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"King" Bt cotton stumbles

Posted by Ramoo on April 2, 2007

http://www.spot-on.com/archives/kaul/2007/04/india…

On March 9th India celebrated the fact that, according to the latest figures released by Forbes magazine, more billionaires call it home than any other Asian nation, a honor held by Japan for the last two decades.

Being Indian that made me happy, but only so much. March also saw a spate of farmer suicides across the country, something that has been going on for a while in the nation’s rural villages, some worse affected than the others. In India, unfortunately, one becomes immune to the harsh disparities between the rich and the poor, but this contrast was a little too stark for me. The rich had just got richer and more numerous while desperate debt-ridden farmers were killing themselves by drinking the pesticides meant for their crops.

The official figure for the number of suicides in the past five years is about eleven thousand, and alarming as that is, the real figure, it seems, is much higher, closer to twenty thousand. Last July the Prime Minister toured the worst hit regions and announced a relief package of 37.5 billion rupees ($833 million). Out of this, about 22 billion rupees was to be spent on existing irrigation projects, but nine months later that has yet to happen. So the money meant for the farmers has yet to reach them and they continue to kill themselves in droves

The worst affected are the cotton growers, and the reasons for this are many – crop failure, lower price for their product, low import duty, drought, and lack of irrigation facilities – to name a few. But the main culprit, claim farm activist Kishore Tiwari, and others is a crop known as “Bt cotton.” The state government promoted this genetically modified and pricier (nearly double than the ordinary ones) cotton plant claiming that it would yield better results since it was resistant to pests (the “Bt” in the name refers to this attribute). The idea was that planting Bt cotton would reduce the need for harmful chemical pesticides. But that’s not what happened. Cotton crops were affected by disease every year. This sad state of affairs was pointed out back in 2002, but nothing was done. Hearing the promises of a higher return for their crop, many farmers had taken loans from private moneylenders at steep rates to buy seed and were devastated when the crop failed. But Monsanto, that international agriculture conglomerate that manufactured Bt cotton doubled it’s sales.

What happened next was typical: Panels of experts were set up, fingers pointed and causes explored. But all this was of little relief to the farmers who continue to live in wretched poverty even today, caught between the government, private Shylock-like money lenders, crop failure and drought. In one cotton growing state in Western India, Maharashtra; there was a suicide every six hours. As crops have continued to fail, year after year, farmers have no option but to borrow more money and fall deeper into the debt trap, a vicious circle that many are unable to break out of. In many cases, after they’re gone, their widows and children have no money even for their funerals – and they often inherit the debt.

It’s a desperate situation and no one seems to care. It grabs a headline every once in a while, politicians clash over it, committees are sent to the villages, but in the end, even if relief is allocated, it fails to reach the farmers, or to their widows who are left penniless and with no breadwinner for the family. Critics say that the government has not done enough, and more importantly, that it has contributed to the agrarian crisis by promoting a transgenic crop like Bt cotton, which has proved disastrous for the areas where it was grown.

At the crux of it, it’s the age-old scenario: A multinational company lobbies the government to switch to their technology, in the apparent interest of the masses. But in this case the government, for the vested interests of some, does not do it’s homework, it blindly implements a scheme; crops fail; farmers die; non-government agency advocates howl but – at the end – nothing happens.

The Indian government now reluctantly admits that the Bt cotton crop has failed. And some farmers, those who’ve survived, are giving up on cotton. But there are a variety of serious factors that still need to be looked into – higher prices for the produce and drought being two important ones. The ministry of agriculture on it’s website declares that: “Drought is a condition of moisture deficit sufficient to have an adverse effect on vegetation, animals and man over a sizable area.” It then goes on to add that drought is a management issue and can be avoided, it just fails to mention how this is all to be done. Needless to say, it does not even address the farmers’ issue.

How long this agrarian crisis will continue, is hard to say. The road looks long and hard for many Indian farmers. Even as I write this I wonder how many are contemplating suicide, driven to desperation, neck-deep in dept and abandoned by corrupt government officials. This, I say in sadness, is India too.

Posted by Gopika Kaul at 2:07 PM | Print this article

Posted in Farmers Suicides, Opinion pieces, Policy issues, West Bengal | 1 Comment »

Some issues on Nandigram

Posted by Ramoo on April 2, 2007

People’s Democracy, Vol. XXXI, No. 13, April 01, 2007

Brinda Karat

THE chief minister of West Bengal and the CPI(M) have expressed their deep distress and regret at the police firings and violence in Nandigram on March 14. Sympathisers, friends of the Left, democratic minded citizens have expressed their strong feelings on the issue. The matter is before the Kolkata High Court which has asked for more details. Once the investigation is over, action will no doubt be taken against those responsible for the excesses. The authorities have also registered FIRs on complaints of rape, made by four women several days after the reported incident. Urgent investigations are required and if found true, exemplary punishment must be meted out to those guilty. Till now two cases of rape have been confirmed by medical reports and both these are prior to the March 14 police action, the victims being CPI(M) supporters. The guilty must be brought to book and punished in these two cases also. 

This is not the only violence that the people of Nandigram have faced. Less known, their stories and tragedies ignored by the national media, around three thousand men, women and children of 12 villages of Nandigram, have been forcibly driven out of their homes and have been living in camps outside Nandigram since January 3 because they are known members or sympathisers of the CPI(M). Those killed or beaten by the police, those injured in hospital, those thousands displaced in camps are almost all poor, agricultural workers, marginal peasants or artisans, a substantial number of them are dalits. The CPI(M)’s opponents speak in terms of “their poor” and “our poor”. When representatives of the displaced sat on dharna in Kolkata, they were mocked at by Mamta Banerjee leader of the Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) who contemptuously brushed aside their suffering as ‘ CPI(M) drama.” The NGO activists and fact-finding teams who have been to Nandigram have not included the trauma of these families even as a footnote in their reports. This is not our understanding or approach. We stand in solidarity with the families of those killed and the injured in hospital just as we do with the displaced. 

It is necessary to normalise the situation. At present because of the continuing tension and refusal to allow the administration to function in the area, normal life is completely disrupted. Children have been the worst affected. In just one relief camp in Tekhali there are 67 children, 58 of whom have been forced to miss school for the last three months. Mid-day meal schemes have been stopped in 127 centres. 275 women’s self-help groups have stopped functioning. Poor people who have to move out of the area for livelihood purposes are afraid to do so. Who gains from this division of the poor, from their feelings of insecurity, loss of livelihood? Who are the forces responsible for the situation in Nandigram? There is a deep political game afoot in West Bengal which has many layers that need to be laid bare before the people.

RESISTANCE AGAINST WHAT?

It is said that the Nandigram mobilisation has been a great peaceful resistance movement. When I met the injured women in the PG Hospital in Kolkata and asked them the reason for the mobilisation on March 14 they said they had been told that the police were coming in to takeover their land. “We will never give up our land” they said. I asked them whether they had known that the chief minister had said no land is being taken. Their answer was revealing: “The BUPC has told us that the plan for land acquisition has already been made by the CPI(M) and that is why we have to guard our land day and night.” 

Why should the BUPC continue to run a campaign based on utter lies on the threat of land acquisition? Since January 9 the chief minister and government officials have been repeatedly stating that there will be no land acquisition in Nandigram since the farmers do not want it. Indeed he is the only chief minister in the country who has made such a categorical statement that a condition for land acquisition must be farmer consent. This has been a longstanding demand of all those including the CPI(M) who have been opposing the arbitrary takeover of land from farmers in different states. Normally when there is a struggle on a specific demand, in this case against land being taken over, if the demand is accepted it is claimed as a victory of the struggle and naturally the agitation is called off. 

In the huge farmers struggle in Ganganagar and other districts of Rajasthan where the CPI(M) plays an important role, police firing and violence under the BJP government between 2004 and 2006 has taken the lives of 17 farmers including one woman. The deafening silence against those killings of those who claim today to be the main defenders of farmer interests tells its own story. But the point to be made is that in the first phase of the agitation after the government was forced to agree to the demands concerning water sharing, the agitation was called off. Later when the BJP government reneged on its assurance the agitation resumed. It is precisely because the interests of farmers, the rural poor or the issue of saving the land is not the real agenda of the “resistance” in Nandigram that the chief minister’s statement was ignored. It is for this reason that the main parties in the committee, the Trinamool and the Congress have continuously boycotted the over 20 meetings called by the district administration to resolve the issue. The agenda is clearly only one, shared by all the disparate elements of the committee from the right to the extreme Left and including the various assorted foreign funded NGOs, namely, to reverse the massive mandate given to the CPI(M) in the last elections. It is a straight political battle, not to do with bhumi ucched (land displacement) but for CPI(M) “ucched.” 

NOT PEACEFUL, NOT DEMOCRATIC

There was nothing peaceful about the BUPC organised protest on January 3 and subsequently. That was the day a team from the central government was visiting the area as a village was going to be recognised as a “nirmal” district. Using that as a pretext the committee succeeded in whipping up a genuine fear among the local communities, created by the Haldia Development Authority notice that the team had come to finalise the takeover of their land. The fear and concern among a wide section of people in the area was used as a sanction for violence. Two gram panchayat offices were attacked and locked up. The two pradhans, Sameerun Bibi and Lakshman Mandal were driven out of the village. Houses of CPI(M) members and sympathisers were identified in an organised way and attacked. In one day, 34 homes were burnt, 41 houses were broken into and household goods smashed, 47 houses were looted. Thousands were driven out. Sobita Sumanta is one of the many displaced women who had come to meet the various authorities in Kolkata. Her husband Shankar Samanta was an elected gram panchayat member. On January 3 he had tried to reason with the leaders of the committee not to indulge in violence. He resisted attempts to drive out CPI(M) sympathisers from the villages. He paid the price for it. On January 7 he was burnt alive by an armed group of people. Kanika Mandal is also among the displaced. On January 3, her husband and two young sons were forced to flee from their home in Sonachura. She and her younger daughter Sunita, a bright student in Class 9 continued to live in the village under constant threat. On February 10, at around noon mother and daughter were working in the field. Sunita returned early to the house. When her mother came back she found her daughter killed. The medical report confirmed rape. She was warned not to follow up the case with the police. She fled the village and is now in the camp. Kakoli Giri was driven out of her village of Kalcharanpur along with her husband and children. On March 3, she went back to check on her belongings. She was surrounded by a group of men who gang raped her. Since she had not returned, her anxious son came in search of her. He found her lying unconscious and somehow brought her back to the camp. Her medical report has confirmed rape. Krishna, an activist of the AIDWA took her to meet the women’s commission. The women’s commission was prevented from following up the report. The police have been unable to follow the investigation leave alone arrest those responsible. Krishna herself received death threats for taking up the case and lives in fear. Earlier a police personnel had been lynched, and his body thrown into the river. Not a single person has been arrested for these murder and rapes. They have all taken shelter behind the “peaceful resistance.” 

The displaced women, each with a personal tragedy to narrate, are bitter when asked why they did not resist. We were unprepared, it was so unexpected, and they were fully prepared and armed. Do you think they drove us out with flowers, they ask, the men were armed with guns and axes. They say that all political activity in the area in opposition to the BUPC is banned literally with arms. On January 29 the CPI(M) and Kisan Sabha had organised a big rally in an area neighbouring Nandigram. The people in the two worst affected panchayats were warned not to attend the rally. But some still did. On the following day, 14 more families were driven out of their village for defying the dictat. There are approximately 7000 women who are members of the AIDWA in the affected area. Today almost one third of them, have been forced to leave their homes. The rest who are in the villages live in fear and terror sending out messages from time to time about their plight. Among those forcibly driven out are 13 panchayat members including women. What about their democratic and human rights? 

BUPC Dictats

After the successful forced displacement of thousands of CPI(M) families, the area was barricaded. Over 116 culverts, bridges and roads were broken and dug up. Four panchayat offices have been attacked. Government officials including teachers and employees have not been allowed to enter. Any other government would have immediately sent in its forces to ensure an end to this lawlessness. The West Bengal government refrained from doing so precisely because it believed that it was essential to start a political process. But this approach was rejected by the opposition. Since there are no elected members in some of the areas, no government officials accountable, there is a kind of dictatorship of the leaders of the BUPC who operate according to their will. Money is being reportedly collected from every household in the name of protection, every house has to send one person to “guard” the village and if they do not do so they have to pay a fine. There were 17 reported criminal offences in the area in this period with no action taken.

Evidence available and reported on some of the Bengali TV channels shows the meticulous planning of the BUPC preceding the incidents of March 14. Recorded conversations of organisers owing allegiance to the TMC clearly indicate the amount of money spent on procuring arms, bombs etc. The date of the administration’s plan to start rebuilding the roads and culverts and the police and administrative move to reestablish the government’s presence in the area was known to the organisers. The main concern expressed in the taped conversations is how to prevent the seizure of weapons by the police. Names of two TMC leaders are also mentioned. The taped conversations reveal that the planning included holding a puja in one area, and mobilising of women and children in school uniform to act as a shield for the armed men who attacked the police. There is also video footage available of the men lurking behind the women with guns. The utter cynicism and criminal callousness of those who deliberately used women and children as a shield while wielding arms is unprecedented. Of those killed, two died due to bomb injuries, one due to injury from a sharp weapon, and a few more due to gunshot injuries which were not police bullets. Who was throwing these bombs and wielding arms? There is a totally false campaign that the CPI(M) men went into the area along with the police. This is being linked to the arrests of ten men reportedly CPI(M) men, who were found in a brick kiln by the CBI team with arms and ammunition. No doubt the investigations will reveal their role and the reason for their presence in Tekhali. This incidentally is the area where a CPI(M) camp for displaced people is set up and which had been brutally attacked on January 5, leading to the deaths of several people. It was once again attacked on March 21 and the camp itself was sought to be burnt down but fortunately there were no casualties because many of the inmates were in Kolkata that day. But to link this up with a so-called joint operation of the police and the CPI(M) in Nandigram on March 14, is a deliberate canard to shield the role of the armed groups in the barricaded area.

No, there is little that is democratic or peaceful about the “resistance.” 

Political Gang-up 

There is a gang-up of political parties ranging from the BJP, the TMC, the Congress, the SUCI and the various naxal outfits. On March 17, the Maoists issued a statement calling for a Bangla bandh on March 20. The secretary of the CPI-Maoist, Soumen also wrote a letter to Mamta Banerjee published by some Bengali newspapers extending full support to her and assuring the backing of the Maoists for “the resistance struggle.” The letter states “We were there in Singur, we are there in Nandigram and we will stay. We will not leave the place.” Such statements should not be dismissed as rhetoric. The geographical location of this belt is crucial for the spread of the Maoists “liberated” belt stretching from areas of Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa. Bengal is the big block and barrier in the Maoist thrust to the east. Already there are reports that the sea route through the Bay of Bengal is being used by the Maoists to come into Nandigram. Undoubtedly there are huge arms stockpiles in the area. Neither the CBI team or the local police has been able to go to any of these areas. In fact the police withdrawal from the area after the March 14 has further facilitated the entry of the Maoists.

Surprisingly, the High Court which made an unprecedented intervention ordering a CBI inquiry without so much as hearing the state government has not yet taken note of these developments. The plan of digging up roads and areas and preventing the entry of officials in different parts of Bengal has now been adopted as a strategy by the TMC. In a thinly attended meeting in Deganga on March 25, Mamta Banerjee has given a call to “create areas free from the CPI(M) and the government.” The implications of this are ominous. In the last few days Bengal has witnessed incidents when miscreants armed with bombs and pipeguns have attacked CPI(M) Party offices. Rumours to mislead the peasantry about land acquisition are deliberately spread. The Party has adopted a policy of utter restraint. The challenge will be met with a widespread political campaign approaching all sections of the people with the facts. 

But what however to be noted is the close coordination between the TMC and the group of NGOs functioning under different platforms, but united in the BUPC. In fact the NGOs and some nationally known figures and commentators have provided a cover of so-called impartiality to the reactionary political forces operating. In fact it is they who have more or less taken over the public face of the anti-CPI(M) campaign. 

Concerted Campaign of Misinformation

One part of the campaign is a number of highly exaggerated and sometimes self-contradictory reports from various sources about the incidents of March 14 and subsequent events. Wild allegations have been leveled at the Party from the killing of children, mass rape of women to massacre and burying of dead bodies. Three such investigation reports have been circulating on the net. The first of these is by a team of the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights which claims to have been ‘deputed by the High Court.’ A perusal of the High Court order makes it clear that there is no such team deputed by the High Court. However the APDR are the petitioners in the High Court case. The second report is that of Medha Patkar and company called the All India fact-finding team report. The third is the CPI-ML team report that was led by its general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya. On the night of March 14 itself , wild rumours were circulating through SMS and e-mail by NGOs in different states about the violence against children. There is no doubt that the children of Nandigram’s affected areas have been severely traumatised by the violence since January 3 and the complete disruption of their routine. Everything must be done to help the children. But look at the “impartial” reports: The APDR report says ‘ Children were murdered indiscriminately, bodies have been thrown into the nearby Chuniburi river.’ The next sentence reads ‘Eight children of primary schools have been killed by the murderers and then all those children were buried in a particular place in the Bhangabhera area.’ The Patkar report says ” 35 children are missing… children from other villages are also missing. The parents apprehend that they are killed and their bodies abducted. Uniforms of two school children were found in nearby bushes. Incidents of children being killed and torn apart by pulling aside their two legs were also reported.” The ML report says: Women have recounted their children being torn apart…” Yet not a single report of a single missing child has been filed with the police. Why did not these leaders help the mothers register cases with the police? Even an ordinary citizen leave alone such internationally recognised eminent individuals would have considered it their bounden duty to file complaints of “children being torn apart.’ But they did not. Clearly such reports are concocted with the one aim to spread rumours and inflame passions. The situation of women is also highly coloured. The first reports of rape were revealed to the BJP team. The team said that after detailed interviews with women hospitalised, two women said that they were raped by unknown policemen. This was on March 17. The same day the “two women” becomes “women raped and molested” implying a large number of women were affected in the Patkar report but no fresh FIRs were filed. The ML report takes it further “there were gang rapes and brutal assaults of a sexual nature…” But did they meet any of the women? Their report reads “the women we spoke to spoke of six other rape victims who were not examined due to pressure from above.” A report from an NGO calling itself the Medical Service Centre (MSC) which has been the source of information for the media on the charge of “mass rapes” claimed that four of the women in the hospital said they themselves were rape victims. There are further charges made that on the night of March 14, after the firing, there was ” mass rape of the women.” The Patkar report says ” the police and cadres dragged people out and raped and molested the women inside..” The ML report links the rapes with the arrests of the alleged CPI(M) men from Tekhali. It reports the arrests thus ” The CBI sleuths who raided the brick kiln came across.. women’s underclothes.’

This utterly false reporting is reminiscent of the highly motivated campaign several decades ago when the Left front was in its infancy and under severe attack, an incident of a badly managed function in Rabindra Sarobar on April 6, 1969 became the focus of a vicious campaign that under the Left Front, goondas had a field day. A newspaper report of the time is illustrative that described “torn pieces of sarees and a good number of underclothes were found scattered all over the place.” A huge campaign started against the Left and the CPI(M) in particular. Fact finding committees were setup to defend “human rights and a League to be formed for defence as during the nazi regime.” 175 MPs from different parties issued a statement which spoke about “mass scale molestation of women, women being stripped, jumping into the lake to save their honour, several dead bodies of women have been recovered from the lake water..” and so on. The enquiry that was set up established conclusively that this was a huge fabrication. Yet another unfortunate case was that of Champala Sardar. Champala was used to concoct a totally fabricated case of rape against CPI(M) men by the TMC at the time of the 1993 panchayat elections. The CPI(M) men named by Champala were arrested. She was cruelly paraded at meeting after meeting by Mamata Banerjee as a symbol of CPI(M) criminality. The opposition campaign focussed on the issue. Later it was found that the case was fabricated and all the men were acquitted. Champala herself was abandoned soon after the elections were over. 

The plight of women in Nandigram causes deep concern to all those who have worked with women victims of violence. Police action may have involved cases of brutality which may not exclude those of a sexual nature. As has been stated earlier a proper investigation into the complaints is essential and action required against those guilty. But to exaggerate and concoct reports for narrow political ends is insulting to the dignity of the women. It also undermines the hard struggle by women’s organisations to give extra weightage to the statements of the women victims where medical evidence is not available. But if women are used as tools in a politically motivated campaign as in Nandigram by the BUPC it undermines the very credibility of the demand.

Political Context

The immediate aim of the TMC led campaign has been openly stated to be the next round of panchayat elections scheduled for May 2008. The Congress party in the state has even demanded president’s rule. A union minister from the state has made the most intemperate statements against the chief minister. The aim is to continuously provoke incidents in the name of saving the interests of farmers. The CPI(M) will have to face a combined onslaught of all these political forces in the state working in tandem with the ultra Left and being provided a cover by some self-serving NGOs. 

But the implications of the current campaign against the Party are not limited to Bengal alone. In the present national political situation the CPI(M) has been playing a crucial role in defence of the interests of the working classes and the rural poor putting forward a set of alternative policies. This stand has received wide recognition and caused much consternation to the neo-liberalisers. The BJP also knows that the CPI(M) is a big hindrance in what it considers its comeback trail which is why even though it does not have a single MLA in Bengal, it has focused its national campaign against the CPI(M). The cadre of the Party who are being villified today are those who have selflessly fought to defend secularism and the unity of the people and defended the interests of the working people. The effort is to demoralise the Party and villify it, to isolate it and thus weaken the only credible opposition to the exploitative policies of the ruling classes. It is also not a coincidence that US officials in India held an unprecedented meeting with a leader involved in the mobilisations of the minority community in Nandigram. The categorical position the CPI(M) has taken against the strategic partnership with the US being pushed by the Indian ruling classes and a section of the establishment, is reason enough for these interests to lend their support to the anti-CPI(M) platforms.

Some well intentioned commentators have called on the CPI(M) to introspect on the different issues that have arisen. That is a process which is an intrinsic part of the Party’s functioning at all levels. Appropriate lessons are drawn from the collective experience of critically analysing the Party’s work and policies with a view to addressing and removing weaknesses, lapses and gaps whenever and wherever they exist. The most widespread campaign is required throughout the country to explain not only to our friends but also to our critics and to the people in general the context of the Nandigram developments and to launch a strong united campaign to counter the highly motivated campaign against the CPI(M) and the government it heads in West Bengal.

Posted in Displacement, Land question, Opinion pieces, SEZs, West Bengal | 2 Comments »

Farmer suicide stats flawed, says report

Posted by Ramoo on March 26, 2007

SANJAY BASAK

NEW DELHI, MAR 24:  The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, in its report (2006-07), has targeted the government for providing “incorrect information” relating to farmers’ suicides across the country. Hitting out at the Centre, the committee has also observed that the schemes for rehabilitation of farmers have been inadequate and the PM’s package for Vidarbha region in Maharashtra has failed to reach the victims.

In its 23rd report, the Committee came down heavily on the government over the official figures on farmers’ suicides. As per official statistics, during the last five years, 11,782 farmers committed suicide. The report, however, says: “The figure provided by the department of agriculture and cooperation does not seem to be correct.” It argued that in Maharashtra alone, the number of cases projected by the department was 142 in 2005. It then pointed out that in the same year, there were reports of nearly 435 suicides in Vidarbha. The Committee asked the Centre to “straighten its records and ask state governments to project the factual position, so that the government and people are aware of the actual position”.

The Committee also criticised the Centre for not being able to bring any relief to the farmers. Targeting the PM’s package for Vidarbha region, the report claimed that the benefits were not reaching the farmers. “This is a glaring example of the inefficiency of the government in ameliorating the conditions of the farmers,” the report said

Posted in Farmers Suicides, Vidharba Crisis, West Bengal | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted by Ramoo on March 22, 2007

http://www.indianexpress.com/story/26160.html

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.

Posted in Policy issues, SEZs, West Bengal | Leave a Comment »

11782 farmers commit suicide: Report

Posted by Ramoo on March 21, 2007

Parliament of India

http://www.headlinesindia.com/archive_html/20March…
New Delhi: Asking states to abrogate a law that provides for arrest of defaulting farmers, a Parliamentary Committee on Tuesday said the suicide of 11,782 farmers during last five years is attributable to distress sale of their produce and continuous crop failures. “The Committee is shocked to learn that in some states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, there is a law to arrest farmers who default in repayment of loans. Moreover, they are not only kept in jail but the expenditure incurred on their food, transport and others things in jail is also said be to recovered from them”, the report tabled in Parliament said. The Standing Committee on Agriculture, headed by Ram Gopal Yadav, observed that the Agriculture Minister in a letter to the Chief Ministers of Bihar, Jharkhand, Kerala, Orissa, Punjab and UP in April 2006 had taken up the matter of review of state laws to remove the provision for arrest and detention of farmers.

“The last letter (to states) for amending the relevant state laws was issued on August 12, 2005, and it seems that the government has no will to act but is only performing the duty of a postman in a way, that based on the recommendations of the Committee, a letter is written to the states to do the needful”, it said. Stating that the farmers have not got their full dues, the Committee said they have to sell their produce at very low rates and are not able to repay their debts due to drought and continuous crop failures. “Under the circumstances, the only escape route for them is to commit suicide. Thus, in the last five years, as per the records of Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, about 11,782 farmers have ended their lives out of frustration and humiliation”, the report added. (PTI)

Posted in Andhra Pradesh, Debt burden, Farmers Suicides, Maharashtra, Punjab, Vidharba Crisis, West Bengal | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted by Ramoo on March 19, 2007

http://premendra.wordpress.com/2007/03/19/is-blood…

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.

Posted in SEZs, West Bengal | Leave a Comment »

SEZ and coffee

Posted by Ramoo on March 18, 2007

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
sources;
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

Posted in Farmers Suicides, SEZs, West Bengal | 2 Comments »

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

Posted by Ramoo on March 17, 2007

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)

To,                           

       Sri. Prakash Karat                         

       General Secretary

       Communist Party of India (Marxist)

      New Delhi

Posted in Displacement, SEZs, West Bengal | 1 Comment »

Govt. to probe Nandigram clash

Posted by Ramoo on March 15, 2007

http://www.ibnlive.com/news/govt-to-probe-nandigra…

Sougata Mukhopadhyay, CNN-IBN, Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2007 at 22:54

The question that remains unanswered is what led the government to precipitate the clash.

VIOLENCE SRIKES: The question that remains unanswered is what led the government to precipitate the clash.

Nandigram: At least 11 people were dead in clashes on Wednesday between villagers and police in Nandigram. The Rajya Sabha was forced to adjourn over it and the Home ministry is investigating the incident.

The administration however, was once again taken by surprise by the resistance offered after a gap of three months.

When police contingents tried to enter Nandigram, villagers resisted and reportedly started pelting stones and hurling crude bombs. And police started firing in retaliation.

“The police faced heavy brick bating. When it stopped bombs were hurled. Villagers even fired at the police and this forced the police to fire in retaliation,” says chairman, Left Front, Biman Bose.

The West Bengal government has not made an official statement on the incident but the Left has made it clear that no land is being acquired in Nandigram.

Five gram panchayats in Block I of Nandigram have been out of bounds for the administration for the past two-and-a-half months.

The government says land-acquisition cannot become a pretext to cut off Nandigram from the rest of the state.

But then violence seems to be the only possible outcome every time the state uses force and the police instead of getting into a dialogue with the villagers.

The Trinamool Congress has called a 12-hour bandh on Friday protesting Wednesday s incident, forcing board examinations in the state to be rescheduled.

The question that remains unanswered is what led the government to precipitate the clash. Was it another administrative blunder and how much would it cost?

The answer to the question may be found in about a year when panchayat elections take place in Bengal.

(With inputs from Aniruddha Maitra)

Posted in Farmers Suicides, SEZs, West Bengal | Leave a Comment »

Nandigram: CPM faces political backlash

Posted by Ramoo on March 15, 2007

http://www.ndtv.com/morenews/showmorestory.asp?slu…


CPM faces political backlashSandeep Phukan
Wednesday, March 14, 2007 (New Delhi):

The Nandigram violence on Wednesday has resulted in a strong political backlash against the CPM.
Soon after the news of protesters being killed broke, Opposition MLAs stormed out of the West Bengal Assembly. In fact, the political shockwaves of the violence reached Parliament too.
The significance of the incident was made clearer when even smaller Left parties had no hesitation in criticizing the CPM.
The CPI’s General Secretary AB Bardhan led the charge. “The kind of police action at Nandigram is unheard of in Left rule, which I condemn severely,” Bardhan told State Secretary Manju Kumar Majumder.
“What can we say when our own government doesn’t listen to its allies,” said Abani Roy, RSP MP.
Mounting pressure
Just last week the West Bengal CM had something to cheer about as the Prime Minister praised his efforts on industrialization. But now the Centre is not sitting back, and it has now demanded a report from the state police.
The Congress, in fact, has stepped up pressure on the Left even though the two parties are allies at the Centre.
“I have spoken to CPI leader AB Bardhan. He is also concerned,” said Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, Information and Broadcasting Minister.
Meanwhile, the BJP-led NDA has demanded a judicial inquiry as they believe the West Bengal government is trying to forcibly suppress protests.
“The CPM has brutally lathicharged and fired upon farmers in West Bengal,” said Rajnath Singh, BJP President.
The West Bengal Chief Minister has once before apologized for his party’s bungling of the Nandigram situation when violence broke out following a CPM MP’s attempt to acquire land for the SEZ.
But now, the violence on Wednesday has perhaps sparked off a much bigger political crisis for the CPM.

Posted in Displacement, SEZs, West Bengal | 1 Comment »