Monday, April 21, 2008

Nano and the issue of "industrialization"

Indian media and a section of Indian middle class have been considering Tata’s Nano, the ‘low cost’ small car as an achievement in the Indian technological field. Analysis describing the long and short-term effect of Nano over the car market has been published. Surprisingly, the satisfaction of a section of middle class got more attention than its long-term social costs.

Regarding "industrialization", the government argues that its only interest lies in the generation of job and thereby to fight against poverty. Let us see what it essentially means. When an industry is built, industrialist is only concerned how much profit it can make. CPM agrees over this point. But, it says that at the same time an industry can generate employment as well. Right; without labor no profit is possible. Therefore, to earn profit an industrialist has to hire labor. But, it is not the whole truth. The ratio of profit over the wages spent could vary. And therefore, the effect of industry over society would vary as well. Say, an industry spends Rs 99 as wages to earn a profit of Rs 1 and another spends Rs 1 as wages to make profit of Rs 99. Will the effect be the same? Obviously not. While the first represents severe exploitation ensuring maximum profit, the later helps generation of spending capability of the people to some extent. Therefore, not the mere industrialization, but the ratio of profit over the wages spend is the key to understand the actual impact of an industry over the society. The CPM led West Bengal government intentionally tries to shift the point of attention from this.

At the era of imperialism and particularly now, when it enters the period of total collapse, its orientation is to make the highest profit, which obviously means maximum exploitation. It therefore ends up with cutting of spending capability of the people. This is the essence of the current imperialism-driven industrialization. We therefore oppose that.

In contrast, we will support industrialization if it is directed to fulfill the need of the people, and not to make the maximum profit. We firmly state that, the interest of maximum profit cannot fetch wealth in the hand of people, but in the hand of imperialists and big comprador capitalists in expense of severe exploitation of the people. In this mode of industrialization, obviously, a section of our Indian society makes money leaving a larger section in starvation. The magnitude of exploitation is being reflected in the poor condition of the workers. They are hired in contractual and temporary basis with a wage which is very often even less than the minimum wage assigned by the government although they have to work more than eight hours.

We started with Tata’s Nano. Interestingly little concerned has been paid over its environmental impact. Its mileage is approximately 20km/liter of fuel. Therefore, if a car runs 100km it will burn 5 liter of fuel. Burning of one liter of petrol emits ~2.3kg of Carbon dioxide and same amount of diesel releases ~2.7kg. It means to run only 100km it will emit at least 11.5kg of Carbon dioxide. It is therefore easy to imagine the environmental impact it would produce.

Then who is going to be benefited out of it?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Land rights struggle erupts in China

Chengdu (China), April 15: Adopting a model used in its rich coastal regions, China is working to develop its poor western areas but the development push is triggering a struggle over land rights. Over the past decade, China's booming real estate market has been an engine of growth bringing spectacular wealth to well-connected developers and private home ownership to people once nurtured on government-owned housing.
Now the real estate boom is spreading inland and, despite a landmark property law introduced last year, residents are facing what they say are injustices stemming from collusion between developers and local government.
The law, for the first time in communist China's history, made “private property” legal, giving some hope to homeowners and farmers who have for years battled against government eviction orders and low compensation.
But in a suburb of Sichuan's provincial capital of Chengdu in southwest China, about 50 families at an old closed-down plastic factory are refusing to move out of the homes they have lived in for decades.
On a recent visit to the Chengdu suburb, banners and slogans hung from the buildings built during the backward years of Chinese communism in the early 1970s, saying, “we want transparency, justice and impartiality.”
“I have spent dozens of years working here and now I am only asking for a simple place to live,” said a man (52), a resident in Wenjiang suburb who is refusing to move. “A new apartment will cost me a huge amount of money.” According to the families, the developers are offering 8,000 yuan ($1,140) in compensation to move out, far from enough cash to purchase another house.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Green crackdown in China ahead of Olympics

The pollution in the ideology now spills over in environment.
BEIJING, April 14: Beijing environmental officials will implement a series of temporary measures to stop construction and close heavy industries, all aimed at cleaning the city's notoriously polluted air when the Olympics open in four months.
The city's Environmental Protection Bureau said that all work on construction sites will be suspended from 20 July to20 September. 19 heavy-polluting companies also have been told to cut their emissions in the same period by a further 30 percent.Pollution in addition to the violence in Tibet and other human rights issues has been a major concern for China. The International Olympic Committee has said it will postpone outdoor endurance events of more than one hour if the air quality is poor.The Capital Steel Group in west Beijing has been told to reduce emissions, and production will be halted at the Eastern Chemical Plant of Beijing Eastern Petrochemical Co. Coal-burning boilers that fail to meet emission standards will also be shuttered.MrDu Shaozhong, deputy director of the environment body, said production would be stopped at cement plants, concrete mixing plants and cement grinding plants in southeastern Beijing and about half of Beijing's 3.3 million vehicles would be banned.
The environment body said gas stations, oil depots and tanker trucks would have to be equipped with “oil vapor recovery” technology and “spraying or painting with harmful solvents will be temporarily banned.” Five provinces and municipalities surrounding Beijing will also be shuttering factories, although their plans were not released. They are: the city of Tianjin; Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong provinces and the huge Inner Mongolia region.Beijing is one of the world's most polluted cities. A mix of particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide often blankets the city at levels five times higher than World Health Organisations safety standards. Beijing was covered in a moderate level of smog asMr Du made the announcement.An IOC study released last month said that competition conditions would “not necessarily (be) ideal at every moment,” but said Beijing's air quality was better than expected.IOC President Mr Jacques Rogge said earlier this month that the city's pollution will not endanger the athletes' health, but he's acknowledged performance levels might be “slightly reduced.” AP

Workers strike at Romania unit of ArcelorMittal

BUCHAREST, April 14: Guards used tear gas today on hundreds of striking workers who were trying to storm a factory owned by the ArcelorMittal Galati steel company in eastern Romania. Some 3,600 steel workers have begun a strike at the plant to demand higher wages, said trade union leader Mr Gheorghe Tiber in a statement. The company is offering a monthly increase of 100 lei ($44) for those earning the lowest salaries, and a percentage increase for those on higher salaries.The union wants each worker to have a monthly increase of at least 280 lei ($123). Earlier during the day, about 800 striking steel workers threw water, bread and stones in the factory yard before trying to storm the building. They were repelled by guards. “The all-out strike is legal. We are expecting more employees to join the protest,” Mr Tiber told state news agency Rompres.The plant employs some 13,700 workers. ArcelorMittal Galati is part of ArcelorMittal SA, the world's largest steelmaker. It bought the plant from the Romanian state in 2001.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Arcelor-Mittal office ransacked

New Delhi (April 5): After reports of 80,000 job cuts in US, the tremors of a global job cut was also felt at Arcelor-Mittal when furious workers of steel giant stormed its plant in eastern France, ransacking Laxmi Mittal office and throwing his furniture and files out of the window.

This after the management confirmed hundreds of jobs would be cut at Arcelor Mittal because of its Gandrange plant, a site in the northeast of France, being restructured.

This could mean job cuts for more than half of the 1,100-strong work force between now and 2009, a major setback for the precarious economy of the Lorraine region, which once was a prosperous industrial region and the pride of France.

The steel plant is being closed partially despite French President Nicholas Sarkozy's appeal to Arcelor Mittal not to cut jobs in a region where unemployment is already high.

Arcelor Mittal is the world's largest steel company - born when Mittal steel acquired European firm Arcelor in 2006.
Recently, Mittal's brother, who runs his own steel company, has also been criticised for the alleged mistreatment of his employees.