Singur: Tata Must Get Involved

Mamta’s continued tirade against the Nano Project is just annoying. It has already raised questions in the minds of the business managers all over the world if India can any day become a powerful economy. On short term it has already delayed the entry of an Indian car with potential of huge global demand. The engineers and managers of the company must be under a great mental stress because of the unique situation created by Mamta’s adamancy. Everything on the project was going smooth with a date fixed for the start of production in October. And suddenly they had to suspend the work at the project site and asked to create the required facilities and produce the car from a different location. Hardly few in India can appreciate this manufacturing challenge, certainly not the politicians such as Mamta and her supporters. It is a shame for the country and an unnecessary challenge for the engineers created by the madness of an individual. All my sympathies and well wishes are with the engineers and managers of Tata Motors. I wish this became the part of management strategies for all the big projects in India. As in most of the cases it will be impossible, it only means careful weighing of decision to start pouring money in a big project with a potential of some Mamta appearing on the scene and create the situation as one at Singur for Nano.

Mamta wishes to keep the fire alive. I don’t know if it for the next election. However, it is pretty visible and hot issue. Mamata can keep on emotionally exploiting the farmers who consider the land almost with the same respect as their mother. Mamata seems to show that she can fight any force, however strong it may be, for the farmers. She has succeeded, as the leftists are afraid of loosing their strong base support of the farmers. Unfortunately, the Buddha’s attempt to reach the farmers through leftist cadres has failed.

Tata Motors doesn’t want to yield to Mamata’s demand of the 300 acres out of the total of 400 acres allotted for vendors’ park, as it will embolden Mamata. The proximity of vendor-park is for achieving the competitive productivity of plant operation. As otherwise too, the farm and the factory can’t coexist the way Mamta wishes. Even if the vendors hand over the land to the farmers, they will very soon sell it for commercial gains.

I don’t understand why the farmers are not agreeing to part with those marginal holdings that may not be more than an acre for any of them. The compensation offered after the Mamata’s agitation and mediation by Governor Gandhi is pretty lucrative. And they could have got it further enhanced in absence of the adamancy of Mamta. And today as reported in media, many of the farmers are confused having two minds. Some are ready to go for compensation offered. They have been looser till now. The Mamta’s impasse has neither got them their land nor any money. Many among them may be doubtful of a win for Mamata with so much of the external support for the immediate start of the project from the people of India. I don’t know why the media can’t organize those candle light marches as done for getting the justice in the criminal cases in New Delhi or Kolkata. Mamta’s action is nothing less than a serious crime against a project of national importance.

However, the farmers perhaps don’t believe the present government and its offer and want a guarantee that the promises would be fulfilled. They are tired of unrest, and now perhaps are also wary of promise. Why shouldn’t Tata appreciate this aspect and assure the affected farmers from its side that that the promise would be kept and in case of contingencies it will compensate? I am sure in the present situation Tatas may be believed.

I feel the government has not used the right machinery to take its message of the advantages from the industrialization to those opposing the project. Tatas would have helped the government through its managerial and administrative skills, tools, and techniques. Rallies and cadres can’t win over the beneficiaries or losers.

It was and is necessary, as many opposing the project with vested interest must be emotionally instigating the affected farmers for not giving up their rights. Many must be telling alluring stories about the increasing advantage of keeping the possession of land with spiraling land prices in proximity of the plant and highways. But it is all due to the Nano project that the prices have gone sky-high. With Nano shifted or Singur becoming only one of the plants for Nano, the future of the land may not be that bright.

Even if the government and Tata agree to give up the project and return all the land to the farmers, will they be able to deconstruct the plant and start using the land for agriculture?

It is the bad luck of the West Bengal and Singur that it is missing the bus of prosperity that came so near. But who can prevail over the indomitable and arrogant Mamata. She has already inflicted the dangerous damage. She wishes to see the death of the project. And how does it matter for a heartless lady like her? After all, today Mamata has become messiah for some.

With the insistence of the governments at the center as well as the state for not pulling out of Singur, Tata Motors must try to use its soft skills to win over the farmers. There can be hundreds of ways to do that. Once the farmers and the other affected people get the confidence in Tata’s sincerity of offers, it will be win-win for all. Let us see the ultimate of the war between the evil and the right.

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