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India takes diplomatic route to target Dow

India has decided to launch a diplomatic offensive against US-based Dow Chemical through its missions abroad after it failed to convince the London Olympics Committee (LOC) to drop the firm as the main sponsor for its role in the 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy. Chetan Chauhan reports.

delhi Updated: Apr 09, 2012 00:45 IST
Chetan Chauhan

India has decided to launch a diplomatic offensive against US-based Dow Chemical through its missions abroad after it failed to convince the London Olympics Committee (LOC) to drop the firm as the main sponsor for its role in the 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy.

LOC had, in fact, claimed that Dow Chemicals has paid money to Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for the Commonwealth Games in 2010. During a presentation to Indian High Commission in London, the committee said the money was given for promotion of sports in India.

Hit back by the LOC’s counter, the sport ministry has sought a reply from the association.

“We are still waiting for IOA’s reply,” a senior ministry functionary said, adding that this fact came into light only after the presentation.

“It is pure double standard on part of IOA,” said Rachna Dingra, spokesperson of Bhopal victims.

What has hurt the ministry most is its failure to convince the Olympic torch-bearers across the world about the past of Dow Chemicals and withdrawal of its sponsorship.

“It was just mere posturing on behalf of the sports ministry,” Dhingra said.

The government now wants to take the offence against the company a step ahead. In this bid, the government has decided to use the diplomatic channel to appraise countries participating in the London Olympics about the plight of victims of Bhopal gas tragedy.

“A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting between sports secretary and external affairs secretary,” the official said.

“It would serve to remind the rest of the world that the tragedy of Bhopal lingers on and evokes deep public sympathy in the country for innocent victims”.

The external affairs ministry has written to its high commission and embassies across the world to conduct a special reach out programme for the same.

Officials admit that it will have no impact as India has yet not decided to boycott the games. As of now, even the country’s official sports ministry delegation will be participating in the opening ceremony of London Olympics.

Dingra said such moves will not have any impact till the government decides to boycott the games and stand for the cause of 25,000 people killed in Bhopal.