Category Archives: Capitalism

Are the Tatas not to be blamed for the Singur fiasco at all?

Since even the chief minister of Bengal admits that violence was used in Singur to acquire land against the wishes of farmers who owned and/or worked it, there’s virtually nobody who claims otherwise (except our favourite newspaper).

So the line that goes is that it is the state government which botched it up. If only you had allowed the Tatas to acquire land on its own, if only the land acquistion act didn’t require the Evil State to acquire the land… market forces of demand and supply would have prevailed. Continue reading Are the Tatas not to be blamed for the Singur fiasco at all?

Bye Bye Reliance: Pen Tehsil Says No SEZ!

In our continuing concern with the strange times that seem to have befallen our cities, lets not lose sight of the historic battle underway in the countryside. In the first instance of its kind, the referendum on the Maha-Mumbai Special Economic Zone being set up by Reliance has unambiguously returned the verdict of the farmers of Raigad- no SEZ in Pen! As Sanhati notes, the Tata’s 1500 crore investment in Singur sounds like loose change when compared to the one lakh crore that Reliance is planning to sink into 10,000 hectares. 22 villages in the Pen Tehsil voted against the acquisition of their lands at the paltry sum of 10 lakhs per acre. Unsurprisingly, Reliance Industries Limited has said the referendum is “not genuine”:

Continue reading Bye Bye Reliance: Pen Tehsil Says No SEZ!

Graziano Transmissioni and the Cheer-Leaders of Capital


‘The chief executive officer of a Greater Noida-based gear manufacturing company [Graziano Transmissioni India Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of an Italian TNC] was lynched to death inside factory premises on Monday, allegedly by a group of dismissed workers.’

‘“Around 125 dismissed workers armed with iron rods barged into the factory and went on rampage. They broke computers and machinery and smashed windowpanes. When Lalit tried to pacify them, they assaulted him with rods,” board of director Ramesh Jain told Hindustan Times.’ See report here

‘Companies in the area are known to employ contract labour in large numbers, though the law clearly states that such workers can be used only for non-core functions and not on the shop floor.’ says another report.


They’d never had it so good. Through the 1990s and into the 2000s, the party had gone on. Continue reading Graziano Transmissioni and the Cheer-Leaders of Capital

The red mongoose in solemn procession: Samkutty Pattomkary

[This guest post by SAMKUTTY PATTOMKARY responds to the ongoing debate in Kafila on the Chengara issue. -AN]

Reading through the discussions on Chengara in kafila, some thoughts I felt I need to articulate as follows.

It comes out vividly through the Chengara struggle that a large section of people remain alienated from social and political powers in the so-called democratic society of Kerala. Why is it not possible for the ‘class proponents’ to see and engage themselves in working towards solving the issue politically? Continue reading The red mongoose in solemn procession: Samkutty Pattomkary

Breakthrough in Singur?

Dear all,

(Adapted from a recent post made on the Reader List)

Kafila has in the past discussed the debacle of Nandigram in West Bengal and more recently, Singur.

For the past several days, a peaceful agitation on the Durgapur expressway near the Tata Motors Factory site in Singur in West Bengal has protested against the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation and the West Bengal Government’s decision not to engage with the demands of the farmers and others who did not voluntarily accept the paltry compensation offered to them by the WBIDC for the loss of their land or their livelihoods.

At the close of last night, the Governor of West Bengal, Gopal Krishna Gandhi announced that a solution acceptable to all (the protesting farmers at Singur and the Government of West Bengal) has been found, and that Ms. Mamata Bannerjee of the Trinamool Congress (one of the key protagonists of the Singur protest) would announce that the agitation at Singur would be suspended.

This is good news, as it demonstrates that hitherto unwilling and insensitive governments that try to ride roughshod over people in the interests of capital can be made on occasion to listen to organized and peaceful  expressions of peoples’ dissent. The CPI(M) led Left Front Government of West Bengal seems to have learnt at least some lessons from the fallout of its earlier shameful and anti-democratic conduct in Nandigram. This is welcome. It can only be hoped that the CPI(M) leadership takes stock,  learns to listen more to people, and indeed to many from amongst their own cadre who have been unhappy about the way in which their party brokered unfair land deals for Capital.

The people of Nandigram had based their struggle on what they had learnt from the earlier phase of the Singur situation. It appears today that the people of Singur have benefited from the restraint shown by a government and ruling party chastened by its mismanagement of the situation in Nandigram. The people of Singur owe their current sense of respite to a great extent to the people of Nandigram and their struggle.

Though it may be premature to call this ‘breakthrough’ a victory for peasants and working people, it is certainly reason to believe that not every struggle conducted by ordinary people over land, resources and livelihood is doomed to failure. This news should raise the hopes of all those committed to protest against unjust land aquisition and transfer moves – be they in Orissa, Haryana, Kerala, Goa, Kashmir or elsewhere.

See a PTI report in the Hindu that gives more details of the agreement.



Mediotics, Industrialization and the Angel of History

[Being a sequel to ‘Singur, Mediotics and an NGO Called Indian Express‘]

“There is a painting by Klee called Angelus Novus. An angel is depicted there who looks as though he were about to distance himself from something which he is staring at. His eyes are opened wide, his mouth stands open and his wings are outstretched. The Angel of History must look just so. His face is turned towards the past. Where we see the appearance of a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe, which unceasingly piles rubble on top of rubble and hurls it before his feet. He would like to pause for a moment…to awaken the dead and to piece together what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise, it has caught itself up in his wings and is so strong that the Angel can no longer close them. The storm drives him irresistibly into the future, to which his back is turned, while the rubble-heap before him grows sky-high. That which we call progress, is this storm.” Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History.”

These prophetic words were written in 1920 1940, when modernity’s arrogant faith in Progress was still pretty much intact. The rubble-heap of Progress has since piled up like never before. The world is now engaged in battling the effects of modernity that threaten humanity’s very existence. We know, for instance, that global warming or climate change threatens to destroy human civilization itself. Who knows, perhaps, millions of years later, some future civilization might discover its remains submerged under the sea and wonder at the heights of the ‘Progress’ it had achieved. Little might it occur to them that it was Progress itself that took this civilization to the sea.

Continue reading Mediotics, Industrialization and the Angel of History