People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 26

June 26, 2011




Farmers Take the Bull by Horns


                                                                                       Uday Narkar


THE company under the name Indiabulls is virtually a bull let loose in the china shop of super profits. The aim of the company, founded by some Indians in collaboration with a few foreigners, is to loot the Indians. The company has begun an enterprise to earn super profits by trampling the rights and livelihood of workers, farmers and agricultural workers. The governments, both at the centre and in the state of Maharashtra, have been more than benign towards the company's deeds of commission and omission. Peasants and agricultural workers in the Nashik district of Maharashtra have risen spontaneously against the oppression of this company. The police have happily come ahead to protect the vested interests of this company: 105 villagers, along with their woman sarpanch (president of village panchayat), Saralatai Sanap, were incarcerated in the Nashik jail.


To protest this oppression, thousands of farmers of the village Gulwanch and the surrounding villages came together and formed a ‘Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti’ (Farmers’ Struggle Committee). They organised a march to the Nashik Collectorate in which farmers and agricultural workers participated in thousands. The march was led by CPI(M) state secretary Dr Ashok Dhawale, secretariat member Dr D L Karad, former CPI(M) MLA Jiva Pandu Gavit, AIAWU joint secretary Kumar Shiralkar, AIKS state secretary Kisan Gujar, former High Court judge Justice Kolse-Patil, Haribhau Tambe, Haribhau Shinde, Advocate Ugale, Deshmukh and others. The agitation originated in the Sinnar taluq of Nashik is likely to spread to the others parts of the district and beyond into the districts of Dhule, Nandurbar and Amaravati because the ambitious Indiabulls company is very much eager to spread its tentacles to other areas.




Two young men from Delhi, Samir Gehlot and Rajiv Rattan jointly took over, in 1999, a defunct finance company and started trading in shares under its auspices. One Saurabh Mittal joined them in a few months. It was the first share broking company in the country that traded on the internet. They started, in January 2000, a company called “Indiaulls Financial Services.” L N Mittal and Harish Fabiani supplied capital to the company in June the same year. The company started a subsidiary, Indiabulls Securities, towards the end of 2000. By 2003, they had opened their offices in many cities in the country. Their internet broking trade grew in geometric proportions. The Indiabulls Financial Services introduced its shares in the market for a price of Rs 19 per share. The company also entered the consumer loan market and poured huge funds into it. 


Realising that low aim is a crime, the company started looking for greener pastures. The government of Maharashtra was inviting any number of bulls to ransack the desolate lands of the closed textile mills of Mumbai. No surprise that this bull was drawn to it. It formed a company, Indiabulls Properties Private Limited, to purchase textile mill land that is being auctioned. The National Textile Corporation (NTC) has a lot of land which belongs to the mills that it has taken over. It decided to auction 11 acres of Jupiter Mills in Lower Parel area of the metropolis. By the way, the Lower Parel, which prided itself as a working class district for ages, is now fast becoming a swanky township. The workers, who gave glory to the city of Mumbai, are being thrown, bag and baggage, into oblivion in the neo-liberal India. It is the same area where Mukesh Ambani of the Reliance has constructed his 28-storey palace. Anyway, the Indiabulls purchased these 11 acres of the Jupiter Mills in auction. The company lost no time to enter the lucrative business of the real estate. It formed the Indiabulls Real Estate Company Pvt Ltd which bought the land of the Elphinstone Mill as well, that belonged to the same NTC. The Indiabulls paid a huge amount of Rs 2,150 crore to grab the land of the Bharat and Poddar Mills. Well, they were not doing anything out of the ordinary. The business of buying land on the pretext of development and then selling it for super profits is rampant all over the country. The Indiabulls are just following the suit. Well, not exactly. It is actually one of those who are leading the pack. The company has purchased 2.4 million sq ft in the last three months alone (supposedly for development)! It has acquired not less than 6 crore sq ft of prime land so far.




What, however, is their idea of developing land? It is simply to level down all existing structures and build in their place monstrous malls, ugly palaces for the equally obscene rich and five-star hotels --- actually black-holes where black money is sucked in. All these are further embellished with designer gardens, Olympic-style swimming pools and multiplexes. Their advertisements promise no less than American dream-world amidst the squalor of migrant populace. The Indiabulls have been displaying the ad, ad nauseum, of their paradise constructed at Gurgaon near Delhi. The Indiabulls walks an extra mile to welcome the ministers, highly placed bureaucrats, mafia dons and sundry capitalists who have all amassed huge amounts of money by dodging tax authorities in creative ways. These people don’t have to go to Swiss banks to seek tax havens now. Moreover, the Indiabulls readily supplies loans to those who deal in developed properties too.


The central government’s policies of privatisation and liberalisation come in handy to the ones like the Indiabulls who are looking to make quick bucks. The government detests putting any controls on these companies. It also becomes generous enough to dole them out huge tax concessions. The companies thus amass wealth on an unprecedented scale. As if this were not enough, the government has come forward to award a special economic zone (SEZ) to this company. The Indiabulls is thus grabbing agricultural land to promote their SEZs. It has already announced the selling price of such land --- from Rs 2,500 to 20,000 per sq ft. These are the prices before the land was developed. It is anybody’s guess what the actual price of the developed land will be.


One need not guess who the buyers of this land would be. The Adarsh scam has already revealed who these super rich are. Just cast a glance at the people who are displacing those who have built Mumbai by their toil: Morgan Stanley (yes, you are right, the infamous American thug company), Bloomberg, Bain, Marsh – Mclennan, Deloitte, Reliance, Birla, NDTV, Yes Bank etc. These are the elite customers who are buying land from the Indiabulls.




In 2007 the company opened a new venture: Indiabulls Power. It decided to install two thermal power plants, one each in Nashik and Amaravati districts, totalling 5400 MW of electricity. The Indiabulls Power company entered the share market in September 2009. After having purchased land in the metros of Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, it has now turned to the hinterlands of Maharashtra. It set its eyes on the fertile land in Sinnar taluq of Nashik district. It identified 2,500 acres of agricultural land from village Gulvanchi; 900 acres of this land is reserved for its power plant. It tried to trap farmers with attractive words such as construction of a ‘golden corridor’ connecting Delhi – Mumbai – Nashik for the sole benefit of the farmers! The trap will further extend to engulf the farmers of Dhule, Nandurbar and Amaravati districts.


The Indiabulls is supposedly operating on two terrains --- an industrial region and an investment region. But it has now become as clear as sunlight that this company is not established to either bring in industrial development to the region or create jobs. The Maharashtra government has loyally pursued the same neo-liberal policy of deindustrialisation and, to use Professor Utsa Patnaik’s words, “job-loss growth.” We are all too aware as to how the land is being given away to capitalists for a pittance. The union government is out to disinvest to the tune of Rs 40,000 crore in the public sector. This is the solemn promise given by our finance minister to the capitalists in his budget speech. More than 31,000 small scale industries are closed in Maharashtra and 1,60,000 workers have lost their jobs. Rubbing salt into their wounds, the state government has submitted 233 SEZ proposals to the central government. The latter has sanctioned 143 and has readily notified 63 SEZs.


The Congress-NCP government in the state is no fool to truthfully explain to farmers the implications of the SEZ. Cultivation of land is the sole source of livelihood for farmers. Land is the only source of employment for the rural population. Apart from farmers, the livelihood of rural workers depends on agriculture only. Not only that; the livelihood of village craftsmen and petty traders too is organically attached to farming activity. It is more than obvious that productivity of land should be enhanced if the life of this populace is to be improved. Rural development is in all respects connected to the uses of land and water. In rural areas employment can be generated only on the basis scientific and equitable, people oriented watershed development strategy. Adequate supply of drinking water, roads, sewage, sanitary facilities, education and public health are the indices of real human development. It is imperative for a government to invest in these.


It is also incumbent on a government to facilitate decentralised industrialisation by encouraging small-scale industries. For this, the villagers should be taken into confidence and plan accordingly. The planned and proper development cannot come about unless people’s participation is ensured.




The state of Maharashtra was formed in 1960 as a result of the people’s successful agitation for the united linguistic state. The first steps that the early administration took were substantially in consonance with the people’s developmental aspirations. The concept behind establishing the Maharashtra State Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) was to achieve such decentralised industrial development. However, the objectives of MIDC underwent drastic changes in the wake of the onslaught of imperialist globalisation. The shadows of finance capital started blackening the industrial horizons of the state. The MIDC shamelessly started consorting with finance capital like that of Indiabulls. The MIDC thus, at the behest of the Indiabulls, buys land from farmers for meagre Rs 2 lakh an acre and earns thirty crores by selling it to the Bulls. The Bulls, in their turn, ‘develop’ that land and charge about Rs 2 crore per acre from the prospective buyers. The MIDC lied to the farmers saying that it needs this land to establish small scale industries which would ensure employment for them. The ‘political touts’ of the bourgeois parties saw to it that the farmers did not see through these lies. The gullible farmers lost the land that would give them at least roti for generations together. They lost land and did not get jobs. The Bull expelled the tiller from their land into a virtually no man’s land! Now they had nowhere to go. The SEZ has pushed the villages of Gulwanch and Musalgaon into an enclosure, hanging in a limbo. Now the railway ministry is acquiring land to lay a new railway track solely for the Indiabulls.


One used to read, as a child, a slogan on the train compartments: ‘Indian Railways – People’s Property.’ Well, no more in the era of imperialist globalisation. Railways and electricity are in fact infrastructural facilities essential for development. The policy of investing in these from the government treasury, adopted precisely after independence, was given a go bye in the nineties. Privatisation became the buzzword. Monopoly capital was allowed to enter the sector of power generation. It is true that the private capital has always been given concession by the railways for cheap transport. Even so, the railways helped a great deal to strengthen the public sector. Now the central government has taken upon itself the task of providing the rail services for power generation of the Indiabulls. The government of Maharashtra has taken the responsibility of acquiring land from Sinnar, Niphad and Nashik taluqs for laying railway tracks. For its thermal power project, the Bulls have managed a too willing central government to sign a contract to supply coal at a cheap price. The Water Resource Department at Nashik has already granted the use of water for the project and the Nashik Municipal Corporation is giving away its waste water. The company has already pocketed all the necessary no-objection certificates (NOCs). How has the company managed to get this done so quickly? Raising such a question is an affront to the integrity of the corrupt administration!




The Indiabulls are also constructing a 1,350 MW power plant (phase I) in Amaravati district. The Bulls are the biggest private sector company who have bought machinery for power generation from Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd (BHEL). There are about 4,000 workers working on the plants at Sinnar and Amaravati. Since both the plants fall within SEZ areas, no labour laws are applicable. Worker get neither minimum wages nor any welfare benefits. They have no right to form their trade union. Although the workers are Indian citizens, they do not have civil rights on a piece of land that falls within the sovereignty of India. Farmers might have owned in the past the land that the Bulls now lord over. But by the virtue of the ownership of the Bulls, it has become a ‘foreign’ territory. And which are the companies that have been given contracts to supply machinery? They are Gannon Dunkerley, L&T, ABB and Areva. The last named is the apple of the government of India’s eye. It is to sell untested nuclear reactors for the Jaitapur power plant, the biggest nuclear plant in the world. The Indiabulls will sell its electricity thus generated. The profit, at the rate of one rupee per unit, that the company will earn in the year 2013-14 will be a whopping 60 crore US dollars. Anybody is free to buy this costly electricity. But Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company has already given a guarantee that it will take the responsibility of distributing it.


Indiabulls Power Limited Company has applied to Maharashtra Electricity Controlling Authority for a distribution license. It has asked for permission to distribute electricity in the suburbs of Mumbai. What the company says in the application is very revealing:


Indiabulls Power Ltd (IPL) is a front ranking company of the Indiabulls Group looking after power industry. The company is indexed at both NSE and BSE. The company is developing two thermal power projects of a total 5400 MW capacity at Nashik and Amaravati. The Indiabulls Group has shown, several times, its skill in erecting industries and executing projects. With a substantial investment in immovable properties, infrastructure and power and a long experience of providing financial and other services to petty customers, the company is capable of facing the challenge in Mumbai.....


This clearly shows that Indiabulls is not a power generating company. It has not provided a single proof of exhibiting a skill of erecting an industry and executing a project. It is a company of financial agents. It has not contributed, anywhere in the world, to the people’s welfare by generating even one MW of electricity. They are a group of thugs, looting gullible people in the free market, in the garb of gentlemen. The anti-people governments, in the state and at the centre, are protecting their interests and giving them a free hand to grab the sources of livelihood of thousands of farmers and workers. The Bulls are allowed to roam unhindered in search of super profits, ignoring efficient public sector power industry (The seven thermal power plants in Maharashtra are under public sector undertaking) and the proven skill and knowledge of technicians, engineers and workers. Moreover, the government is unleashing repression to thwart popular agitation for asserting democratic rights. One wonders whether we are living in a sovereign, independent country or in a banana republic under imperial dominion. Indiabulls is a glaring example of how big finance capital in India is joining hands with imperialist capital. Take a look at the list of the friends of Indiabulls.




The total number of shares that Indiabulls group possesses is 202.30 crores. Out of them, 118.50 crores, i.e.  58.58 per cent, belong to the Indiabulls Real Estate. Financial institutions and banks own 1.64 crore (0.81 per cent), foreign institutional investors own 22.19 crore (10.97 per cent) and foreign speculative capital investors own 26.27 crore (12.99 per cent).  The finance and loans are provided to the Indiabulls by 20 nationalised banks as well as 9 Indian and foreign banks, mutual funds, provident funds, pension funds and insurance companies.


The meaning of all this is more than clear. Indiabulls is completely tied to international finance capital. The very nature of finance capital is to make quick bucks in speculative investment. The shareholders of Indiabulls do not have an iota of interest in promoting the welfare of Indian farmers, farm labourers, workers, artisans or small traders. On the contrary, they are anxious to rob people’s livelihood and natural resources of our country. Indiabulls are working as a promoter of the vagrant free market.




It is against this backdrop that the peasants and labourers, workers and artisans, men and women have risen to protect the source of their livelihood. The struggle waged by the farmers of Sinnar is not a small one. It is a struggle against the powerful owners of finance capital. It is a struggle against neo-colonisation being imposed on Indian peoples by imperialism.  It is a struggle against the anti-people and pro-big bourgeoisie, Indian and foreign, policies  of the government of India. This is a struggle in the interests of all toiling people. It is struggle to defend independence and sovereignty of India. The fighting villagers are determined to take this struggle to other areas, to the districts of Dhule, Nandurbar, Amaravati and beyond.