On a chilly December night in 1984, as the world slept, the capital of Madhya Pradesh woke up to one of the most lethal industrial disasters ever known to mankind.
Thirty years and two generations later, does the Bhopal gas tragedy still evoke nightmares among the people of the city, specially the younger generation?
On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the tragedy, HT conducted a survey to test youngsters’ awareness of the incident and how much they relate to it.
A questionnaire entailing five fundamental questions related to the gas tragedy was distributed among youngsters of the city.
The questions asked were 1. Which is the biggest industrial disaster in the world in terms of human casualties? 2. Which company owned the plant from which the gas leak took place? 3. How many people died in the immediate aftermath of the gas leak? Can you give a range of death plus minus 500 people? 4. Who was the then chairman of Union Carbide who died recently? 5. Which anniversary of the gas leak is falling this year?
The results, though not shocking, turned out to be quite surprising.
youngsters’ awareness of the incident and how much they relate to it. (HT photo)
Interestingly, only 25.35% got all the answers right. While 30.98% and 18.30% could answer 4 questions and 3 questions respectively, the knowledge of 7.04% and 2.81% youngsters were restricted to only 2 and 1 question respectively.
The biggest blow came from the fact that 15.49% of the young participants, either born or brought up in Bhopal, did not have answer to even a single question.
Though tall claims of empathising with the victims and being let down in the struggle for justice were made in the beginning, when questioned on ground realities, most had to take the help of their cell phones to find answers to questions most obvious for anyone who has been residing in Bhopal for some time.