India has reached a tipping point where inchoate anger at the David Coleman Headley affair could turn into widespread anti-Americanism following the Bhopal Gas Tragedy verdict in which an US company and its chief have escaped criminal liability. The US has permitted a most perfunctory meeting between Indian investigators and Headley who, according to press reports, invoked an American law against self-incrimination to duck all questions related to his involvement in 26/11. American officials have pathetically taken to saying the Indian government is "very pleased" with the Headley meeting, whereas the Indian government's silence on the subject is resounding.

The Headley affair has now been overtaken by the Bhopal verdict which is obscene as it is late. The vulgarity of the rapid bail granted to the accused, among them the industrialist, Keshub Mahindra, after a scandalously short sentence, has been worsened by the US government reaction. Two American officials one after another hoped the gas tragedy judgment would close the issue and wouldn't impact Indo-US relations, while one of them added there was no case to pursue against Union Carbide (UCC), the owner of the Bhopal poison plant, and that there was little question of extraditing the principal accused, Walter Anderson, the then UCC CEO, who has been hiding in America since declared an absconder here.

While US official reactions give away their intuitive feeling that relations with India are slipping, there is no attempt to make sincere amends, other than president Barack Obama's flowery oratory about how highly he values this country and the great ambitions that ride his November visit here. For better or worse, there is growing Indian public opinion that expects Obama to force US companies to make just recompense for their spoliations in India as they are expected to for their depredations in America. Obama's "kick ass" comment in regard to BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to be replicated in the Bhopal case, and there is no hope the US administration can bluster its way out of this, because it concerns the fundamental ideological integrity of the American president.

When Obama (as senator) opposed (then president) George W.Bush's chief justice nominee for the US Supreme Court, John G.Roberts, Jr (who won), he gutsily said, "It is my personal estimation that he (Roberts) has more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak." And when it came to Obama to make appointments to the highest court, he said, "I will seek someone who understands that justice isn't about some legal theory or footnote in a casebook. It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives -- whether they can make a living and care for their families; whether they feel safe in their homes...."

The fact is a US company killed fifteen thousand Indians in their homes. America cannot hide behind the fiction that the poisoner was a separate Indian entity. The majority ownership was American. The poison plant was US-designed and approved by Anderson. The design had obvious flaws that were covered up. Even the minimum safety requirements for the flawed plant dealing with a poisonous gas were not met. This is not negligence but points to a willful disregard for life which, but for the absence of motive, makes it murder. Obama cannot avert his face while the rest of his administration bloody-mindedly, arrogantly, imperiously carries on as usual. It is not business as usual. It affects the US president's personal integrity and everything he has stood for -- and let the world believe so.

In the interest of justice, which Obama is hopefully pledged to, he must permit the reopening of the Bhopal gas tragedy inquiries in the US, enable the pursuit of lawsuits against the poisoners in America, and facilitate Anderson's extradition to India to stand trial. If Obama is committed at heart to Indo-US relations, then he must go beyond strategic dialogues (governments come and go) to assuage the anger and hurt of the Indian people. If the US president is well-meaning towards India, he will be tested on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. It will make or mar relations between India and the United States.