ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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THE ECONOMY-Banking on the Middle Class

aftermath of the disaster. And the disarray among progressive forces was painfully obvious. There can be no condoning the petty controversies, the name-calling and the often vicious arguments among groups, all of whom were ironically united in their condemnation of the event and its perpetrators. They accomplished much, though, in their individual capacities the innumerable studies and surveys conducted by these agencies and the continuing support services even today provide the only relevant documentation on the health, social and economic status of the victim population, the only information which has reached the hands of the victims. And yet, all this information continues to stand outside the realm of acknowledged 'scientific' data on Bhopal. We have today a situation where official knowledge is hard to come by, if at alt it has been accumulated systematically, and the unofficial' data gathered by alternative groups arc not accepted by the establishment and therefore play no role in the state's response to the problems of the victims. Quite obviously, alternative groups could have been more effective if they had consolidated their efforts. However, the larger issue is this: Essentially, groups in Bhopal became trapped in functioning within the political ethos created by the state. All their actions, their services and proposals were in large measure a response to the state's non- response to crucial questions. At no point was an alternative, comprehensive programme for action on all fronts ever worked out. Bhopal thus reiterates a lesson from history: that to present an effective challenge to the state, there has to be created an alternative political ethos and a comprehensive programme. If not, the politics of progressive movements will be forever tied to the programme of an anti-people state.

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