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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bhopal revisited-25 years on

There are tragedies and then there are horror stories.Like the one that happened in Bhopal in 1984.

The Bhopal  Gas Tragedy is believed to be the world's worst ever industrial catastrophe and occurred on the night of December 2-3, 1984 at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal.Around midnight on December 2–3, 1984, there was a leak of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other toxins from the plant, resulting in the exposure of over 500,000 people. The official immediate death toll was 2,259 and the government of Madhya Pradesh has confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. 

What can probably never be estimated  will be the long term effects on thousands more .As if all of that wasn't bad enough, what we are now learning over the course of the past ten days or so is far, far worse.

For it has clearly come through that Warren Anderson, the then CEO of the company was allowed to leav India on the express agreement of the then govtof India.The Congress Party was in power and the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Arjun Singh has reconfirmed that this shocking step was taken in collusion with the Central govt.

As the GOM  meets in Bhopal and comes up with the future action plan, the people of India are seeking answers.To questions they never even knew they had.

So if what we are being told is correct...that India had to take this decision to keep /maintain good relations with the USA, I shudder to think what might be inflicted  upon the people once the upcoming Nuclear Bill has been signed.

Could it be true that all that the Comminists and others like them had said while breaking off the Pre-poll alliance with the UPA Govt was corrrect..

Are you wondering as well?

Monday, June 14, 2010


Milestones are special and its only right that they should be.For each of them 'marks a moment'. For me this particular blogpost is a milestone,being my 300th.

This blog was started soon after 'A Safe Harbour' was published and Ive used it to talk about any and all issues that I've thought were relevant. And for the most part have had a great time doing so.

But since movement  and change is the only thing that is really constant, and now that I'm approaching the release of a second book( hopefully this year itself)I've started a second Blog.

Here's  the link and I will try to keep this one somewhat different from this one..
Will build it up more in a few days, but in the meantime, would love it if you stopped by.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

When a child cries..or far, far, worse...(in this case) dies

Sometimes we forget how important 'Self respect' is, or then its quite possible that  we sometimes underestimate its value for  a child of of thirteen.

But just for a moment imagine how a sensitive child would feel if he is publicly humiliated repeatedly, first by being hit by a class teacher, then made to stand outside class for a whole month. Or if all of this wasn't enough, then being caned by his schoool Principal. so very hard that the cane actually broke!

So that was it for thirteen and a half year old Rouvanjit Rawla one day...the straw which finally broke the camel's back. One cannot really begin to imagine the depths of anguish and hopelessness that the child would have felt on that early morning of Feb 2010 when he realized that he just could not go on.

Or t o put it simply and bluntly, he thought that there was no point in living any longer. So  little Rouvanajit Rawla took his own lifeby hanaging himself , and when his parents and two older siblings came home later that morning,it was just too late.

For Rouvanjit Rawla was already dead.And nothing that they did could possibly revive him.

So who is to blame for the death of this child who is no longer amidst all of us?

The culprits have been squarely identified as the Principal of La Marteneire's School Calcutta, Surnimal  Chakravarti, the man who caned him and RG Gunnon, the Middle School teacher who made him stand outside the class room for an inordinately long period of time.Both these men are still roaming scot free and  apart from a note saying that they are "Sorry for the loss of a young life", nothing more has been said by the School authorities.

I say..Punish them so severely and make such an example of that these two men so that any other School master ( or for that matter, mistress) would think a thousand times before raising a hand...(or a cane) on any other young and impressionable schoolchild..

For that is the very least that we can do for Rouvanajit Rawla.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Meandering through the lanes and straight into Alladin's cave

Matrah Souq in Muscat is one of the most delightfully quaint places in the world.A true amalgamation of the best of sights, sounds and smells, this is one of my favourite places to head to. And the walk towards it is possibly even better..

Reminiscient in many ways of Chandni Chowk in Delhi, it leads one through twisting and turning lanes, bylanes and alleys...each one revealing more and more interesting sights.Silver, coffee, spices, cloth, houesehold goods, where do I start and where do I stop? For all of these and more are available here.All for the best possible bargains

Check these pics out for yourself, each one tells you a tale..

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Calm after the Storm

Its now been two days since the Tropical storm Phet passed through Oman and things have gone back to almost normal. And life is back on track or so it seems.

But look closer beneath the surface and you will see many things which will take some more time to stabilize.

For one there are severe traffic jams which are because some parts of town got severly flooded and some roads have been closed off and diversions provided,bringing traffic to almost a crawl. Then there is a lot of dust in the air and bits of debris on the sides of the road, both of which are unusual occurences in a beautiful and well maintained city like Muscat. Sadly too, the CCC Prisunic and Macdonald's suffered badly for the second time in three years and are temporarily closed( co-incidentally, today happens to the the third anniversary of the day that Cyclone Gonu battered and bruised Muscat, leaving it changed in many, many ways)

On the plus side is the thought that things could have been far worse and that we all have actually got off lightly.What was earlier predicted as a Category 5 cyclone, got downgraded to a Tropical storm and the government authorites ensured that everyone was adequately warned.In addition Saturday was declared a Public holiday so that there would be minimal movement on the roads. Of course there were the stubborn diehards who did venture out that day, but they should have known better,

Things can and will get better from hereon and here's closing with a very special 'Thank You' to those who made that day easy for all of us.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Remembering 'Gonu', as we remain concerned about Cyclone 'Phet'

As we remain concerned about the prospect of Cyclone Phet hitting Oman's Coastal areas, my mind goes back to that awful day in June, almost exactly three years to the day. It was the 6th of June 2007 and Cyclone Gonu hit Muscat. 
Cyclone Gonu leaves behind a trail of destruction at Al Amerat, and Wadi Adai areas. (My article -Oman Observer-7/6/07)

Residents of Al Amerat and Wadi Adai areas will never forget Wednesday, the 6th of June 2007. A full day and night, when many of them found the world completely turned around, and in some cases, were left with complete destruction and heartache.

Thanks to all the warnings that had been issued by the DGCAM, however prepared people were for the cyclone, what they were not prepared for was the force and quantum of water brought in by the Wadi Adai. As the accompanying photos will testify to, the water in the Wadi rose steadily, and menacingly, and for many hours on Wednesday, it resembled a raging river.

Coming from India, we were used to the sight of many swollen rivers, but this was truly frightening to watch. From our safe lookout in Hatat House, we were able to see how the lower lying areas around, were getting submerged, and we saw people move out of their houses, on to the roofs, and then, realizing that this would also probably not help them in the long run, moved away to the shelters that had been to advised by the government authorities.

At about 1600 hours on Wednesday,the Wadi Adai roundabout was overrun by muddy waters, with floating debris, comprising broken pieces of wood, and other miscellaneous items, and this continued for many hours after that. People from the nearby shops, were seen quickly carrying out items like sofa sets, tables, and chairs, so that they could be shifted to more secure areas. Compounding the situation was the fact of the total breakdown of power at about 1830 hours, which continued right upto 0630 hrs on Thursday morning.

The Wadi raged all through the night, and the road to Al Amerat was badly damaged, with some sections of it completely washed way. On Thursday morning, we were able to see people coming out to check out the extent of damage, and removing some trucks, and cars which had been tossed about overnight.

Once the rain stopped, it was a matter of time, the Wadi’s water slowly receded, and by about 6am. it had been reduced to a controlled, semi dry area. The trauma of the previous day and night, was over, leaving behind some completely changed topography
All photos - Avi Ahluwalia