The Tata’s in India hold a very prestigious position and now in the past couple of decades they have grown by leaps and bounds. Ratan Tata (Chairman of the Tata Group) is not only considered as an eminent businessman of India but has also been listed as 2008’s most powerful people in Business by Fortune Magazine and as one of the most Influential men in the World by Time Magazine. Not only astute in business The Tata Group is also very well known for Philanthropy bequeathing a large part of its wealth to various trusts started by its various founding members and its other successors.
Photo from wikipedia
One of the highlights of the Tata Group this year has been the inauguration of the Tata Nano Car. Presented as the worlds cheapest car it boasts of slick design, being fuel efficient with low emissions. One of the first few remarks made by Mr Tata when presenting the car earlier in January this year was that these production cars will be rolling out of the Singur plant later in the year. As India stands today most Indians and others congratulate Mr Tata on creating the middle class mans dream come true.
Photo from wikipedia
Its isn’t surprising, this hypocrisy, that though while the middle class dreams are being built up, it’s the poor men, women and children whose lives, homes and living that has been quashed, burnt, beaten up and left to die. The residents of Singur will yet fight on whereas the Tata’s Nano cars will be “rolling out ”.
Situated in the state of West Bengal) with about 20,000 residents in a quiet district of Hooghly about an hour away from Kolkata. This tiny farming and food producing community decided to fight back when on September 27, 2007 while being evicted by the Left Front West Bengal Government. Thus in the name of development, 1253 hectares of land was to be given up by those who have resided there for over generations.
Not to mention the land being fertile and resourceful, the generations of existence by marginal farmers was to be dropped and cleared while the 552,692.26 sq km of wasteland in the country is left untouched. It is rather unfair while the SEZs (Special Economic Zones) introduced with the intent of fair policies to both corporate as well as the other lesser mortals such as the middle class and lower communities, the environmentalists and the activists, etc , it is a shame that “development”(read financial) seems to be weighing down the corporates. So these farmers environmentalists activist have another job at hand; the men giving up hard work, children on education, women on their kitchen and labour to join the activists’ to take up indefinite hunger strikes.
Act Two: The Government decides to provide a compensation Package. Yet we ask is it fair to displace people, to expect these labourers and farmers to give their land, culture and existence? Compensation Package or none the people of Singur refuse to leave their home. By December 2007 the situation is worse with Rapid Action Force being called in Singur to prevent the damage being done. As the riots continue for months, many are injured and dead. Leading activists like Medha Patkar (of Narmada Bachao Andolan Fame) also stepped in to provide support. The Chief Minister then decided to call for a dialogue which was immediately refused by all. Refusal demanding reversal of the decision made by the Government without the consultation of the residents involved.
The story continues till today, as on 9 August 2008 the plan to acquire 43000 acres of land as SEZ for industrial purpose continues (Singur being a part of this plan) creating massive riots in West Bengal in the regions of Nandigram, Kalinganagar. Now the residents of the mentioned regions continue to suffer without food, the daily income with the land being taken away and without any sort of compensation. Mamta Banarjee the opposition leader of West Bengals is yet again on an indefinite hunger strike. On a lighter note you can see the absurdity of the State and its precious police when you read that 10 to 12 year old Indian girls are being charged with rioting. I think it’s about time we think twice about buying that car if it has someone’s blood on it. Age of Blood Car ??