Tuesday, January 16, 2007
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.
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.