Bhopal Book

In 2011, I went to the Indian city of Bhopal to volunteer in a medical clinic.

While in Bhopal I learnt many things relating to the disaster in 1984, when an explosion in a factory spread a cloud of toxic gas over much of the city, affecting some half-a-million people. I was in my mid-30s when that happened and, like many, thought it was all over now, so did not expect to find what I did.

I learnt that many of those alive at the time are still suffering from those effects, and I treated many whilst I was there, working with Indian doctors, nurses and therapists.

I also learnt of the second disaster that hit the city, some 10 years later, when it was discovered that inadequate disposal of waste, some against the advice of senior company engineers, had polluted the underground drinking water, and was causing congenital disability in many newborns. Still. Today.

From that first experience I began asking questions and researching. How rare is Bhopal as a disaster? What I discovered truly shocked me.

Although there has never been another industrial disaster with as many deaths or injuries, there have been many examples of incidents and behaviours that clearly come within the scope of a lack of any corporate social ethics. Recently I might refer you to Libor and Volkswagen; less known, Kodakainal and Sonae Industria.

Through the lens of Bhopal and my personal experience, I ask questions about the attitudes of companies and individuals to CSR. Was Bhopal such a rare incident or just a normal event that went horribly wrong? How many ‘near misses’ are there? What can a CEO do to ensure that everyone in the company shares the published ethic? What questions should we be asking? I now speak on the general topicv of corporate social responsibility through the lens of my experiences in Bhopal and research I have done since.

I continue to support the clinic in Bhopal by giving money and have returned twice more.

***** ***** *****

1984 - 30 tonnes of toxic gas killed and poisoned thousands of people

in northern Bhopal.

2016 - CHILDREN are being born today with congenital disability, such

as cerebral palsy, at a rate about 7 times* the rest of India. The

polluting toxins that affected their parents or grandparents 30 years

ago are causing these innocent little victims to suffer for the whole of

their lives.

* according to doctors from Bhopal in a press conference in Calcutta on 3 March 2013.

(I think this will go higher as those who were children and babies then reach their 30s and begin families.)


I have written two books about my experiences, thoughts and the background to the accident itself.

The first is "3 Months in Bhopal" and is available as a pdf directly from me. (Use the Contacts page.)

The second book "A Bhopal Diary: The view from 30 years" is available only from me as a paperback at £10 + £2 p&p in the UK. Every purchaser will receive a free pdf of "3 Months in Bhopal" via email.

(Quotes for p&p to other countries. Although as an option you can have "A Bhopal Diary" via pdf for £7:50 including the pdf of "3 Months in Bhopal", all via emal.)

You can contact me via the 'contacts' page, please leave your 'phone number.

Note that all the money will be used for the two clinics - not for profit, and will be sent through the Bhopal Medical Appeal.

Read about the Chingari Rehabilitation Centre where
children with congenital disability are given
support, education and treatment.


Read about the Sambhavna Trust Clinic – the only place offering
free treatment for victims of both gas and water.

Comments and Reviews on 3 Months in Bhopal

Sharon Haines - I have finished reading your book, I found it hard to put it down and was moved by what I read. I think it’s a great way to raise not only awareness, but funds for the BMA.

I also just wanted simply to say thank you for sharing your story with me and I look forward to reading on your blog about your next visit.

Jane Williams - I started reading 'Sambhavna ~ 3 months in Bhopal, the Dairy of a Complementary Therapist' by Ian Jarvis. Big mistake, I have had to drag myself away from it to get something done. :-). Absolutely brilliant book. I definitely recommend it.

Lucy Lill - I'm enjoying your book very much, it's very evocative of the place; what a challenge and adventure it must have been.

Sharon Kronheim – I have now read your book and wish to send a small donation for your work with these people whose lives have been so blighted by wealthy industrialists  …

Nick Binns - I started to read the book on the train journey home - it is a good read and a fascinating account. I look forward to reading the rest of it.

Sue Sylvester - (who bought it as a gift) I'm not going to give your book away - I'm finding it absorbing and fascinating.

Paul Andrews - I was deeply moved by your account of daily life in Bhopal - although I feel you have underestimated your impact on the care and assistance you gave at the clinic and the way in which you have raised the profile of this continuing disaster.

Liz Keaney - Your book is a good read, Ian x

Robert Bullard (a writer) - I really like the mix of content (work & everyday life); plus you have a clear/entertaining voice, and present some humorous and original insights... well done... it will make an entertaining read.

Nagendra Chaturvedi (a staff member at Sambhavna) - Hats off to Ian Jarvis, done wonderful work at Sambhavna, and I am proud of myself that I have spend time with him and he helped me a lot to improve my writing skills and grammar ... thanks Ian. Congratulations for completion of your Bhopal Book.....

Bryan Deal - Dear Ian,  I can only stand in admiration of the work you are doing. 

Sally Pickard - Ian made a real difference when he was out there, - - - I had the pleasure of proofing it; I found it funny, full of fascinating insights and descriptions about the country and its culture - and I felt humbled learning how just one person can make a difference. It is a totally compelling read.

Patsy Yardley -

At last I have got round to making a start on reading your book, and it is indeed fascinating. - - - I will certainly continue to read your very interesting book even if it is only done in middling-sized snatches. I am full of admiration for what you have been doing.

Julia Doherty - yep. I have read your book... brilliant!!

Adam Petford - Any one wanting a real life and honest perspective of a tragedy that has been in most cases covered up by Western Commerce should get and read his book today. People like Ian make the world a better place to live in.

Mark Northall - Strangely addictive.


All the pictures from A Bhopal Diary can be seen in full colour here:







All the pictures from 3 Months in Bhopal can be seen in full colour here:

also the poster to expand and read

Contents Page

Looking down over the inner courtyard at the Sambhavna Clinic.
The corner balcony to the right is the rear of my room.

Simply a view from my balcony one evening.


The inner courtyard at Sambhavna.
Sathyu Sarangi - who, as a final year PhD student,
went to Bhopal a couple of days after the incident
and stayed. Still helping and campaigning.

My boat, my home taken on the Grand Union Canal in Warwick.
This picture was taken on the Kennet & Avon canal, near Devizes
just after its new coat of paint.
My early view of Delhi Nazruddin railway station.
'Health and Safety' hold little sway in India.


Week 1 -Saturday is Bhopal
This is the first view of Sambhavna I saw, the main entrance,
at about 07:30 in the morning.
It is a calming welcome , to anyone, in the middle of the
northern Bhopal slums.
The 'new' market in the posh side of Bhopal south of the
two main lakes.
And this is my first view of the Panchkarma therapy room
where I would spend many of my days for the next two months.
It is very different from a typical therapy room in the UK.
The reception area before the morning rush starts.
In the morning there are many people waiting for registration
or to see a doctor or therapist.
Later, people wait for prescriptions of Ayurveda or allopathic medicines.


The Poster  (if you enlarge this in your browser you will be able to read the text)


Week 2 -  A Welcome Rest
Kite flying is very popular in India and there was a shop on the
main road selling kites and string. That really is a kite up there
approaching the moon!
The roof of a neighbouring house, ready for expansion when
materials and funds are available. Boys will always climb
as high as they can and there were often several playing
on the roof and steps. They will probably be young men
(at least) when they can sit in a room up there.
The 'business' side of the treatment room. Keeping good records is
essential in any medical facility and the network of computers is
fundamental to the work and research.
I felt that the wooden table, designed to cope with the flow of oil, was too
hard for the flesh and bone of mere humans. Maybe I am a soft westerner
but I used a thin mattress to aid the comfort of my clients.
Ha ha! Our washing machine about which, with tongue firmly planted
in cheek, I extolled its environmental virtues.
Dow employed a spying agency which found my blog and passed on
details of it to their spy-masters, revealed Wikileaks.
Missing the irony, but that's Americans for you!


Week 3 - Sunday, Another Rest Day
This is the view looking out of the main gate. The earlier
picture of the main entrance is behind my back.
To the left is just one of the heaps of rubbish with rats etc.
Further along the road, and looking from another gate is this dwelling
where several people and goats live.


Week 4 - A Week of Calm?

This is me in the yoga room with two of the clients who were both
having problems with their necks. Shruti had asked me to teach them
to do a set of isometric muscle exercises to help.

Later I made a video of the exercises and loaded it on to her computer
so she can use it in the future to show other clients.

(If you have a neck problem and want to see them, they are now on my
youtube channel "SpineworksBodywork".)

The children's play area, with the solar panels in the background.
I could see this from the rear window of the Panchkarma room in
which I worked with Biju.
In fact the plant to the left covers the wall of that room.
On this Sunday morning, with the clinic closed of course, all our
excitement was created by these men cleaning out the pond.
It is home to several terrapins and fish which had to be caught.
Melanie and I were looking over our balcony when I took this picture.
The reception area is just visible on the right, behind the greenery.


Week 5 - A Month of Sundays! (and the staff picnic)
Here we all are, only an hour later than planned, waiting with one
of the two the buses that took us to the reservoir park for our picnic.
Inside a typical Indian bus - ready to depart.
Just a view as we journeyed the 50 kilometres south on our journey
from industrial Bhopal.
The stream where, later, many were to get thoroughly soaked.
Beena, the Panchkarma therapist for women is the one in the middle.
Shabnam, a nurse, is to the right and Mahendra, the chief pathologist in
the white T-shirt.
Boys play in the stream while the girls are forced to watch.
The land around the dam is a natural park which is visited by many people.
Although this was only a few weeks after the main monsoon
season, the rain had not been as much as hoped so the dam
was not full. This is a view looking away from the dam past
the run-off slope.

No clues for guessing who this is. Kamal, the pharmacist, was quite
concerned as I prepared to dive in, cautioning me of the dangers and
not knowing that swimming was my main sport as a youth.

In India there are very few swimming pools, and not a lot of water
anyway so few can actually swim.

What it was all for, the picnic! Not a pack of sandwiches and
crisps but a full Indian meal with rice, curry, dahl and bread that
was new to me, bafla. Cooked over open fires.
The tallest man, one of the gardeners, was chosen to serve.
And before we left for home again, there was the compulsory
dancing, mainly for the young. Nagendra, my student for
English is on the far right.

And this little girl was the star of course.
Back at Sambhavna,this is the generator that does much good
work during the many power cuts that Bhopal suffers.


Week 6 - October, A New Month
I was wondering
why religion plays
such a large part
in the society here
and got to thinking
about Maslow's
hierachy of needs
and where religion
fits into it.

Week 7 - The Bhopal Strike
The garden at Sambhavna is a peaceful haven
in the midst of the bustle of the city.
Here they grow most of the herbs for use in the clinic and from which they
make pills, powders and oils used in Ayurveda.


Week 8 - The Haircut Week
This is the rather unpreposessing front of the
Chingari Rehabilitation Centre, the only place in Bhopal
that gives free treatment and support to children born
with disability as a result of the gas leak and water

Children are still being born with all manner of disability
including cerebral palsy, growth problems, learning
difficulties and many more. The breast milk of many
mothers is toxic.
Assembly, taken at about 12:30 is the only time when all the children
are present. Each day, mini-buses collect children and mothers and
bring them to the centre. This takes all morning.

The early arrivers receive their treatments and education and after
lunch are returned home. The later arrivals have their sessions during
the afternoon after which they too are taken home.

It is a major organisational feat and it works every day.
Dannielle (centre) and Fabien arrived this week as
volunteers. They were nearing the end of a year of
world travel and had come on spec to see what they
could do.

Later on in their trip they assisted in a Mother Theresa
centre in Calcutta.


Week 10 - An Hour Away
(the week the clocks changed in UK)
Looking across the inner courtyard of Taj-ul-Masjid the largest
mosque in India (probably). The contender is in Delhi and I
gather that it depends on how you measure them.
The population of Bhopal is about 40% Moslem, one of the highest
ratios in India. On this Sunday these young boys are being taught
their religious instruction.
The inside is similarly impressive with high ceilings and carved stone.

And here we are in Dhai Seedi Ki Masjid, the smallest mosque in India
and, according to Lonely Planet, probably the world. It is within less
than 100 metres of the largest and set in the old city walls where it was built
so the duty soldiers could still pray.

Nearby is the Ghandi nurse training college.

I just wonder if the builder of the large one nearby deliberately wanted to
have both the largest and the smallest in Bhopal.

You can just see Fabien and myself at the top - Dani took the picture.

On the day I started my work at Chingari, Dani and Fabien visited
bringing some modelling balloons with them. This is Dani
surrounded by eager c