As a recent college graduate, Sudhir Selvaraj ’11 traveled back to his hometown of Bangalore, India, to start influencing the affairs of the world.
After studying political science and global studies at Concordia, Selvaraj interned with Visthar, a nonprofit organization committed to enabling marginalized populations to create a more just society. As part of his internship, Selvaraj traveled to Bhopal, India, for the first time.
Bhopal is a city with an important history. In early December 1984, Bhopal experienced what the BBC has called the world’s worst industrial disaster when toxic gas leaked from a factory, killing thousands and injuring hundreds of thousands more.
Selvaraj realized that many of his peers were unaware of the disaster and its scope.
“The severe lack of knowledge about social issues like the Bhopal gas tragedy among people my age angered me,” Selvaraj says, “and I wanted to do something about it to add to the movement.”
After conducting interviews with survivors and local activists, Selvaraj decided to write a play that incorporated the stories he heard.
He hopes his play, “We All Live in Bhopal,” will spread awareness of the tragedy through the younger generations and help spark corporate responsibility.
Selvaraj will conduct readings of his play in London next month to commemorate the anniversary of the Bhopal gas tragedy. The 30-year anniversary of the tragedy is December 2014 and a Bangalore-based social-justice theatre group, for which Selvaraj serves as a founding trustee, is planning numerous performances in southern India to honor the victims and spread awareness.
Selvaraj is now earning his master’s degree in international relations at King’s College London. He believes his interest and passion driving the awareness of the gas tragedy fits perfectly with his studies and hopes to continue sharing unspoken stories from conflicts around the world.
“In a fast-changing world it is essential to have an understanding and respect for the complexities and history governing the international system,” Selvaraj says. “The department of war studies really looks at conflict – why conflict arises, how do we mediate it, how do we change it.”
His next project, he hopes, is to write a play about the civil war in Sri Lanka, which lasted more than 26 years – finally ending in 2009.
“What motivates people to continue seeking justice?” Selvaraj asks. “These are the types of stories I want to tell.”