Greetings from Rishikesh, “spiritual disneyland!” as called by my Japanese friend.
As I take a break from Yoga and Herbal tea; group Reiki healing sessions and ayurvedic massages; I take a moment to question the price of things. From material things to intangible things, all are determined by putting a price on somebody’s time. How much is an hour of an Indian worker’s time versus that of a European? How much for using your hands versus using your brain?
I question this as I think about some of the prices set by healing practioners here, what made them decide that was the right price to pay for the service? Why does one person’s massage cost 700 rupees and another’s 300?
and I question the cost to myself beyond that of Internet rupees for maintaining the blog. Does the benefit outweigh the cost? Is it purely egotistical of me to be writing something which I tell myself if for other people’s benefits, so they can keep up-to-date with my travels, so my mum doesn’t worry. Or does it save me in the long run because I don’t have to write the same thing out time and time again, is that a credit in my time bank? Do I get a debit for not writing each of you personally?
What are the costs, beyond that of money attached to all of our actions?
and that leads me to question what is the price of a human life? Who has the right to to ring up the prices in the big till in the sky, down here on earth?
In 1984 a poorly maintained Union Carbide factory in Bhopal exploded, releasing poisonous gases into the atmosphere; killing 3,500 people that night and a total of 15,000 as a direct result of the gas released, injuring 500k.
Union Carbide paid each family 63k rupees for a death and 25k for permanent injuries. For those unfamiliar with Rupees, you get 80 to the pound.
So each family received GBP 787 for a dead family member and GBP 312 for permanent, crippling injuries.
We won’t go into the reasons why the amount is so low (ie refusal to admit the true number of victims in order to save some kind of face) or that the amount given to each injured person was less than Exxon paid out to clean an otter after an oil spill…
For now the focus should not be on what’s happened in the past, but what is happening now… through one ineptitude to another’s corrupt denial unbelievably nobody ever cleaned the mess up & the chemicals left behind 24 years ago after the explosion have been leeching into the ground, the water table and the bodies of the villagers. People who managed to escape unharmed from the gas explosion are dying slow painful deaths. because of corruption and big business bucks nobody will accept culpability for the mess. Whilst big Grandfather Tata has offered to form an industry collective to clear the chemicals up, the villagers are demanding that Dow (the company who bought the site from Union Carbide) accept responsibility and resolve the outstanding legal and moral obligations from this purchase.
50 villagers aged from 2 to 82 took a long hard march to Delhi to demand a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss promises made two years ago concerning economic, social and medical rehabilitation, and provision of clean drinking water.
So please take a moment to pay a virtual visit to Bhopal and sign the petition demanding that these people don’t continue to get punished in the name of profit.
How can anybody profit when that profit is paid for with pain, suffering and death? http://www.bhopal.net/
Love to you all and to the continued victims of the Bhopal Union Carbide Gas explosion