The debate has begun in earnest…whether Nano factory would have been good for the state. In teashops and street-corners animated discussions could be seen that catch the mood of ordinary people on the street.
In one such where I chanced upon, the prominent view was that nothing much would happen if Nano moved out from Singur. Yes, jobs would be lost, but not many to their estimate. And no, the impact of the car plant would definitely not spread beyond Singur.
I looked closely at them. They didn’t appear to be supportive of Tata Motors’ exit. In fact some of them I would vouch were surely followers of the main ruling party.
It became clear to me that the motley group there – you can imagine them to be nearly representing the common people of the state – did not have a good idea of what a car factory of the scale of Nano could do to the economy of the nearby places including Kolkata and the state as a whole.
Early this week I was watching a late-night discussion on Nano’s exit on Star Ananda. An economist there said that the latest compensation package by the government would ensure that a farmer would earn at least 2-1/2 times (from bank interests) that of the maximum he could ever earn from the crops he would produce on his land.
The advantage to the farmer is so obvious that to not understand it is perhaps humanly impossible. Yet the impossible is happening right here at a place that is just next-door to a big city, not in a remote village.
Of course the opposition leader is spearheading the ‘Nano No No’ agitation in the hope of reaping political dividends. But I refuse to believe that she can prevent farmers to take compensation if they really want to.
And herein lies the million-dollar dilemma as to why the farmers – remember they are much better informed and are close to Kolkata – still ‘cannot realize’ the obvious monetary benefits.
Social scientists will probably explain the reasons behind this, but I feel the 3-decades long left rule has progressively ruined all scope of hopes and aspirations of common people of the present times.
The political highhandedness of all these years has amassed a huge mountain of moral and social bankruptcy. We are paying the price of the accumulated debts.
It will be a long while before the slate is clean to start afresh. And that is a very, very big ‘if’.
Let us hope this happens, sooner than inordinately later.
Also see my article, Uprooting smallness.