Sunday, August 31, 2008

We demand return of Singur farmland to the peasants

The West Bengal government, CPM and a section of media have been engaged in campaign that if Tata has to quit from Singur, then it will be a great loss for West Bengal as already chief ministers of five different states invited Tata to shift the nano project in their states.

It is now important to remember that Tata had to quite from Kalinganagar (Orissa) and Dhaka (Bangladesh) because of strong public protest. There is no point to believe that in other states Tata will not face any resistance from the people as the government has to acquire land for the proposed project; none of the chief ministers will donate their paternal property to Tata. These chief ministers and the state machinery are the agents of multinationals and comprador big capitalists. They have engaged themselves in a race to prove their loyalty to their masters.

The CPM says and a section of Bengalee middle class believe that the Singur nano project along with ancillary units will generate a huge job market that could help relieve the problem of unemployment in the state. It is better to remember that having engaged somewhere with a salary not sufficient to meet the ends should be termed as severe exploitation rather than employment. All over the country and in the West Bengal people have to work mostly in contractual basis more than eight hours a day for mere Rs 60 to 80. In Singur project the scenario will not be the different. The project is not to solve the problem of poverty and unemployment, but to maximize the exploitation.

Our critics, at this point will say, if there will be no investment by the multinational or comprador giants, then whatever people can earn now will be stopped. Therefore, for the interest of people we need their investment although the working condition may not be ideal. To improve the condition, we should negotiate with them, but must not oppose.

With due respect to our critics we would like to mention that people simply cannot negotiate with these sharks. They are motivated by maximization of their profit; and it means maximization of exploitation of people. Here negotiation means acceptance of the terms and conditions which favours the interest of the multinationals and comprador capitalists. And we already showed why we should not call the engagement of the people in their projects as employment.

Our intellectual critics sometimes remind us the huge value addition that takes place in a factory. From the same land the annual income must be far less if it is engaged in agriculture. Here we need to mention that we do not consider the issue as a simple matter of industry versus agriculture. In contrast, we see what fraction of the income will be for the people from a given land. In case a factory is built by a corporate giant on a land, the fraction of the income retained with the people is far les than that retained if it were engaged in self-farming. We do not blindly oppose building a factory on a land, but do oppose maximization of the extraction of profit for the interest of corporate sectors.

We have no doubt over the dwindling situation of agriculture. But, it is because of the severe semi-feudal (for example in the form of usury) and imperialist exploitation. Peasants do not have any control over the seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. Introduction of the 'hi-fi' technology actually devastated our crop diversity and organic basis of the farming. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers are being used indiscriminately and unscientifically, which is just to promote their sale (and essentially magnifying the profit). There is no way under the circumstances peasantry can survive. The only way out from this situation is to demolish the semi-feudal basis of the Indian socio-economic foundation which is the support of the imperialist plunder.

Looking for an alternative outside the agriculture only helps strengthening the imperialist clutch over the people.

In order to strengthen the unity against multinational corporations, comprador big capitalists, we support the resistance against any attempt for the maximization of their profit. We therefore demand unconditional return of farmland to the peasantry of Singur.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Presenting Japan’s Internet cafe refugees...

Kwan Weng Kin
SINGAPORE, Aug. 25: It sounds like the ultimate solution for the low-cost traveller looking for a place for the night: a cubicle featuring a computer to surf the Internet plus a reclining chair to sleep in, though with barely enough room to stretch one's tired legs. But for only 1,500 yen (US$13) a night in high-cost Tokyo and shower facilities thrown in, who can really complain?
I know of young Singaporeans who have tried it to save some money and also just for kicks. But for thousands of Japanese, both young and old, such cubicles are 'home'. These people are the so-called netto kafe nanmin, or Internet café refugees in English. They are part of a much larger group of economically disadvantaged Japanese, numbering in the millions, collectively referred to as the 'working poor'. Internet café refugees are Japan's new 'unseen homeless'. According to a government survey last year, there are some 5,400 of these people around the country, nearly half of them in Tokyo. A quarter of such people are in their 20s, another quarter in their 50s. Their average income is a paltry 100,700 yen ($98) a month, just over half the typical starting pay of a high school graduate.
Without a permanent job, they are unlikely to persuade most landlords to rent them a room, which incidentally is likely to cost more than half their income. The only link Internet café refugees have with the world is their mobile phone, through which they receive calls from brokers or job placement agencies when work is available, or which they use to scour Internet classifieds for the next opening.
Incredibly, until about 20 years ago, Japan was a workers' paradise. Jobs were for keeps and employment security was a social given. Employers at companies with a reputation to watch could not routinely sack under-performing workers as public opinion just would not allow it.
Neither could employers adopt a hire-and-fire policy in bad economic times either. An employer and his staff were supposed to ride out a business downturn together. In the earlier part of this decade, with the economy in the doldrums, Japanese companies sought desperately to trim their manpower bills so as to compete internationally. The reform-minded Koizumi administration of the day decided to tacitly recognise retrenchment if it would save Japan.
In typically obtuse Japanese fashion, employers started to talk about 'restructuring'. The word suggested the reorganisation of a company, but was in fact a euphemism for the widespread dismissal of unwanted workers, often replacing them with cheaper part-time alternatives.
These days, one out of every three Japanese is a part-time worker. For people aged 24 years or under, it is one in two. No more can young Japanese join a company upon graduation and assume they would be there till retirement. Neither do employers feel obliged to keep a worker till he gets to draw his pension.
But despite a much more volatile job market these days, the attitude of most Japanese employers remains unchanged. A person who has been through a string of temporary positions often finds himself ineligible for full-time work because employers still prefer to hire fresh graduates as they are cheaper and considered easier to train. As a result, many young people are forced into dead-end, part-time work with few prospects of improving their lot. Yet at the same time, older Japanese who reach retirement age now receive generous pensions for as long as they live. The younger generation, however, cannot reasonably expect the same when their turn comes to call it a day.
One solution calls for raising the sales tax to offset decreasing premiums, which merely spells more hardship for low-income earners. In the face of soaring prices of crude oil and other commodities and prospects of a recession in the USA, which is a huge market for Japanese products, Japanese economists are now saying that the bad times are back.
Most of the netto kafe nanmin and millions of other 'working poor' probably did not even know that the good times were here.

The Straits Times/ANN

Source: The Statesman, 26 August 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

Singur land lease agreement

[The following report was published in Singur, our previous blog on 11 March 2007. We republish it again considering its importance right now.]

West Bengal government signed the land agreement with TATA for the proposed Singur plant. It’s a good deal for TATA, no doubt.

Government gives the land to TATA with a lease for 90 years.

The bonanza could be summarized as follows:

We must appreciate the potential of West Bengal government for discovering tricks to make us fool. Apparently, TATA will pay more than Rs 800 crore. But, look at the payments it needs to pay in the first 30 years. Only Rs 56.25 crore. In the next 30 years it will pay Rs ~200 crore. But, if we consider the rate of inflation (currently more than 6%) then this figure will not be that big. The same is true for its payment for last 30 years.

Essentially, TATA doesn’t need to pay anything right now for the land. Although West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) has borrowed Rs 150 crore with 10% annual interest to acquire this land. WBIDC has to pay Rs 15 crore per year as interest; for 90 years it has to pay Rs 1350 crore for interest only, whereas for 90 years TATA will pay only Rs 800 core.

It means West Bengal government signed an agreement to subsidize TATA for Rs 700 crore over the period of 90 years. Again consider the figures. For the next 90 years, TATA will pay Rs 800 crores and enjoy Rs 700 crore as subsidy. In reality the actual subsidy is far bigger than what is being reflected in those figures. WBIDC has already borrowed Rs 150 crore. Considering the rate of inflation, after 90 years, this amount will be really huge. And it has to pay Rs 15 crore each year as interest. On the other hand right now TATA needs to pay only Rs 1 crore in a year. And it will pay its most of the payment at its last 30 year period of lease.

Who will actually pay the subsidy?


CPM?Or other running dogs of imperialism-comprador capitalism?

No. This subsidy will be paid from our hard earn money. With our hard earn money these running dogs of imperialism and comprador capitalists subsidize crores to Multinational and big companies while letting our people dieing of starvation.

This is what they call as DEVELOPMENT.

We call as LOOT.

Don’t you think it is our duty to make an end of it?

(The detail of the lease agreement is taken from the, March 11, 2007)


Nirupam Sen, the commerce minister of West Bengal government confirmed the above mentioned lease agreement in assembly on March 15, 2007 (source: ganashakti, March 16,2007). He pointed out that TATA will enjoy other facilities like Tax holidays for Singur plant.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Press Statement

Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan

The Orissa police detained Mr. David Pugh, a teacher from US on 12th August along with advocate Miss Protima Das and an anti-displacement activist Mr. Pradeep who accompanied him assisting in translation and showing the area in Kalinganagar and Sukinda on their way back to Bhubaneswar.
They were taken to Badchan Police station near Chandikhol. Mr. David Pugh was kept for 5 hours in the police custody from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. in night. He was mentally tortured illegally. After that they released him and asked to stay back for interrogation again on 13th August in the afternoon. Miss Pratima and Mr. Pradeep are being kept under detention.
Mr. David Pugh visited Kaliganagar and Sukinda to see the Industrialization and its effects on the people and the movement against industrialization and mining. Miss. Protima Das was requested to help Mr. David Pugh as translator and Mr. Pradeep as guide as he belongs to the Sukinda. They all had gone to Kalinganagar after attending a People’s Tribunal on Displacement, Sez and Corporate Violence in Orissa organized in Bhubaneswar by Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan, an anti-displacement front of movements from various parts of India including that of Orissa. Activists from all areas in Orissa had come to explain their conditions of destitution and destruction at the People’s Tribunal.
Amin Maharana, a Central Council member of Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan is also suspected to be detained by the Police from Bhubaneswar. He is an Environmental and anti-Displacement activist working in Sukinda area for many years now. He is a cultural performer. He has written many songs about people’s devastation due to displacement and also released an audio CD on the issue.
The Government of Orissa has been unleashing brutal repression on the anti-displacement movement for the last two years. The detentions are part of the larger plans of the Government to coerce the people to accept the displacement and give up their lands.
We appeal to all democrats to immediately intervene and put pressure on the Govermenent of Orissa to release Miss. Pratima, Mr. Pradeep and Mr. Amin Maharan, (if he is also arrested) without subjecting them to any kind of harassment.
We demand the Government of Orissa to immediately release Miss Pratima Das, Mr. Pradeep and Mr. Amin Maharana and stop harassing Mr. David Pugh.
Mr. David Pugh is again taken into custody at 2 pm now and being interrogated at Bhubaneswar hotel in Bhubaneswar by the police officials.
Chief Secretary & Chief Development Commissioner of Orissa: 011-91-674 - 2536700 Phone,
Chief Secretary & Chief Development Commissioner of Orissa: 011-91-674 - 2536700 (Fax)
The Prime Minister’s Office
South Block, Raisina Hill,
New Delhi,
India-110 011.
Telephone: 91-11-23012312 .
Fax: 011-91-11-23019545 / 011-91-11-23016857.
011-91-104 23092462
011-91-104 23017256 (PH) - 011-91-104 23794842
011-91-104 23793716
011-91-104 23794833 (Fax)
Rajeev Kumar Mital
PS To HM 011-91-105 23092631 300 26109478
OSD To HM 011-91-107 23092361
011-91-107 23092113 (Fax)

Source: kasama

Friday, August 15, 2008

Three die in clashes between Indian farmers, police

NEW DELHI, Aug 13 (Reuters) - At least three farmers were shot dead and 60 injured in clashes between hundreds of farmers and police over a land row near India's capital on Wednesday, officials said.

Recent stand-offs over farm acquisitions in India reflect a larger anger among farmers and tribes fighting to save their land from factories as the country's economic priorities shift from agriculture to industry.

The clashes in Greater Noida, about 40 minutes' drive east of New Delhi, came during protests by about 2,000 farmers who were demanding more compensation for land acquired by the government for building a township in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Police first beat protesters with batons to stop them from storming a government building, local officials said. When that failed they then opened fire, killing the three farmers.

"When they were prevented from gate crashing into the Greater Noida office, they started pelting stones on the cops, many of whom were injured ... they had to use force to disperse the crowds," senior government official V.S. Pandey told reporters.

Last week, farmers in the east of West Bengal state renewed protests against a car factory set up by India's Tata Motors on farmland, possibly delaying the launch of the Nano, hailed as the world's cheapest car.

Farmers have also vowed to protest against last week's Supreme Court verdict allowing South Korean steel firm POSCO the use of large swathes of forest land to build a $12 billion plant.

The court also gave Britain's Vedanta Resources Plc permission to mine bauxite in hills held sacred by an ancient tribe. Tribe members have vowed to fight against that decision.

Other officials in Greater Noida said the death toll could rise because several more farmers were fighting for their lives in hospital. About a dozen vehicles were damaged in the protests, they said. (Reporting by Bappa Majumdar and Sharath Pradhan; Editing by Paul Tait)

Source: Reuters

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Russia ‘invades’ Georgia

Press Trust of India
MOSCOW, Aug. 8: Russia today sent tanks and troops to South Ossetia after Georgia launched a major military offensive to reclaim the breakaway republic, triggering heavy street fighting that is said to have left hundreds dead or injured. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who had earlier claimed that the government troops have “liberated” South Ossetia, accused Russia of being the aggressor and said it has sent aircraft to bomb Georgian territory. Russia has denied the claim.Addressing an emergency session of the National Security Council, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow will punish those guilty of killing Russians in South Ossetia.The worst outbreak of hostilities since the pro-Moscow province won de-facto independence in a war against Georgia in 1992 broke out after Georgian artillery and air assault hit provincial capital Tskhinvali. Ten Russian peacekeepers were killed and 30 wounded in Georgian shelling in their barracks last night, Russian officials said. Russian tanks and armoured personnel carriers crossed the border and moved towards Tskhinvali, while the defence ministry said it has sent reinforcements for its peacekeepers.Quoting its sources, NewsGeorgia web news portal confirmed that at least 100 tanks and armoured vehicles have crossed through the Roksky Tunnel linking Russian and Georgian parts of Ossetia.Over 90 per cent of the population of South Ossetia, which declared its independence from Georgia after Soviet collapse, are Russian passport holders.
The Statesman, 9August, 20008