Friday, 23 March 2007

Government Machinery and Land Evictions - SEZ Debate

The Indian Cricket Minister has weighed in, on the debate of farmland farmer evictions, with some very important "comments and umpiring decisions".
The Indian Cricket Minister, who also wears the hats of Indian Agriculture Minister and guess what, the Food Minister as well, has gone on record to state that he is not in favour of the use of bureaucracy and government machinery, on behalf of industrialists, by the various state governments.
He expressed these views in relation to the sorry, messy, spectacle and bloodshed, enacted by the Left coalition parties government, in West Bengal, that sent in 5,000 police men, in riot gear to get one cordoned off small village called Nandigram, to be forcibly evicted vacated, from a group of farmers and sharecroppers. That this was all done, by a carefully nurtured protege of Shri Jyoti Basu, and that this was all done in the 250 years anniversary of the Battle of Plassey in Bengal, that paved the way for British colonial expansion in the whole of India, is a matter of historical irony, for the students of Indian history.
We have discussed this issue elsewhere.
Here however, we would like to discuss, the public statement of the Cricket Minister, who has expressed his disapproval of the use of bureaucracy and government machinery, in farmland evictions for the benfit of industry and for the benefit of industrialists.
The sarcastic politics watchers amongst us, know that for the so called students of Chairiman Mao, power flows from the barrel of the gun.
Now the real question is, in what capacity has he expressed the views that he has publicly expressed, about government machinery and its use in farmland evictions and of legislative changes.
Is it as a Cabinet Minister of the Man Mohan Singh Congress government ?
Is it as a Cricket Minister ?
Is it as Indian Agriculture Minister ?
Is it as Indian Food Minister ?
Is it as a veteran Indian political heavyweight from Western Maharashtra sugar belt who rose to power on the back of Western Maharashtra sugar cooperatives ?

Asking this question is crucially important, because the sheer ideological confusion, that characterizes the debates on farmland acquisitions and the rationale for Special Export Zones, in a democratic country like India is often missed in the sound and fury of the industry versus agriculture, poverty versus development debate in India.
It bears attention that the reasonable and logical sounding words, of this tough talking Western Maharashtra minister, who is exceptionally silent on one of the biggest agrarian crisis in modern India, in his own home ground of Maharashtra, is feeling the need to sell the idea that, industrialist are free to go and directly deal with Indian farmers and buy up land that is un irrigated, as long as they do not ask the politically immature governments like that of Shri Jyoti Basu's protege, to send in a pack of riot battle gear uniformed policemen, to do the dirty job for them.
As per the Cricket Minister, the Central and state governments should only play the role of facilitators in Indian Farm Exit Policy and not take on an overtly active role. He has added his suggestions about non irrigated land and the willingness of Indian farmers in state policy regarding land acquisitions. But this is cosmetic.
Are WTO, ASSOCHAM and FICCI listening ?
The Indian Agriculture Minister is effectively saying that he will ensure, that the central Congress Government, adopts a laid back attitude, does not step in on the side of farmers, unwilling to be evicted ....
From this it is clear, that the only objection the Cricket Minister has to farmland evictions, is that it should be done in such a way that it does not become a media story and instead takes, place, drip by drip, in the rural farmlands of India, maybe somewhat like the cotton farmer suicides in Vidarbha.
Shocking that this deliberate excercise in Indian Farm Exit Policy, and forcible demographics modifications on Indian farms, is being choregraphed by the Indian Agriculture Minister. How can Vidarbha farmers expect to find a real solution to their problems when such an Agriculture Minister is seated in the Krishi Bhawan in New Delhi ?
Maybe the Germans and European women, are better friends of Vidarbha farmers than such an Agriculture Minister who is having full control over Krishi Bhawan, unchecked by anyone in the media.
It is shockingly tragic, that such a minister, is in charge of such an unprecedented Indian Agrarian Crisis, at this juncture in Indian history, as agriculture and kisans face the butchers knife.

And he is bowling top spinners, and advising West Bengal Communists, to refrain from using government machinery for land evictions and acquiring land for Special Export Zones.
Can the Indian farmers read the top spinners of their Agriculture Minister or will they all be bowled out ?

1 comment:

shankar said...

As a enterpreneur in India who sought to open an SEZ unit for my software company, let me tell you that this entire SEZ scheme and Act is a farce and is not in anyway going to help industry. I have explored all the SEZs and most of them are dysfunctional and have no units at all and those that are functional are solidly booked by the big businesses. I am thinking of moving to singapore which is much more easier than doing business in India. SEZ is a scam to acquire the farmer's lands for god knows what purpose, it is certainly not for businesses.