Raghu Rai’s photography exhibition ‘Portrait of a Corporate Crime’ was shown over the weekend of 17th & 18th October at a special event hosted by the York Medical Society in conjunction with the York Photographic Society.
World renowned Magnum photographer, Raghu Rai, arrived in Bhopal hours after the 1984 gas leak, from a Union Carbide pesticide factory, to find chaos as the dead were being buried and cremated whilst the hospitals still overflowed with thousands of patients. Rai realised he was witnessing a disaster of unprecedented proportions along with the start of a long, living nightmare for the gas exposed survivors.
Union Carbide responded to the disaster by abandoning the contaminated plant, paying the survivors inadequate compensation and refusing to accept liability for the disaster. The exhibition documents both the immediate aftermath of the leak and the ongoing struggle of survivors determined to secure justice from the chemical giant even though they have lost their families, economic security and health.
This moving collection shows what happens when multinational corporations hide behind the corporate veil and refuse to be held accountable for the disasters and pollution they cause. It gives a voice to the people whose lives have been torn apart by a corporate crime
Aside from the story of Bhopal, and Raghu Rai’s connection to the disaster, the York event was clearly steeped in history of its own. The exhibition took place at the sixteenth century York Medical Rooms; the York Medical Society was founded 1832; whilst the York Photographic Society was established, quite incredibly, in 1887.
The photograph shows current President, Dr. Bob Adams who is planning to visit Bhopal next February and intends to take a look around the Sambhavna and Chingari clinics. He plans to write a book about his trip to India inspired by an ancestor of his, Solomon Earle, a resident at Baroda during the occupation by the East India Company. Solomon Earle wrote about Bhopal, at that time, describing it as a city of Lakes.
The photographs below show joint York Medical Society co-presidents from 1991 – Drs. Neville and Elizabeth Dobie and, below that, Dr Avijit Datta, Chair of the York Interfaith Group.
There was a lot of interest and a suggestion by the society that all of the photographs be shown again as a larger fundraiser for the BMA.