For the Love of writing...
Saturday, March 10, 2012
  The Power of States

In 2010, an accident off the Gulf of Mexico caused the largest oil spill in the history of the oil and gas industry causing extensive damage to marine and wildlife in and around the coast. The US government criticized BP in a no holds barred fashion and then unleashed a string of inspections and regulatory checks on the company. In addition it asked BP to deposit $1 billion in an Escrow account to fund the cleaning of the spill. The government then proceeded to frame charges against the company which is now scrambling to settle them out of court for an estimated cost of $8 billion to be borne entirely by BP. While all this was happening Obama dialed a phone call to the British Prime minister and assured him that this was not personal and had nothing to do with the fact that BP was a British company.

In a similar but infinitesimally smaller incident off the Brazilian coast, Chevron reported underestimating the strength of the underwater rock which caused approximately 3000 barrels of oil to leak into the ocean water. This, in reality, is nothing more than a drop in the ocean but the Brazilian authorities responded by literally kicking Chevron out from its coast and halting all drilling operations. In addition, they filed an $11 billion lawsuit against the company and contested this decision in the courts when Chevron approached for relief. The matter is still pending in court but the point to be noted is that Brazil, still a developing country, could muster the courage to take such strong action against a foreign company. I am not sure if Obama received a phone call from Brazil’s Prime Minister saying this was not personal.

And on the other hand we have India whose inherently slow decision making process, that failed to pass the Lokpal Bill for more than 40 years passed the Nuclear Liability Bill in a few months time just before President Obama was to visit the country. In simple words the Nuclear Liability Bill puts a cap on the liability the government can impose on a foreign company should a nuclear accident were to happen. So, if a reactor made by GE explodes in India, yes, you guessed it right, India cannot ask GE to pay for the damage caused which will definitely run into billions of dollars. Not to mention the victims of the Bhopal Gas tragedy who are still fighting the aftereffects of the deadly gas and have no one to care for their medical expenses.

Yes, nuclear power is essential, but here is a clear example of what value do the governments of different nations place on the lives of their citizens. And these leaders are chosen by us which implies what value we place on our own lives. An absolute lack of self esteem, I must say, which, unfortunately, has been the characteristic of the country for long.


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