The Magazine Covering All Aspects of The Indian World
Editorial Business Forum Political News Dispatches & Reports Letters Spotlight Spiritual Lifestyle Health Travel India Sport Scene
June - July 2009
Dispatches & Reports
Dispatches & Reports
Bhopal Survivors to Tour U.S.
Anticipating 25th Anniversary of Chemical Disaster
Dow Chemical Urged to Clean Up Bhopal Contamination and
Face Criminal Trial in India As Human Tragedy Continues
Survivors Meet with Congressional Leaders, Chemical Security Experts and Student Groups in Two Dozen Cities Nationwide
’s pesticide factory in Bhopal, immediately killing 8,000 people and poisoning thousands of others. Around the world human rights, legal, environmental health and other experts are demanding that Dow Chemical, the current owner of Union Carbide, be held accountable for this atrocity.
WHO IS ON TOUR?
Rachna Dhingra was just six years old and living in Delhi when the world’s worst industrial disaster struck Bhopal. After moving to the U.S. and becoming active in the Association for India’s Development (AID), she eventually moved to Bhopal to work with the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
Safreen Khan’s mother was exposed to the gas from the Bhopal disaster in 1984. Having nowhere else to go Safreen and her family continue to live in the area and consume poisoned water daily.
Sarita Malviya is a resident of one of the many water-contaminated communities living around the Union Carbide factory. She is one of the founding members of Children Against Dow Carbide, a group that meets weekly with about 60 members ages 6 to 18.
Satinath “Sathyu” Sarangi is a metallurgical engineer turned activist who arrived in Bhopal a day after the disaster and stayed on to become a key figure in the struggle for justice. He is a founding trustee of the Sambhavna Clinic, a nonprofit dedicated to the holistic treatment of gas-affected persons.
WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT THIS?
Twenty-five years after the tragedy Dow Chemical, the current owner of Union Carbide, still has not been held accountable. Today, at least 150,000 people, including children born to parents who survived the disaster, are suffering from exposure-related health effects such as cancer, neurological damage and mental illness. More than 10,000 people are still forced to drink water laced with alarmingly high levels of mercury, carbon tetrachloride and other persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals.
Dow Chemical is being urged to: 1) Clean up the poisoned groundwater and contaminated areas within and outside the factory; 2) Arrange for long-term economic rehabilitation of survivors whose livelihoods have suffered as a consequence of the disaster; and 3) Submit to the ongoing criminal and civil proceedings as today’s owner of Union Carbide, which stands accused in Bhopal court and has been declared a fugitive from justice.
In addition, Dow Chemical is one the largest U.S. chemical manufacturer and a major source of many of the world’s most toxic compounds including pesticides, plastics and solvents. They have also been declared one of America’s most dangerous companies in the event of accidents or terrorist attacks at its chemical facilities, according to US PIRG.
APPOINTMENT AS LLOYD’S BROKERS
AFRO-ASIAN INSURANCE SERVICES LIMITED is pleased to announce that it has received full accreditation as a Lloyd’s Broker from Lloyd’s of London on 1st May, 2009.
We thank you as our clients and business partners in placing your trust in us during this company’s evolution over the past 21 years. “AFRO-ASIAN” is evolving for the sole purpose of delivering a focussed and effective service to our clients with the aim of improving our service standards and offering to you access to a wider international market for the placement of your reinsurance business.
2009 will be a year of change, with the aim of delivering the objectives stated above. To summarise the changes made since 1st January 2009:-
- Appointment of Mrs. Vinita Lotlikar to the Board of Directors.
- Recruitment of personnel (broking and finance) from Locktons (Lloyd’s Brokers) and Price Forbes (Lloyd’s Brokers).
- Accreditation as Lloyd’s Brokers on 1st May 2009.
Our Business Plan for 2009 includes further changes to enhance the service that we intend to deliver to our clients and business partners.
Udai .R. Patel
FIRST FLOOR, 11/12 LONDON FRUIT & WOOL EXCHANGE,
56 BRUSHFIELD STREET, LONDON E1 6HB
TELEPHONE: +44 20 7375 7420 Facsimile: +44 20 7375 0972
War widow pensioner awarded record £250,000 pay-out after 40 year wait.
Pensioner Caroline Stewart, 75, has won a landmark decision at the War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation Chamber to receive an unprecedented 33 years' worth of backdated War Widow's Pension – despite being originally informed that she did not have a right to put in such a claim.
Mrs Stewart's husband Robert, who served in the RAF, died on November 23,1968. However, Mrs Stewart – a mother of six children, two of whom have also served in the Armed Forces – only started receiving her War Widow's Pension in July 2001.
The Chamber upheld Mrs Stewart's appeal to claim the backdated pension payments, stating that she had been "intentionally misled" by the then Controller of Social Security when first making a claim. The controller's actions, claims the Chamber, "materially contributed to her lack of awareness and became the dominant reason why Mrs Stewart did not bring her rightful claim until 2004".
The Chamber handed down a decision allowing Mrs Stewart to receive her full War Widow's RAF Pension for the years since her husband's death up until the date she started receiving the pension in 2001 – a sum that could well exceed £250,000.
"This decision now enables me to move forward with my life, as the circumstances that caused my husbands death and the treatment I received in 1968 has haunted me to this day," claims Mrs Stewart.
War Widow's Pension is a tax-free income awarded to widows of members of the armed forces whose death was due to or 'substantially hastened' by their service – for instance as a result of injury or disease. It is usually payable for life or until a war widow remarries or begins living with a new partner.
But like Mrs Stewart, many other widows and their families have to fight for the right to receive a pension – some because the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA), the official organisation that administers pensions to war widows, refuses to recognise cause of death as linked to time the deceased spent in the forces.
In Mrs Stewart's case, however, her appeal has been successful. "I am extremely grateful with the outcome of my case, with the professional manner in which Mark McGhee of Linder Myers solicitors represented me," she says.
"And for the diligence and support of my youngest son Graham, for without his perseverance this case would have been closed and indeed never have seen the light of day.
East Meets West Raga meets Tango
May 20th-23rd 2009 Kings Place, Hall 1
A unique celebration of Indian music and its influence on the west, featuring several of the world’s leading Indian musicians coupled with two of the UK’s leading chamber orchestras took place in May in the beautiful surroundings of Kings Place, Hall 1.
Following on from the hugely successful Guided tour of Indian Music which formed part of the Kings Place opening festival, this four concert series, also curated by conductor David Murphy enabled audiences to explore Indian music further with several of its leading exponents.
The festival opened with an evocation of India, with a vibrantly colourful festival of Indian music and dance featuring musicians, singers and dancers from the London’s Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. The sarod, always a popular instrument in India and now gaining a huge following in the west linked the central events of the Festival. The second concert featured one of the legends of Indian music, sarod virtuoso Amjad Ali Khan, universally acknowledged as one of the greatest ever exponents of this beautiful instrument.
On Friday evening, with the London Sinfonietta and another of India's world renowned sarod virtuosos Wajahat Khan, we explored Indian influences on the music of the west. This was through a rare performance of Holst's Chamber Opera Savitri, coupled with a classical Indian music sarod recital by this celebrated young maestro, who is amongst India's most sort-after musicians today. The festival closed with a colourful juxtaposition of Ragas and Tangos celebrating the seasons of the year from the perspectives of Argentina and India.
The festival culminateed in a concert featuring Sinfonia ViVA (making their London debut) with their leader Benedict Holland and the virtuoso Indian violinist Kala Ramnath in a colourful juxtaposition of Ragas and Tangos celebrating the seasons of the year from the perspectives of Argentina and India.
SUNMARK LTD RECEIVES THE QUEENS AWARD FOR ENTERPRISE FOR INTERNATIONAL TRADE 2009, FOR MARKETING FMCG PRODUCTS IN OVER 84 COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD.
Her Majesty the Queen has been graciously pleased to award the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2009 to Sun Mark Ltd for International Trade in her Birthday Honours List.
Sun Mark Ltd, specializes in marketing products in some of the most difficult territories of the world, such as Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean. It operates in markets where multi national companies find it difficult to penetrate. Sun Mark Ltd not only markets product under her own brands but also markets products for companies like and including Unilever, Cadbury, Nestle, Premier Foods, Twining, Weetabix, Princes, etc.
Dr Rami Ranger MBE, FRSA, Managing Director of Sun Mark Ltd explained that the company specializes in marketing FMCG products worldwide. The company sustains hundreds of British jobs with her activities. This recognition is a feather in the cap for all the staff who go the extra mile for the success of their company.
Dr Ranger’s other company, Sea Air & Land Forwarding Limited, was also the proud recipient of this prestigious award 10 years ago for export achievement. This just shows the expertise the group has developed for marketing products overseas.
The award recognizes the company’s tremendous growth over the past 3 years. The company continues to grow in spite of the global economic down turn. Its turnover is approaching £60 million Sterling.
REVENGE INK UNLEASHES DEBUT BOOKS
London, UK – Revolutionary publishing company, Revenge Ink has released its debut books. The Armageddon Mandala, by Gopal Mukerjee and Ugly Duckling, by Amita Mukerjee were unveiled at Imli in the heart of Soho by renowned writer and producer Farrukh Dhondy.
Amita and Gopal spoke about the importance of integrating the literary world and closing the ‘mainstream’ divide, before giving exclusive readings of their respective books and signing copies for guests.
“Book launches are PR events, organised for a conquered audience of readers and journalists,” says Amita Mukerjee, Managing Director Revenge Ink. “Revenge Ink’s book launch was more like a vernissage or film preview, where we introduced ourselves as publishers and writers to those who cared. That’s how we intended it. Revenge Ink is a small, idealistic publishing house for the post-modern age, when more people are writing than reading (about their lives on the Internet), when they are more eager to turn themselves into characters through their blogs and Facebook pages rather than turn to fiction for just such a specialised art.
“In such a world, writing, art and publishing become tremendous challenges, which is why Revenge Ink aims to bring the book back to individuals and the street, in the manner of the small publishers of the 30s and 60s. Revenge Ink aspires to return the author to his and her intended domain: live, voice-driven styles (now surrendered over to rap music) and personal, contemporary narratives (tragically abandoned to the voracious appetite of reality TV).”
About the Founders
Amita Mukerjee, a former translator and interpreter, is now a writer, entrepreneur and publisher. Amita writes hard, funny fiction in stark opposition to the stereotypical moanings of the self-pitying ‘fairer sex’. She wants not to write (or publish) polite novels that perpetuate crumbling Victorian notions about women not enjoying power, sex or intelligence. She wants not to have anything to do with the high-poetic writing that smacks of lazy summer afternoons and all that lyrical claptrap that goes with poor little rich girls complaining about the woes of womanhood.
Amita grew up in India, the United States and Britain. She has studied foreign and Indian languages, English literature, traditional Indian music and acting. She likes cooking, but hates travel. She has always been an aggressive tomboyish rabble-rouser, developing entirely to her own detriment, an angry, subversive and pretentious attitude about women’s writing and women’s struggles in the third world that she carries with her to this day.
Her first book, Ugly Duckling is a frank and sardonic look at life as an interpreter in Paris. Her second book is due out later this year.
Gopal Mukerjee is a writer, imagist and provocateur of Indian origin. He was born in Mumbai and has lived in India, Britain and the United States. He spent his early childhood in Kensington, his prepubescent years in India and his teens and youth in the American South, where he graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy. He then worked selling futons to the idle rich in California, and taught English and Mathematics to potential dropouts and dyslexics whom no one else would bother with. Since dedicating his life to writing, he has lived in India like a hermit sage, doing what no dollar-craving solid citizen in his right mind would do: write fiction
As a writer of novels and screenplays, Gopal favours the lurid, the hypertrophic and the Rabelaisian. He has a penchant for cult narratives that resemble drug-addled nightmares and surreal mind-trips, in the style of David Lynch, William Burroughs and Samuel Beckett.
Gopal’s first book through Revenge Ink, The Armageddon Mandala is an anarchist, comedic fantasy fiction tale about a slacker PI who finds himself in the middle of a planetary holocaust.
The Armageddon Mandala is the debut novel by upcoming writer, Gopal Mukerjee and is published by Revenge Ink, a revolutionary, subversive publishing company that was launched to showcase cutting edge works. Written in first person, this comedic fantasy fiction is a sinister and eccentric tale of life and death proportions told through the voice of Allen Ginsberg, a loser PI who finds himself in the middle of a planetary holocaust.
Self-declared private investigator, Allen Ginsberg, leads a life of sunlit ease in the sleepy town of Snowdrop. All that suddenly changes when a mysterious stranger, Gyani shows up in his office with a lucrative PI gig that Ginsberg can’t refuse. What starts out as a small, but eccentric assignment quickly turns sour and Ginsberg soon finds himself trapped in a vortex of increasingly bizarre rituals and life-threatening ordeals that defy all reason and explanation. When Gyani hits Ginsberg with a revelation that “flips his life-world ass over tit”, Ginsberg discovers that the fate of the world rests in his hands and nothing will ever be the same again.
I didn’t see him at first. What I saw was an image of the sun in total eclipse, a dark disc with a flaming corona. Then the image changed and a face appeared. Not a human face, no such luck. More like one of those extraterrestrial mugs you see in UFO movies. Here we go, I thought, another alien abduction. They’re going to beam me up to the Mother Ship, stick probes in my favourite orifice and sap my dugs for their breeding program. I stared at that face a moment, my vision unfocused. Then I tipped back my hat, wiped drool off my chin, swung my feet off the desk and blinked. That’s when I saw him clear: a stocky little guy, brown, stone bald, in a metal gray Nehru suit. A red rose showed at his breast pocket, his shoes gleaming black.
Casa Ginsberg appeared at left, picturesque as ever. The sight of it shoud’ve gladdened me, but it didn’t. Not this time. All it did was remind me of Little Boy and the trouble I was in. I had a definite sense of foreboding now. Not just foreboding. I was past the ‘fore’. This was pure, undisguised boding, a tangible augury of doom.
About the author:
Gopal Mukerjee is a writer, imagist and provocateur of Indian origin. He was born in Mumbai and has lived in India, Britain and the United States. As a writer of novels and screenplays, Gopal favours the lurid, the hypertrophic and the Rabelaisian. He has a penchant for cult narratives that resemble drug-addled nightmares and surreal mind-trips
About Revenge Ink:
Revenge Ink is a revolutionary new publishing company that launched to challenge the conventions of the mainstream, highbrow publishing industry by showcasing cutting-edge works from subversive new writers. Dynamic siblings Amita and Gopal Mukerjee founded Revenge Ink to promote strong voices and take on emotionally driven and inspiring projects to encourage edgy ‘outside-the-box’ thinking.