Archive for November 29th, 2004

November 29, 2004

Bhopal – an outsourced tragedy?

Many who might read this blog will find it outrageous to use the term “outsourcing” and Bhopal together. Afterall outsourcing has been good to many of us….many of my friends and family are finding jobs in this “outsourced” world. Many would right away associate my title itself as belonging to a closed group of individuals who work within an organization (in case you want to donate to that organization, which does amazing work, please go here)

Jobs from US are moving to places like India. And this is termed as outsourcing!

A few years ago, a little before I was born – one company decided to move “some” jobs to India. The company was Union Carbide. It built a factory which couldnot have been so cheap to build in the US. Well, the rules were not as stringent – people would argue. And I would agree. That was outsourcing then!

Today in this globalized world – a lot more gets outsourced! Jobs – people say safe jobs, now how can a computer software cause a tragedy like Bhopal?

Well it might not cause another Bhopal – but it surely can still affect us – YOU AND ME! We are all consumers, a lot of ideas (say credit ratings, cell phones, corporate media, drugs, etc) are exported to us. And hey many of us have seen the system work in the US, why wouldnt they work in India? For nearly a decade, my father told me that it might be a little troublesome to deal with these MNC banks….now he being a traditional national banker, I thought he is trying to hide things:) till I came across an article by Sucheta Dalal. I guess I can just provide a link here.

You might wonder what links am I trying to draw?

One of the major mistakes in Bhopal – which I hope we learnt was to safeguard our human lives! Essentially protect the basic rights of us – citizens of India. And what I see is, the government has learnt nothing, leave alone the people.

Unless we tighten some of our consumer and environmental (now two things, I pointed to and hence mentioning only these two) laws, we are in for big trouble.

I am not making a case for whether globalization is good or bad, I am ok with it – and I know it is here to stay, come what may. But protecting some basic rights of ours (as citizens of India) is not protectionist – but a mere necessity!

For all of you who are wondering why I am thinking of Bhopal – well this friday marks the 20th anniversary of a tragedy. While drinking some water I realized that it is a free natural resource, doesnt mean that anyone and everyone can come and pollute it and refuse to clean it up. To learn more about what you can do – your two cents for the Bhopal people and join many others you can go to any one of these sites:

Bhopal site
Students for Bhopal
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal

As Indians, many of us are so scared of raking the Bhopal issue as it might send wrong signals to the rest of the outsourcing world. But hey remember Bhopal was the worst ever industrial disaster and it was also an outsourced disaster.
Let us not repeat Bhopal and pull up our sleeves. At least we should speak to the Govt about getting in some basic ground rules before throwing open the markets. True – that might scare the outsourcing world – but at least we respect human values!

The next in line for some major adjustment in the industry is the drug industry.
GOI has been doing fairly till now regarding that. But if it blindly accepts WTO rules, trust me healthcare wont be as affordable as it is right now! And this is for the partying, merrymaking, highly earning people like you and me. Forget the common man – or the BPL people. Watch out for a petition on the healthcare item sometime soon.