The ‘Nano’ became a household name ever since Ratan Tata announced its launch a few months ago. The critics or, for that matter the entire country, couldn’t believe their eyes as Ratan Tata stood next to the gleaming Nano, which had become an automobile miracle! Nobody complained about its size, especially not when it could be bought for something as less as a lakh.

The next obvious step for the Tatas was to find a location in order to start Nano’s production. That is when Singur (West Bengal) came into the picture. The West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was willing to offer land to the Tatas in Singur. Thereafter, the Tatas sealed the deal by making an investment of Rs. 1500 crore in order to set up the factory, equipment etc. Everything was going hunky-dory, before Mamata Banerjee decided to make an entry. She felt that the farmers of Singur had not been fairly compensated in exchange for their land. Now we all know that setting up an SEZ (Special economic zones) in our country is the most taxing and controversial exercise. This is because not only does it include compensating those who are forsaking their land, but also catering to the whims of the local politicians, who are looking to gain votes by “standing” up for the “rights” of the farmers.

The saddest part was when Trinamool Congress supporters attacked the factory workers. If one is concerned about the farmers, then how is violence against the factory workers a solution? A lot of time was wasted in finding a way that would keep everyone happy. Several meetings took place between the Tatas and Bhattacharjee, between Bhattacharjee and Mamata Banerjee, between Tatas and Mamata Banerjee….well, you get the picture. Thanks to the stubbornness shown by Mamata Banerjee and Bhattacharjee’s helplessness, West Bengal threw away its golden opportunity to achieve economic growth and come at par with states like Maharashtra.

When Mr. Ratan had said ‘OK Tata’ to Singur, several states sent out letters to him, luring him to choose them as his alternative destination. But Gujarat was the fastest on the uptake. It managed to define the land, secure possession of the land, the main thing, at an incredibly fast pace. This is what tipped the scales in its favour. Here I would like to add a personal comment – Even though Narendra Modi is not my favourite person (to put it politely), I do admire the way in which he has converted Gujarat into the most investor-friendly state in India.

There are a couple of things which one learns at the end of this not- so-Nano-sized drama. Firstly (and this one is for Ms. Banerjee – the bad M), never sacrifice the welfare of the people in order to propagate your own political agenda, whatever it may be. Secondly, (Mr. Bhattacharjee, please listen up), do not give in to political pressure. What’s the point of being CM and not being able to handle people like Ms. Banerjee who will incessantly try to malign your reputation? It will be nearly impossible to replace the kind of investment and opportunities that the Nano project had to offer. Last but not the least, we must learn from the good M (Narendra Modi), that it is possible to cut short all the paper work and unnecessary delays that come with bureaucracy, and fasten the pace of growth and development in the country. Now that Ratan Tata has found place for his ‘mother plant’, we should start saving up for our very own Nano!

Anam Mittra

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