In December 1984, the world woke to the news of an industrial disaster on an unprecedented scale – Methyl Isocyanate had leaked from a Union Carbide factory and killed thousands of sleeping victims in its immediate vicinity. The victims stood no chance and many died on the spot with countless others suffering from inhalation of MIC (Methyl Isocyanate). Till date no one has been penalized for the consequences of that fateful day. Nobody went to jail, victims were not properly compensated.
Studies on the health of those who survived the gas leak have indicated long-term debilitating health issues like:
Thirty-four years later the victims of Union Carbide continue to suffer. Union Carbide has changed its name to Dow Chemicals and is back to doing business as usual. If the story is reversed the ending would have been dramatically different. If an Indian company had committed a similar blunder in the United States of America the entire force of the US Administration and diplomacy would have been brought to bear on the Indian government to see to it that the perpetrators suffer the consequences for their actions and fried them alive in their notorious correctional facilities.
Fast forward to the present day and there is a different story that has unfolded in two specific parts of the world and one particular US company is involved. There has been a loss of lives in two different places but the management is gleefully going about its business as usual and apart from minor hiccups in its profit does not seem to have suffered any consequences for its actions. The company in question is Boeing and the loss of lives are on two of their aircraft owned by Lion Air and the Ethiopian Airlines. Boeing woke up to the problem when the similarity of the incidents was uncovered – in both cases, the aircraft went down quite unexpectedly.
Stall is a condition when the flying aircraft is no longer able to produce the required lift for normal flight. This usually happens when the aircraft is flying at low speeds, though there are other factors like load, airframe icing, landing gear etc which can contribute to stall. However, when an aircraft is approaching stall speed the control column shakes (stick shaker warning) warning the pilot of an impending stall, and to correct it either by increasing the speed or lowering the nose. But in both the Ethiopian and Lion Air incident it was the fault of sensors which gave a wrong speed read out, and the aircraft automatically lowered the nose, and in both cases, the pilot was forced to raise the nose.
What Boeing is not acknowledging is that “there appeared to be a serious problem with the anti-stall system”, which in retrospect is a serious design flaw, which has resulted in airlines across the world grounding the Boeing 737 Max until a solution to the problem is solved. This in itself is an indictment of Boeing Company for killing several hundred people and endangering the lives of several thousand. Will the US Department of Justice send the CEO of Boeing to a penitentiary for marketing a “killer product”?
Oxycontin is a pain killer that was manufactured and marketed by Purdue Pharma which was owned and managed by the Sackler family of USA. Oxycontin is notorious for the opioid addiction that it has caused in America commonly referred to as “Opioid Crisis”. The Sackler family has made billions by marketing an “across the counter sold” addictive killer and generating huge profits which helped them to fund their lavish globetrotting lifestyle with homes in rich neighborhoods like Bel Air, California and Gstaad, Switzerland. Here the story takes a different twist because this is an American company which had made billions by marketing an addictive opioid-based pain killer to Americans they are saddled with lawsuits with claims if awarded will strip them of their wealth.
The moral of the story is this – there are rules but it is relative. In some countries life is cheap but in others it is precious, and there is hell to pay for messing with something as precious as American lives.