An Imperialist Agent in Pro-people Garb

Globalization and ‘Left’ Front Government — A Fact-sheet



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Myth of Industrialisation

Industrialisation is one of the basic parameters to assess the state of any society. In any phase of industrialisation there evolved questions, such as who are to produce, and for whom to produce, how to produce and what to produce? In a socialist state or new democratic state, answers to all above questions should be — people. Even the technology in any given time depends on the questions which class is ruling the state/country concerned? In any exploitative society technology usage does not keep in consideration the interests of the people whatsoever. how a sham marxist-ruled state government is dealing with the question of industrialisation is a very important lesson for the world communist movement!

The Asian Development Bank is funding the north-south corridor project. In the said project, North and South Bengal will be connected through well-constructed roadways. It will facilitate better communication, a pre-condition for any imperialist capital to operate. The government of West Bengal is looking after a part of the project besides the central government. Right-left co-ordination does not end here. US business concerns are investing Rs. 600 crores for the 2nd Vivekananda Bridge, a central government project. The central government has rendered so much concession to the said concern, ‘Barjesh’, and pursued it with great tenacity, that it is has had to invest in the above project. A splendid example of centre-periphery (left) relations! Even then the CPI(M) projects itself to be in polar opposite to the BJP. Is it not a hoax! Is it not to confound the people of West Bengal!12

In the previous chapter it has become self-evident from the nature of incentives that the government is introducing for ‘industrialisation’, completely ignores the very interest of the people and the country. All those incentives are meant for big export-oriented firms, infotech, communications, polymer production, service sectors like hotels, call centres etc. Thus it is clear the policy is as per the basic requirements of global capital. Now, even the iron and steel industry, chemical or once favourite engineering industry is not in the state government’s priority list. chief minister Buddhadab Bhattacharya has toured Italy, foreign countries to attract capital. The West Bengal government industry minister Nirupam Sen toured England to have discussions with the DIFB regarding industrialisation.6 The funding agency is directly run by a cabinet ranked minister of England. It sanctions loans and gives suggestions to recipient countries. It is very difficult to believe that an agency of British parliament, an institution serving the interest of British imperialist capital, will set aside its interest/share of loot. It likes to make us believe that a tiger has changed its food-habit and has turned vegetarian! Actually the CPI(M) wants to make us believe that they are against agencies like the DIFB, Fund-Bank etc will be unfolded in the coming chapters. In regard to domestic capital also, the left front government, is serving comprador big capital. The chief Minister Mr. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya is touring Mumbai and other centres to attract investment. He seemed to be at ease at the meetings with the business houses and is assuring a ‘trouble-free’ environment for investment. All these initiatives have not gone in vain. In the last year West bengal ranked second in domestic investment, next to Gujrat (investment in Bengal: Rs. 1422 crores; investment in Gujarat: Rs. 1938 crores).7 In terms of capital inflow Bengal ranked 10th (Rs 714 crores)8 in the last financial year while in attracting foreign direct investment it stands 9th (Bengal FDI: Rs 132 crores, while Maharashtra FDI: Rs. 4865 crores which stands 1st in the arena).9

The government, though earnestly abiding by the dictums of the Fund-Bank and other imperialist agencies, the response is not very encouraging for West Bengal. Among other reasons one of the main hindrances is lack of adequate infrastructure. Now, the Bengal government is emphasising this issue. The Government is striving for private capital for building up and maintenance of all types of industry-friendly infrastructure. This new policy is known as private-public participation (PPP) or government and private/non-government initiative.10 Lack of funds (govt. envisaged a sum of Rs.1600 crores for the project) and expertise actually has ‘compelled’ the government to go for imperialist capital, a short cut approach. the government seems to be aware of the long gestation period for infrastructure. Consequently, as per the PPP policy the government has stated that it will guarantee quick returns to the investors.11 Infrastructure includes not only roads and bridges but also electricity, telecommunication, surface, air & water transport, development of residential and commercial areas, sanitation, health and water supply for industry etc. All these are to facilitate further entry of foreign capital as per globalisation.

The West Bengal government once boasted for its industrial development. now as per imperialist requirements all the traditional sectors are neglected. Now the blue-eyed sectors are Haldia Pertrochemicals, infotech, food processing, hotel and tourism etc. In the year 1993, Haldia Petrochemicals was established after much fanfare. Now, it is run by joint collaboration of the state government, the Tata group and the Chatterjee Group. The Chatterjee group is headed by Mr. Purnendu Chatterjee of the USA an agent of financier George Soros. The project is in deep problem from its inception. It is in loss. The chatterjee group has agreed to bail out the project and invest Rs. 268 crores more for the project out of the required Rs. 468 crores. The Gail has also showed interest to have 10% share and invest 200 crores in the project.13 Thus, the project is running not only at the mercy of the NRIs but also of imperialist know-how. BB Lummas of the USA has rendered the technology for its naphtha cracker unit. ‘Basil’ of Netherlands has given the technology for the linear low density polythene unit. German’s Mitsui Lurgi has also taken part in the project in terms of technology since the project’s inception in the year 1993.14 It is a classical example, how Haldia Petrochemicals, once projected as the pride of Bengal against the centre’s step-motherly attitude, is totally dependent on imperialist know-how, NRI and big business capital.

In the World market, out of 600 crores people, 280 crores have a daily income less than 2 dollars and out of every five men one has a daily income less than one dollar. These people will never buy a computer despite price cuts. Then where will West Bengal be with these new policies of its state government!15

The Government’s most important area of attention is the infotech industry. The industry is in the hands of notorious companies, like IBM, Microsoft, Compaq etc. The industry has potentialities of practicing monopoly business in the modalities of its operation, is the opinion expressed by the state government technology and information minister Mr. Manab Mukharjee in the book entitled ‘Prasanga—Tathya Prajukti’ (context — Information Technology) published by the National Book Agency, the frontal publishing organisation of the CPI(M). Moreover, as the industry is knowledge-based it needs an educated mass to operate. In this regard also the government has entered into collaboration with a company like Wipro to set up training centres in different corners of the state. the government has initiated a failed attempt to start e-business and e-commerce. The information kiosks of the government have failed miserably. It is wasting crores of money, not for the welfare of the toiling mass of West Bengal, but to bail out the crises-ridden infotech and computer giants! with computer engineers working in retail outlets of petrol pumps of the USA due to lack of employment, it is clear the state of the infotech industry in the imperialist countries! They need new markets in underdeveloped countries by hook or by crook. The government of West Bengal tries to befool us by its two slogans: (a) employment opportunities (b) welfare of the people. The question of employment opportunities will be dealt with in the subsequent chapter. In regard to the second aspect it should be humbly noted that in West Bengal, like in India, a major portion of the population live a hand to mouth existence. Peasants are forced to commit suicide due to debt. There is no spread of basic knowledge among the people. In a nutshell, the people are in the grip of a semi-feudal social set-up. Here the use of e-commerce for the people is nothing but a big hoax.

From the above it is clear that the government’s keen interest to attract these monopoly computer giants is out of its desperation to bail out the crises-ridden infotech industry of the imperialist countries.

Cognizant Technology Solutions of the USA started business in Bengal from 1997. It is because of this company Bengal has found its place in the infotech map of India. Haldia and Siliguri infotech parks are in the offing. The nexus between the US, the state and the monopoly houses will be further evident in the case of the US insurance company AIG. Vice-chairman of the said concern Frank Wisner, ex-consulate/diplomat of the USA in India, is going to start a computerised data centre at the Salt Lake Infosys Bhawan in Kolkata. It can be noted that it is the first multinational corporation that has responded to the personal invitation of Mr. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. He has assured the company to do away with all hindrances in the way of setting up of the AIG industry here. Frank Wisner reciprocated by stating "... some Indian organisations are competing keenly to make some of the jobs of the AIG be done here in India. I will look into the fact that Kolkata should have its share.’’16 Though, till now, there is inadequate infrastructure, and the technology park is still to yield results, the government allotted Rs. 20 crores for setting up of this technology park in the state budget of 2001-02.

It is a notable example how the staunch anti-imperialist Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, chief minister of the ‘left’ front government of West Bengal champions the interest of the US government and multinationals to exploit the market. Though once the field of jam, pickles etc. were dominated by the small scale sector, there also the entry of multinationals seems to he dominant. The food processing industry is given special importance by the state government only to lure foreign investors. It is this compulsion of appeasing the multinationals that prevent the CPI(M) from taking any drastic step against companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi etc. Our people are left to die of poison at the cost of the multinationals.

In the leather processing sector West Bengal dominates with 538 units. 92% of which are in the small scale sector. The state government has envisaged to double the amount of exports in the world market by 2006.17 Consequently, the state chief minister accompanied by the Chairman of the Council of Leather Exports toured Italy and invited the famous multinational corporation Guchhi to invest here and take the facility of cheap labour and a ready infrastructure. Still, the multinationals are scared. Hence they conducted their own survey. An inquiry was conducted at the behest of a voluntary organisation ‘Pisie’, in which participated a group of delegations of the Italian consulate, Italian Trade Commission, Italian Association of Machinery and Accessories (for shoes, leather goods and technology). They concluded that the bulk of the tanneries are having problems in quality and quantity production, the main constraints being their location and infrastructural backwardness.18 Hence, the government of Bengal, with great concern, is developing the Bantala Leather Complex in collaboration with M L Dalmiya and company. The high level committee which toured Italy of course is yielding results. MOUs were signed with Greenwood Leather Accessories (P) Ltd (India), Sepel SRL (Italy), Council of Leather Exports of India and the National Association of Italian Manufacturers of Footwear, Leather Goods and Training Machinery.

Thus, the small scale sectors, once the backbone of Bengal is being leased out to the multinational sharks as throw-away prices to be most loyal to the policies of globalisation!

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