Opposition to SEZ pays dividends for PWP, sena in Raigad


Meena Menon

Tie-up between Peasants and Workers Party and Shiv Sena led to a
thumping victory in the Zilla Parishad polls in Maharashtra


“PWP has a long tradition of grass roots work in the area”
Congress wins 6 seats compared to 5 last time

MUMBAI: The opposition to proposed Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and
industries, including the Reliance Group-promoted Mumbai Special
Economic Zone (MSEZ) in Raigad district, has paid political dividends
for the two parties in the area who tied up for the recent elections to
zilla parishads.

While load shedding and farmers’ suicides did not prevent the Congress
from performing well in the State, in Raigad, a tie-up between the
Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) and the Shiv Sena led to a thumping
victory for them.

Most politicians do not deny the impact of grass roots campaign with the
farmers and fisherfolk who stand to lose if the SEZs are set up. Senior
PWP leader N.D. Patil, who led a rasta roko last Friday against the SEZs
in Raigad district, said the poll results reflected people’s anger on
the issue.

In a region where over 70 per cent of the people are small farmers or
fisherfolk, agriculture is the mainstay. The land being acquired for the
SEZ is used for paddy cultivation. The PWP has a long tradition of grass
roots work in the area, said the local MLA, Vivek Patil. “We have been
working with the people for a long time and we have stood for certain
values in the district,” he said. Sena leaders such as Manohar Joshi and
Ramdas Kadam extended their support to the agitation.

Although A. R. Antulay, Congress MP and a Union Minister who is from
Raigad campaigned for his party during these local elections, it did not
make much of a dent. Mr. Patil said the Congress had not really been
sensitive to people’s issues and they were too scared of losing out on
contracts and power if they did. They have never been on the side of the
farmers, he said. The other factor against the Congress was that it had
never explained what the SEZs meant and how people could benefit.

This aspect has definitely worked to the PWP and Sena’s advantage. The
PWP gained by winning 26 seats and Sena with 16, of the total 61 in the
ZP. Earlier too, the PWP and the Shiv Sena worked together for about two
years to run the Zilla Parishad. The only issue they differed on was
“Hindutva,” said Mr. Patil, adding that the tie-up did not affect his
party’s secular image up. There were more important battles to be
fought, he felt.

Mr. Patil says that both the PWP and the Sena are cadre-based parties
and close to people. The Congress won only six seats (it had five last
time) and some wins were due to booth capturing and bogus voting, he
alleged. At Rave, there was firing too after complaints of booth
capturing. This is also the constituency of Maharashtra Minister of
State for Public Works Ravishet Patil of the Congress. Desperate to show
solidarity, his son Vaikunth, a newly elected zilla parishad member,
took part in the rasta roko last week.

Unlike other members of his party, Shrikant Patil from Vashi in Pen
taluka of Raigad district is one of the few Congressmen to have won the
Zilla Parishad elections and caused an upset of sorts in his area.

This former sarpanch of Vashi village has been opposing the SEZ. “I too
am a small farmer with four acres and I am strongly opposed to the SEZ,”
he said.

His opponent Anant Patil, who heads the committee of 24 villages opposed
to the SEZ from Pen taluka, said overall, the Sena -PWP did benefit from
the anti SEZ sentiments and he lost only by a few votes.

Youth leaders of the party such as Dhairyashail Patil, PWP district
secretary, said unless the SEZ issue was fought in the political arena,
the people would not win. The anti-SEZ feelings were reflected in the
elections but not to the desired extent, he pointed out. He said the
anti-SEZ sentiment was very strong in the Hamrapur area but the party
lost from there. However, the Congress is probably feeling the heat from
the protests as last Friday, during the rasta roko, Chief Minister
Vilasrao Deshmukh made statements in the Upper House that the Government
would not come in between the farmers and the Government in land
acquisition issues. However, the people are demanding that land
acquisition notices be withdrawn.

Official sources said land acquisition proceedings were not stalled and
the hearings were still underway.

Keeping Indians poor: Grand government design

M R Venkatesh | March 27, 2007 |

A bit of digression at the outset is crucial to understand the depth of food depravation, associated poverty and the resultant food insecurity prevailing in India.

For the ordinary Indian it must be shocking to know that food security in India is a falsehood propagated repeatedly by the government since the mid-eighties.

To understand the enormity of the falsehood, let me put things in perspective. The net per capita food availability in India in 1971 was 394 gm per day. This was just after the onset of Green Revolution in India. Exactly 30 years later, in 2001, the net per capita of foodgrain availability was 396 gm per day: a princely rise of 2 gm! In effect, for over 30 years our farm growth has barely kept pace with our population growth. This sets up the debate.

A comparison with other countries is central to understanding the extent of food shortage prevailing in India. Advanced countries, on a per capita basis, consume anywhere between 500 gm to 600 gm per day. Such healthy consumption in these countries is supplementary to the substantial quantity of meat, fruits, vegetables and milk.

On this score, our consumption on a per capita level is far below the world average and significantly below the average of the developed countries. It would seem that, we as a nation, seem to have declared food self-sufficiency on virtually empty stomachs.

A reference to China is unavoidable here. China, a country with approximately 1.2 times our population, produces approximately 450 MT of foodgrain every year — more than double that of India. Does this comparison with other countries not blow the myth of self-sufficiency in India?

What is appalling is the fact that even after the British took over the reins of India, they constituted a commission to look into the quantity of food required in India, should India were to be hit by a famine. For this purpose, the per capita food consumption was held to be 500 gm per day by the said commission. It has to be noted that the British fixed this norm for consumption of Indians during a famine. It would seem that our colonial oppressors had a more charitable view than our own democratically elected government!

A callous approach to agriculture

Thousands of farmers have committed suicide in India in the past few years. Yet governments, both in the States and at the Centre, have been shying away from dealing with the issue appropriately. While there has been occasional media outcry, the ‘packages’ announced by the government have hardly made an impact. And if these packages do take effect, experience shows that this would at best be insignificant.

The issue is not merely of agriculture, food security and farmers: it is something much more. Agriculture is far too central to the Indian economy than can be imagined by many of us. It is our route to food security, economic well-being, poverty alleviation and, crucially, national security.

But like all other things in India, the seriousness of the issue is inversely proportional to the attention it gets.

Structural issues remain un-addressed

At the root of the current crisis in the farm sector is the fact that decades of neglect has de-legitimised the farm sector. There are a number of structural issues that remain un-addressed within the farm sector today. These include:

Farm Credit: Lack of an appropriate lending mechanism, which means farmers are forced to obtain credit at exorbitant rates from the informal sector. Though credit expansion by the formal sector has taken place in the recent past, it is inadequate.

Soaring costs of inputs: Apart from interest costs, other input costs (viz. seeds, power, etc) — barring fertiliser — have shown significant increase in the past few years. This rise in input costs has been disproportionately higher than the rise in the selling price of farm produce. Naturally farmers are reeling under huge debt, a sure sign of a losing economy.

Lack of water: Water is crucial to farm activity. Successive years of drought in many parts of India have reduced agriculture in India to a gamble on the monsoon. With a mere 40 per cent of farmland irrigated, Indian farmers have been at the mercy of the weather gods. Under the liberalisation programme, the fundamental assumption is that virtually every government activity can be privatized: however, it needs to be understood that irrigation and capital formation within the farm sector cannot be privatised so easily in India. It has to remain a government function, essentially.

Farmers are entrepreneurs. They take risks. Their risk gets compounded due to the vagaries of monsoon. They do not look to the State as a benefactor. Rather they would prefer the government to be a genuine facilitator in lowering these risks.

Today a farmer gets a fraction of the final retail price while a substantial portion of the prices that we pay for our food goes to the retailers, wholesalers, middlemen and others. These are structural issues that can be addressed only by the government.

And due to these distortions within the system we are witness to a strange paradox: rise in prices of farm products strangely resulting in farmers committing suicide.

However, due to fiscal orthodoxy and indifference to the farm sector, the government has been reluctant to deal with this issue of capital formation in the farm sector. And in areas where the government has done so, it has been far from satisfactory.

A leading daily in Chennai had recently exposed as to how despite the government spending in excess of Rs 35,000 crore (Rs 350 billion) in the past decade or so under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), there has not even been a marginal increase in the gross farm land under irrigation in the country, which virtually stands at 40% of the total farm land.

The Indian economy has yet to mature to expect that the private sector would step in to the space created due to the government’s exit. If the government cannot handle this crucial issue — of rural infrastructure — why do we have governments?

The government spends about Rs 26,000 crore (Rs 260 billion) every year on food subsidy, through the public distribution system (PDS), for those living below the poverty line. It is estimated that for every Re 1 of subsidy to reach the ultimate beneficiary, the government has to spend approximately Rs 7 on the administrative mechanism. In fact, of the 300 million poor estimated to be below the poverty line in the country, only 25 per cent are estimated to have access to PDS.

The rest are left to fend for themselves. In effect, the government’s programme — in intent and in execution — leaves a lot to be desired.

Yet, is it a failure of the delivery system, or is there something more to it than meets the eye?

Keeping farmers poor, a grand design

Speaking on the issue of farmers and the general lack of food security prevailing in the country, I suggested to a retired bureaucrat (who held very high positions in the Government of India) that India must double its food production from its existing 200 MT. This, I argued, would boost the income of the farmers as well as provide access to food at far cheaper rates to those living below the poverty line.

The bureaucrat was appalled. Clearly stating that India required nothing more than 200-220 MT of foodgrain, he dismissed my line of reasoning.

Crucially, through a paradigm of shortages, the government and its officers have increased their relevance, power and authority. In contrast, farmers have been reduced to play the role of applicants and would forever remain in the clutches of the State and its draconian agencies.

The net result of our ‘planned’ neglect of the farm sector has meant that today approximately 50 per cent of our population is malnourished. Some international agencies report that certain pockets in India suffer from acute malnutrition more than some African regions.

Robust growth in the farm sector acts as a trigger for overall economic growth. Economis
ts have been repeatedly pointing out that a one per cent growth in the farm sector acts as a significant multiplier in industry and the services sectors, leading to increases in aggregate demand within the Indian economy.

Despite a decade and half after the initiation of reforms, the government has yet to come out of its socialist mindset vis-�-vis the farm sector. This is not without purpose and falls within the government’s grand design of keeping farmers — and India — poor.

The failure of the farmers comes with an attendant and natural bonus — it can ensure that a substantial portion of our population is underfed, under-clothed and mired in acute poverty. And that directly increases the importance of the government, the politicians and the bureaucrats.

If farmers were to succeed, it would mean the failure of our politicians and the brand of politics practiced in this country since 1947 by the Left and the Right.

And that explains why the government is keen on a failed farm sector: the idea is to merely keep it on a life support system, allow it neither to die nor to bloom. And that ensures that India remains poor, while its politicians are rich.

India is colonising itself

By Arundhati Roy & Shoma Chaudhuri

26 March, 2007

There is an atmosphere of growing violence across the country. How do you read the signs? Do you think it will grow more in the days to come? What are its causes? In what context should all this be read?

You don’t have to be a genius to read the signs. We have a growing middle class, being reared on a diet of radical consumerism and aggressive greed. Unlike industrializing western countries which had colonies from which to plunder resources and generate slave labour to feed this process, we have to colonize ourselves, our own nether parts. We’ve begun to eat our own limbs. The greed that is being generated (and marketed as a value interchangeable with nationalism) can only be sated by grabbing land, water and resources from the vulnerable. What we’re witnessing is the most successful secessionist struggle ever waged in Independent India. The secession of the middle and upper classes from the rest of the country. It’s a vertical secession, not a lateral one. They’re fighting for the right to merge with the world’s elite somewhere up there in the stratosphere. They’ve managed to commandeer the resources , the coal, the minerals, the bauxite, the water and electricity. Now they want the land to make more cars, more bombs, more mines – super toys for the new super citizens of the new superpower. So it’s outright war, and people on both sides are choosing their weapons. The government and the corporations reach for Structural Adjustment, the World Bank, the ADB, FDI, friendly court orders, friendly policy makers, help from the ‘friendly’ corporate media and a police force that will ram all this down peoples’ throats. Those who want to resist this process have, until now, reached for dharnas, hunger-strikes, satyagraha, the courts, and what they thought was friendly media. But now, more and more are reaching for guns. Will the violence grow? If the ‘growth rate’ and the sensex are going to be the only barometres the government uses to measure progress and the well-being of people, then of course it will. How do I read the signs? It isn’t hard to read sky-writing. What it says up there, in big letters is this: The shit has hit the fan, folks.

You once remarked that though you may not resort to violence yourself, you think it has become immoral to condemn it, given the circumstances in the country. Can you elaborate on this view?

I’d be a liability as a guerilla! I doubt I used the word ‘immoral’-morality is an elusive business, as changeable as the weather. What I feel is this: Non-violent movements have, for decades knocked on the door of every democratic institution in this country and have been spurned and humiliated. Look at the Bhopal Gas victims, the Narmada Bachao Andolan. The NBA for example, had a lot going for it, high profile leadership, media coverage, more resources than any other mass movement. What went wrong? People are bound to want to re-think strategy. When Sonia Gandhi begins to promote Satyagraha at the World Economic Forum in Davos it’s time for us to sit up and think. For example, is mass civil disobedience possible within the structure of a democratic nation-state? Is it possible in the age of disinformation and corporate-controlled mass media? Are hunger-strikes umblically linked to celebrity politics? Would anybody care if the people of Nangla Machhi or Bhatti mines went on a hunger-strike? Sharmila Irom has been on a hunger strike for six years. That should be a salutary lesson to many of us. I’ve always felt that it’s ironic that hunger-strikes are used as a political weapon in a land where most people go hungry anyway. We are in a different time and place now. Up against a different, more complex adversary. We’ve entered the era of NGOs – or should I say the era of palthu shers – in which mass action can be a treacherous business. We have demonstrations which are funded, we have sponsored dharnas and social forums which posture militantly but never follow up on what they preach. We have all kinds of ‘virtual’ resistance. Meetings against SEZs sponsored by the biggest promoters of SEZs. Awards and grants for environmental activism and community action given by corporations responsible for devastating whole ecosystems. Vedanta, a company mining bauxite in the forests of Orissa wants to start a university. The Tatas have two charitable trusts that directly and indirectly, fund activists and mass movements across the country. Could that be why Singur has drawn so much less flak than Nandigram, and why they have not targeted, boycotted, gheraoed? Of course the Tatas and Birlas funded Gandhi too – maybe he was our first NGO. But now we have NGOs who make a lot of noise, write a lot of reports,but who the sarkar is more than comfortable with. How do we make sense of all this? The place is crawling with professional diffusers of real political action. ‘Virtual resistance’ has become something of a liability.

There was a time when mass movements looked to the courts for justice. The courts have rained down a series of judgments that are so unjust, so insulting to the poor in the language they use, they take your breath away. A recent Supreme Court judgment allowing the Vasant Kunj Mall to resume construction though it didn’t have the requisite clearances said in so many words, that the question of Corporations indulging in malpractice does not arise! In the era of corporate globalization, corporate land-grab, in the era of Enron and Monsanto, Halliburton and Bechtel, that’s a loaded thing to say. It exposes the ideological heart of the most powerful institution in this country. The judiciary along with the corporate press, is now seen as the lynchpin of the neo-liberal project.

In a climate like this when people feel that they are being worn down, exhausted by these interminable ‘democratic’ processes, only to be humiliated eventually, what are they supposed to do? Of course it isn’t as though the only options are binary – violence versus non-violence. There are political parties that believe in armed struggle, but only as one part of their overall political strategy. Political workers in these struggles have been dealt with brutally, killed, beaten, imprisoned under false charges. People are fully aware that to take to arms is to call down upon yourself the myriad forms of violence of the Indian State. The minute armed struggle becomes a strategy, your whole world shrinks and the colors fade to black and white. But when people decide to take that step because every other option has ended in despair–should we condemn them? Does anyone believe that if the people of Nandigram had held a Dharna and sung songs the West Bengal Government would have backed down? We are living in times, when to be ineffective is to support the status quo (which no doubt suits some of us). And being effective comes at a terrible price. I find it hard to condemn people who are prepared to pay that price.
You have been traveling a lot on the ground — can you give us a sense of the fissures you are seeing on the ground. What are the trouble spots you have been to? Can you outline a few of the combat lines in these places?

Huge question – what can I say? The military occupation of Kashmir, neo-facism in Gujarat, civil war in Chhattisgarh, MNCs raping Orissa, the submergence of hundreds of villages in the Narmada Valley, people living on the edge of absolute starvation, the devastation of forest land, the Bhopal victims living to see the West Bengal government re-wooing Union Carbide – now calling itself Dow Chemicals – in Nandigram. I haven’t been recently to Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharshtra, but we know about the almost hundred thousand farmers who have killed themselves. We know about the fake encounters and the terrible repression in Andhra Pradesh. Each of these places is has its own particular history, economy, ecology. None is amenable to easy analysis. And yet there is connecting tissue, there are huge internatio
nal cultural and economic pressures being brought to bear on them. How can I not mention the Hindutva project, spreading its poison sub-cutaneously, waiting to errupt once again. I’d say the biggest indictment of all is that we are still a country, a culture a society which continues to nurture and practice the notion of untouchability. While our economists number-crunch and boast about the growth rate, a million people, human scavengers – earn their living carrying several kilos of other peoples’ shit on their heads every day. And if they didn’t carry shit on their heads they would starve to death. Some fucking superpower this.

How does one view the recent State and police violence in Bengal?

No different from police and State violence anywhere else – including the issue of hypocrisy and doublespeak so perfected by all political parties including the mainstream Left. Are communist bullets different from capitalist ones? Odd things are happening. It snowed in Saudi Arabia. Owls are out in broad daylight. The Chinese Government tabled a bill sanctioning the right to private property. I don’t know if all of this has to do with climate change. The Chinese Communists are turning out to be the biggest capitalists of the 21st century. Why should we expect our own Parliamentary Left to be any different? Nandigram and Singur are clear signals. It makes you wonder – is the last stop of every revolution advanced capitalism? Think about it – the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, the Vietnam War, the Anti- Apartheid struggle, the supposedly Gandhian Freedom struggle in India…what’s the last station they all pull in at? Is this the end of imagination?

The Maoist attack in Bijapur — the death of 55 policemen. Are the rebels only a flip face of the State?

How can the rebels be the flip side of the state? Would anybody say that those who fought against Apartheid – however brutal their methods – were the flip side of the state? What about those who fought the French in Algeria? Or those who fought the Nazis? Or those who fought Colonial Regimes? Or those who are fighting the US occupation of Iraq? Are they the flip side of the State? This facile new report-driven ‘human rights’ discourse, this meaningless condemnation game that we all are forced to play, makes politicians of us all and leaches the real politics out of everything. However pristine we would like to be, however hard we polish our halos, the tragedy is that we have run out of pristine choices. There is a civil war in Chattisgarh sponsored, created by the Chattisgarh Government which is publicly pursing the Bush doctrine – if you’re not with us, you are with the terrorists. The lynch pin of this war, apart from the formal security forces, is the Salwa Judum – a government backed militia of ordinary people forced to take up arms, forced to become SPOs (Special Police Officers). The Indian State has tried this in Kashmir, in Manipur, in Nagaland. Tens of thousands have been killed, hundreds of thousands tortured, thousands have disappeared. Any Banana Republic would be proud of this record.. Now the government wants to import these failed strategies into the heartland. Thousands of Adivasis have been forcibly moved off their mineral –rich lands into police camps. Hundreds of villages have been forcibly evacuated. Those lands, rich in iron-ore are being eyed by corporations like the Tatas and Essar. MOUs have been signed, but no one knows what they say. Land Acquisition has begun. This kind of thing happened in countries like Colombia – one of the most devastated countries in the world. While everybody’s eyes are fixed on the spiraling violence between government backed militias and guerilla squads, multinational corporations quietly make off with the mineral wealth. That’s the little piece of theatre being scripted for us in Chattisgarh.

Of course it’s horrible that 55 policemen were killed. But they’re as much the victims of Government policy as anybody else. For the Government and the Corporations they’re just cannon fodder – there’s plenty more where they came from. Crocodile tears will be shed, prim TV anchors will hector us for a while and then more supplies of fodder will be arranged. For the Maoist guerillas the police and SPOs they killed were the armed personnel of the Indian State, the main, perpetrators of repression, torture, custodial killings, false encounters. The ones whose professional duties involve burning villages and raping women. They’re not innocent civilians – if such a thing exists – by any stretch of imagination.

I have no doubt that the Maoists can be agents of terror and coercion too. I have no doubt they have committed unspeakable atrocities. I have no doubt they cannot lay claim to undisputed support from local people – but who can? Still, no guerrilla army can survive without local support. That’s a logistical impossibility. And the support for Maoists is growing, not diminishing. That says something. People have no choice but to align themselves on the side of whoever they think is less worse.

But to equate a resistance movement fighting against enormous injustice, with the Government which enforces that injustice is absurd. The government has slammed the door in the face of every attempt at non-violent resistance. When people take to arms, there is going to be all kinds of violence – revolutionary, lumpen and outright criminal. The government is responsible for the monstrous situations it creates.

The term Naxals and Maoists and outsiders is being used very loosely these days. Can you declutter it.

‘Outsiders’ is a generic accusation used in the early stages of repression by governments who have begun to believe their own publicity and can’t imagine that people have risen up against them. That’s the stage the CPI (M) is at now in Bengal, though some would say repression in Bengal is not new, it has only moved into higher gear.. In any case what’s an outsider? Who decides the borders? Are they village boundaries? Tehsil? Block? District? State? Is narrow regional and ethnic politics the new communist mantra? About Naxals and Maoists – well… India is about to become a police state in which everybody who disagrees with what’s going on risks being called a terrorist. Islamic terrorists have to be Islamic – so that’s not good enough to cover most of us. They need a bigger catchment area. So leaving the definition loose, undefined, is effective strategy, because the time is not far off when we’ll all be called Maoists or Naxalites, terrorists or terrorist sympathisers and shut down, by people who don’t really know – or care -who Maoists or Naxalites are. In villages of course that has begun – thousands of people are being held in jails across the country, loosely charged with being terrorists trying to overthrow the state. Who are the real Naxalites and Maoists? I’m not an authority on the subject, but here’s a very rudimentary potted history.

The Communist Party of India the CPI was formed in 1925. The CPI (M) Communist Party Marxist- split from the CPI in 1964 and formed a separate party. Both of course were parliamentary political parties. In 1967 the CPI (M) along with a splinter group of the Congress, came to power in West Bengal. At the time there was massive unrest among starving peasantry in the countryside. Local leaders of the CPI(M) – Kanu Sanyal and Charu Mazumdar led a peasant uprising in the district of Naxalbari which is where the term Naxalites comes from. In 1969 the government fell and the Congress came back to power under Siddharta Shankar Ray. The naxalite uprising was mercilessly crushed – Mahashweta Devi has written powerfully about this time. In 1969 the CPI (ML) – Marxist Leninist split from the CPI (M). A few years later around 1971, the CPI (ML) devolved into several parties: the CPI -ML (Liberation) largely centred in Bihar, CPI –ML (New Democracy) functioning for the most part out of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, the CPI-ML (Class Struggle) mainly in Bengal. These parties have been gen
erically baptized ‘Naxalites.’ They see themselves as Marxist Leninist, not strictly speaking Maoist. They believe in elections, mass action and, when, absolutely pushed to the wall or attacked- armed struggle. The MCC – the Maoist Communist Centre at the time mostly operating in Bihar was formed in 1968. The PW Peoples War, operational for the most part in Andhra Pradesh was formed in 1980. Recently, in 2004 the MCC and the PW merged to form the CPI (Maoist) They believe in outright armed struggle and the overthrowing of the state. They don’t participate in elections. This is the party that is fighting the guerilla war in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand.

The Indian state and media largely view the Maoists as “internal security” threat. Is this the way to look at them?

I’m sure the Maoists would be flattered to be viewed in this way.
The Maoists want to bring down the State. Given the autocratic ideology they take their inspiration from, what alternative would they set up? Wouldn’t their regime be an exploitative autocratic violent one as well? Isn’t their action already exploitative of ordinary people? Do they really have the support of ordinary people?

I think it’s important for us to acknowledge that both Mao and Stalin are dubious heroes with murderous pasts. Tens of millions of people were killed under their regimes. Apart from what happened in China and the Soviet Union, Pol Pot, with the support of the Chinese communist party (while the West looked away discreetly) wiped out two million people in Cambodia and brought millions of people to the brink of extinction from disease and starvation. Can we pretend that China’s cultural revolution didn’t happen? Or that that millions of people in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were not victims of labour camps, torture chambers, the network of spies and informers, the secret police. The history of these regimes is just as dark as the history of Western Imperialism, except for the fact that they had a shorter life-span. We cannot condemn the occupation of Iraq, Palestine and Kashmir while we remain silent about Tibet and Chechnya. I would imagine that for the Maoists, the Naxalites as well as the mainstream Left, being honest about the past is important to strengthen peoples’ faith in the future. One hopes the past will not be repeated, but denying that it ever happened doesn’t help inspire confidence….Nevertheless, in this part of the world, the Maoists in Nepal have waged a brave and successful struggle against the monarchy in Nepal. Right now in India the Maoists and the various Marxist Leninist Groups are leading the fight against immense injustice in India. They are fighting not just the State, but feudal landlords and their armed militias. They are the only people who are making a dent. And I admire that. It may well be that when they come to power they will as you say, be brutal, unjust and autocratic, even worse than the present government. Maybe, but I’m not prepared to assume that in advance. If they are, we’ll have to fight them too. And most likely someone like myself will be the first person they’ll string up from the nearest tree – but right now, it is important to acknowledge that they are bearing the brunt of being at the forefront of resistance. Many of us are in a position where we have are beginning to align ourselves on the side of those who we know have no place for us in their religious or ideological imagination. It’s true that everybody changes radically when they come to power – look at Mandela’s ANC. Corrupt, capitalist, bowing to the IMF, driving the poor out of their homes – honouring Suharto the killer of hundreds of thousands of Indonesian communists with South Africa’s highest civilian award. Who would have thought it could happen? But does this mean South Africans should have backed away from the struggle against apartheid? Or that they should regret it now? Does it mean Algeria should have remained a French Colony, that Kashmiris, Iraqis and Palestinians should accept military occupation? That people whose dignity is being assaulted should give up the fight because they can’t find saints to lead them into battle?

Is there a communication breakdown in our society?


No more Bengal land for industry till SEZ rules change: CPM


Jayanth Jacob

NEW DELHI, MARCH 19: Days after the Calcutta High Court ordered a CBI probe into the police firing in Nandigram, the CPM leadership today called for a judicial inquiry and announced that no industrial project involving large acquisition of land, “such as the one by Salim Group”, will take place in West Bengal until the Centre changes its policy on special economic zones (SEZs).

Making this announcement, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, however, said that the Tata small cars project in Singur could go on as “the situation in Singur and Nandigram are not the same”. Even the Jindal Group’s steel plant project, he said, could go ahead. The Jindal Group plans to invest Rs 12,000 crore in an integrated steel plant in the Midnapore region with a capacity of 5 million tonnes.

Karat said that a judicial inquiry into the Nandigram incident was needed to bring out the “circumstances” that led to it and to suggest “remedial action.” The proposed project there, he said, would be shifted and an “alternative site” was being looked at.

Govt. changes SEZ rehab rules, onus on developer to provide as per state policy


Vikas Dhoot

New Delhi, March 21: With the government still to give final shape to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s promise of a ‘humane’ National Relief and Rehabilitation policy for the project-affected, the Commerce Ministry today notified changes in rules for special economic zones, making SEZ developers solely responsible for rehabilitation of displaced persons, indicating that state governments should steer clear of acquiring land on behalf of developers.

The notification, issued ahead of a meeting of UPA and Left leaders called by the PM, stated “the developer shall make adequate provision for rehabilitation of displaced persons as per the relief and rehabilitation policy of the state government”.

To allay fears of real estate grabbing in the name of SEZs, the Commerce Ministry has also reduced the validity of ‘in-principle’ approvals from three years to one year. This should keep out ‘speculative’ developers and ensure that developers acquire the requisite land and make good their investment promises as soon as possible or risk losing their approvals altogether.

The validity for formal approval, however, remains three years as it’s not possible for a developer to get formal approval unless the land acquisition and other formalities with the state governments are complete within a year of getting an in-principle nod from the Board of Approvals.

on SEZ dharna, Tikait gets call from PMO

Express News Service

Posted online: Thursday, March 22, 2007

NEW DELHI, MARCH 21: The UPA government was reaching out to Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Mahendra Singh Tikait as it met the kisan leader who was camping in the capital to demand scrapping of the Special Economic Zone Law of 2005 calling it an “undemocratic way of making use of farmers’ land for industrialistion”.

On Wednesday evening, Tikait held an exhaustive meeting at the PMO, shortly before the UPA dinner, along with members of the Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement (ICCFM) who say the SEZ law will only benefit big companies while fertile farmland will be acquired at throwaway prices. The farmers movement also held a demonstration in this connection on Wednesday.

The farmers have asked the UPA government to stop farmers’ suicides by waiving their loans. They also asked agriculture to be kept outside the purview of world trade. They asked the government to keep a tab on prices and to stop commercialisation of agriculture. The coordination committee wants the government to scrap the Indo-US pact on Agriculture and Seed Bill, 2005 as well.

The meeting in the PMO came against the backdrop of efforts to rope in the kisan leader using his base in Western Uttar Pradesh to help the Congress in the coming Assembly polls. Other members of the coordination committee are Yudhvir Singh, Sardar Gumnaam Singh and Ajmer Singh Lakhowal.

Andhra should set up at least 10 knowledge SEZs: Assocham



Posted online: Monday, March 19, 2007 at 0000 hours IST

HYDERABAD :  In the next seven years, Andhra Pradesh can become a ‘knowledge centre’ for the world, according to the Associated Chambers of Commerce (Assocham). In a blueprint, titled ‘Winds of Investments are towards Andhra’, Assocham suggests that the state has the potential to attract over Rs 1,50,000 crore investment in the next seven years. The blueprint, submitted to chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy by Assocham president Venugopal N Dhoot recently, was prepared by a group of professionals after field visits and interaction with officials.

‘‘We are confident that the state has enough potential — resources, proactive government and technically qualified manpower — which is sufficient to attract the investments,’’ Dhoot told the media.

The document points out that the state produces over 80,000 engineering graduates, 10,000 management graduates and over 3.50 lakh English-speaking workforce annually— and this is its greatest advantage.

The anticipated investment is capable of creating four lakh jobs additionally, besides increasing the state’s export share from 4.39% to 10% by the year 2012.

But this can be achieved only if Andhra Pradesh prepares a blueprint for establishing 10 Knowledge Special Economic Zones (K-SEZs) and 10 Agri-Processing Special Economic Zones (A-SEZs). This apart, it should act as a catalytic agent in promoting biotechnology, nano-technology, robotics, knowledge agriculture; promote institutes of professional excellence.

On its part, Assocham would take up the job of training small-time farmers by establishing about 200 agri-training institutes. Dhoot said the KL Chugh (former ITC, MD) committee to prepare the draft project paper to be submitted to the Planning Commission to get central funding. ‘‘We expect active partnership from the state government to proceed on the project,’’ he said. DS Rawat, secretary-general, Assocham, said a few corporates had evinced interest in the project. However, the modalities would be worked out after the Chugh committee submitted its report.

Is blood rain in Nandigram the begining of the end of left rule ?


Give full marks to Marx. Congress and Left have fixed the political cricket match. UPA vowed to wipe out farmers and soldiers in the land of India. Management and love guru should go to WB and naxal area

Rajniti ka asli rang kya hai, koi mujh se puche. Maine rajniti ka sabse ghinona chehra dekha hai. Jiske aage Ravan ke dus chehre bedag hain

The Left Front has begun to distance itself from Buddhadeb and and say they feel let down. The opposition parties, on their part, staged a walkout in the state Assembly and have called for his dismissal.

Also, the Calcutta High Court took up the case suo motu and ordered a CBI inquiry against the government’s actions. I2 hours strike called by Trinmool Congress and 24 hors strike called by BJP have great impact on the West Bengal to shut schools, offices, and shops in India’s communist-ruled state of West BengalThe bloody matter is hot up in the parliament.

So, is this the beginning of the end for Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and later the rule of left front in West Bengal?

Most part of this article is written as ‘Byaj ninda’Give full marks to MarxMarx considered the peasantry to be disorganized, dispersed, and incapable of carrying out change. The impact of drought gripping India on the farmers would vindicate Karl Marx who did not include agriculturists in his definition of revolutionary proletariat as he felt that their dependence upon nature made them superstitious. Left being atheists also not treat tribal as their partner of revolution because tribal worship the nature Sun, Mountain, River etc.

When Mamta Banerjee was on hunger strike on Singrur issue than spreading salt on the wounds PM Manmohan reached Kolkata to say that Buddhadeb is best CM of India. Buddhadeb agreed by saying, “We are not building communism in
West Bengal. Neither are we building socialism. We are building capitalism Workers have been laid off, unviable public sector units have either been closed or put up for divestment, foreign firms come in and Unions go out.”

‘Bujho to jaane?’
West Bengal government killed farmers in Nandigram through armed police and Leftists make half century of killing policemen in Chhattisgarh.

Congress is active partner in the centre but in West Bengal it is sleeping partner of Left parties. Symbolically they have made marriage of convenience. Product of it is Naxalites. Home Minister says Naxalites are their children. Somnath Chattejee says naxals are not criminals.

Mao s thought: we can rely fully on the weapon of the people’s democratic dictatorship, unite the people throughout the country, the reactionaries excepted, and advance steadily to our goal.

There are two classes of Maoist – political cadres, who organise people, & people’s army, which fights

Marxim of poor and world labor unity is against capitalism of farmers:

NANDIGRAM: The quest for FDI acquired a bloody hue on Wednesday. A 5,000-strong police force marched into Nandigram — the country’s symbol of problems associated with land acquisition for industry — and fired on protesting villagers and activists, leaving at least 12 dead and over 50 injured. The official death count is 11.

SEZ and coffee


Revolutions are not made; they come
——Wendell Philips
Hmmmm..…Bangladesh defeats India in 1st World Cup Match, David conquers Golliath. Big…really big. I have been watching a so called Post Match analysis show on a premier News Channel. Even at 3 AM in the morning, people are awake and attending road interviews, calling up News Channels….well, Cricket has been and will be a RELIGION in the country, no doubt about it !! As one of the Blue Billion, I still expect some real good and spirited performance in the coming month..ha ha !
But where is Nandigram??? Not so much spirited efforts from our BILLION, eh !! Well , I updated myself little bit about it……Mr. L K Advani compared Jalianwalabagh with Nandigram…..or the other way round ?? Little bit confused about that……tell me somebody clearly. Why cannot we stop comparing with past? Is not the incident shameful enough to be cited in HISTORY alone on it’s own merit or demerit? I don’t know. Madam Mamata is fearing for her life again……well how many deaths she expects to die??? Don’t worry Madam, police bullets at least don’t touch famous politicians…..poor peasants are easy targets. And stop burning state run buses and damaging Government properties in the name of public apathy. They are made of our money, the Tax payers’ money….and you Politicians better keep off from them. The people who call themselves Naxals, are giving updates ……No. of dead people….20(14th March),50(15th March); No. of Raped Women….N.A.(14th March),500(15th March)……two days have passed……with this kind of pace of activity, you people expect to build “The New Democratic State” !! Well, well, you must be arranging the ammunitions …after all Mao Tse-Tung said “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”,right??
Anyway, what am I doing??? Sitting in home and watching World Cup of a Sport, which is unknown to 70-80% of the human inhabitants on Earth and blaming everybody but myself!! But what to do? Am I clear about what is the root of the problem? Frankly, the answer is NO.
I heard that it is all about something called SEZ….now what the hell is that? Need to update myself, otherwise as the wise men say,I will never be able to BELL the CAT!!
Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is a geographical region that has economic laws that are more liberal than a country’s typical economic laws. Usually the goal is an increase in foreign investment. One of the earliest and the most famous Special Economic Zones were founded by the government of the People’s Republic of China in the early 1980s. According to World Bank estimates, as of 2007 there are more than 3,000 projects taking place in SEZs in 120 countries worldwide, including China, Russia,Poland,Ukraine,India,Iran and others.
Govt. of India started it to promote FDI as well as Entrepreneurship in the country in 2000. The policy was introduced with a view to provide an internationally competitive and hassle free environment for exports. The policy provides for setting up of SEZ’s in the public, private, joint sector or by State Governments. It was also envisaged that some of the existing Export Processing Zones would be converted into Special Economic Zones. Accordingly, the Government has converted Export Processing Zones located at Kandla and Surat (Gujarat), Cochin (Kerala), Santa Cruz (Mumbai-Maharashtra), Falta (West Bengal), Madras (Tamil Nadu), Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Noida (Uttar Pradesh) into Special Economic Zones. In addition, 3 new Special Economic Zones approved for establishment at Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Manikanchan – Salt Lake (Kolkata) and Jaipur have since commended operations. The booty offered as per SEZ Act 2005 includes exemptions Under Customs Act, Central Excise Act, Finance Act and Central Sales Act and many others.
Under the same SEZ Act, it is mentioned as below:
The Central Government, while notifying any area as a Special Economic Zone or an additional area to be included in the Special Economic Zone and discharging its functions under this Act, shall be guided by the following, namely:-
a) generation of additional economic activity
b) promotion of exports of goods and services;
c) promotion of investment from domestic and foreign
d) creation of employment opportunities;
e) development of infrastructure facilities; and
f) maintenance of sovereignty and integrity of India, the
security of the State and friendly relations with foreign States
The fundamental question what rose in my mind was Whether These Six Parameters apply to the Nandigram SEZ proposal or not. Nandigram is a rural area in East Midnapur district of West Bengal ,consisting of mainly poor and middle class farmers. Poor Transport conditions and Communication systems make the situation worse. The area is farmed as multi corps and partially used as fishing pond in off seasons. The proposed SEZ by Salim Group, Indonesia would require over 14000 acres of Land. Putting up this effort at Nandigram would have clearly meant of adversely affecting livelihood of 40000 people. Not only that, the deal offered was at much under valued rates compared to Urban Real Estate Business. It partially makes sense, when the Land is Barren or Wasteland. But one cannot play with the only economic resource of poor people. So there was resistance, anger. When CPI(M) pushed people at their back with the aid of State Machinery, they had no other choice left but to reply back. The return reaction by CPI(M) viz. State Govt. is now in front of our eyes.
With the nature of Records and Profile, Salim Group possess, there is serious doubt in my mind whether aforementioned Point No. d was taken care off. And with the fascist nature of State Govt. and present shocking developments, it is very CLEAR that the security of the STATE has been jeopardized. No STATE is SECURE unless and until the citizens are secured. Land does not define a STATE, people define.
Though I also believe that FDI monitored by State and Entrepreneurship are the ways to provide a boost in country’s Economic growth, we must not forget that Agriculture is our Backbone. There is no point in Working Out Relentlessly and Building Up Your Biceps, if it harms your Spinal Chord. When you do it ignorantly, it is a Mistake; when you do it knowingly, it is a CRIME.
MISTAKES are forgiven, CRIMES are not.
FOOTNOTE: Forgot to mention about the Post Title. Initially gave—-“Revolution Awaits”….But started with a Cup of Coffee and Ended Up after Four. Still feeling to get one more and some Bread. So changed the TITLE!! As Maxim Gorky rightly said——
In our present state of culture, hunger of the mind is more quickly satisfied than hunger of the body.”…Ha ha ha
I request everybody, who read my Non-Sense and is little bit of shocked with Nandigram episode, PLEASE put your signature in the following Petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/nandigra/petition.html

Posted by liondenemea/surya at 4:34 PM

Justice V. Krishan Iyer’ letter to Prakash Karat on Nandigram

My dear Prakash Karat,

            I adore you as the top leader of the Marxist Party even as I hold Com. Jyoti Basu as a creative wonder of the Communist Marxist Party.  As you know, I remained in power with the Communist Government in 1956 in Kerala under the charismatic Chiefministership of EMS, the great Leftist thinker.  But alas!, in West Bengal things are murky, capitalism is happy, poor peasantry is in privation and deprivation, if newspaper reports throw light on events objectively.   We, in 1957, came to power by the ballot and rarely, if ever, used the bullet, with the result the police violence was hardly an instrument against the peasantry. 

Look at the contrast.  The brutality and bloodshed, at the instance of the police force is now bulleting of humble humanity.  I had and have great hopes that the Marxists if in power, will rule with compassionate ideology and win votes and people’s co-operation beyond party barriers.  But to my horror, the terror practiced yesterday at Nandigram fills me with dread and disappointment. The illusion of exploitative power has led the ministry to govern by the gun.  The consequent bloodshed demands your urgent attention and commands the party’s authority to arrest the frequency of bloodshed policy and police barbarity.  Sri. Sumit Chakravartty telephoned me last night about the police misuse of firepower.  If true, I protest and entreat you and the party to take immediate action and restore the basic proposition that Communist Government is not power with violent weapons.  And action at party level must be taken if governance over humanity is for the benefit of the peasantry.  I am sure, thousands like me will be shocked by the Nandigram incident.  Please, please have some regard for those who feel that socialism is not terrorism, but humanism; and misrule by gun will not be the rule of the Left in State authority.  Do forgive me for expressing my strong feelings with the expectation that the Left Administration believe and practice as a fundamental for the humble people, not for the proprietariat with the brute force of the bullet.

     With high regards,

      Yours sincerely,                    

                              ( V.R. KRISHNA IYER)


       Sri. Prakash Karat                         

       General Secretary

       Communist Party of India (Marxist)

      New Delhi