Guest post by RAVI SINHA
It is with considerable satisfaction and with a mild sense of accomplishment that we arrive at this moment. For those of us who have been a part of this process, it has been an exciting but difficult journey. One little climb is over. After every climb, howsoever small, one gains a view. And a view we have gained.
I speak of satisfaction, and of a sense of accomplishment. But, I also speak of trepidation. I do so because a climb much steeper and far more challenging begins from here.
We have gained a view, admittedly still hazy, but much clearer than the one we had in the valley we come from. Most of the climb, however, lies ahead of us.
Fortunately, it is not like climbing in the mountains. Fortunately, metaphors have their limitations. There, in the mountains, as you gain height, the air gets thinner and climbers begin to drop out. There, it gets lonely at the top.
The terrain of history is different. Climbing has a different meaning in the movement. Here, the air gets thicker as you climb higher. Here, you join others as you gain a clearer view. With clarity comes a higher but broader platform for unity.
Here, a summit is reached when an entire revolutionary class stands united in its resolve to overturn the status quo. Here, a summit is gained when an invincible mass of humanity comes together to bend the course of history. Continue reading A Future for the Left: Ravi Sinha
Guest post by PRASANTA CHAKRAVARTY
The remarkable Singur Land Development and Rehabilitation Bill, passed in the West Bengal Assembly on June 14 became an Act on June 20. The Act scrapped the previous Left Front government’s deal with Tata Motors and has provisions to return land to unwilling farmers. Consequently, Singur land was taken over by the State government prompting Tata Motors to legally challenge the whole Act and a judicial battle has ensued between them and the newly elected State government. The State government may continue to return land in right earnest since there is no legal bar to that as of now. One would think that by many standards, this is a landmark bill that challenges and confronts policy consensus in issues of land transfer, models of enclosing and a concomitant notion of development that marks our nation at this point of time.
Reactions to this enactment have been thick and fast—alarmist and cautious to generous and triumphant. Continue reading The Singur Act and the Deontological Reaction: Prasanta Chakravarty
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?
(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.
Guest post by ANANT MARINGANTI
How far is Nandigram from Chengara ? If we take media coverage and internet buzz as indicators, they are on two different planets. The heat generated by Singur and Nandigram was enough to run a chain of mini power plants. All that the families in the Chengara holdout have managed to evoke is a few approving nods from here and there. Here is a partial inventory of reasons why this might be so.
1) Singur and Nandigram are protests against disposession. The bad guys in the two instances are high profile harbingers of neoliberal globalization. No less. Chengara is about staking a claim to a welfare provision that nobody takes seriously anymore. There are no easily identifiable bad guys here.
Continue reading The million mutinee question – Anant Maringanti
If you are in Kolkata between 27 June and 2 July, you may do well to visit the Seagull Arts and Media Resource Centre, Kolkata, for an exhibition of photographs of Singur. There will also be a panel discussion and a film festival. Continue reading Under Development: Singur