The Singur controversy does not intrigue me as much as the socio-political factors building upto it. Back in the 1950’s West Bengal was one of the most industrialized states in the country, largely owing to the efforts of B.C.Roy. It was under his reign that large scale industrial plants like the one at Durgapur, Asansol and Kalyani started to come up and flourish. But these attempts to convert Bengal into the industrial hub of the country were thwarted by adverse circumstances such as the ‘naxalbari’ uprising. The plot graph portraying the state’s economical progress was an abject one. The anti-industrial policies of the Left Front did not quite help the matter. Infact they acted as accelerating factors for the decline of industries in Bengal. But the more significant repercussion was perhaps, the fact that industrial sectors started to shun Bengal completely in favour of more viable options such as Maharashtra, Gujrat, or even Karnataka.

The stage was set for Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, a liberal-minded intellectual,whose records reveal his interests in translating works of art;such as the poems of Gabriel Garcia Marcquez into Bengali; .and his penchant for churning out striking poetry of his own.

Therefore, the fact that he was catalytic in re-injecting industrialization in Bengal’s economically anaemic veins, did not come as a big surprise to many. After all, that is what you would expect from a “politician” who likes to spend his leisure time watching movies at nandan, argued a number of intellectuals! However, there are yet others who believe that Mr.C.M was perhaps trying to make amends for his own party-policies which were proving to be a bit too costly for the state. No matter what the reason, the bottom-line remains that Bengal has seen a lot of foreign investments after he took office. The sudden emergence of many IT related services are also generally attributed to “brand Buddha”. But perhaps he went too far, as the industrial renaissance he initiated in West Bengal appears to have met it’s nemesis in Singur. In pursuing his ambition of industrializing Bengal, has he become a bit too avaricious? Has cold economy taken the place of morality? Agriculture should not be given a step-motherly treatment, shout many netas. Their perspective mainly boils down to the fact that, while promoting the industrial sector is fine, it should not take precedence over agriculture.

Infact, there are some hardliners who apparently think that agriculture would be enough to support the economy of the state. Those opposed to the Nano project say that “special treatment” should not be given to the TATA’s. According to these factions, if Ratan Tata backs out of West Bengal, then it would only be a temporary setback for the state and such losses are apparently negligible,when compared to the plight of hundreds of “mistreated farmers”.

Lets forget about the right-or-wrong aspect of Singur and stop debating whether it is the CM or the opposition who is wrong. Instead, let us analyse the situation factually and try and arrive at a realistic inference. The problem which Bengal faces today is of deciding between industry and agriculture__ which has perhaps been dealt efficiently by Tamil Nadu. Chennai, its capital city, is often known as The Detroit of Asia, as numerous heavy engineering and manufacturing-based companies are centered in and around the city. Eminent companies such as Ford, Hyundai, Mitsubishi and BMW are located here, apart from domestic biggies like Mahindra-and-Mahindra, TVS and Ashok Leyland which are also present. But before labeling the state as a mere industry-hungry creature that devours the livelihood of agriculturalists, here is some “food” for thought: Tamil Nadu is India’s second biggest producer of rice and is also a major contributor of flowers in the country. The state is the largest producer of bananas and tapioca and is also the second largest producer of mangoes and many important spices in India.

My point should have become pretty blatant by now -if Tamil Nadu can do it, then so can Bengal. The bickering over land can be resolved amicably; but it does require some amount of compromise from both the warring factions. When the CM says that the livelihood of the farmers will be taken care of, then the opposition should try and trust him. And the claims of the opposition that many farmers are unwilling to part with their land should also be considered by the government, and they should try and allot them plots as deemed necessary. All this seems too idealistic? Well, it is idealistic to an extent perhaps. But I believe that if both parties are a bit more accommodating then it would not seem idealistic anymore. We need to remember the following words:

“We have the ability and if, with faith in our future, we exert ourselves with determination, nothing, I am sure, no obstacles, however formidable or insurmountable they may appear at present, can stop our progress” B.C.ROY

Asad Ali

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