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The Singur fiasco: Who would ultimately win?
If Tata moves from Singur, everyone will lose. Mamata will lose an agenda and make ultimate fool of herself; farmers will get back the land but their future progress will be sealed and for the times to come, they will remain only farmers.

THE IRRATIONAL siege of Singur car factory of Tata by Mamata Banerjee, Maoists, and others is not yet over and chances of a compromise are bleak. Tata has already given instruction to its employees in Singur car factory not to come until the situation improves. This is an amber signal, and if the situation does not improve, there are possibilities that Tata will shift the car factory to some other place. Already, a number of states have made an offer to Tata. One thing is for sure that Tata will come up with Nano, be it from Singur or some other place. But if the factory is moved out of Singur, it will be a big setback not only for West Bengal, which is trying hard to go for industrialisation, but also for the nation. No nation or society can ever develop without industrialisation. Agriculture is the base, but without industrialisation, progress of human society cannot be imagined. In this respect, we must question the intelligence and motives of those who are opposed to industrialisation.

There are some basic debates in India on the question of industrialisation. Firstly, it is being asked as to why state governments are so eager to invite private players? Those who argue on this line, unfortunately are still living in the pages of history. Indian government under the aegis of our present Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had opted for a different trajectory of economic policy in 1990, when he was the finance minister, which is popularly termed as liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation (LPG). The LPG has left state governments with fewer choices and dependence on the private players and entrepreneurs for investment and industrialisation became a key component of the new economic policy. This is an all India phenomena and started quite late in Bengal.

The second question is - where should industries be set? This is a very valid and sensitive question. For a country like India, where still more than 70 per cent of the work force is employed in agriculture, any question pertaining to land is sensitive and important. The question of land is sensitive because it is directly proportional to the bread and butter of a person. For many in India, land also has cultural and religious significance. Despite this very sensitive and emotional aspect related to land, one thing is clear that for industrialisation, land is a primary necessity. Industries cannot be built on air or on water. The significant issue is how land is acquired for industrialisation; at the same time, ensuring that everyone gets proper compensation guaranteeing a secure future is also a responsibility of the government. Parameter of human security is vast, and to measure it is a Herculean task. This is because scale of satisfaction for different persons varies.

Under this very fluctuating situation, what is required is the insurance of livelihood. This is what any government can do, in the case of Singur, the compensation package is admired even by staunch ideological opponents of Left. Still anyone can argue that compensation package is not good and can struggle for much better package. There is no problem in this demand. The more a poor person can get, the better for him. The problem starts when opposition becomes illogical and it is just for the sake of opposition. Presently, Mamata is not talking of compensation package but of the return of land, which means closing down of the industry, and saying ‘bye – bye to Tata’.

Thirdly, and the most important issue, which is involved is the political opposition to such industrialisation, which has now become a regular affair. The non-government organisations (NGO) and Gandhians have made this their number one agenda to oppose all type of industrialisation. Until they were working and fighting for a better compensation package, it is not a problem, but recently they have shifted the goal post and are now taking a position against industrialisation. For them, the farmer must remain a farmer. Those who are enjoying every modern luxurious gadget, travelling by plane, moving in AC cars, give sermons that a farmer must remain a farmer! This is hypocrisy of the greatest order, and an agenda to sabotage the industrialisation, and modernisation process in the country.

These are the three issues involved in the process of industrialisation in the country. Coming back to Singur, Mamata has proved how short-sighted and foolish a politician she is. Trinamool Congress has sieged the car factory of Tata on the grounds that 400 acres taken by the government forcefully should be returned. The question arises, why Mamata woke-up only a couple of months before the scheduled launch of Nano? Where was she and her party for these many months and why she never thought of these 400 acres of land earlier? She has suddenly become active and that too just before the launch of the product, this itself speaks the truth. Mamata, who built her political career in Bengal opposing the land reform and land distribution, is suddenly proclaiming herself as the biggest messiah of farmers in Bengal. There is no problem in her changing the ideological position, we need more people fighting for the cause of the poor and the downtrodden, but the tactics employed by her are not in the interest of the poor. Industrialisation in an area is directly proportional to the development of the entire region.

Many small-scale industries will come up, many shops like barber shop, tea stall, pan shop, rickshaw, tailor shop, groceries will come up. These are some additional advantages of industrialisation in an area. It is worth noting that none of the big business houses will go on and run a tea stall in the region, the only beneficiaries will be the poor people of that region. In this way, anyone opposed to the Tata in the region is opposed to the development of the region and is taking a position against the poor.

State government had invited Mamata several times for talks on the issue, but she declined to do so. It is very strange that though she wants to struggle, she is not willing to come to the table for discussing any solution at the same time. On the other hand, Tata is fed up with the political turmoil and is looking for plan B, which is shifting the Singur industry to some other state. Tata already has offers from many states, and if Tata moves from Singur, everyone will lose. Mamata will lose an agenda and make ultimate fool of herself; farmers will get back the land but their future progress will be sealed and for the times to come, they will remain only farmers. They will never be entitled to prosperity and growth. There will be a major setback to the industrialisation plan of the Left Front in West Bengal. The only winner will be Tata, which will get rid of the unnecessary trouble and delay. One thing is for sure, Nano will come, as no industrialist will compromise the company’s policies, but the people of Bengal will lose.

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