Union Carbide In ‘The Railway Men,’ Explained: Did Warren Anderson Serve Any Time In Prison?


Directed by Shiv Rawail, The Railway Men made us think about what would have happened to Warren Anderson, Madsen, and the other officials of the management of Union Carbide India Limited if the company had been in the United States of America. The moment you ask yourself this question, the hard truth comes to light, and that’s when you realize whose fault it was actually. You keep talking about concepts like justice and equality, but in reality, the law only favors the one who is in a powerful position. India got to know in 1984 about the policy that was being followed by the United States of America. They didn’t care if the Indians lived or died; they were more focused on protecting their own, and in the end, they made sure that something like that did happen. Hundreds of people lost their lives, and those who somehow survived dealt with the nightmares their entire lives. The most disgraceful thing that brought the real face of the United States of America to light was that not even one person issued an apology on behalf of the entire company. I mean, that was the least anyone could have asked for. The victims kept crying, and the Indian courts kept issuing orders, but to no avail, as the people who were pulling the reins were comfortably sitting in their houses, knowing that nothing would happen to them.

Were the Union Carbide management aware of the safety lapses?

It had been proven time and again that people who were part of the management sitting in the United States of America knew very well about the kind of risks they were putting others through. They didn’t care, and they kept on going like that for a very simple reason: they wanted to keep their shareholders happy at all costs, and the cost we are talking about here is the lives of the people involved. In this article, let’s compare what they did in India to what they would have done if the company were situated on their own land. Firstly, the chemical industries where hazardous substances are used to make the product are generally situated outside the city for a very simple reason that if any tragedy occurs, the company has the space to manage things properly. But Union Carbide was situated at the heart of the city, and we don’t understand why no one raised an objection, and moreover, why didn’t the courts take suo moto cognizance of the matter? The court always has the power to initiate proceedings without anyone filing a formal complaint, and in this case, we believe they should have done that.

Secondly, the biggest disaster was that people were being hired without any proper skill set, and they weren’t even given training to deal with day-to-day matters. In the series, The Railway Men, we saw that the workers didn’t even know that the water shouldn’t mix with MIC, and it was only after the blunder had been committed that they realized that it was a matter of life and death. Once the gas leak happened, we saw that there wasn’t even proper protective gear for the employees, and they actually tied a wet handkerchief around their faces to check what had gone wrong. It was just sad to see a nation soaked in its arrogance, calling itself the flagbearer of democracy, not giving two hoots about the life of a human being and treating them in the most barbaric manner.

India’s economy and the status as an underdeveloped nation had a huge role to play in the scheme of things. Had the country been the United Kingdom or the Soviet Union, then in 1984, Union Carbide wouldn’t have been able to go about its business in such a reckless manner. India learned a valuable lesson: no matter how much a nation pretends to be its ally, in reality, it will always try to oppress and reap the benefits of its adversity. It was an eye-opener for the authorities, who realized that if they didn’t keep these capitalistic predators in check, then they would make sure that the country burned from within, and they wouldn’t stop unless and until they had destroyed everything for their own vested interests.

Did Warren Anderson Serve Any Time In Prison?

Warren Anderson said that he wasn’t aware of what was happening in the company, and only the people who managed the affairs were responsible for the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The man couldn’t have opted for a more lame excuse, but the tragedy was that even after such blatant lies, the loopholes in the legal setup enabled him to escape the clutches of the law. Just imagine the fact that if a nation had wronged the United States of America in such a manner, the kind hue and cry they would have made on an international platform, obviously if it was not against their political agendas.

So basically, Mr. Anderson wanted to say that he didn’t know that the company was running in losses; if he had known, he would have also known the reason behind it. It also means that the decision to not spend on safety gear was taken by the very people who were managing the company in Bhopal, and it was not a directive that was passed from higher up the food chain. I believe if we consider all this to be true, then we have to say Mr. Warren Anderson was an imbecile who didn’t know how to run a business. Either it was this, or he willfully neglected the wrongdoings and safety lapses and took every person’s life for granted.

The CEO of Union Carbide Corporation passed away peacefully at his home in Florida in September 2014, and he neither accepted the fact that he was at fault nor was he ever extradited to India, even after a local Indian court labeled him a fugitive.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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