India bids to oust Dow Chemical from OlympicsBy Asia Sentinel Mar 17, 2012 8:33PM UTC
Still wounded by the Bhopal tragedy, New Delhi seeks to push out Union Carbide’s parent, writes Asia Sentinel’s Neeta Lal
India is threatening a “partial” boycott of the Olympic Games, to be held in London from July 27 to Aug. 12, because of Dow Chemical Company’s presence among its major sponsors. This has given the feud between London and New Delhi an unambiguous political overtone.
The name Dow Chemical has ominous overtones for India. That is because of Union Carbide, which the US-based multinational purchased in 1999, was responsible for the horrific 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, one of the world’s worst industrial catastrophes. A Union Carbide production plant leaked 27 tons of the deadly methyl isocyanate gas in Bhopal, central India, killing more than 20,000 people and exposing over half a million to lifelong illnesses and deformities.
That has brought Dow under sustained heat for its £7 million sponsorship of the London Olympic Games stadium wrap and the Olympic Movement in a US$100 million deal.
Faced with mounting pressure from humanitarian organizations and the media, the Indian Olympic Association and the Indian government have asked the International Olympic Committee to drop the company as the London Games’ sponsor. The bodies claim that the organizers’ association with the US company goes against the principles of the Olympic Charter. “Look beyond the financial implications of the deal and examine the humanitarian aspect of the issue,” Indian Olympics body said.
George Hamilton, Dow’s vice president of Olympic operations, said the Indian government is the one who should be doing the explaining over the contamination of Bhopal rather than his company.
British Prime Minister David Cameron stated that “it would be a very sad day” if India were to withdraw from the Olympics, pointing out that boycotting the event “was not the right thing to do.” The premier underscored that Dow was not the owner of Union Carbide when the deadly gas leak took place in Bhopal in the 1980s.
Continue reading at Asia Sentinel