Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Reading the Nandigram massacre
The Nandigram crisis in India’s West Bengal state highlights many of the absurdities of today’s world economy and the continuing divide between Stalinists and the new left.
The residents of Nandigram, a village in the south, forced the state police out of their village lest it be sold-off to the Suharto family-owned chemical giant Salim, with subsequent dislocation in March 2007.
Later on in October-November 2007, armed goons of the CPM (Communist Party India), the ruling partner in a Left Front government, killed at least eight people and drove thousands of villagers out of their homes, with many raped and robbed.
West Bengal’s Chief Minister Buddahadeb Bhattacharjee tried to pin the trouble on the work of local Maoist guerrillas and the inaction of the state police, blaming the villagers for creating a crisis where none existed by opposing “progress”.
The Transnational Institute though rejects this assertion in an article that also reveals a connivance between the police and the goon squads, as revealed by the report submitted to the Calcutta High Court recently.
There is plenty of context to consider in judging the motives and reasons behind Nandigram - involving food riots, a growing revolt amongst the intelligentsia over human rights issues, a connivance of the part of the CPM with the George Bush-Congress Party nuclear deal, and of course the links between Battacharjee and the corporate world.
For many years large numbers of poverty-stricken Indians have been forced from their homes and given often poorer farming lands. The rise in nationalism and the large vote for the “New India” BJP, are perhaps examples of the desperation of the masses with the imposition of these “investor-friendly” policies. The “New India” is but a reincarnation of the pre-Ghandi India, where money is more important than traditional Indian collectivism and even more money is spent on defence than during the British Raj, only the ruling class these days have a different coloured skin.
Observations by Matthew