Nano moves to Gujarat

The move of the Nano project to Singur is a shot in the arm for Narendra Modi’s government. Gujarat had already established itself as an industrially forward minded state. Gujarat has proven itself to the country and investors that good policies can go a long way in sustain development. One of the best things CM Modi has done for the industry in the state is that he has formulated a policy for Land Acquisition. The state does not meddle with the acquisition at all, besides facilitating it. The buyer buys it from the seller. This allows the farmer enough say in the matter for any further anomalies to arise. Other states have been looking at the model for development, which includes West Bengal.

The loss of Bengal is a definite gain for Gujarat which is going to allow Tatas to start their operations there. It will provide better jobs, security of jobs, healthy lifestyle that comes along with any such project. The pro-Nano part of Singur whose voice was not heard shall very well be supplemented by the same crop of leaders who today have made sure that Tatas leave Singur. Such is the irony of politics in India. We Indians are just pawns in the hands of our leaders. It won’t be long before we see people questioning how Mamata Banerjee funded her strike which in nobody’s imagination was cheap. The kitchen bills alone were in the price tag of Rs. 2.5 lakhs and for a small regional party it is no short change we would all agree.

Ratan Tata had said before that one who doesn’t invest in Gujarat is stupid and he has acted on his words and given the thumbs up to land near Ahmedabad. It will be again for Buddhadeb’s government and for the people of Singur at large. The various SOP’s by the state government seems to have done the trick along with the industry friendly atmosphere.

In an uncertain India it is increasingly disconcerting the way proceedings in Singur have taken place. One can only hope that things change for the better. One cannot tell as to how much the impact shall be on other investors, but lesser it is the better is all one can say. Lessons should be learnt by CPI-(M) government as well after all they got the people used to a sedentary lifestyle too. They need to look into their system of land acquisition so that such a situation does not arise in future. For Singur, it is blood sweat and tears all over again; this shall be accompanied by poverty and lost land. One can hope Singur is not remembered for this and the situation was a one off, but history is unkind to bad policies.

The Indian social messiahs should come to terms with a few facts. India needs to develop; we can’t get away from it. We cannot remain an agrarian society for the rest of our lifetime. The Singur crisis is a result of mismanagement by the Left as much as it is a case of a politician having tasted blood! We have already seen a reversal of protests on behalf of the pro-Nano farmers. People there, young and old alike, had great expectations from the Tata Motors factory, sadly they have become the victims of an ugly political game. Like it happens most of the time in our country the voice of unreasonable opposition is heard well than others. Some were misled by others in believing that they are getting peanuts in return for land. I would say we should ask our esteemed polity to travel in bullock carts after all our ancestors never had motor vehicles. Why should they?

Mamata Banerjee can keep congratulating herself as much she wants, but should realise the implications if tomorrow she comes to power. She would have to face the same problems of people not wanting to invest in Bengal. Like the Left changed it from an industrially forward to an industrially recessive state, Mamata Di is repeating the same mistakes. Although these mistakes may not be costly if you look at it from the perspective of gaining short term political mileage. Still the fact is that she would have to come to power in a state which is unfriendly to investors. It will directly mean that the state grows slower than others, if only it doesn’t go behind. This in turn would mean that lesser number of jobs is created, which in turn would lead to popular unrest again.

The one lesson we should learn out of all of it is that politicians hardly care for people. A case in point being, Derek O’ Brien, who is a favourite among the youth since his days as a quiz master. Today he stands opposing views which will primarily hit the youth. Employment levels were already abysmal in Bengal, now our leaders have made sure that more jobs will not be created. They seem to be working on the principle that that the poor should never get rich.

At the end, it made business sense to get out of something that was making no money. Tata’s took a decision, which is going to hurt the state very much, how many times a mega project just lands up in the lap of a state which is known for its disdainful attitude towards industry. The atmosphere in Bengal has to change for it to grow out of its present state. The arte of strikes is not even funny, once it happens even essential services stop; this is not good for any development. The farmers have been left with nothing, neither do they have the Nano plant nor do they have the farm land.

The land holdings in Bengal are hardly of the size which can become productive. After all the sizes range from mere one acre for most people, and the family sizes may vary. This tells one that it is important that people have jobs to sustain their lives. The farmer needs to grow out of his niche. He should have the opportunity to earn more than he does. Every economy changes from primary to tertiary, but Bengal has gone from becoming a manufacturing hub at one time to industrially insignificant state. The left has to take the blame for that, but it seems no one will act differently. Even the centre intervenes just to gain some political mileage. I&B minister Mr. Priyaranjan Dashmunshi was talking about land for land, doesn’t it seem obvious in consonance with Indian political class. The congress which has come up with the maverick game plan on Singur is planning on giving a red carpet treatment to Tata’s if they wish to come to Maharashtra. Andhra is wooing them by taking into account that Lord Swaraj Paul’s Caparo Ltd. which will provide most of the spares to Tata Motors has already based them there.

On the other hand, the farmers in Gujarat today are more broad minded to the idea, owing to the rapid strides the state has made in the last few years. Today they don’t mind losing land for a project which in turn is going to result in their upliftment. The total land for SEZ’s is divided equally between the whole country and Gujarat. History doesn’t remember much of violence if people get rich, same shall be the case with Gujarat and Narendra Modi.

Abhik Sen

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