“As long as the company is providing us with sponsorship money, we do not care what they do.“
There is an online petition urging the International and INNCOM-6 Conference Committee and IIT Kanpur Authorities to do the following: 1. Formally dissociate this and future conferences from Dow until Dow fulfills its liabilities in Bhopal and 2. Adopt selection criterion and guidelines for corporate screening in the IITK for recruitment/sponsorships/other such associations giving students an informed choice to affiliate with the companies. Only through such initiatives can IITians reaffirm a choice to have responsible and ethical use of their technological and professional expertise.
Why are the students protesting? To answer that we’ll have to revisit the turn of events since one of the darkest days of the history of environmental concerns.
The Bhopal Disaster
Dow and Bhopal Liability
Dow is exerting tremendous pressure on the Indian Government to get the Government to absolve it of all liabilities related to Bhopal. Letters unearthed by the Bhopal survivor groups indicates that Dow has written to the Indian ambassador in an attempt to dictate the Government’s course of action in a case against it for environmental clean-up in the Madhya Pradesh High Court. From allying with top Indian industrialists to propose fake charity clean up, they now mislead Indian citizens by proposing a clean up for Bhopal toxic wastes in exchange of all legal liabilities and withdrawal of Jabalpur High Court case on clean up issue. And of course promotion of the clean up under Company’s Corporate Social Responsibility Programme. PMO’s role in this matter has been more than just dubious [Source], and it has been alleged (with some form of proof) that the Prime Minister’s office has been putting efforts in taking this matter out of the courts.
They approach Indian Academic Institutes to gain credibility.
A. The case of Dow and Jadavpur University: Last year Dow Chemical approached Dr. Dipankar Chakraborty of Environmental Studies at Jadavpur University, and offered to build an arsenic removal plant. Both parties agreed that it was a swell idea. The negotiations were finalized from the university side. Dow is waiting for some approval and the machinery and plant will be built within next 2-3 months. Dow Chemicals is already using the deal in its PR campaign.
B. The case of Dow and IITs: Dow Chemicals approached Chemical engineering departments at IITs exploring the possibility of funding new projects. IIT Delhi and Mumbai have confirmed their meetings with Dow executives and possibility of future association. Please see here the detailed meetings notes received as response to RTI from IIT Delhi and Mumbai for your reference.
You may like to visit here, just in case you want to see the records of Dow Chemicals in US Universities.
All of the above may sound one-sided view of the whole picture and there are some questions that need some answers, e.g., “For how long a company remains responsible for an action?” “Whether successors are responsible for an action in the past?”