An Indian Life Is Worth Less Than An American One

This week President Obama has been confirmed as the Guest of Honour at India’s Republic Day Celebrations.

My BBC TV newspaper review allowed me a couple of years ago to vent some anger about Bhopal and Obama. The story I was asked to comment on was the fury of Obama at BP for the oil spill in the US.

Now I can imagine the President, pacing in the Oval office, the most powerful man in the world, with the largest nuclear arsenal, yet unable to put a boot on the throat of BP.

I don’t have a problem with the President’s anger, and indeed welcome it on issues of the environment. But I only wish the Americans could have given half a damn when it came to 3,000 dead Indians in Bhopal due to an American company and a chemical spill.

You see with BP – no one has died. Okay some Louisiana fisherman are suicidal, but with Bhopal mothers witnessed their children die. Son and daughters buried their parents, fathers held the dead corpses of their suffocating children and sister and brother wept as they were orphaned. Dead. 3000. But it doesn’t count.

Doesn’t count because poor Indians do not count. The lovely Louisiana coastline and the livelihood of one bloated American living in the world’s richest country counts more than 3,000 dead poor Indians. Rich Indians don’t count either. No Indians don’t count, and never will, unless their Government counts them. You think Americans don’t fire up the Jets when even one American is beheaded by ISIS? One life, and they’ve drawn up plans for an invasion.

So why should America care about Bhopal when the Indian Government itself didn’t want to put a boot on the throat of Union Carbide – now owned by Dow Chemicals?

Oh, on Vodafone you can levy a retrospective tax, but nothing for the victims of Bhopal – is it because in the Vodafone case the money does not go to the poor and dying?

Your citizens are worth what your Government is willing to do for them. I guess prices of citizens is based on supply and demand and India has an oversupply of people.

So when the Prime Minister of India welcomes the President of the United States to New Delhi, I hope he looks the President straight in the eyes and tells him that Indian lives are worth a few dollars more.

I wish the Prime Minister of India will boldly and proudly demand full and fair compensation from the President of America – if any Indian PM would – this one would.

I hope he does and prove to the world over – an Indian life is worth every dime as much as the life of an American.

Alpesh Patel

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