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?

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