Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sanity on Singur

I reproduce below an extract from today's The Statesman.

The lament that Bengal’s newly acquired reputation as an investment destination will take a beating because of the shut down, or the threat of one, is misplaced only because the state does not deserve to be such a destination until it resolves all issues related to industrialization, including social ones. In order to do so, policy-makers will need to be transparent and inclusive in their approach, not arrogant and high-handed as the Chief Minister and his coterie has been.

The problem with the CPI-M is that it has never sought to engage political opponents and civil society in discussions on the way forward for the state. Mr. Buddhadev Bhattacharjee may well be a focused individual, but he bristles at even well-intentioned criticism. The CPI-M believes that because it won so many seats in the last election, people will accept everything it does and that no one has the right to criticize it. Mr. Bhattacharjee compounds his problems by dubbing all critics as reactionaries and enemies of the people. He is surrounded by sycophants, who privately and in print tell him what a great job he is doing, and then quietly ask him for parcels of land at throwaway prices.

Bengal needs sage minds to resolve the many issues that are linked to Singur; to attempt to wish them away with a lament that Bengalis have a death wish when it comes to matters linked with industrial progress, as at least one apologist for the establishment has done, is farcical.

It is not perhaps too late yet for Singur, or indeed to address questions relating to land-use in a mature, sensible fashion. This issue is not about individuals ~ not even bull-headed ones like Mr. Bhattacharjee and Miss Banerjee. It is about prescriptions for growth and progress that must be palatable to the people of the state.

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