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Why Tata still doesn’t get it?

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Ratan Tata had this to say on the Singur debacle: “More often than not, conflicts related to land are promoted by individuals who do not belong to that area, but who have other political motives.” Quite so, but this, interestingly enough, was the exact position taken by British planters to stop Mahatma Gandhi’s first mass movement in India, the anti-indigo cultivation campaign in Bihar’s Champaran. Almost any public movement for reform and against injustice could be subject to the same criticism, that it’s being encouraged by ‘outsiders’, who might have ‘other political motives’. Indeed, it’s because Singur’s dispossessed had no legal right to say ‘No’ that they cried to outsiders for help.

It is worth noting that not one of the chambers of commerce and industry wish to endorse a right to own and dispose of property; they much prefer to get it on the cheap, through the state. Many of our maligned politicians are more far-sighted. Recently, Union steel minister Virbhadra Singh advised the promoters of Posco and ArcelorMittal, the two global behemoths whose projects in eastern India are stuck — because tribals and other poor people have refused to obey a dispossession order on ore-bearing land — to give the latter a long-term stake. He suggested annuities, plus a title enabling return of the land after the ore is exhausted. Ratan Tata was advised similarly in the early stages of Singur. He didn’t see why he should, and is now paying much more in compensating vendors who’d invested there to supply his proposed factory. To move forward from this, give people a legal right to say ‘No, not at this price’.

For the full text that has appeared in the New Indian Express, click here

For all the recognition as the most respected industrial house, it is surprising that the TATA's are still quite blind to this aspect.

Muralidhar Rao

 

Comments

kbsyed61's picture

Well Said Murali Sir!

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Murali,

I can't disagree more with you on what you said about land acquisition for industrial purposes by govt or pvt enterprises.

"..It is worth noting that not one of the chambers of commerce and industry wish to endorse a right to own and dispose of property; they much prefer to get it on the cheap, through the state..."

Syed

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