It is but rarely that one meets an individual who transcends all geographic boundaries and is known not as a citizen of any country but as a humanist who fought tirelessly for social justice and for the rights of all those who are exploited and denied their basic human dignity and right to survive.
Ward Morehouse, who died on June 20 in Northampton, Mass. at the age of 83 years, was bound to India by many ties, close friendships and a shared concern for its people.
Most people I speak to remember him for his work for the Bhopal gas victims.
Ward was such a remarkable man… He was quiet and self-effacing, so many people did not recognise his strength and tenacity in fighting for social causes, — often a losing battle, as we see in Bhopal I wish more people in India fought for our own in this sustained manner.
The tragedy of Bhopal motivated him to write, speak and travel to carry on the fight for the cause of the thousands who suffered – and still suffer – from the horrible aftermath of the gas poisoning. He walked with the protesters, wrote about Bhopal and lectured to audiences in America to create an awareness of the enormity of this crime that corporate American refuses to acknowledge.
To those of us in India who had the privilege to work with him and the opportunity to be influenced by his courage and his commitment, he will continue to stay with us, and hopefully through us and our work,- for his spirit must and will continue to inspire many..
I met him first in 1966 when he set up an office, funded by the NY State Education department to help US teachers understand an India that did not find adequate recognition in western school text books. In this effort he came to identify with Indians across social classes, and was dismayed that most American expatriates in India lived in lifestyles that were cut off from the realities of mainstream India. Through his office, the Educational Resources Centre, he made it possible for groups of teachers and educational administrators from the US come and experience an India that he had come to love.
He gave me my first job at the ERC and has left a lasting impact on my thinking and my work.
I am still continuing the ERC, working with teachers and students, both in India and America. Ward’s imprint is so permanent that all the harsh weathering of political storms cannot dull or fade the colors of his idealism. For that I am what I am, and I do what I do. For that I am grateful to Ward.