Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Singur blog

I discovered a new blog today, on Singur, Nandigram, and the struggle against land acquisition for special economic zones. Its called Singur: Struggle Against Land Acquisition.

Development has to be for people. And the role of the state must be to facilitate the best interests of the people, and especially the poor and vulnerable. Industrialisation, special economic zones, real estate development, whatever - the bottom line must be empowerment of the people and creation of opportunities for their socio-economic advancement. In a state where the govt under the CPI(M) has only concretised the apartheid system of education, so that the poor and low income perpetually remain lowly citizens, consigned to menial servitude - it is difficult to believe that the party has any concern for the people.

The CPI(M) has no interest in empowerment of the people. In the 30 years it has been in power in West Bengal, it could have done so much, to make a difference. In the 6 years since he took over, the present chief minister could also have done much to demonstrate his intentions. But the squalor and indignity in which slumdwellers and poor villagers live only testify to the apathy, incapability and bankruptcy of the party. Its aim is empowerment of the party, at any cost. And to keep people dependent upon the party, even for basic survival. If people were empowered - then why would they need the party?

I am reminded of Thich Nhat Hanh's poem "The Enemy", in which he asks "if you kill people, then with whom will you live?" The CPI(M) would ask: if you empower people, then over whom will you rule?

So whose heart bleeds for the people? Who dreams of their dignity? Not the govt, or the ruling party, or the bureaucracy, or the police, or the media, or the intelligentsia. Elsewhere in India, callous rulers have been booted out in elections. But the CPI(M)'s "election machine" took care of that here. And of course, the absence of any credible opposition.

Hence, in despair, the people are flailing out, in a destructive frenzy, against the govt and the ruling party. But that is only a plea, to the nation's conscience: please do something, please give us hope.

Who hears?

If for decades you neglect the needs of the people, and they suffer deprivation and indignity while a favoured few exult in wealth and comfort - then any "economic growth" is likely to rest on very unstable foundations. In West Bengal, people seem to be rising up spontaneously in revolt, against the large scale land acquisitions for various industrial projects. It is absurd to attribute such outcomes to the instigation of Naxalites or anybody else. Decades of appalling apathy and moral irresponsibility by the affluent urban folk are to blame for the civil war like riots, looting, vandalism that will surely erupt soon in Calcutta.

That's what I had been thinking after hearing all the sanctimonious decrying of the irresponsible disruption of the brave new Bengal that some believe is emerging under Buddhadev's leadership.

Read Dr Mrinal Bose's story on Singur here.


Sahodaran said...

You say callous rulers have been rooted out anywhere else in India. But what about Narendra Modi? Or The BJP still coming to power in many places even after killing so many people?

Even if governments change elsewhere, many a times they are making way to just the "other side of the same coin".

On Singur, I have written something here.


rama said...

Hullo, thanks for giving me the link to your blog post.

Your point is valid; the very same issue is relevant everywhere else. I am not a supporter or apologist for the BJP or Congress. I used to support and vote for the CPI(M), until my own first hand experience of the rot in the party made me change my stance.

Basically we are facing a crisis in India, where the issues of survival and development of the common people are not on anybody's agenda. I have also come around to accepting that the CPI(M) in Delhi can play a necessary progressive role in national policy, in the absence of anyone else, and given the presence of BJP etc. They are good as an opposition, but have made an irreparable mess of West Bengal.

I think Modi in Gujarat has picked up some tricks from the CPI(M) in West Bengal. Yes, he should be tried for genocidal crimes, and the fact that he is thriving and ruling is a national shame.

My opposition to Singur etc - is not out of any anti-CPI(M)ism; and I don't think alls well elsewhere. Nor am I allied to any of those involved in opposing Singur, or have any sympathy for them.

I'm glad you said you do not mean that "since its happening elsewhere, let it happen here". And I agree that people of conscience must raise an outcry against the scams everywhere.

We need a huge shake-up, nationally, to start bringing dignity and hope into people's lives.

If you lived in West Bengal, and had a concern for the dignity and suffering of the poor and vulnerable sections - your blood would boil and you would be livid with the CPM here.

Thanks and best regards


rama said...

I would like to add:

Its Calcutta and West Bengal that I know about best. I have only a superficial awareness of situations elsewhere. Each place is full of its specificity, the local political economy, the socio-cultural milieu etc. I live in Cal / WB, have lived here all my life, will probably live the rest of my life here. So its this place that automatically concerns me, draws my attention, engages me. And it is in regard to this place that I have tried, for over 2 decades now, to do whatever I wanted to and could, for a better future. That struggle continues.

Everywhere, people have to relate to their local place and the local people. And thus would a better nation be built.

But my local engagement - is not at all typical. People who have lived their whole life here, think of themselves as "progressive" - may well be completely ignorant of anything outside their tiny personal domain/ social circle / network. Yet they would think they are the mainstream, everything else being marginal.

Everyone is obsessed with their own stories. I like to hear other voices.



clash said...

Attrocities cannot be appropriated and compared!

rama said...

Hullo clash, thanks for your visit and comment. Unfortunately, I am unable to understand what you mean. But I'd like to say that I do not wish to appropriate any atrocity, or would not support any such appropriation. An atrocity is an atrocity. Anyone appropriating an atrocity is only compounding the atrocity. Comparing atrocities: every atrocity is an atrocity to those who suffered it. All atrocities are atrocities. But some atrocities which are never seen as atrocities can surely be called atrocities? For instance, everybody and their aunt wants to work to fight AIDS. Laudable. How many people would like to put an need to the needless deaths from indoor air pollution (e.g. from use of crude coal stoves) in rural and urban India? The latter affects many more than does AIDS, globally. Is the blindness and apathy to deaths from indoor air pollution not an atrocity?



irving said...

My heart aches for the people there, and the same is happening in many parts of the US and all over the world. The rich, powerful interests run over the poor, with the backing of governments and their cronies. The voices of the internet helps spread the word, and so would a boycott on all products produced by the these companies. That may be the answer. Hit them in the pocketbook. When "Made in India" becomes a dirty word, then things will change.

Ya Haqq!

Yves said...

Your posts are very important, Rama. I seldom comment on this topic, for I have nothing to add. But you are right that we must cherish the place where we live, and not at the expense of the rest of the world either. My village is part of my district, and so on out, till we speak proudly and quite legitimately, of "my Earth"; for it is possessed equally by all, and our people-power must make its power known against the usurpers of our power. Many of those who praise democracy so much are the ones who think they have it in their own pockets through bribery and coercion.

Has everyone been bullied or bought off, or are there enough who stay faithful to justice?

Sandip Ghose said...

in singur the CPM is reaping what it sowed for 30 years. i wouldn't have expected Mamata to have behaved any differently - i think it has been a monumental miscalculation on the part of the party - that they would be avle to quell any challenges on the ground with the help of their cadres.

i have tried to do my 2 bit analysis of the situation in:

Nano Vision at www.ghoses.blogspot.com

take a look if you like.