cowardice and petulance
are unlikely to do it any favours and so their PR geniuses have
issued instructions to jhadooable Dow executives round the world
that they must accept the brooms - and pretend to enjoy it!
accepting the jhadoos they are also, in the eyes of survivors, accepting
Dow's liabilities in Bhopal.
All last week and this, Bhopali gas-survivors Rashida Bi, leader
of one of the most active of the Bhopali survivors' organisatsions,
and Dr Mohammed Ali Qaiser, who works providing free care to gas-affected
people, have been touring Europe seeking out Dow executives to award
the Order of the Jhadoo. The tour, coming just days after Pranay
and Champa Devi's jhadooing of Respini in Switzerland, took in Italy,
Belgium and Holland.
executives swept up by Rashida and Mohammed Ali Qaiser include Luc
de Graef, Operation & Site Leader at Dow Haltercustom processing,
Kallo; Patprick Bogaerts, Business Operations Executive at Dow's
Edegam petrochemicals plant; Wimvan Noten of Dow Zwijndrcht and
the site leader of Dow Tessendel - all in Belgium.
Dr Qaiser, "Rasheeda explained our situation and then handed
over the brooms. They accepted them very politely and assured us
they would pass on the message to their higher authorities."
the top brass, the cowering Respini and sullen Parker, have already
got the message, and although the cheesy grins are out in these
pictures, the bonhomie cannot drown out the sound of grinding teeth
emanating from the direction of Midland, Michigan.
India to be hit with a broom is a supreme insult, worse even than
to have chappals (slippers) thrown at one. Dow employees in India,
their futures surely uncertain now that the company is about to
be dragged into the ongoing criminal case in Bhopal, know this all
jhadoo is not just an insult, it carries a serious message. Says
G. Krishnaveni, who handed the Bhopali broom to Parker, "I
remember, by the time I walked up to Parker, I was quite angry.
and I couldn't help saying some sarcastic thing like '......this
is for your fantastic environmental work in Bhopal....from the women
whose breast milk has been poisoned by lead and mercury...' He was
so pissed off, I could sense him seething.
you can hear him quietly seething too, as he drones Dow's PR mantras,
and catch Kinnu's remarks and interjections by
listening to Jackson Allers' recording of the event, here.