People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 10, 2008
BIG RALLY OF STUDENTS, YOUTH IN KOLKATA
Means More Employment
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Bengal chief minister addressed a students-youth rally recently at the Shahid Minar maidan in Kolkata. His principal theme at the rally was industrialisation and the young generation of the state. The chief minister set the tone of his address to the large assembly from the beginning. He explained in careful terms the connotation of the term industrialisation in the evolving reality of the state.
The rally was held to mark the occasion where marches were held across Bengal by the SFI and DYFI with four brigades named 'Shahid', 'Azad,' 'Unnayan' (development), 'Samprity (harmony) and Sanhati' (solidarity) traversed more than 5000 kilometres over 16 days to make their way to the Shahid Minar maidan. The brigades started from such faraway places as Kulti in Burdwan, Baghmundi in Purulia, Farakka in Murshidabad, and Sagar in south 24 Parganas.
The 18-point programme of the brigades included issues like further extension of democratic rights, struggle for a brighter future, struggle against forces of religious fundamentalism, and development of the state's economy and expansion of employment opportunities. Also addressing the Shahid Minar rally were the leadership of the SFI and the DYFI.
Buddhadeb began by pointing out that in the post-independence years, Bengal would always be in the forefront of industrial growth and expansion. Those years saw great emphasis given to heavy industries as the Five-year planning set its orientation of the growth model. In the subsequent years, political manoeuvring witnessed Bengal slip down the list of most-industrialised states.
The licence-permit raj and the policy of freight equalisation saw investors drift away from Bengal in increasing numbers. PSUs were allowed to languish, made to stumble, and then be shut down. Traditional industries like tea, jute, and engineering plus manufacturing went into the doldrums. Would the succeeding union governments care?
The constraints and imperatives of world-wide economic changes compelled the Congress-run central government to make certain changes in the approach to economic growth in the mid-1990s. The license-permit system was allowed to lapse while the freight equalisation policy was legislated away. It was in 1994 that the then Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu announced an industrial policy for the Bengal Left Front government. The policy had a three-tiered approach to industry building. Three sectors would be set up for the task: the state sector, the joint sector including the co-operative sectors, and the private sector.
From then on, the industrialisation drive had aimed chiefly at generation of employment and coordinated pro-people, especially pro-poor growth. In this, the LF government has been something of a notable success. The Bengal opposition initially cried themselves hoarse on the score that the LF government was keener on agriculture and rural areas than on industrialisation and urbanisation. The corporate media ran horror stories about Bengal being pushed back to the Stone Age by the communists.
OPPOSITION OF THE ILLOGIC
When the LF government decided as a matter of planned policy to go in for industrialisation while strengthening the agricultural base, the slogans raised by the opposition, and the anti-communist brigade, nationally and internationally, with obliging support of the media, was that people would get ruined adding as a curious afterthought that the 'green would go.'
Since then, the opposition has had their ranks strengthened by various dignitaries 'intellectuals,' and by a variety of institutions, some legitimate in nature, most hardly so. Lies have been piled on lies. Rampage has been encouraged. Killing sprees as at Nandigram has been engaged in. Forces of religious fundamentalism of both persuasions have been roped in to fuel violence.
Nothing has stopped the people from lending its vociferous support to the Left Front government's industrialisation drive. With trained personnel coming out of the educational institutions by their thousands every year, and with newer institutions for inculcation of technical education being set up, the demand of the students and the youth has been industrialisation as an engine of growth that would create more and more jobs.
'We welcome industrial investors and entrepreneurs,' said Buddhadeb, who then made a candid statement drawing a vociferous round of applause, that 'we are not really interested in the shape and size of the product that would come out of factories set up in Bengal, and we are not even bothered about who the end-users would be, what we are interested in is the hard fact that such factories and industrial units will create hundreds and thousands of jobs for the qualified students' and youth of Bengal, fulfilling a much-awaited need.'
CONVERTING 'NO' TO 'YES'
Buddhadeb took note of the pockets of resistance to the industrial policy of the LF government here and there in Bengal. He urged upon the students and the youth to take up the responsibility of patiently communicating to the 'no brigade' the reasons why an industrial growth was needed, explaining how the interest of the people would be promoted and not harmed by such a policy. They must thus take up the challenge of converting their hesitant 'no' to the industrial policy to an affirmative 'yes!'