Stop Dow recruitment in IIT Chennai

Stop Dow recruitment in IIT Chennai
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Sign the petition here
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Hundreds of alumni from Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) have signed the petition among others demanding that Dow Chemical, the owner of Union Carbide, and all of its subsidiaries should be barred from campus recruitment at all IITs. Representatives of survivors of the 1984 Bhopal Gas disaster had earlier informed that Dow Chemical is trying to recruit engineering students during campus interviews at IITs. The petition is addressed to Professor MS Ananth, Director of Chennai’s IIT.

Union Carbide is a key accused in a criminal case related to the Bhopal gas disaster where the company is charged with "culpable homicide not amounting to murder." Because it failed to honour summons issued by the Bhopal court, it was declared an absconder in 1992.

Dow Chemical has also failed to obey the law and is currently being challenged in the criminal court for sheltering a fugitive. Till date, it has failed to make Union Carbide - its 100 percent subsidiary - appear in court to face trial.

Aside from the disaster, Union Carbide's routine operations in the Bhopal factory have resulted in a massive environmental contamination problem that has not been addressed till date. Several thousand tons of toxic wastes, obsolete pesticides and contaminated material and machinery lie strewn in and around the factory site. Over the years, these wastes have leached their poisons into the groundwater. At least 10 governmental and non-governmental studies document and confirm the spread of toxic contamination. More than 20,000 people are forced to consume this contaminated water in the absence of any alternative. Tests carried out at IIT, Kanpur, by a New Delhi based fact finding mission on Bhopal showed the presence of toxic chemicals such as chloroform, chlorobenzenes, dichloromethane and heavy metals such as lead and mercury in the breast milk of mothers in these communities.

Union Carbide and Dow Chemical have refused to contribute towards clean-up of the contamination and groundwater.

As a result, Dow Chemical is the target of a concerted campaign by Bhopal survivors and their supporters. The aim of the campaign is to hold the corporation and the Governments of India and Madhya Pradesh accountable.

Dow Chemical's track record in India and abroad is poor on various counts says it all.

Earlier this year, the company was fined $325,000 by the US Securities Exchange Commission for having paid $200,000 in bribes to Agriculture Ministry officials for expediting the registration of three of its pesticides. One of the registered pesticides, Dursban (chlorpyriphos), is freely sold in India whereas it has been withdrawn from use in domestic settings in the US owing to its demonstrated deleterious effects on the mental development of children. An enquiry by the Ministry and another by the Vigilance Commission is currently ongoing.

In 2005, Indian Oil canceled a technology tie-up with Dow Global Technologies Inc., a subsidiary of Dow Chemical, because the company had attempted to sell a Union Carbide technology by passing it off as its own.

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.

Dow's poor track record, particularly with respect to Bhopal, has made it very unpopular. In May 2005, more than 1300 IIT alumni intervened and forced the organizers of the Global IIT 2005 Conference to cancel the key note address by William Stavropoulos, then CEO of Dow Chemical.

In March 2007, the University of California, Berkeley, returned a donation by Dow Chemical towards organizing the UC Berkeley Energy Symposium after students voted overwhelmingly against accepting funds from the tainted company.

Dow Chemical's motive behind the relationship it is attempting to forge with IIT Madras is not the furtherance of science and technology. Rather, it is an attempt to acquire legitimacy and credibility by associating itself with IIT.

“The impeccable reputation of IIT Madras will certainly be tarnished by any association with Dow Chemical. By refusing campus recruitment to the company, IIT Madras will be sending a strong signal that it stands by principles of justice and ethics” said activists of Association for India’s Development (AID).
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To sign the petition, click here
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The Seoul Times, South Korea: 20 October 2007

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