Friday, August 22, 2008

Singur Stalemate : Speed breaker hits Nano, Tata Motor’s “wonder” small-sized car

About 7 months back Ratan Tata announced to the world that the next technological revolution after Internet has come out of his company’s lab. A Rs.100,000/- ($2,500) small-sized, fully featured car (unique in terms of price/features ratio) is ready to roll out in October’2008 from Tata Motor’s new plant located at Singur, West Bengal. Every year around 300,000 NANOs ( brand name of the car) , will roll out from their plant , that has been built on 1000 acres of prime agricultural land , acquired (and later leased out to the Tatas for 90 years) by the communist government of West Bengal. The cost of investment : Rs. 15 billion.

Little did Ratan Tata realise that half a year hence the situation will be so different that he would have to call a press conference and threaten to quit the project from West Bengal, if his employees feel insecure and unsafe under the threat of continuous violence at Singur, where political equations have changed in favour of the opposition party , Trinamul Congress , since the last panchayat elections held in the intervening period.

The item of dispute at this point of time is the 400 acres of land which the opposition party leader, Mamata Bannerjee claims has been forcibly acquired by the state government helped by a stong police force and hence should be returned to the unwilling farmers. The Tatas claim that this 400 acres of land is meant for ancillary factories supplying components to the Nano mother plant and has been incorporated to reside next to the mother plant to reduce logistics & transportation costs. Hence, it is impossible according to the Tatas to return this land. It is better to quit.
The "apparently-benevolent" broker in this project is the ruling Left Front Government {a coalition of 7-8 left parties largely dominated by CPI(M) } led by its Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya . The communist government of West Bengal ruling for the last 3 decades have suddenly realised the importance of industrialisation in the last 2-3 years (having earlier forced out industries thanks to its militancy that it practised in the name of worker’s rights and trade unionism) & wanted to usher in a showcase project in the state to revive industrialisation as well as their dwindling electoral fortunes in the state. The government allegedly pulled out all kinds of sops (from low priced land to tax waivers) & forcibly displaced livelihood of marginal farmers ; in order to bring Nano, the “new wonder” of the world, to West Bengal. The state government having acquired the land is now citing the law to prove that land once acquired for "public purpose" can't be returned.

Thus the project has hit a stalemate. Trinamool Congress, which recently trounced the leftists in the local Panchayat elections, has threatened to launch an indefinite agitation at the plant-site from 24th August unless 400 acres of land are returned to its electorates.

While one can dispute Ratan Tata’s egoistic claims of a technological revolution in Nano or Buddhadeb’s forcible acquisition of farmer’s land at cheap prices under an archaic 1894 act or Mamata’s self-glorifying politics of exploitation of the farmer’s situation ; no body is sure how this stalemate will end .

Whether Nano will at all come out of Singur or whether West Bengal will see an end to politics of violence, Bandhs & road-blocks & return to prosperity ? Who knows?

For sure, this issue of forcible acquisition of prime agricultural land & consequent displacement of livelihood for the purpose of development , will change the history of India’s dealing with developmental politics.

As one creep quipped that the only solution, however improbable it may sound , is to get Ratan Tata married to Mamata Bannejee under the secular marriage act (both being unmarried, the first a Parsi & the second a Hindu ) where Buddhadeb Bhattacharya (being in the government) can perform the rituals of a marriage registrar.

Also read :The end of Singur stalemate over Nano

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is a sad scene for Bengal that today Ratan Tata threatened to exit the Nano project if violence & intimidation continue to scare his employees at Singur.

It is sadder that the opposition to this "forcible land acquisition of 400 acres" is being led by a lady whose second step in any argument is always "violence"
and not bargaining for a better economic deal for the landless farmers when she is specially invited for talks.
Just goes to show that her priorities start and end with herself & her ambition to the seats of power.

One wonders why as citizens we deserve such frustrated , incoherent & lumpen leaders of opposition who get advised on strategic matters by
completely fringe, disconnected groups such as Naxalites.

While CPM's policies and actions have been reprehensible for the last 3 decades , one does not want to see a sudden end to the world's cheapest car project in Bengal, so soon.

But if the lady has her way, violence in Singur is coming where innocent people will get killed for her own glorification .
Nothing good will happen in this state. Our CM & Industry minister know little about industry or industriousness and hence are led around by their noses by the industrialists while our opposition leader is an unstable person whose solutions to all problems in the world border on the extremities of violence or
brooding hunger strikes.

Bengal has fallen in the hands of morons & thugs and we can expect a period of "matsyanya" to reign.

Quite a lot of US-resident Bengalees ask why is Nano so necessary?

You know why ? Because , Bengal deserves to uplift its standard of living . Indusrtrialisation is going to help Bengal achieve that.
Like the Kannadigas or Andhraites or Gujaratis , Bengalees deserve a better standard of living in the 21st century, which hypocrites
(such as these non-resident Bengalees) have been enjoying since the last century in a developed country like the US .