Double Standards for Third World

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Soulveda | January 11, 2017

The gas leak tragedy in Bhopal, India (December 1984) was the greatest man-made disaster–outside war–in the history of mankind. Altogether 2,500 people lost their lives, and thousands more have been permanently blinded or maimed.

Investigations that have followed the disaster have shown that safety precautions at the Union Carbide Plant in Bhopal were far inferior to those at similar plants in the United States. In India there are fewer inspectors to review the health and safety situation in factories. Laws controlling industrial safety are more lax, or less strin­gently enforced. This means that multinational companies like Union Carbide are able to operate with relative freedom in the third world countries such as India.

As Alex Brummer of The Guardian writes: “As western multinational companies have spread their wings and invested in the third world, the iron rule of health and safety legislation and environmental laws is often left at home.” (The Guardian Weekly, December 16, 1984).

The New York Times reported that C V Tyson, one of the three inspectors who had made an ‘Operational Safety Survey’ for Union Carbide in 1982, said standards at the factory in Bhopal had not been up to those at a similar Union Carbide plant in Institution, West Virginia. Company officials admitted that the deadly poison which was accidentally released into the atmosphere in India should have been removed by scrubbers.

This is what happens when people follow limited, human laws. While they remain within the realm of jurisdiction of the laws to which they owe allegiance, then they are an epitome of legality and propri­ety. While outside that realm, however, they follow only the dictates of their own self-interest, sometimes with catastrophic consequences as witnessed in Bhopal.

Obedience to God makes one treat all people as one; everyone becomes equally deserving of good and fair treatment. There are no divisions in the world of God; it is only in the world of man that ‘third worlds’ have been concocted where first-rate standards do not apply.