Narrative of Disaster Explores Bhopal's Pain; Book on Indian City's 1984 Gas Tragedy Raises concerns.(WORLD)(BRIEFING: WESTERN ASIA)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 22, 2002 | Go to article overview

Narrative of Disaster Explores Bhopal's Pain; Book on Indian City's 1984 Gas Tragedy Raises concerns.(WORLD)(BRIEFING: WESTERN ASIA)


Byline: Gus Constantine, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Dominique Lapierre, co-author of a book on Bhopal, a city in India and the site of the world's deadliest industrial disaster, still finds the magnitude of the 1984 explosion at an American pesticide plant there unbelievable.

"There's no doubt that it is an incredible chapter in human history. Do you realize that at least five times as many people died at Bhopal as did in the World Trade Center catastrophe of September 11?" he asked in a recent telephone interview with The Washington Times.

"Yet no one has been convicted for the destruction of human life in India's largest state."

Warren Anderson, the last chairman of the now-defunct Union Carbide Corp., which ran the plant, dropped out of public view after India issued a warrant for his arrest.

Mr. Lapierre was in Washington this month, one of his stops on a U.S. tour to promote the work, "Five Past Midnight in Bhopal," co-authored by Spanish writer Javier Moro.

The destruction in Bhopal has yet to be definitively quantified, but estimates of the number of people killed range from 16,000 to 30,000.

"It happened in the dead of night, and the deaths were spread out over time," Mr. Lapierre said.

The book, published this month by Warner Books Inc., is a translation of the original French work published last year. It is based on "hundreds of eyewitness accounts" and as many characters, woven together in classic docudrama style.

It has sold a million copies in Europe, with half the proceeds going to aid the victims. Mr. Lapierre also has set up a gynecology clinic in the town, because the tragedy "struck particularly hard at women."

The work carries a drumbeat of highs and lows as it moves toward its climax. The cadence of impending tragedy reminds one of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood," which depicts how the serenity of a family in the western Kansas wheat fields came apart the night two men bent on crime fired "four shotgun blasts that, all told, ended six human lives."

The Union Carbide story opens in a village in Orissa state on India's east coast, 59 hours by train from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh state, which is roughly in the center of the country.

There lives the landless family of Ratna Nadar, whose Adivasi tribal roots date thousands of years to a time before the Aryans invaded India.

In that village, the authors tell us, the family lives through the predictable tragedies that befall people who live on the edge of an economic precipice.

They lose a preteen son in an accident at a cigarette-and-match factory. They are "compensated" by officials with a cow to produce milk for their nourishment, which it cannot do because the feed for its sustenance is destroyed by field insects, causing it to waste away.

The threat to crop production turns out, in this instance, to be a chilling harbinger.

Suddenly, the Nadars are recruited to work in Bhopal on expanding the railroad station there - a seemingly heaven-sent opportunity to escape poverty. They readily agree.

At this juncture, the authors cut away, movielike, to the rise of the chemical industry in the United States and the spectacular growth of Union Carbide. When the insecticide DDT was outlawed for agriculture, the company set up a research lab that created a substitute - Sevin - the pesticide that caused the loss of human lives in Bhopal. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Narrative of Disaster Explores Bhopal's Pain; Book on Indian City's 1984 Gas Tragedy Raises concerns.(WORLD)(BRIEFING: WESTERN ASIA)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.