Chaos Theory August 29, 2008Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, Car, Government, india, Personal, Policy, Politics, World, Writing.
Tags: chaos, cost, development, hotspot, jamshedpur, nandigram, nano, protest, Revolt, singur
I come from Jamshedpur. The flagship company of Tata’s – Tata Steel is located in my hometown. I for one have always been biased towards the city because of the many happy memories and also to the group as a whole. We were all happy when from a no-player it became the 5th largest steel making entity in the world, after acquiring Corus.
Similarly, everybody was assailed by a pang of pride when Ratan Tata unveiled the Nano, the world’s cheapest car. It certainly set many auto-enthusiasts thinking – is it possible? Mr. Tata showed that it is. And since then we have awaited the entry of the car on the streets.
It is supposed to roll out of the Singur plant in West Bengal – the eastern state that is the spiritual home of the Indian Communists. It was also in another village in West Bengal – Naxalbari – that peasant uprising pitched ordinary tillers of the land against the ruling CPI (M) government forces! Power obviously corrupts.
West Bengal had studiously avoided industrialization for much of its 30 year long reign. Mired in a self – defeating ideology and elevating laziness into an art – form, the population carried on believing in its own glory if not invincibility. By the time Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, a poet and a film critic, got elevated to the post of chief – ministership, the party polit bureau found itself in a log jam. USSR had ceased to exist and China had transformed itself, using the state apparatus to muzzle dissent to speed up the economic progress of the iron curtain state.
By then the other states of India, especially the southern states had latched on to the IT bandwagon and raced ahead. Punjab already was rich. The rich legacy of the State was evaporating faster than the vapors of tea and cigarette at the addas of the cool revolutionaries. The state and its cadre tried to emulate the success story of the Chinese.
Force it down the throat if need be, they ordered and the writ was observed. First it was Nandigram, where a chemical hub was to be set up. The farmers revolted and this led to armed clashes – between state led CPI (M) goons and local villagers, supported by a host of political parties. The casualties were more on the side of the villagers as the communist cadres had complete state support. It was Nandigram that shook the communists worst in 30 years – they lost the Panchayat election to Trinamool Congress, led by Mamta Banerjee, a firebrand, ex-Congresswoman, who unfortunately has a history of nuisance value, which harms her motives even when employed for a good cause.
Then Singur happened. The Tatas are trusted. Their pitch is ‘a century of trust’. The quiet spoken man issued a threat a fortnight ago – Nano will move out if his employees are threatened.
Was the Tata Nano land also forcibly acquired by the State government, keen to showcase their state as investment friendly? Knowing what happened at Nandigram, it is anybody’s guess. Was the compensation adequate? Again – probably not. Is it arable, cultivable land? Of course, it is. Most of West Bengal is fertile. Why is the CPI (M), known to fight for the rights of the workers, tillers and the under-privileged, become persecutors of the very people they vouch to protect? The Central government has washed its hands off the matter, saying it is a state matter.
Shouldn’t we not have a unified Industrial Policy that addresses these concerns? And it is not just Bengal. There is POSCO in Orissa where large tracts of mining land are being away dirt cheap to the Korean major. Are we still living in the dark ages to be unable to assess the negative impact of unequal distribution of wealth? To not see the divisions and social tensions that will arise when local, indigenous populations are systematically excluded from the development process. After all, for whom is this development for?
Don’t we still realize that the problems of India are not that we don’t have enough? But it is that everybody doesn’t have enough. Is Manmohan Singh, an economist and an honest man, also unable to see the wrong development modes followed by people like Buddhadeb and Naveen Patnaik in Orissa.
There is fresh news – 1/3rd of all the poor people in the world are India. We who were for the last decade congratulating ourselves suddenly find that the field data is a blot on our collective euphoria. But dig deeper and you find it is a headline for a couple of minutes and then history.
The rich can justify can anything in the name of development. Similarly the poor can justify anything in the name of survival. Welcome to chaos.