Saturday, October 04, 2008

Tata bye bye



Finally, Mr Ratan Tata has announced that the Nano car plant of Tata Motors will not come up in Singur. The reason he has cited for his decision is the agitation led by Ms Mamata Bannerjee, on behalf of the farmers whose land was forcibly acquired for Tata by the West Bengal state govt.

But all thinking people can only welcome this decision. Sure, when someone loses something, they are not going to give it up gladly. They are going to scream and shout and rant and rave and protest and sulk and pout... The shrill cacophony of demolished delight over West Bengal's imagined industrial resurgence is just that.

The truth is that the Tata pullout is good news, for a number of reasons.

First, a resounding slap has been administered on the face of the CPI(M). In May 2006, riding high on a wave of media hype and puff, the party had declared that Tata's Nano unit was going to be located in West Bengal. In less than two and a half years, they have been brought to their knees, and entirely by their own idiocy and arrogance.  The CPI(M) thought (and still thinks) that they own the state, that they can do as they please, that they can snarl and kick people into submitting to its dictates.  Well, they have learnt a lesson, but yes, given what CPI(M) is, it never learns the right kind of lessons.  But learn or don't learn, they have had to face facts. And that is indeed something positive.

Second, in recent weeks the discourse on the Nano project has brought to the fore the fact that the West Bengal govt is in effect subsidising Tata Motors, to enable the car to be priced at Rs 1 lakh (one hundred thousand rupees, or about $ 2,500). Now why should the state subsidise Tata Motors? Why should it subsidise a car project? Why should it subsidise purchasers of a car? Why should it subsidise personal transport? In economists' jargon, the opportunity cost of state expenditure on the Nano project, i.e. what is lost by such support, or the alternatives upon which this could instead have been spent, was simply too high.

Third, from about 2005, the CPI(M) had been hoodlumming through its land acquisition drive, to please its capitalist masters. The Nandigram agitation had punctured that. And now, the Tata withdrawal from Singur has just emphasised once more to the CPI(M), in brutal terms, that it cannot grab farmers' land. It was protest in Singur, from 2006, that had catalysed people's agitations across West Bengal, and begun the process of demise of the mafia mobster party, something most people could never have anticipated. 

All that remains now, the icing on the cake for the people of Bengal, is the verdict of the court on Suhrid Dutta, the CPI(M)'s Singur zonal committee secretary. He is in custody and facing trial on the accusation of organising the rape and murder of Tapasi Malik, a teenage girl who was a member of the farmers' anti-land acquisition movement in Singur. I wonder what ideological obfuscations the CPI(M) would proffer when he is sentenced to death.

If the people of West Bengal want something positive for themselves, then they should not depend upon the CPI(M) or on external vultures like Tata Motors to give it to them on a platter. That will only bring deceit and destruction. There is much that can and should be done. There is public transport. There is public healthcare. There is public education. There are closed industries that need reviving. There are many, many products that can be produced, which would be wholesome in every way. But for that, vision, enterprise and effort are needed. Thanks to the CPI(M)'s noxious nurturing these are hard to find in Bengal today. But unless the people of Bengal come forward to build Bengal's future, the only prospect is submission to CPI(M) and Tatas, the road to slavery.

The slaves and the slave contractors are wailing at the exit of Tata. But if there was ever a bright day for Bengal, then it was 3 October, the date of the Tata pull-out. For this date tells the people of Bengal that freedom won through hardship is more precious than the comfits of slavery.  

Apparently the state industries minister, Nirupam Sen, has said that he does not feel like living in Bengal. Well, I hope he goes away very soon. It seems he has begun to get a taste of what the common people of the land have been feeling for over 2 decades. Thanks to the presence of his wonderful party, there has been a mass migration of people from the state, by choice and by compulsion. Any person in his or her senses, who knew what was best for one's future, left the state. Only vultures flocked to the land, and the party was their lapdog. But with the Tata pull-out, people should start reconsidering. Maybe its time for all those who had forsaken Bengal, all those who had been driven out, to think of returning. There's a future to be built. The rats will be leaving their sinking ship. And for those who held on to hope and humanity and stayed behind, perhaps vindication is finally arriving.

19 comments:

Mrinal Bose said...

Great post. Like you I'm also glad Ratan Tata has finally left. It's something incredible in the prevailing political climate. Sure history is at work. It is the great triumph of the people( with a capital P) over the state. It's a great moment for the underdogs. But more things are on the cards. Just wait and watch!

Hasnain said...

It was coming up for a while now. But personally I thought this all shout was about hard bargaining going on behind the scene when a consensus was promoted by our Governor. I doubt the sincerity of the meek 'surrender' by the CPM. It could be to pump an air of despondence among average Bengalis fed relentlessly by TATA inspired media to vote for the party in the coming LOK SABHA elections. I see this possibility. I pray I am wrong and people opposition continues to make the establishment weaker as days pass by making space for multiple players to act and react in our state polity.

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Rama, this is an interesting take on the issue. However, the current Mamata-Banerjee-is-bad on which the CPM is riding right now will probably go on to ensure that they win again. Personally, I would have loved to see the CPM go out of power, but this situation seems an absolute shame. If I were in India right now, although I wouldn't have voted for CPM, Trinamul is definitely off my charts for now.

Nila-kantha-chandra said...

Trinamul or CPM - as I've written on this blog earlier, rot and corruption has seeped into the fabric of the people of the land, so irrespective of who comes or goes, status quo would be intact. In all honesty, I cannot see how there would be an iota of difference, in substantive terms, if CPM were to be replaced by Trinamul. And my own view regarding the so-called anti-Trinamul wave sweeping Bengal thanks to the Tata fiasco - that's simply an urban, media generated thing. The urban poor could not care less whether Tata or bye-bye. Ditto with the rural poor. Its funny how CPM has come full circle and is now faced with exactly the game it played for years, before coming to power (and after that too).

B.B.Mandal said...

Dear Rama,
Simply superb. I have not come across anything better written or said on this issue.This is the only blog that keep revisiting.Things here are lucid and clear.It seems that all angles of vision have been considered.I am staying in Nagpur nowadays and your blog keeps me update on the most important issues of my home state WB. And, in the end,I am specially thankful to you for being reasonably optimistic. Regards.

Nila-kantha-chandra said...

Hello BB, nice to hear again from you after a long time. Thanks for your comment. The great cultured lords of Bengal do not seem to think anything amiss about making Mr Tata the supreme and sole arbiter of the fate of Bengal. Chhee! Lojjya, lojjya! Bechari Maa Kali, eto kaal jeeb baar kore dariye dariye gelo, kinto bangali lojjya shekhye ni aajo.

Anonymous said...

the greatest good value of tata's leaving bengal is what you know? that there can be protest against such a powerful and ruthless mechanism.and successful protest. successful protest, without any help, support or sympathy. it is inexplicably fashionable among the mjority fat and rich, the majority nri, the majority intellectuals, the majority burgeois, to bash and thrash and hate mamata. but th name of mamata will be written in gold in history, because she dared. we are all bad, mamata is not good either, but she dared.alone.and succeeded. so i repeat,what mamata has shown, that theree can be protesst where all the other people cringe, is a great great achievement. i urge the biased and unthinking supporters of the vain leeftfront to recapitulate their humanity and think impartially.honest thinking must praise mamata. politics apart. mamata really has a heart, that won against the heartlessness of the arrogant rulers.

raghavchand said...

yes the protest value is supreme.forget the details. the protest value is great.history is taking a turn.even if all details are seen and analysed,the rulers of bengal are surely at fault.

BENGAL UNDER ATTACK said...

I sincerely hope that you are in the minority in Bengal.

http://bengalunderattack.blogspot.com/2008/10/nano-moves-to-gujarat-what-next-for.html

Nila-kantha-chandra said...

Hi BuA, i fail to understand what minority-majority has got to do with anything! Perhaps you cannot think beyond that and confuse it for other more fundamental things. Does truth cease to be truth because its in a minority? Or does ugliness cease to be ugly because its in a majority.

What CPM party cadres are saying is that the Nano exit was engineered by Buddhadev Bhattacharya himself, so that he would have an issue against Trinamul to go to the Lok Sabha polls with. The indications after the panchayat polls were that the party would suffer a rout in the elections, and with nothing to be done about it. So some fine stage management was organised.

BENGAL UNDER ATTACK said...

Hi, I think you put a broad brush on the term "minority". And truth, more often than not, resides with the majority. History has shown that mischief, lies and deceit were bedfellows of the minority community. I am sure, our Bangladesh experience counts for nothing.

Having said that, lets focus on your replies. Buddha Babu may have allowed Nano to go away, but only as a last resort. I am firmly of the opinion that there are two major ills affecting BENGAL. One is CITU - they are no less than the Italian MAFIA - only coarser, and Two is TRINAMOOL Party (goons, ruffians, thugs, cheats...). Both these entities need to be liquidated, including some important figures, if BENGAL is to survive and remain a part of the INDIAN UNION.

Bengal is the gateway of Islamic militants from Bangladesh. Bengal gives Mamata to India. Amartya Sen, Subhash Bose, Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekanada - these are things of the past. Now we romance the Naxals - think its still the intellectuals of 70s Cambridge. Maoists are nothing but scums, much like Bajrang Dal is. Lenin, Stalins were mass murders and Fidel Castro could bed 35000 women because he could.

I know your sympathies lie with the Naxals, hence this last para. They cannot save Bengal, they will end up destroying it, much like Nepal will be.

harekrishno said...

it is time that the heartless fat happy selfish people who are away from bengal and have no stake at all, stop their meaningless stupid brainless heartless support for the rulers. the rulers are farthest from revolution and any kind of high ideal. they are arrogant. the slap on their face was very very much required.they opposed freedom of india, collected cotribution in favour of china during indo-chinese war, they burnt trams and busses, closed many many factories, stopped teaching english, opposed computers,opposed work culture, held innumerable bandhs....today they are progressive? as long as one person single person is not willing, there should be no land acuisition, i mean snatching. do you know why the land opposite to tata land could not be given? all cadres and leaders pre-purchased that land for future profit.so just come back to your senses and conscience and open your eyes.tata withdrawing fromthat forcefully taken land is very very good. and let it be very clear, the majority knows that and believes that. they have to stay in bengal, so they are silent. EVERYBODY admits that the acqusition was not right. EVERYBODY, including leaders and cadres of ruling party.good history is made, so be happy.

BENGAL UNDER ATTACK said...

I thought of your ultra left leanings after I saw your blog given as a link in two maoist blog. They are not known for wasting their time with anyone but their own or people who espouse their values. Maybe you are a sympathiser, maybe not - either way it does not make you bad or good.

Minority community is not based on religion or ideology - it is purely based on numbers.

Having said that, it's time to introspect surely. Does India need Bengal or does Bengal need India?

Nila-kantha-chandra said...

Hello again BuA, you are a persistent visitor indeed. Perhaps you might like to enquire from the owners of the two maoist blogs why they waste their time with me. As for my leanings, you might like to look at the subject index down the left side of the blog page. I have written on a large no. of themes. Reading through some of these might give you a better idea about my worldview. But perhaps the problem is with the use of tags - which is okay for a book (or blog) index, but utterly counterproductive for human beans.

I guess its for all Bengalis and Indians and all Indians to reflect on who needs what. I recall a friend (himself a Bengali) who said after a visit to Bangladesh - "A nation of Bengalis! God help!" But more seriously, I would like to think Bengalis need India and Indians need Bengal, for their mutual growth, enlargement and fullness.

Roger M said...

Very aptly said indeed. From afar, after reading about the numerous versions about the developing situation, my sentiments about the whole affair are quite compatible with yours.
I would add just two other points. First, I do feel that it is high time that after the slap administered, the people of W. Bengal deliver a resounding kick to the CPM during the next elections & eject them finally from W. Bengal. I am quite apolitical & hold no brief for the TC. If they come to power, they will no doubt commit their fair share of follies & blunders. However, despite all that I feel they will indeed be a breath of fresh air for the state & will possibly help to restore some of the dynamism & initiative that most people have lost after 30 years of CPM misrule.

Nila-kantha-chandra said...

Thanks for your visit and comment Roger. I'm glad to know that as an outsider, simply observing the functioning of the system here, you can see that ejecting the CPM can only be good for West Bengal, whatever might happen.

Anonymous said...

A good write-up overall. However, I fail to understand why Tata project would have been a loss to the people of Bengal. I agree that it came at the cost of long-cherished ancestral land, but at the same time how did that land help people grow out of poverty for the past six decades. Government's job as a regulator as defined by communist beliefs that CPI(M) shares will not help Bengal or India out of poverty. Socialism is good on books - it does not have any practical implications whatsoever. After all, individual incentive is one of the greatest drivers of motivation. Bengal needs to break out of CPI(M)'s grips, but what other form of regulation will take over? The question is not hard to answer, but the answer is depressing!

Nila-kantha-chandra said...

Hi Anon, loss to Bengal - if one added up all the losses, from agriculture, from state subsidy and loss of revenue etc, and compared this to all the anticipated gains - uncertain at best, and subject o all kinds of assumptions, including some that are problematic in themselves - then its a net loss. I fail to understand how you can simply assert that the people in Singur have been in poverty for six decades. Perhaps you are unaware of the socio-economic dynamics of this rural zone. I wonder what you understand by poverty, what you understand by its antonym, "development" or "waelth", what your understanding is of how one is transformed into the other, and how proven that, rather than merely believed in. Anyway, talk of CPM's belief in socialism and regulation etc is quite misplaced here. Free market forces would have led to a better outcome for all in Singur, but neither the CPM not Mr Tata would want that. This is crony capitalism. No one is advocating any Soviet Union kind of socialist economy, so talk of the importance of individual initiative etc is quite out of place. But I wonder whether you have ever thought about education and healthcare, and the role of the state in that regard. Or about the essentially "political" nature of the so-called "only economic". If the overlords of society can demand their way, well, then so can the subalterns. If the prospect of society running to the dictates of the subaltern seem horrible, well, then so is the reality of society running to the dictates of the overlords. No wholesome resolution of any kind can emerge, unless the worldview of the overlords alters and they can see the subjectivity implicit in their professed objectivity.

Nila-kantha-chandra said...

Hi BUA, thanks for elaborating on your views (in your second comment). I'm afraid I cannot equate, so easily, "truth" and "majority". For instance, only a very small minority in India would have read the Bhagavad Gita, or even the Mundaka Upanishad (from where our national credo, Satyameva Jayate is taken). Or, only a very small minority of the world's population have read the law of relativity. Nevertheless...

I don't understand what you mean by "minority community". If you mean what I think you might be referring to, well then I have to categorize you in some ways in my mind, come to some conclusions about your psychic well-being, and decide to terminate any communication.

Nonetheless,your views do match some of mine, e.g reg CITU, TMC. I would suggest you reflect upon how and why these things happen, and more to the point, what's to be done. Liquidation, I'm afraid is not a viable strategy, unless you mean enjoying some pool-side or breach-side luxury sipping a tall drink through a long straw.

And reg Naxals, well, I have no sympathies or fascination with them, nor have I ever had that. But once again, like with CITU or TMC, it might be useful to reflect upon how and why Naxals happen to be around, and what should be done about that.

Harekrishno - thanks for your visit. The Op-Ed in yesterday's "Statesman" was a very balanced piece I thought. You might like to read that, and I hope you will agree with the argument made there. I would not like someone with a pro-people or anti-establishment perspective to go to any "extreme".