A call by concerned citizens
The valiant struggle of the peasantry in Nandigram against the acquisition of their land and homesteads for the proposed chemical hub SEZ has drawn nationwide attention. Despite the massacre of March 14 and the continuing reign of terror unleashed by the police and hired killers of the ruling party in the state, Nandigram has refused to surrender. On the contrary, it has sparked unprecedented mass protests across West Bengal and elsewhere. People’s movements in various parts of the country against the forcible acquisition of farmlands, forests and other natural resource base of the poor in the name of SEZ and for the so-called industrial projects have also drawn inspiration and sustenance from Nandigram. No wonder, Nandigram has become a major focus of people’s resistance against the neo-liberal agenda that seeks to establish the hegemony of global corporate capitalism.
Time is now ripe to bring all the people’s resistance movements across the country together under one coordinating network. Towards this end, we are proposing a People’s Convention, followed by a huge rally, in Kolkata on 2-3 June 2007 (before the onset of monsoon). We call upon all our friends in the people’s movements and people’s organisations, irrespective of political or ideological moorings, to come forward and actively participate in this programme. May the convention/rally become the launching pad for a united nationwide struggle against the government’s land acquisition policy for SEZ and industrial projects.
Continue reading In the wake of Nandigram via Dhruva Narayan
Here is an article by Aseem Shrivastava, who suggests that there is a grimmer lesson to be learnt from China than the corporate flunkies would have us believe. Turning Mumbai into Shanghai? More like turning Nandigram into Shenzen…
The Indian Predicament
SEZS: Behind the Curtain
By ASEEM SHRIVASTAVA
“Few cities anywhere have created wealth faster than Shenzhen, but the costs of its phenomenal success stare out from every corner: environmental destruction, soaring crime rates and the disillusionment and degradation of its vast force of migrant workers”
–“Chinese Success Story Chokes on Its Own Growth”
The New York Times, December 19, 2006.
Within the short span of a few decades China has become the envy of the world. Corporate managers across the globe lose sleep worrying about “the China price”. Real wages and working conditions rivaling those of industrializing, pauperizing Britain two centuries ago have enabled the country to leave far behind any global competitor who has to worry about such inconvenient matters as labor laws and environmental regulations. Thus has accelerated the inter-national race to the bottom that has generated fear since the early days of this phase of corporate globalization. The labor force in the global economy doubled overnight in the early 1990s (from 1400 to 2900 million) when China, India and the Eastern Bloc nations joined it after the fall of the Berlin Wall, under Bush I’s “New World Order.” If real wages and the share of wages in national income have fallen sharply in recent times, and if inequalities have risen dramatically at the same time, the answer to the riddle lies in this quiet accretion, cashed in on by China-based corporations who have set the pace. The logic of capital has inveigled the entire world into a race of totalitarianisms–which inevitably enrich the few and pauperize the many in
Continue reading Learning from China
A senior journalist based in Kolkata has given a chilling account of the “police blueprint” for action in Nandigram in an exclusive to sacredmediacow.
[CPM cadres have made it virtually impossible for any independent report to come out of Nandigram. They have not allowed even the media and political leaders to enter the area while their propaganda machinery has begun working overtime, presenting a completely false picture of the situation and the events. Meanwhile, all we have regarding the actual loss of lives is a series of speculative assessments, some of which put the death toll at an astounding 125. Given that even some Left Front partners believe that the figure could be far more than what the government is prepared to concede, this may not be an entirely unbelievable figure. At any rate, the more greviously injured included, the toll seems really high. Some of the scenes on television yesterday showed how two women trying to remove a body were attacked by the police brutally and the body snatched from them. How can they allow the bodies to accumulate and be counted? We present below the latest update on the situation by NAPM activist Sanjay Sangvai. – AN]
AN APPEAL FROM NANDIGRAM AND KOLKATA/ March 15, 2007
POLICE & CADRES KILL 125 IN NANDIGRAM
As the death count of March 14 carnage in Nandigram by the W.Bengal Police and CPM cadres has reached 125, the people, organizations and activists of Nandigram and Kolkata called upon all the people, who value the democracy, human rights and equality of freedom to come to Nandigram and be with the
Though the cadres of the ruling Communist Party (Marxist) are blocking the way, the High Court Order on March 15, asks the government to facilitate the people to visit the area for enquiry of help. “The people must show their resolve against the Fascist ways of the so called progressive government and
party” said Samar Das, a senior activist from National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), W. Bengal.
Continue reading Nandigram Update from Sanjay Sangvai
[We received this report by NAPM leader Medha Patkar two days ago. Written sometime before the second round of massacre in Nandigram on 14 March, it will show how the build had been in fact taking place. That the CPM ‘cadre’ had continuously been keeping the situation at boiling point and not allowing political activists and leaders to even enter the area without heavy police protection, is of course evident from this report. Not too forget of course, what Medha Patkar calls the ‘CPM Buttock Show’ that greeted her there.- AN]
Indomitable Struggle is on at Singur & Nandigram
The repressive state and vulgar politics continues to be challenged
Singur has not given up. Nor has Tata started its work. A wall that is being built and is already upto 2 to 3 kms in length and 10 feet in height does not seem to be of Tatas. The Tata officials and employees don’t seem to be present. People in whose name this well known conflict has been raised are not aware of either who is building the wall or where are Tata’s men. The only outsider force that is in and around is still of policemen and women.
Hundreds of the police may be tired of being on the land in the open but they are not timid. They may not have section 144 to support but the State is with them. Even without CPM cadres now entering Singur to harass and pressurize the farmers, bargadars and labourers there, the State’s presence is felt and faced by those whose land is being encroached upon, who are brutally beaten, who are trying to be lured and scared to give away their land.
Continue reading Medha Patkar on Civil War in Nandigram
I guess like many in this blog, I have a sadomasochistic relationship to the Indian Express. I hate the neo-liberal campaign strategy of the Express and cannot stand its crass advocacy of a bizarre ‘let the market decide’ logic, but, and this is important – secretly enjoy its city reporting. Its strange coverage on the Mashelkar report falls squarely in the first – neo-liberal advocacy. A quick recap.
Some days ago activists Chan Park and Achal Prabhala ‘outed’ the report of the Mashelkar committee. Essentially the report gave a thumbs up to the international pharma industry in its recommendations. Not surprising – given the current climate, the power of lobbyists, and rule by ‘expert’ committee. (Though neo-liberal rhetoric targets the state, it works perfectly through it). Anyway Park and Prabhala showed that so eager was the committee to please the international industry that it copied verbatim a part of the submission made by Shamnad Basheer, whose own research had been supported by a consortium of multinational firms. This is what Park and Prabhala write about the Mashlekar innovations:
Continue reading Mashelkar, The Indian Express and me
Red Carpet for Capital in West Bengal
The Marxist chief minister of West Bengal said in Kolkata day before yesterday (30 November 2006) that the West Bengal government will “do all that needs to be done” to ensure full protection to Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons, and the management and workers of Tata Motors “to stay here and start work” on the car plant at Singur, Hooghly district. Thus spake Buddhadeb and the above lines have been taken verbatim from a newspaper that is known for its sympathies with the Marxist party.
The chief minister, who also happens to be a politburo member of the CPI(M), also reportedly exclaimed in surprise “How can Mamata Banerjee stop the project” as it had the “overwhelming support of the people.” Farmers have apparently given consent letters to hand over 932 acres of land (out of the 997 required) and cheques were disbursed to them towards compensation. There have been two comments posted earlier on this blog which dealt with Medha Patkar’s response to the Indian Express on this issue. The farcical nature of cash compensations is of course well known for all who have any idea of what generally happens in such cases and has indeed happened in this one. Cash amounts are pathetic and the for most of those whom the Express correspondent “saw” queuing up to receive these cheques, this is the next best option to losing all the land at gunpoint, without compensation.
Continue reading Left-wing Capitalism – a Senile Disorder
Land-Grab by Rich: The Politics of SEZs in India
[This is an article written a couple of months ago by NAPM activist Sanjay Sangvai and will continue to be relevant for quite sometime to come].
The farmers in the obscure Pen tehsil in Raigad district Maharashtra are preparing for the long battle against the gigantic and powerful company – the Reliance. On June 22, a few Mumbai-based Marathi newspapers carried the news of the demonstrations of hundreds of farmers against the land acquisition by the state government for the Reliance company for a 10,120 hectare Special Economic Zone (SEZ). There was police firing on the rally as some miscreants indulged in stone throwing and damaging the property, which it was later found that, was not done by the protesting farmers.
“The Reliance company managed to create disturbance in the peaceful meeting of hundreds of farmers and our process of presenting objections to the Land Acquisition notices to the officials. The company is nervous about the growing resistance by the farmers for usurping their productive land and therefore trying to use the police to crush the movement” told Arun Shivkar, of Pen Panchkroshi Sheti Bachao Samiti (Pen area Committee for Save the farmland).
Continue reading Sanjay Sangvai on the Great Land Robbery
Compared to the 19th and early to mid 20th centuries, capitalism, today has acquired an entirely new shape and character, often broadly referred to under the rubric of ‘globalization’. Among marxists of different hues there seems to be a remarkable unity in considering ‘globalization’ as a fresh assault of imperialist capital that represents a new wave of re-colonization of the third world. It is seen as a global conspiracy emanating from a single source.
Clearly this reading emanates from an understanding of capital as an all-powerful, singular, sovereign entity, virtually like God. Everything presumably is a consequence of the logic of capital. Ironically, barring a few exceptions, the votaries of ‘working class struggles’ cannot – or do not – see any role of such struggles in the way the present has shaped up, including one of its most significant effects – the apparently terminal crisis of the labour movement. Continue reading The Art of Fleeing, Capital and Molecular Socialism