Its past sins visit its present predicaments?

The Stalinist cult of “collectivized” agriculture, call it by what name you like, that had entrenched the idlers in the villages, panchayats and land holding patterns! Who said agriculture is not important? But the CPM in W.Bengal always touted its land reforms as the end of all socio-economic ills, right? That’s how it started the thoroughly cynical exploitation of the helpless villagers, land owners, tenants and landless labour alike.

Now, Mr.Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee tells, as he did to the NDTV, that there is a generational change, village youths don’t want to engage in agriculture and they want non-agri jobs. That can be created, as the CM said only through rapid industrialization. Now, Rs.25,000 crore worth of investments are lined up, he says. We welcome the mind change on the part of the CM and his team.

But you can’t wish away your past sins, can you! You still worship Stalin, his pictures adorn your offices, in Kolkatta and New Delhi and it is the “Stalinist collectivization” model that ruined the rural Bengal. The result is the present emotional crisis for the many stakeholders, including the government which now wants to acquire land on a big scale for industrialization.

Even to sustain agriculture, we need modern industry and infrastructure! CPM in West Bengal is caught in its own contradictions. Till yesterday, they spoke one thing. Today, they fall in line! There is still in India a cynical glamour about Communism!

So, let not everyone who sheds crocodile tears for the affected farmers, pretend to be unaware of the need for land acquisition for industrial development purposes! Land acquisition through due process of law in the public interest is recognized for long. It is also now like that.

Also, don’t also pretend, as” economic reformers”(another political class of pretenders in Delhi!) do, that free market forces won’t deliver here! No capitalist will do justice to affected farmers, as only an elected democratic government, sensitive to the issues on the ground level, has to sort out issues. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has to go through the process of “hell” if it is a hell! All the more important he stands up and face the many challenges. Let W.Bengal prosper through industrialization!

The world of globalization was an illusion to the comrades! Even the visiting Nobel Laureate economist, Joseph Stiglitz, an expert who had advised the US government ,says there is lot things about globalization we have to guard against, governments have to intervene, the very growth process has to be” more people participating in it, in the growth process”.

These are very timely words, of warning and positive encouragements, for India’s economic reforms. But the urban, white collared, pant and belted “comrades” who make up the  Communist  party elite command an urban, though dwindling following to imagine about a so-called alternative economic growth path. It is the great illusion. The Communists are obstructing the Central government all these years to go for radical changes that would justify the needed high growth. Because of their surprise win in the last elections, the Congress has to humor them with all illusions of camaraderie!

At least now, can we hope the comrades would shed their self-delusion somewhat so that there is at least progress in W.Bengal? And they exploit the poor and the ignorant with their own twisted jargon! And that is how West Bengal missed the industrialization “bus”!

Because it is CPM government, every other party paralyzed by the CPM near monopoly of power, are now bracing up for some piece of action! Trinamool is okay! Congress? It eyes a chance! So too BJP, with Advani jumping into the fray. Even V.P.Singh wants to have a say! So, the CPM government difficulties make full page news in all English language national dailies!

The West Bengal government is caught in the web of its own development self-delusion, a political maya of sorts till yesterday! For what it is doing now and what it has failed to do all these years.

Who said agriculture alone is good enough? It is the very same CPM under the more venerable but dogmatic Jyoti Basu which went for the more extremist politics of farm reforms in the name of making share croppers owners of the lands they cultivated. This is a myth the CPM perpetuated all along. Only when it realized under the change of leadership, under the more pragmatic Buddha, as he is affectionately called, things started changing for the better.

Buddha, faced with the multiple problems of growing unemployment, the spread of education giving rise to more educated youth and also with the IT revolution happening in other states, the CM realized that the development strategy has to change. Rather change with the international trends. In a more ironic twist, the CM realized it is the capitalist path, the private sector taking the lead there was hope for the state to take to industrialization in a big way.

But the cost of the realization, too late in the day, when all the other states making steady progress in several areas like education, health, power development and much of the infrastructure, roads ,ports and air travel etc, the state realized that it was being bracketed as one of the backward states.

W.Bengal almost slipped to the status of Bimaru states! Its health sector was proving to be a disaster! The daily flights to Bangalore from Kolkatta was always full, carrying the traffic of highly educated and motivated young men and women and Bangalore has a sizeable Bengali IT hands and this was not noticed for long by the home state. Slowly came the realization that the IT industry is the critical part of any new economic development and once the wooing was proving to yield results, the state realized its infrastructure was not ready to absorb the investments.

It is an irony again, that when IT giants like Infosys and Wipro are ready to invest, the state government is not in a position to offer land and other infrastructure in an attractive manner. Even the less endowed state like Kerala, it seems, has stolen a march over her more ideological CPM government in Bengal.

So, the Tata car project when it was to take off was again caught in a new twist in the state’s rather skewed political party structure. The CPM had thoroughly politicized the rural countryside, its farm policy is a fraud on the fundamental rights of the people and who doesn’t know that the tenancy recording, as has been done in West Bengal is more cruel and more cynical. You don’t make the tenants owners of the lands; neither have you allowed the owners to take possession of the lands. Or, you don’t also allow the market forces to add value to the rural land market.

So, a drive through the Bengal countryside would show you all-round poverty, no new investments, no new industrial activity, even of the small scale variety, no SMEs, nor any new industry possible. How can it be possible? All you see is primitive farming scenario, the buffaloes driven, impoverished poor bodies pushing the plough s in the muddy rice fields and the nearby tea shops are all so dirty and near empty all the time. You don’t see any house building activity either. Most structures are left unplastered. They had seen a coat of whitewash ages ago; there could one or two rice mill chimneys here and there. That is all industrialization, rural development and agricultural development.

All the time the party zealots had fed into the minds of the rural poor that their deliverance would come only through the struggle against the exploiters who are all away in Kolkatta, where too the poverty of the poor is so visible. So, when the Tata car project was announced and a promise of 1,000 acres of farm land for the project promised, little the CM realized that he was going to stir a new type trouble, of course fueled by jealousy (as contended by Ratan Tata himself0from rival industrialists as well as from rival politicians, both the Trinamul as well as the Congress disgruntled sections.

You were making yourself a monopoly party and so the rivalry can’t be ruled out. Also, all along you were preaching a different type of economic development that never took place. So, even there could be a source of some cynicism even among the sympathizers of the CPM, more so among the urban elites, who were also collaborators in the cynical game of keeping the poor and the elite becoming more parasitic.

Bengal has no dearth of idlers class, the idle theoreticians and the media who were all playing to the extreme cynicism all along and that is why the reality of the Bengal economic development and the rural development, the very break down of the basic infrastructure in education and health and rural roads, rural electrification were all never written about. As you see these issues in other states are routinely written about in the media.

So, what to do now?

We have to take a more dispassionate view of the current developments. We have to understand that the violence, first at Singur, then at Nandigram, though some lives lost in police firing, seems inevitable given the long pent up frustration in the lack of rational and orderly and openly discussed economic development. For the violence and tensions the CPM has to squarely take moral responsibility. Let them openly say so; confess they were blinded by their ideological dogmas. This open confession would give them some credibility and also pave the way for more and yet slow process of mental conversion towards change through more rational land pricing policy.

One more positive development would be the progressive decline of the Leftist economic policy formulations, the Left partners, the CPI, RSP and Forward bloc would lose their constituencies, with the new and rapid changes in the economic and social scenes, across the state. Even the formation of the trade unions in the IT sector proved very ineffective and this is a pointer to the future shape of the new Bengalis society and politics. Let them at least talk; let us at least know how much fertile land is taken, how much barren land is available in the state. CPI says 3.95 lakh hectares is barren. Nandigram has very fertile lands, four to five paddy crops a year is raised here, CPI says.

What the state government has done so far is correct. We welcome such a policy of ample compensation, absorbing of the affected families into the new industrial employment opportunities. The youth, the able bodied men and women must all get the first preference in the newly created jobs pool.

There must be more humane rehabilitation measures, including new housing colonies with all modern amenities. One hopes the CPM gives up its rhetoric about the sharecroppers, being the poor and the land owners being the land lords who have lost their lands long ago. What is needed now is the realization that even in agriculture, it is the market-driven new institutions like contract farming projects, and big retail chains procuring the farm produce directly from the farmers and ensuring remunerative prices that would ensure a market-driven, value added agricultural development. The new generation of farmers must be educated and motivated and entrepreneurial spirited.

The state became first in rice, vegetables and fish production. Fine.

But it is the large scale industry that the state badly needs as it was once the home for such large industries, new Jindal steel plant, one or two more are all now coming and this is the good news. The new generation youth also need high paying jobs. The naxalite groups are still active in the state and it is this group that indulged in the group clash that claimed precious lives.

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