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Singur: Let's Talk About The Farmers

By Atul Jadia

03 September, 2008

TATAs have stopped the work at the factory and announced the possible pull-out due to violence and uncertainty. They have stopped the work and so have their ancillary units.

WB Government has requested the state Governor to intervene in the matter.

Mamta Banerjee of Trinamool Congress has announced the pull-out to be an internal matter of TATAs.

Media and industry is talking about the NANO car, its "great features and price points", "the setback to the industry", "the respect of the country in the world as an investment destination", "the investment environment", "faith of the investors in West-Bengal" etc.

No one is talking about the future of the farmers whose land has been forcibly taken-over by the WB Government and handed over to the TATAs.

No one is talking about the moral and Governmental responsibility of the WB Government towards its citizens-farmers whose land is supposed to be the base on which the Billion $ empire of Tatas will get a push-forward. The fact the progress of the state cannot be at the cost of livelihood and lives of these farmers and the future of their families.

No one is talking about the Corporate Responsibility of Tatas, who, are said to be pioneers in the area of Corporate Responsibility.

The current players in the issue are :

1. Farmers whose future is at stake (& thus the future of the state's growth);

2. The WB Government, who, though known for its Land-reforms program is not bent on snatching the livelihood of the farmers just to increase its GDP figure;

3. Mamta Banerjee of Trinamool Congress who is supporting the farmers who have declared that their land has been taken-away forcibly by the Government.

4. TATAs who are bent on playing the victim, forgetting their role and their Corporate Social Responsibility

The Humanist proposal in this situation :

1. First of all, this project should not have been brought to this situation. The WB Government's view that making of a car in India is more important than helping improve the farmers' lives goes against their own ideology and experience of governing the state for over 3 decades. They as well as all the state Governments alongwith Central Government should declare that no project will be brought henceforth on Agricultural land, except if it is a cooperative based project involving the land-owners as equal and responsible partners.

2. Since the project has progressed thus far, a truly participative meeting of the stake holders can take place (Farmers, Government, Opposition, Tatas) to explore these possibilities :

That the land owners are paid a 80% of the price of land based on not the Government fixed price but a market price that the company would have paid if they had to negotiate and pay the price on their own to the farmers. The fair price is estimated to be 3 to 6 times of that paid to the farmers.

The farmers be paid the same amount (80% as mentioned above) in the form of share-holding in Tata Sons (that owns all the Tata companies) as a long-term investment with conditions not to be able to re-sell it for atleast 3 years.

Tatas to open schools, colleges and ITI (of a level with which the TATA name can get attached) to take care of free-equitable-compulsory education of all the children of all the farmers whose land is involved in this project. Tatas are said to be known to be pioneers in the matter of Corporate Social Responsibility. It is time that Ratan Tata himself steps forward and create an example for other Industrialists to follow. He can take it as a personal responsibility to ensure that the future of the children of each of the families is guaranteed to be safe and secure.

This can help create an environment where all the stake-holders sit across the table and following the principal of "Treat others as you would have them treat you", reach a conclusion that would be of benefit to all the stake-holders. We request the Honourable Governor of West Bengal to initiate the reconciliation process based on this principal.

Incase a solution, primarily based on the interest of the livelihoods of farmers is not possible, the Government has no right to declare a private project to be a matter of public interest and act on behalf of private industries. The poorest people must be the first and top-priority interest of the Government.

People are well aware of the "Government's public interest" and will not become the victim of false propaganda. We know what happend to the Maruti project for which the land was grabbed similarly and finally the successful company was sold off to a Japanese company for a song. If the land owners were made the share holders of the company, they would have actually benefited.

We are also aware of the stringent pro-labour policies to which the same Tatas have had to agree before being able to take over even the publicly owned companies in the so-called "free market" economies like the UK.

The time has come for Indians to arise as per calls given by Vivekananda and Gandhi in their respective times and work to re-build the Nation.

The Humanist Party of India invites all citizens to join this selfless effort and build the platform in each neighbourhood, working for a Humanist Nation which can then grow to become the Universal Human Nation.

For The Humanist Party of India

(Atul Jadia)
National Press Secretary

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