It is claimed Indians don’t help Indians. That the pinnacle of this was how 200,000 British soldiers could control and hold dominion over 300m Indians. True today?
To the political operative whose emails I was cc’d on with access at Downing St and the Mayor’s office, when many years from now, you breathe your last breath, whether or not you believed in the injustice to the victims of Bhopal, know you will not leave this earth as a Conservative or a Liberal or a Labour supporter, you will not leave it by the colour of your passport or the nationality on it, but that you will leave it as a Hindu and as an Indian –all else will perish. You let down your race, your creed and your faith. Your ancestors weep today for you wasted all they worked for to put you where you are.
I’ve been privy to some emails between a UK government representative and a major Hindu network over the Olympics and Bhopal. I will specifically not name them for now as it would be unfair given they did not know I would be writing on this subject – although could probably guess I would!
At an Advisory Board Meeting of the City Hindu Network I was informed that sadly, so many don’t even know of what happened at Bhopal – how thousands died an agonising, painful death from a chemical leak at the Indian subsidiary of a US firm in the early 80s – that compensation for the victims was pitiful and took years.
So why should we protest against Dow Chemicals who years later bought the company? Why should we protest at the Olympics where Dow are a supplier? Why not against all customers of Dow? Why protest when the Indian Government is actively participating?
Political protest without publicity is pointless. Yes I would respect all those that did protest and boycott – even if they did without publicity. What we can learn from the greatest political protestor since Christ – Mahatma Gandhi – is that without publicity, without correct timing, you only injure yourself, not bring victory closer for your cause.
But anyone taking a stand on principal would have my support. What worries me however is not this. What worries me is that in the emails I saw the Government representative (well he portrayed himself as such – I don’t know him) suggested that his role was to ensure that the torch would be pictured against the backdrop of Hindu temples, but if there were protests this could not happen ‘for security concerns’ and he even went further to copy into the email a prominent member of the Conservative party who is also of Indian origin.
Now such ‘political’ pressure is crass. It uses three classic, but ineffectual strategic moves, which shows me he is a political operative, but not quite top tier. But it is a lesson in how not to do things.
His strategic move was firstly Imperial (get the Indian to turn on his own people – ie he is Indian, rope in another Indian from the Party to add pressure on the Hindu organisation).
Second the age old ‘divide and conquer’. His implicit threat being that should presumably this one Hindu organisation protest, then the torch would not be near other mandirs and other Hindu groups would be upset at it for spoiling their day in the sun.
Now this ‘carrot and stick’ approach does not work. In essence his crass political tactics lacked credibility – despite his ‘name-dropping’ about who in Number 10 and the London Mayor’s Office he represents. They lacked credibility for several reasons. One was the typos in his email. Second the torch will be going throughout the UK – to think there would be protests everywhere outside temples is ridiculous. Third why would Indians protest outside temples? We are allowed in other parts of the country you know.
But worse of all, lost in all of this, in his email – was the tragedy that these people in Bhopal – the poorest, the destitute, died without anyone with power who could have helped doing so. Including now, this Indian man in Number 10 and the Mayor’s office. He could at least have acknowledged the tragedy, that he would again take the issue up – that he would represent the views of his community. But instead, he came across, to me at least, as a just another in a long line of self-serving political operatives without the political will to do anything for the weakest.
In the words of Voltaire, ‘every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do.’ I am sure this political operative is telling his masters how he averted protests on the torch route. So I remind him of the words of a follower of Gandhiji, Desmond Tutu, ‘If you are neutral on situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.’ And yet another follower of Gandhiji, Albert Einstein, ‘Those you have the privilege to know have the duty to act.’ To this political operative with access at Downing St and the Mayor’s office, when many years from now, you breathe your last breath, whether you believed in the injustice to the victims of Bhopal, know you will not leave this earth as a Conservative or a Liberal or a Labour supporter, you will not leave it by the colour of your passport or the nationality of on it, but that you will leave it as a Hindu and as an Indian –all else will perish. You let down your race, your creed and your faith. Your ancestors weep today for you wasted all they worked for to put you where you are.