The phenomenon called 'Singur' that’s happening presently in West Bengal, as all sensible people (astonishingly, so many of them!) are saying, is truly grimacing. I hope this *Honourable Lady* will be saluted for ages for giving our state such a brilliant setback in economy. And, just see, what an intellect she is manifesting celebrating “ma-mati-manusher joy”/ “people’s victory” because Tata has bidden goodbyes to us all. Even Narendra Modi’s letters and the disparagement all over the world over this issue wouldn’t aggrieve her. Oh, yes, all the greatest of greatest Economists and their greatest of greatest theories are absolute trash and all of these have actually been formulated as a part of the Big Plot called the pro-CPM-fanaticism!
Well, the question is not about taking any one of the sides right now. Even our *Honourable ruling party*, with thousands of divisions and collisions of opinions amidst it's own members, isn’t on the side of a “pure” economic development. Why at all start the construction of the project when a section of the people were so much unwilling right from the beginning? How much an increase to the vote bank could they have gained from this single portion of the state? Or why not change the name of the party altogether to something like “People’s Welfare Party” or so? Which part of India is still following the ideologies of pure communism/socialism? Or, perhaps, defining themselves as “Communist Party of India”, they are emphasizing this is how exactly communism runs in India, are they??
The worst of all things is this that the old man on whose land the factory now stands, neither gets back his land nor a placement in the industry for his son. Sorry, whose victory is this? Did you say “people’s”?? Amidst the political jugglery, a wonderful boost to the State’s economy is held back. A brilliant prospect of Bengal’s industrial development and redemption of the vast magnitude of the state’s educated and disguised unemployment is pulled to a stop. I expect a long way has to be traveled before the people of West Bengal understand that industry is necessary for agriculture to become an industry – for farmers to live like entrepreneurs. That acres of picturesque farm-lands are also available (in abundance, at that) in Scotland and Wales, but a handful of manpower is complemented by sophisticated machinery and technology there. And, for that to happen here, labour from agriculture has to be absorbed in industries; industries are required in turn to produce equipments, infrastructure and national income; so that, ultimately, both efficiency and productivity in agriculture get a boost.
Contentment is a great virtue. But, where nescience, political exploitation and illiteracy are sewed in, it’s dangerous. (A simple example: coming here for the vacations to a remote town in Orissa, where my father is posted presently, I’ve tried a little deal to pursue the village children over here to come for learning the basic alphabets and the numerals. But, on asking repeatedly the few children in the near vicinity, most of them were aghast by the aspect that they’d have to cut short their playing and wandering hours. A little girl even asked me, “Aap shaadi nahin karengi, didi?”. They couldn’t really see the point in studying the basic alphabets and the numerals. So much so, that they’ve stopped visiting me now and I’m still not having any luck with them… To think that I had actually got enthusiastic students in Bihar and West Bengal! But, this is the condition in most of the rural and tribal areas of our country.) Indian rural people have become far too habituated and contented with the lack of electricity and amenities; paucity and kachcha roads; to understand what industries can bring them. Or as Andre Beteille says, in the 13th October issue of The Telegraph, that Bengalis are far too influenced by the Marxist ideas like the capitalist-worker conflict, the class war etc. as have been preached by the leftist government for the last 30 years, that any sort of logic supporting the LPG policy infuriates a large portion of the local population even now.
Dislodgment of people and occupation has also happened in the past whenever constructions of large-scale and medium-scale industries have been undertaken in several parts of India. Thousands of people have suffered even then – no elevation by any kind of development has reached the grass-root levels whatsoever. (In fact, as a child, I’ve myself witnessed the distress of the poor villagers due to the thermal power project at Kahalgaon, Bihar..) As to what really should be done to avoid such situations of chaos in people’s lives and in the state’s order, I’ll quote one of my dear old bondhu-dadas, Kaushik-da, who has reasoned brilliantly on a comprehensive land-mapping exercise where-by the administration and the authorities should:
“a) make a land inventory of the principal food /non-food/cash-crop producing areas
b) identify the areas, mouza wise or by any comparative index, which are very fertile/productive/value (commercial) –generating ,terming it as A** , 'very fertile' and gradually drilling down to lands of progressively lower value quotients, terming the least of such fertile land as say F**, (Fallow) and arriving at an updated on-line position of the same ,
c) inventorise areas having high rural incomes and categorizing them on the basis of their degree of marketability of produce
d) enumerate areas where large , contiguous land fronts are available and make a productivity-mapping of these areas
e) map out the demographic density of these various land parcels (with differing fertility/productivity) and gauge the socio-economic dispositions of its inhabitants (family -totally/partially- dependent on agriculture/or enjoying alternate source of income etc) ,
f) delineate the land areas which are located proximate to sources of water, power., communication etc and make a stratification of such areas in terms of high/medium/low productivity etc.”
Following this process, Kaushik-da (yes, given a chance, I’d have published his complete write-up, but for his protests) reasons:
“Then, of course, the process of land acquisition/leasing from Government/private hands, the issue of valuation of such land parcels, displacement/rehabilitation- social and economic/ options of gainful employment- (after adequate training or otherwise) ----and the options of profitability share etc – needs to be discussed threadbare and comprehensively. General Guidelines and Policy Principles may need to be sounded out regarding if the investor needs to negotiate with the landowner/tenant/associated user directly or allows the Government to function as the major intermediary and the detailed process there-of needs to be ideated and debated. This can be arrived at by the principal political parties, with agriculturists, economists, social planners, land-revenue experts, providing the much need technical/scientific/statistical/normative and empirical data base.
For instance, there have been a large number of project-evictees, 'ecological refugees', dispossessed and displaced, sequel to the slew of thermal and hydro power and other capital projects taken up in the past who have failed to receive any kind of worthwhile social and economic rehabilitation packages, despite lofty promises made by the project/government authorities. Can we have a detailed empirical data bank of such instances and factor into the legitimate expectations of these hapless dispossessed (who received paltry recompenses which were, in most cases frittered away in no time in absence of any worthwhile and commensurate employment packages!! ) Mohd Yunus can give us interesting leads here!”
I’ll add to Kaushik-da’s suggestions, that all these demarcations and discussions must be made known to the public by an impartial body in the media. Possibly, all the land-delineations have also been worked out by the agriculture and the industry departments (I mean, the efficient bureaucrats are always at work, see), but the data should be made known to the general public. Else, without the understanding of why a particular land is selected for the erection of an industry, or without simply the knowledge of the data, we can't help people in preparing themselves and making up their minds for the new development. Also, in that way, things will be transparent and administration will be easier.
Anyway, students of ICSE and CBSE boards have read enough of Civics, Economics and Geography to understand what’s happening in their country. What do our dear old ministers and leaders think they are doing out there? Did they believe Hirok Raja-r Mogojdholai-er jontro is applicable here??