सीपीएम की क्रांति

सीपीएम की क्रांति
हम एक लोकतंत्र में रह रहे हैं! 14 मार्च को हुई घटना और उसके बाद सीपीएम के बंद के दौरान गायब हुए दो सौ लोगों का अब तक कोई अता-पता नहीं है्. हां। कुछ लाशें हैं जो इलाके में इस हालत में पायी गयी हैं. क्या हम बता सकते हैं कि इन्होंने किस बात की कीमत चुकायी? क्या हम इसको लेकर आश्वस्त रह सकते हं कि हमें भी कभी ऐसी ही कीमत नहीं चुकानी पड़ेगी?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Medical Team Report from Nandigram with names, locations, and injuries

Medical Team Report from Nandigram with names, locations, and injuries - April 5


After the incident of firing by the police at Nandigram on 14.3.2007, report of large-scale injuries and ailments arising out of and as a consequence of the said incident had reached the media. Some doctors and health workers decided to visit the affected area to render the very urgent medical help to the people affected by the incident.

A team of doctors (Medical Service Centre, Kolkata) visited several affected areas of Nandigram on 17.3.2007 and came out with a report, which was reported in the press.

OUR FIRST VISIT (18.03.2007)

On 18.3.2007, a team comprising of six physicians (including 2 female physicians), three junior doctors, sisters, medical students and health-workers, organised by public-spirited organizations working on health, i.e., SRAMAJIBI SWASTHA UDYOG, PEOPLES’ HEALTH and JANASWASTHA SWADIKAR MANCHA, visited some of the affected areas of Nandigram to render medical help to the affected people.

The Medical Team found that more severely injured patients had mostly been taken to the hospital and persons who were critically injured had been transferred to Tomluk Hospital (District Hospital) and SSKM Hospital / RGKar MCH of Kolkata. But they found that a very large population, predominantly women, were suffering from blunt trauma injuries, very often multiple, and had not received any medical help. The same is true also for a very large number of people, suffering from eye-problems ( headache, watering, photophobia, burning sensation, dimness of vision etc.) even 4 days after the tear-gas exposure on 14.3.2007. People were also suffering from mental trauma, though unfortunately the medical team did not have a psychiatrist or a psychologist who could have professionally assessed the actual extent of the trauma. The medical team treated 129 patients and had the opportunity to talk to about 300 victims, who described the unprovoked and brutal attack on unarmed assembly of villagers, including a large number of women and children, which continued even after people had dispersed and was trying to flee from the scene. The women also described with horrid details of sexual assaults on them. Attackers, they said, included a large number of persons in police uniform but with chappals on.

The Medical Team had also found that many could not return to their home and resume their normal activities. Camps were organized by the local people to provide food for these affected people. These camps were found to be suffering from an acute shortage of provisions required to run the kitchen (the medical team bought a day’s provision to one camp).

2ND VISIT (21.03.2007)

The next visit took place on 21.3.2007. It was a general relief cum medical relief team, consisting of two physicians and four health workers. There was plan for documenting the trauma of the victims, though due to shortage of time, addition burden of general relief work, the number of patients treated and documented was limited to only 30 in three different places. General relief and provisions worth Rs 15, 790 were provided to four different relief camps in the affected areas.

3RD VISIT (24-24 March, 2007)

The third visit was on 24-25th March, 2007. From the experience of two previous visits by the medical team, it was decided that the team should stay overnight in the affected area to render more intensive and extensive medical assistance, and that it would concentrate on medical relief only.
This time the team comprised of eight doctors, including two female doctors and one orthopaedic surgeon, one sister and seven health workers. They organized 4 medical camps, in Southkhali (24.3.2007), Sonachura High School (25.3.2007), Kalicharanpur Primary School ( 25.3.2007) and
Dakshin Jalpai, Bhangabera (25.3.2007). It may be mentioned here that one eye relief camp was organized concurrently in Sonachura High School on 25.3.2007 by ARGUS COMMUNITY EYE SERVICES.

A brief description of various patients on 18.3.2007. The documentation quality was not upto the mark on this day as the medical team was overwhelmed by the extent and the magnitude of the problem.

Camp: Sonachura

Date: 18.3.2007

Total cases seen: 129
Female : more than 80% .

Eye problems 40%
Direct hit by the police 45%
Other Musculo-skeletal injury 5%
Wound 5%

A brief description of various types of patients seen on 21.3.2007 is as follows:

Camp: Sonachura and Garchakraberia

Date: 21.3.2007

Total cases seen: 30
Cases directly related to the incident of 14.3.2007 25
Male 18 (72%)
Female 7 (28%)
Child 3

Eye problems 16 (64%)
Direct hit by the police 6 (24%)
Other Musculo-skeletal injury 4 (16%)
Mental problem 3 (12%)
Thigh Injury 1
Headache 1
Back pain 1
Blunt Injury 4 (16%)
Ear problem 2 (8%)
Wound 3 (12%)
Haematoma 1

A brief description of various types of patients seen on 24/25.3.2007 is as follows (details in Annexure 1):

Camps: Soudkhali, Kalicharanpur, Dakshin Jalpai, Sonachura

Date: 24.3.2007 and 25.3.2007

Total cases seen: 261
Cases directly related to the incident of 14.3.2007 230
Male 83 (36%)
Female 147 (64%)
Child 9 (4%)
Hindu (mostly SC) 222
Muslim 8

Eye problems 135 (58.6%)
Direct hit by the police 54 (23.4%)
Other musculo-skeletal injury 41 (17.8%)
Multiple Injury 27 (11.7%)
Bullet Injury 4
Ear injury 2 (children)
Fracture 1
Spinal Injury 1
Mental trauma 28 (12.1%)

· 70% to 80% of the patients of all camps had eye problems since 14.3.2007, but in Sonachura camp these patients attended cocurrently running eye camp, hence the average shows a lower figure
· The details of different camps has been shown in Annexure I.
· The doctors in the team (except those at Sonachura camp) had no training in properly assessing post traumatic stress, hence this condition may be found to be under reported particularly in the three other camps.

Eye Camp: Sonachura

Date: 25.3.2007

Total cases seen: 155
Cases directly related to the incident of 14.3.2007 114
Male 55 (48.2%)
Female 55 (48.2%)
Child 4
Hindu (mostly SC) ALL
Muslim Nil


1. It was seen from the TV clips that many persons were shot at the chest, abdomen and even in their heads, though when dispersing a mob, the police is to “use as little force and do as little injury to person and property as may be consistent with dispersing the assembly, arresting and detaining such persons”. ( Section 130, CrPc).

2. The medical team also saw other cases of bullet injuries at face level in the village.

3. The number of victims was found to be very large and included a large number of women and children also.

4. The lathi charge was extensive, it was inflicted even on women who had already fled from the place of assembly and was hiding in nearby houses and bushes in and around the place. This lathi charge was severe, producing multiple blunt injuries with bruises which was evident on medical examination even on 4/7/11/12 days after the event. These injuries included fracture, spine injury, chest injury etc. Injury marks were mostly found on the upper part of the boby upwards. It may be mentioned here that when the medical team had reached the scene, the people with major injuries had already been taken to various hospitals.

5. Many people suffered from the musculo-skeletal injuries including fall etc., as they were trying to escape the scene and police was persistently chasing them.

6. Many persons were injured due to beating by the police while they were trying to rescue the injured persons and the children.

7. Many women complained of sexual assault. They were also found to bear injury marks on their breasts, abdomen and private part. However, lack of privacy and other infrastructure prevented the medical team from proper physical examination and even thorough history taking.

8. A very large number of affected people, predominantly women, were found to be suffering from eye problems (burning sensation, watering, phototophobia, headache, dimness of vision etc), persisting even 11 days after exposure to tear gas. So much so that every camp attended to 70-80 percent of patient suffering from eye problems related to tear gas exposure. It may be noted that the people were aware that there may be tear gas attack, they knew that in case of tear gas attack they were to wash the eyes with copious amount of water, and they followed this instruction. Some persons also had injury in eye and other parts of the body from tear gas shell explosion, burn injury from contact of tear gas shell, history of breathlessness from close exposure to tear gas.

9. Thus it appears to the medical team that the gas used against the people may not be the usual tear gas ordinarily used to disperse the mob, but something unusual having more permanent and serious effects. The medical team urges a serious investigation into this matter.

10. It was found that although most of the severely wounded people were transferred to hospitals, a few seriously wounded persons, including a nine year old boy suffering from supracondylar fracture of arm, a spinal injury patient etc., practically received no medical attention. Also, many people, who attended Nandigram Hospital, did not receive medicines due to shortage of required medicine and many patients could not be examined and investigated properly due to lack of infrastructure there. Patients suffering from eye problems received almost no medical treatment. It may be noted here that Nadigram Hospital (BPHC) may be called a glorified primary health center and is not equipped to deal with so many serious injury and other cases. It was learnt that this Hospital did not receive much additional support even after the incident.

11. Many patients were found to be suffering from mental trauma with symptoms of sleeplessness, anorexia, anxiety and fear. Many women saw people, even children being killed, wounded people snatched. They were in fear of repeat of attack, anxiety for the safety of near and dear ones, and particularly about sexual assault of young daughters. But unfortunately the medical team did have trained human resource to properly assess situation, so the number of patients suffering from mental trauma mentioned here would be an understatement of the actual state of affairs. However, a team of psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health workers has already organized a camp in Sonachura on 31.3.2007. Their reports will be published soon.

12. An interesting observation was that very few patients came to the medical camp for ailments unrelated to the incidence of 14.3.2007 and those who came for injuries etc also mainly reported the injuries only and generally had no other medical complain.

13. The team of doctors also conducted a training camp for local volunteers so that if any untoward incident takes place again, these volunteers would be in a position to render rudimentary patient care (containment of bleeding, removing the patients observing proper protocol, wound dressing and things like that). 22 volunteers from different parts of the area covering almost the entire affected area were trained and 10 emergency kit with a couple of manuals in Bengali language were distributed among them.

14. On the two previous visits the Team attended to 169 patients. Though those two visits were not very well documented, it can be said that the general observation was basically the same.

15. Members of the Team also visited Nandigram Hospital, Tamluk Hospital

(Annexure II) and SSKM Hospital (Annexure III).

Dated 3.4.2007


Camp: Southkhali

Date: 24.3.2007

Total cases seen: 80
Cases directly related to the incident of 14.3.2007 72
Male 16 (22%)
Female 56 (78%)
Child 1
Hindu (mostly SC) 64
Muslim 8

Eye problems 55 (76.4%)
Direct hit by the police 13 (18%)
Other Musculo-skeletal injury 7
Multiple Injury 10 (13.9%)
Fracture 1
Bleeding P/V since 14.3.2007 1
Injury to private parts (female) 1
Mental Trauma 6 (8.3%)

Camp: Dakshin Jalpai, bhangabera

Date: 25.3.2007

Total cases seen: 54
Cases directly related to the incident of 14.3.2007 46
Male 24 (52.2%)
Female 22 (47.8%)
Child 1
Hindu (mostly SC) ALL
Muslim Nil

Eye problems 33 (71.7%)
Direct hit by the police 8 (17.4%)
Other musculo-skeletal injury 17 (37%)
Multiple Injury 1
Spinal Injury 1
Sexual assault on 14.3.2007 1
Mental Trauma 6 (8.3%)

Camp: Kalicharanpur

Date: 25.3.2007

Total cases seen: 56
Cases directly related to the incident of 14.3.2007 53
Male 8 (15%)
Female 45 (85%)
Hindu (mostly SC) ALL
Muslim Nil

Eye problems 43 (81.7%)
Direct hit by the police 13 (24%)
Other musculo-skeletal injury 7 (13%)
Multiple Injury 4
Bullet Injury 2
Sexual assault on 14.3.2007 3
Mental Trauma 4 (7.5%)

Camp: Sonachura

Date: 25.3.2007

Total cases seen: 82
Cases directly related to the incident of 14.3.2007 59
Male 35 (59.3%)
Female 24 (40.7%)
Child 7 (11.8%)
Hindu (mostly SC) ALL
Muslim Nil

Eye problems 5*
Direct hit by the police 19 (34%)
Other musculo-skeletal injury 29 (17%)
Multiple Injury 13 (20.3%)
Bullet & Splinter Injury 2
Ear injury 2 (children)
Mental Trauma 13 (20.3%)
Others 2

· A concurrent eye clinic was running at the same place


Patients In Tamluk Hospital

Some of the members of the team paid a visit to the Tamluk State Hospital on 1.4.2007, where a large number of injured patients of the said incident
(on 14.3.2007) were admitted. Most of the patients were admitted in this Hospital on or after 16.3.2007; some of them had been referred to by the
Nandigram Hospital, either due to lack of infrastructure, or because of the seriousness of injury. The team talked with the patients, had discussion with the attending physicians. Some of the salient features that the members of the medical team came to know may be summarised as follows:

1. The patients admitted in Tamluk Hospital Hospital had major trauma. They has bullet injury, fracture, multiple fractures, Head Injury, amputation, eye injury, chest injury, breathing problems, history of sexual assault etc. Some are immobilised in POP casing and castings, many had operations, one was on Intravenous drip even 17 days after the incidence.

2. Almost all of those who had been admitted to this Hospital (Tamluk State Hospital) on or after 16.3.2007, complained of various degrees of eye problems ranging from watering, burning sensation, headache, photophobia and dimness of vision. As on 31.3.2007, only about half of the patients have more or less recovered from the problems on treatment with antibiotic and steroid eye drops along with lubricating and analgesic eye drops, but in the other half the problem is still persisting.

3. On 16th March 37 patients were admitted from various parts of the affected area, who had major injuries and injuries inflicted by bullets, tear gas shells, police lathi charge, rubber bullets etc. These patients were initially treated for these grave conditions, but when they recovered a little, they also complained of similar eye problems.

4. 18 patients were transferred from Tamluk Hospital to SSKM Hospital, Kolkata between 17th and 31st March, 2007. 15 of them had bullet injury
and one had Head injury from lathi charge. 7 of bullet injury patient were female and 8 male.

5. Between 16.03.2007 to 1.04 2007 seventy-four patients have been treated for severe injury and conditions in Tamluk Hospital. Of them, 28 were
male and 46 female.

Patients admitted in ‘Nandigram Ward’ of Tamluk Hospital (Female)

1. Satyabala Mondal w/o Anadi Vill.Soudkhali Headache

2. Arati Maity w/o Tapan Vill. Kalicharanpur Headache, Eye complains

3. Kabita Das Adhikari w/o Subal Vill.Gokulnagar # Rt patella, Lt wrist

4. Renuka Kar w/o Shyamapada Vill. Kalicharanpur pain all over due to lathi charge

5. Bidyut Basanta 48/F w/o Mahadev # Lt forearm, Rt finger, eye complaints

6. Radharani Pakhira 45/Fw/o Kishan Vill 7 no Jalpai eye complains

7. Salma Bibi w/o Fakrul Vill.Garchakraberi Bleeding p/v

8. Anima Jana 32/F w/o Prasanta Vill.Soudkhali Eye pain, dimness of vision

9. Sovarani Singh w/o Gorachand Vill.Soudkhali Blunt Injury waist, thigh

10. Paribala dhapar w/o Ranjit Vill.Soudkhali Eye pain, Headache

11. Sandhyarani Sinha 25/Fw/o Ramkrishna Vill.Soudkhali Eye complains, Headache

12. Chhabirani Dhapar w/o Badal Vill.Soudkhali Eye complains, Headache

13. Angurbala Dolui w/o (late) Makhan Vill.Soudkhali Eye complains, dimness of vision

14. Sandhya Dhapar w/o Paresh Vill.Soudkhali Eye complains, Headache

15. Sulekha Das w/o Pravanjan Vill. Kalicharanpur # Lt leg

16. Sailabala Das 48/F w/o Nandalal Vill.Gokulnagar Chest pain, Breathlessness, eye complains

17. Shyamali Mahato45/F w/o (late)Gobinda Vill. Sonachura Head Injury, Bullet injury

18. Radharani Ari 45/F w/o Pratap Vill.Gokulnagar Headache, Eye complains

19. Anubha Khanda 48/F w/o Rasbehari Vill. Sonachura Bullet Injury knee, Eye Complains

20. Kalpana Jana 40/F w/o Nandalal Vill. Kalicharanpur Eye complains

21. Sankari Gol 47/F w/o Manoranjan Vill. Sonachura # tibia, multiple injury head, eye complains

22. Shyamali Mahato w/o (late) Gobinda Vill. Sonachura Bullet injury head

II. Patients admitted in ‘Nandigram Ward’ of Tamluk Hospital (male)

1 Gopal Das s/o Mrityunjoy Vill. Sonachura bullet injury, shoulder

2 Niranjan Das 38/M s/o (late) Radhakrishna Vill. Sonachura Chest Pain

3 Lakshmikanta Gayen s/o Ramhari Vill. Sonachura subconj Hmge, # finger, loss of teeth

4 Subodh Das 45/M s/o Gangadhar vill.Gangra Bullet injury finger

5 Asok Mondal s/o Jagadish Vill. Sonachura Bullet injury, finger amputed,

6 Srimanta Mondal s/o Joydev vill. Gokulnagar Bullet injury, thigh

7 Gopal Majhi s/o Santosh vill. Gokulnagar Bullet injury, arm

8 Sk.Fasi Alam s/o Abdul Vill 7 no Jalpai Bullet injury, finger

9 Abinash Mondal s/o Gorachand vill.Gangra Pain Back, eye problems

10.Madan Mondal s/o Ramhari Vill.Soudkhali Headache, Eye complains

11. Ramkrishna Maiti 33/Ms/o Chintamani Vill 7 no Jalpai Shoulder Dislocation, Head injury

III. Cases transferred to SSKM Hospital,Kolkata (female)

1. Haimabati Halder Vill. Gangra Bullet injury

2. Kanchan Mal w/o Sripati Vill. Gokulnagar Bullet injury

3. Tapasi Das w/o Sambhu Vill. Gokulnagar Bullet injury

4. Banasri Acharya w/o Chandan vill. Badkeshabpur Bullet injury

5. Swarnamoyee Das w/o Gopal Vill. Berachak Bullet injury

6. Bhabani Giri w/o Hitendralal Vill. Kalicharanpur Bullet injury

7. Anjali Das w/o Mrityunjoy Vill. Sonachura Bullet injury

8. Gourirani Das w/o Chittaranjan Vill. Kalicharanpur Bullet injury

9. Purnima Mondal w/o Gobardhan Vill. Gokulnagar blunt Injury

IV. Cases transferred to SSKM Hospital,Kolkata (male)

1. Rasbehari Khanda s/o (late) Kumar Vill. Sonachura Bullet injury

2. Abhijit Samanta Vill. Sonachura Bullet injury

3. Swapan Giri Vill. Sonachura Bullet injury

4. Salil Das Adhikari s/o Bhupati Vill. Gokulnagar Bullet injury

5. Prithwish Das s/o Purnachandra Vill. Gangra Bullet injury

6. Abhijit Giri s/o Pratap Vill. Kalicharanpur Bullet injury

7. Parikshit Maiti s/o Abinash Vill. Kalicharanpur Bullet injury

8. Mani Rana Vill. Gokulnagar Bullet injury

9. Saddam Hossain Vill 7 no Jalpai Bullet injury

Some Highlights

1. Radharani Ari. Found unconscious (and without clothes) in a bush 2 days after the incidence. Complained of pain in whole body and particularly in
private parts after regaining consciousness. According to her, 3 male police took her to a bush and were beating her, when she lost consciousness.

2. Kabita Adhikari. Fracture Rt patella and Lt wrist. According to her, she was in Anadi Mal’s home on 14th March, when male police dragged her out and beaten her severly.

3. Sankari Gol. Severely beaten by male police, admitted with Rt leg fracture and multiple injury with stitches on head.

4. Sovarani Sinha. According to her, a child was snatched away and killed before her eyes.

5..Anubha Khanda. Admitted with bubber bullet in knee, admitted and operated on 14th March. Her husband Rasbehari Khanda has been transferred
to SSKM Hospital, Kolkata in very serious condition, now in intensive care unit.


List of Patients Injured in Nandigram, now Admitted in SSKM Hospital :

Sl no. Name Age/sex Village Injury Remarks
1 Parikshit MaityS/o (Late) Abinash 55/M Kalicharanpur Bullet Injury abdomen

2 Avijit SamsntaS/o Subimal 33/M Sonachura Bullet Injury Chest, Opeation done on 28.03.2007

3 Avijit GiriS/o Pratap Chandra 22/M Kalicharanpur Bullet Injury Rt hand, Charra Injury Abdomen

4 Pritish DasS/o (Late) Purnachandra 29/M Gangra Bullet Injury Head, Back

5 Swapan GiriS/o Gobinda 21/M Sonachura Bullet Injury Rt Hand

6 Mani RanaS/o (Late) Beni 18/M Gokulnagar Bullet Injury Rt Thigh, Operation done on 27.03.2007

7 Salil Das AdhikariS/o (Late) Bhupaticharan 35/M Gokulnagar Bullet Injury between Lt eye and nose

8 Anjali DasW/o Mrityunjoy 50/F Sonachura Injury, beaten by police and CPI(M) cadres

9 Swarnamoyee DasW/o Gopal Das 32/F Gokulnagar Bullet Injury Lt Elbow

10 Kanchan MalW/o Swapan 45/F Gokulnagar 4 Bullet injuries in Breasts and 3 in Lt Hand, Operated twice.Injured while trying to rescue an injured person

11 Purnima MondalW/o Pipu /F Gokulnagar Heavily beaten up by CPI(M) cadres on 24.3.07 at Tekhali. Admitted on 25.3.07 via Tamluk Sadar Hospital

12 Gouri Rani DasW/o Chittaranjan 40/F Kalicharanpur Injury from Tear Gas Shell, Transferred to ICU

13 Bhawani GiriW/o Jiten 40/F Kalicharanpur Bullet Injury Lt Chest

14 Rasbehari KharaS/o(Late) Kumar 45/M Sonachura Bullet Injury Abdomen

15 Saddam HossainS/o Serajul Islam 18/M Barjamtala7 no Jalpai Bullet Injury Rt Eyebrow. A student of class IX. Now almost blind

16 Tapasi DasW/o Sambhu 32/F Gokulnagar Bullet Injury Hip

17 Manju Mal Discharged on 29.3.07

18 Banashree Acharya Discharged on 26.3.07

19 Haimabati Halder


Photographic evidences of some of the persons injured in the incidence of 14.3.2007

1. Minhazur s/o Noorjahan Age 8 years, Villege Soudhkhali. Was with his mother in the Namaz ceremony that was held at Bhangabera. When police
resorted to lathicharge, he received 4 blows in left elbow, resulting in a supracondylar fracture. These two photographs show the extent and seriousness of the injury before (1A) the team had rendered medical care and after (1B).

2. Saraswati Das, w/o late Kalipada Das, Villege Gangra F 40. Was in the puja ceremony at Bhangabera. When the tear gas shelling started, she
started running for shelter. A shell exploded close to her. She had a burning sensation. The police chased her out and she received two mighty blows in her right leg. The police had beaten her up when she fell down in the ground. The photograph ( 2) shows the wound because of the blows that she received from the police. It may be mentioned here that even after a week of the said incident, she did not receive any medical attention.

3. Tapasi Das, w/o of Late Ratan Das, who was killed during the firing on 14.3.2007, Villege Gangra, Sonachura, F 24. Widowed with two small kids.
Lost all tranquility, stopped speaking. Accute Stress-induced trauma.

4. Sonali Das, W/o Pabitra Das, F 26, Villege Sonachura. Was near to the puja ceremony site. When firing started she started running and was
engulfed by the tear gas fumes. She lost direction and was beaten up by the police at the left elbow. Did not receive any medical help even after a week.

Previous Report

On 18th March 2007, 4 days after the massacre at Nandigram a medical team comprising of six doctors ( including two female doctors ),three junior doctors ( house staff of Medical College, Kolkata ),3 sisters and two health workers went to the affected areas to provide medical service to the victims of police atrocities. Three voluntary organizations (working in the field of health), namely Shramajibi Swasthya Udyog, Peoples’ Health & Janaswasthya Swadhikar Manch organized the medical camp.

The members first went to Nandigram Hospital (actually a glorified health center, with minimum infrastructural facilities), talked to four women (one of them accompanied by a very young child), who were admitted in the wards. Then the team went to Sonachura and Adhikaripara (Gokulnagar Area) and gave treatment to 129 affected persons. They also talked to above 300 villagers. Locals like Sri Prodyot Maity, Sri Buddhadeb Mondal, Sri Subhendu Karan; Sri Nishikanto Mondal (a leader of the committee for prevention of land acquisition) helped the team much and guided it to the worst affected areas.

From the dialogue with the villagers that included many eye- witnesses of the ghastly incident, a horrifying story of torture, murder, molestation, rape and killing of children gradually unfolded—which in our view is a planned genocide and barbaric large scale sexual crimes committed upon innocent people. The description, appear to us nightmarish and in spite of our long standing association with medical profession ranging from some years to few decades—some of us felt mentally sick.

Ours was not a fact finding team. These are collateral information that we have gathered. But we feel that it is our duty to communicate this monstrous and sinister incidence that stands singular and in isolation (the comment made by Winston Churchill in the British Parliament after Jalianwala Bag massacre) to the world outside Nandigram. Rest is up to the readers to believe or to reject.

We took some photographs also, which are in our custody and may be circulated in future. With the prelude, let us divulge what the locals said on that day to us.

The local people irrespective of their villages, ages and sex told us the incidences as summarized below—


A lot of people (ranging up to few hundreds) are still missing. It is not that all of them are killed. Some have fled away but the number of casualties are many fold of the officially declared number of 14.In Sonachura alone 50-60 people are untraceable.

No comprehensive list of the missing person is available till date. Firstly, because they are still shell socked and dumb in horror and pain. There is no one to take such initiative for door to door survey (like a census) in the vast stretch of area. Secondly, due to absolute lack of faith in administration/ police and to avoid harassment (including arrest), no one has formally lodged a missing diary either.


The locals say that many families have been torn apart as occurred after Tsunami. One house has got only two children with the father battling for life at hospital and in the other missing. Many have lost their parents, children or beloved who are not included in the lists stain and hospitalized persons. The villagers say that some of them, who ran away, may come back after some time and a proper account of the loss can be taken only after that.


Many small children of the K.G. school are missing in Bhangabera (another badly hit village). The villagers say that during the commotion they were released from the school. Many of them had been butchered by the attackers. Their throats were slit or heads chopped off, put in gunny bags, loaded in trucks and transported to unknown destinations. The locals feel that either the bodies had been burnt in brick-kilns, thrown to Haldi River / Bay of Bengal (not very far off) by tying with stones in fishing nets or dumped in marshy land or jungles. It may so happen that the bodies to the ditches and the overlying roads repaired. Some people said that they have either witnessed themselves or heard from other that the legs of a small child were torn apart. A breast-fed baby was reportedly thrown to a pond.


It is the general perception that the trucks carrying the materials for road repair were extensively used to transport dead bodies during 48 hours subsequent to the attack, when neither the media nor the ‘opponents’ from outside the ‘action area’ were allowed to infiltrate.

It may be mentioned here that news was published in the Bengali Daily Statesman on March 19 that a truck loaded with bullet-ridden bodies covered with tarpaulin was taken to the Haldia State General Hospital at Durgachak past midnight. The hospital superintendent was asked to keep the bodies of the victims of a so called road traffic accident in the hospital morgue ‘temporarily’. The superintendent refused to oblige and was threatened with dire consequences. By refusing to oblige he drew the wrath of almighty Sri Laxman Seth, the M.P. of Haldia.


Many persons were chased and hacked or smashed to death by sharp or blunt weapons. Their bodies were carried away to abolish evidence as it occurred in Chhoto Angaria of West Midnapur, where bodies of eleven murdered persons could never be traced. The local wanted to show us a portion of a road at Bhangabera which was still thickly smeared with blood and even with soft brain matter. They said that the CPI (M) goons tried to wash away the blood stains throughout the night by lighting halogen lamps with generators but failed. The site has been visited by the CBI officials.


Stories of rape and molestation are widespread. The locals say in the aftermath of the attack, the hard core criminals hired by the CPI (M) took advantage of the situation in a full swing. The male members of the families ran away. The criminals attacked, molested and even gang raped the hapless farmers’ wives and daughters even in the broad daylight. They did not spare the aged also. One lady in her fifteen bears deep cut marks on chest by sharp weapons and other marks of molestation. Villagers tell that a number of teenage girls or young unmarried women have been abducted without trace. The locals believe that were taken to the house of Naba Samanta ( a CPI(M) party member cum muscleman and brother of the local tyrant Sankar Samanta who was burnt to death after the fired on the mob from his house ),gang raped and slaughtered. Villagers insisted us to visit the place to see blood stained female undergarments, sarees,broken bangles etc.still lying there. But we could not go, partly due to the shortage of time and partly due to the fear. We saw a young girl (14 to 16 years) is moving all along the team with a small packet in her hand. On enquiry, it was known that many young girls are afraid of staying back home alone lest they are attacked and tortured by police or cadres of CPI(M).They were loitering in public places in the village. At night, many women are hiding in the bushes and not staying at the thatched houses which can be attacked any time. Men are also sitting or lying sleeplessly on the paddy field for last 3-4days (since the attack).The apprehension of quick and organized removal of dead bodies is overwhelming. At Sonachur, an eyewitness lady told that after the firing a number of persons (including children) were jolting in pain and screaming for help on the bank of the pond of Naba Samanta .They were wanting water. The pond turned red. The assistance could reach them on the face of attack. The attackers killed some by them by stones or by bamboo sticks. After two hours, when the villagers could approach the spot, no one was left out. This is a big puzzle. The villagers believe that the bodies and half dead are carried away.

Who fired on them?

Men in uniform, but some of them with ‘chappals’ on their feet. It was revealed subsequently that the CPI (M) procured some 250-300 sets of police uniform from the local ‘Sunny Tailors’ a month back. The villagers concluded that the uniform clad goons accompanied the police force on that day.

The injury marks:

There were all sorts of injuries e.g.

1. Bullet injuries—most of the injured either died or were transferred to hospitals.
2. Injuries on heads caused by blunt weapons.
3. Injury on the forehead of a woman in her seventies caused by some sharp weapon.
4. Extensive and barbaric lathi-charge marks on the whole bodies of women and men. Even after 4 days the parts were red, hot, swollen and very painful. Some of them may have fractures but x-rays could not be done. Some of them were still unable to move from beds.

About three-fourth of the victims are children and women. Interestingly the preferred part of the woman body for such attack was below the umbilicus and above the knees. A rod was forcefully driven to the private part of a lady.

When some persons attacked a lady, her husband resisted. The attackers threatened to kill their small child. The husband ran away with the small child and the lady was molested.

We met two victims who requested to remain anonymous lest they were not accepted by the society. One of them came to her father’s house and was molested on the black day. Villagers said that there were more victims who were too shy to depose before us.

5. Many patients (including children) complained of eye problems—blurring of vision, eye pain and burning sensation in eyes following exposure to tear gas. A number of elderly patients complained of loss of vision.

Name of the attackers

Police and CPI (M) henchmen like Naba Samanta, Jaidev Paik, Anup Mondal, Badal Mondal etc. allegedly led the attack.

Current situation

Still there is tension in the locality and enough provocation by the CPI (M) men from the other side of the canal (Khejuri side), they bring out armed processions with slogans like ‘Those who want to destabilize industrialization will not be spared’. We saw such a long procession ourselves.
There are spates of bombing across the canal throughout the night. People spend sleepless nights. The assurance of peace appears hollow to them and they believe that CPI (M) is taking a breathing time only to bounce back with more force after a month or two.

There is no faith in police as the criminals are hiding in the police camps at times. The police camps are the source of constant fear to the villagers and they want removal of the camps. They are not even ready to allow any government medical team to enter the villages. A fear psychosis looms large in the whole area.

Since agriculture and other economic activities are at stake, there is crisis of food in many houses. Moreover the villagers can not go freely to the market places as police and CPI (M) musclemen often abduct persons moving alone or in small groups.

What we felt
The loss of life is huge, the physical injuries widespread, the psychological trauma unthinkable. The women and the children are the worst affected. In the days to come, many of them are likely to suffer from various psychiatric disorders.

But the morale is still high. Still they are not ready to part with even an inch of their ancestral land, which they consider like their mother. They declare that even further blood shed will not be able crush their movement.

Many people spontaneously came out and spoke to us. They said repeatedly that since they were almost living in ghettos, they were unaware of the impact of their movement on the outer society. There are needs of medicines, food and clothes. But most badly needed is the healing touch of the civil society.

Another team visited Nandigram on March 24-25. They have examined 240 vicitms, treated them and documented their injuries. They also trained activists in First Aid. Their report will be sent to you soon.

West Bengal killings denounced

West Bengal killings denounced

Eva Cheng
30 March 2007

On March 23, hundreds of thousands of people from all over India converged in Delhi to express their anger at the killing of peasant protesters on March 14 by police and thugs aligned with the West Bengal Left Front (LF) government. Those killed were resisting eviction from their land in Nandigram. Similar killings also happened on January 7. The mass rally was preceded by two days of cultural protests.

1 April 2007
CPI(ML) Liberation
Dipankar Bhattacharya addresses the 'Inquilab rally'.

Organised by the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, the rally fell on the 76th anniversary of the martyring of independence heroes Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru. With the executioner’s rope over his neck, Singh shouted “Inquilab Zindabad” (“Long live the revolution”). The CPI(ML) rally was called “Inquilab rally” in memory of these heroes. Bhagat Singh’s nephew Jagmohan was a speaker at the rally.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) dominates the LF government, which has held power for 30 years in West Bengal. The CPI(ML) was the result of a 1968 split from the CPI(M), after the newly elected LF government crushed a 1967 uprising of the rural poor in Naxalbari, in the state’s north.

More details of the March 14 massacre have come to light. According to a fact-finding report conducted by the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights and Paschim Banga Khet Majdoor Samity (an agricultural labourer organisation), authorised by the Kolkata High Court, at Bhangabera on the outskirt of Nandigram a group of mostly women and children were praying on March 14 when, without warning, police started indiscriminately firing on them. Those who tried to escape were hunted down by CPI(M) thugs disguised as police.

According to the report, “Children were murdered indiscriminately; bodies have been thrown to nearby Chuniburi river. The children of primary schools at least eight in numbers have been killed by the murderers and then all those children were buried in a particular place near Bhangabera area.”

The report revealed that the cops and hooligans then went on to ransack and indiscriminately fire upon the villagers’ huts, killing and injuring more. No less than 100 people were injured. Some victims were too scared to go to the hospital.

“A good number of women have complained that they have been raped, sexually abused and molested by police personnel and the murderers of the political party [the CPI(M)]”, says the report.

The report accused local CPI(M) MP Lakhman Seth of having engaged “professional murderers” to finish up the atrocities initiated by the police.

In an interview published by the Hindustan Times on March 20, CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, who has led a fact-finding team to Nandigram, claimed while a precise death toll isn’t yet established, bodies are being discovered every day. He added: “Many bodies were dumped, many were buried overnight and roads built on them. Our team has come back with horrifying tales and reports.”

Bhattacharya said that many victims had “chopper” wounds. “From when did policemen started carrying choppers? It means that CPI (M) goons must have accompanied the police. They were wearing police uniforms but their slippers gave them away. There were cases of women being gang raped as well. There were many cases where the women were mutilated. It was a cold-blooded, pre-planned carnage.”

The Train Stops At Nandigram

The Train Stops At Nandigram

By Amit Sengupta

After 30 years of being big bully, big brother in Orwellian West Bengal, with ‘Buddha’ being equated with Narendra Modi as ‘the role model of development’ , Nandigram might mark the epitaph of the CPI(M) in ‘India Shining’.

Those days, in the early 1970s, the slogan used to be in a fiery rhythm, almost a melody: Aamar Naam, Tomar Naam, Shobaar Naam: Vietnam… Vietnam…Aamar Bari, Tomar Bari, Shobaar Bari: Naxalbari… Naxalbari… Literally, it means, my name, your name, everyone’s name: Vietnam, Vietnam; my home, your home, everyone’s home: Naxalbari, Naxalbari. So it is not unpredictable or jarring, when the slogan, in 10 per cent growth rate,
‘Manmohanics India of March’, 2007, turns out to be as rhythmic and beautiful, almost Gandhian in its rooted simplicity: Aamar Gram, Tomar Gram, Shobar Gram: Nandigram, Nandigram.

My village, your village, everyone’s village: Nandigram, Nandigram.

Like a flash of memory, and an inverted image of camera obscura, the slogan resurrects vicious cycle of epic tragedies: thousands of farmers in village after village committing suicides, every day, non-stop, in Vidharbha, Sangrur, Ananthapur; and thousands of farmers, dalits, tribals, being forcibly displaced to benefit big business and big projects, in Kashipur, Kalinganagar, Bastar, Punjab, Dadri, the Narmada valley, Tehri Garhwal.

Those days, in the early 1970s, the eclectic post-freedom idealism had failed. The dream of a young democracy after protracted sacrifices by revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru, Batukeshwar Dutt, Khudiram Bose, Jatin Sen, Chandrashekhar Azad, Ashfaqullah Khan, Ramprasad Bismil, among thousands of others, had been subverted and sucked into a black hole of greed, injustice and inequality by the new feudal and economic elite. Those days the story was that the train never stopped at Naxalbari. And why should the train stop in that obscure village silence in West Bengal, near Siliguri and Darjeeling?………

No one would then know that this silence would one day become a spring thunder, heard across the world, become etched as a landmark of history, a rupture within and outside the ‘official Left’. Four decades after this sudden, stunning, spontaneous uprising rocked West Bengal and other flash-points in ‘unfree India’, followed by cold-blooded State repression whereby an entire generation was wiped out by the Congress and CPI(M) establishments, will Nandigram become another Naxalbari?

“Yes,” says Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI-ML (Liberation) . “Nandigram will mark a turning point in history. It will reassert the struggle of village India, the poorest farmers, versus the corporate sharks who are backed by the State. In West Bengal, the CPI(M) has become an agent of the
capitalists. Look at the irony, between ‘Siddharth’ Shankar Ray, who led the elimination brigades after Naxalbari along with the CPI(M), and Buddhadeb
Bhattacharjee, the current icon of capitalism, the similarity is not only of politics, but also of name: both mean ‘Buddha’ but both are a shame on Buddha. If the CPI(M) continues this repressive and brazenly pro-business, anti-farmer politics, it will create space for the Right-wing in Bengal. And we will not allow that to happen.”

So it is significant that March 23 marked the 100th birth anniversary of Bhagat Singh. This year also marks the 150th anniversary of the great anti-British rebellion of 1857, which Marx called the first war of Indian Independence. And since history takes you by surprise, you become blind when it stares you at point-blank range. Because here, in the heart of Delhi, in memory of the martyrs of 1857 and Bhagat Singh, and in protest against the Nandigram massacre and SEZs, almost 2,50,000 people, the poorest of the poor from all parts of rural India, waving tens of thousands of red flags, shouted in one voice: SEZs murdabad, Nandigram lal salaam, Inquilab zindabad.

They came in disciplined, non-violent, totally committed and organised groups led by the CPI-ML (Liberation) : from Giridih in Jharkhand and Arwal in
Jehanabad, to Singur in Bengal, Sonebhadra in UP, Karbi Anglong in Assam, Mansa in Punjab and interiors of South India. They came in waves of red, the people of India, the invisible majority; there were no traffic jams, no violence, not a moment of metropolitan disruption. This was perhaps the biggest
rally in years in the capital and the topical backdrop was the Nandigram massacre.

Next day, not a word was reported in any of the big papers in Delhi. Not one word. As if, this India, this massive protest, does not exist.

But this India exists, in affirmation and hope, in sacrifice and struggle, in dissent and resistance. Because revolutions don’t happen in Lakme fashion shows or in the big bucks of schizophrenic cricket, when the entire media lost it. People learn from history, from mistakes of the past. Revolutions move relentlessly in invisible spirals, of quiet, volcanic, unseen social unrest, in the daily struggles of survival and despair, when the radical turning point is waiting in the next bylane of an unknown village. Like Naxalbari, Nandigram and Kalinganagar. And when it happens, even the ‘official Left’, riding the bourgeois bandwagon, goes berserk, as the CPI(M) cadre and police did in the massacre of Nandigram. To protect the interests of a notorious MNC Salem, which aligned with dictator Suharto, when 2 million communists, dissenters and human rights activists were killed in Indonesia. No wonder Buddha says that capital has no ideology or colour.

Almost the entire country is witness to this revulsion, this brazen sell out of the Left to the Right. “If you want to behave like a capitalist party, declare it openly and go ahead. But don’t kill people,” said Prabhu Mahapatra, professor of history at Delhi University, in the protest in Delhi one day after the massacre. “The genocide is not over. The genocide is going on. Now. And why have the Left allies lost their speech?” asked an anguished Sumit
Chakravarty, editor, Mainstream, joining the protestors. “The CPI(M) cadre and the police have become agents of the corporates. They have unleashed a reign of terror. They want to teach a lesson to all those who are protesting against forcible land acquisition, ” said Medha Patkar, who has repeatedly
fought her way through police barricades into the prohibited zones of Nandigram and Singur. Even as I write this, she is in jail, as the ‘Sangharsh 2007′
campaign of hundreds of people’s movements, take on the UPA government, backed by the Left Front. While seeking a ban on privatisation of water outside Montek Singh’s Planning Commission, she and other activists were smashed by the police, and packed off to jail.

Across the spectrum eminent intellectuals have protested against the CPI(M) policies in Bengal: historians Romilla Thapar, Tanika Sarkar, Sumit Sarkar, novelist Arundhati Roy, journalist Praful Bidwai – and they are not right-wingers, so even the CPI(M)’s propaganda machinery can’t brand them and get away. What is also significant is the eerie silence of the ‘CPI(M)’ intellectuals, including economists Jayati Ghosh, Prabhat Patnaik, Utsa Patnaik, CP Chandrashekhar and CPI(M)’s cultural front, Sahmat, even while an unrepentant Sitaram Yechuri and Brinda Karat blamed the people of
Nandigram for the massacre. It took two weeks for these intellectuals to issue a muted statement.

Not surprising, because the CPI(M) also supported the Tiananmen Square massacre, and branded the fasting pro-democracy students as ‘CIA agents and juvenile delinquents’ . And doesn’t Nandigram remind of the Gujarat genocide: murderous, rapist VHP/Bajrang Dal mobs unleashed, backed by the police and the BJP regime?

A poster said it all in Delhi: Capitalist Party of India (Murderers) – CPI(M). After 30 years of being big bully, big brother in Orwellian West Bengal, with
‘Buddha’ being equated with Narendra Modi as ‘the role model of development’ by Right-wing journos, this poster might mark the epitaph of the CPI(M) in this neo-liberal epoch of ‘India Shining’. Because these days the train stops at Naxalbari. As it will, in Nandigram.

Because, your village, my village, everyone’s village is Nandigram, Nandigram

Source: Countercurrents.org

Development and Displacement in West Bengal: An Excerpt from a Forthcoming Paper

Development and Displacement in West Bengal: An Excerpt from a Forthcoming Paper

By Abhijit Guha, Reader, Dept. of Anthropology, V.U.

General Scenario

The first striking thing one observes in this field is the virtual absence of any empirical and theoretical work on development induced displacement in West Bengal. This of course does not mean that displacement and rehabilitation are non-existent in West Bengal, which in the pre-Independence period, was the leading state in terms of industrialisation, and where, after Independence, large industries and thermal power plants have been built up displacing many families (including tribals) from their agricultural land and homes. West Bengal has also experienced large-scale mining on the western part of the state bordering Jharkhand.

In an article published in 1989, Walter Fernandes and his co-workers, quoting from Government sources, have shown that for the Durgapur Steel Plant
in Bardhaman district of West Bengal 6,633.44 hectares of land was acquired, which displaced 11,300 persons, 3.39 percent of whom were tribals (Fernandes et al. 1989). In the same article, Fernandes quoted another Government source which showed that up to 1983 there were 114 mines (all are coal mines) in West Bengal although he did not give any concrete figure about the total number of displaced persons owing to the acquisition of land for the establishment of mines. Through extrapolation, Fernandes, however, arrived at an estimate of 1,380 displaced persons per mine in India which brings out a figure of 1,57,320 persons in case of West Bengal.

In more recent period, particularly since the adoption of a liberalised economic policy by the Central Government, quite a good number of development projects have been launched by the West Bengal Government and many more will be coming up in near future. The building up of a new township near Kolkata and the establishment of industries in the rural areas of West Bengal including a port centered industrial complex at Haldia in the Purba Medinipur district constitute the recent development package of the Government of West Bengal. For the successful implementation of this development policy large scale acquisition of land has already been taken place in West Bengal, which displaced quite a good number of small and marginal farmers.

No published statistics on displaced (DP) and project affected persons (PAP), let alone their caste/tribe affiliation, are available from any official source of Government of West Bengal. Displacement and rehabilitation have not yet entered into the official agenda of the Government of West Bengal like the routinised recording of bargadars (sharecroppers) and the number of landless labourers who have been given land by the Government.

On the other hand, the West Bengal scenario is yet to figure in any substantial manner in the academic literature with respect to land acquisition,
development induced displacement and rehabilitation. There exist at least four special volumes of important Indian journals devoted exclusively to displacement and rehabilitation, but none of them contain any case study or policy-oriented paper on West Bengal. These journals are Social Action (Vol. 45, No. 3, 1995, July – Sept.), Lokayan Bulletin (Vol. 11, No. 5, 1995), Economic and Political Weekly (Vol. XXXI, No. 24, June 1996) and Eastern Anthropologist (Vol. 53, Nos. 1-2, January-June 2000).

The same is true about recently published monographs viz., Development Displacement and Rehabilitation edited by Walter Fernandes and Enakshi
Ganguly Thukral (1989), The Uprooted (1990) edited by V. Sudarsen and M.A. Kalam and Development Projects and Impoverishment Risks edited by Hari Mohan Mathur and David Marsden (2000).

Very recently, Partha Chatterjee, a renowned political scientist, has undertaken a study on resettlement and rehabilitation in West Bengal. His paper, which is still unpublished was presented in a workshop on “Social Development Research” in West Bengal held during 6-7 July 2000 at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata.

In this significant paper, Chatterjee has pointed out that participatory rehabilitation through NGOs has become a “mantra” which is being repeated by the Governments, funding agencies, experts and activists but “little attention has been given to the specific forms of practice through which appropriate and adequate ‘participation’ can be ensured” (Chatterjee 2000). Chatterjee used three cases of displacement and consequent rehabilitation in West Bengal to assess the role of the political parties’ vis-à-vis Government bureaucracy in providing rehabilitation to PAP in West Bengal. His findings on the political processes that centered around the rehabilitation mechanisms of the recent industrialisation in Haldia (1988-91) and the
establishment of new township in Rajarhat clearly demonstrated the dominance of the local political society over the Government administration. Quite interestingly, in both the cases, the distribution of rehabilitation benefits was based on a ground-level agreement between the representatives of the ruling and the opposition political parties of West Bengal. The net result of this process was the distribution of a better and quicker rehabilitation package to the project affected families than it would have been made by the usual land acquisition procedure carried out by the bureaucratic machinery alone. In West Bengal, it was the political society (represented by the political parties) rather than the civil society (represented by the NGOs), which took the role of a mediator between the state and the PAP. Field based empirical accounts of development caused displacement in West Bengal was published for the first time by the author of this article in journals based on a case study in erstwhile Medinipur district (Guha 2004a). Land Acquisition in West Bengal : Legal Developmental and Policy Dimensions

Land acquisition in West Bengal has a special significance in the context of the pro-peasant land reform policies adopted and implemented by the Left
Front Government in West Bengal since it came to power in 1977. Almost all the studies conducted by the researchers on displacement in other states of India did not take into consideration the dampening effects of land acquisition on small peasants and sharecroppers who are the real beneficiaries of land reforms.

Agricultural land is not only a socio-cultural and economic category for the peasants in a rural setting but the rights of the people over such land
depend on the functioning of a specific set of legal, administrative and policy apparatus with which a particular state power is endowed in a given period of time. The functioning of the legal, administrative and policy apparatus of the state power do not again operate in a cultural vacuum. The differing and sometimes quite opposing perspectives on issues around development form the cultural context within which the state apparatus functions.

According to the Land Acquisition Act, the state can exercise its right of eminent domain wherein it is the ultimate owner of all land, which it can acquire for public purposes after paying full compensation calculated on the basis of market value. Despite several amendments of the Act after Independence, the two basic principles of land acquisition, viz. (i) public purpose and (ii) compensation on market value, remain unchanged. The various criticisms of Land Acquisition Act in India have also centered around these two cardinal principles. One of the major criticisms of the Land Acquisition Act is that the expression “public purpose” is nowhere defined in the Act and in India the courts do not have the power to decide whether the purpose behind a particular acquisition was a public purpose. The court can only direct the Collector to hear the objections of a person whose land hand been acquired, but the Collector may not always listen to the objections raised by the legal owner of the land.

The second criticism of the Land Acquisition is anthropological in nature. It says that the calculation of compensation on the basis of market value not only deprives the landowner, but it also hides the various socio-cultural dimensions of land ownership in an agrarian society. Land does not only
have a market price at the time of acquisition, but it also serves various social, political and psychological functions to its owner. The ownership of
a small piece of land can empower a landless family and increase the status and prestige of that family in the local milieu. A piece of land supports a family for a number of generations, not simply its present members at the time of acquisition. But these important dimensions of land and its ownership in an agricultural society are not considered for calculation of its value while giving compensation to a landloser.

Beside these two criticisms, there are others which grew out of the lengthy discourse and debate carried out by activists, scholars, legal experts and
non-governmental organisations on the various shortcomings of this Act. The criticisms are as follows:

1. The Land Acquisition Act only deals with compensation and not rehabilitation of project affected persons whose lands have been acquired. The
responsibility of the state towards the affected persons ends with the payment of compensation.

2. The Act considers the payment of compensation to individuals who have legal ownership rights over land. This means that under this Act no compensation is payable to landless labourers, forest land users and forest produce collectors, artisans and shifting hill cultivators because they do not have any legal right over land, although these groups of people are also affected when agricultural and forest lands are acquired for development projects. In West Bengal, the state Government had to make an amendment in the LA Act (it was done in the 1960s) in order to provide compensation to sharecroppers (bargadars), who also suffered loss of livelihood because of acquisition of agricultural land.

3. The Land Acquisition Act only recognises individual property rights, but not community rights over land. As a consequence, the usefructory rights of the tribal and non-tribal communities over common land do not find any place in this law. So when village common lands are acquired, no compensation in any form is provided to the village communities who derive various types of benefits (e.g. cattle grazing, fuelwood collection etc.) from these lands. The Land Acquisition Act does not have any scope for this kind of compensation for loss of common pool resources (CPR). Interestingly, in the vast rural areas of India, privately owned agricultural lands are also used as common grazing lands by the villagers in the post-harvest season. The Land Acquisition Act has no provision to compensate the villagers who may not be the owners of a particular piece of agricultural land but enjoyed usefructory rights of cattle grazing on this land after the harvest of the crops (Guha 2004b). It has already been discussed in the preceding section that no systematic and comprehensive study on land acquisition in West Bengal exist till today. There is no baseline empirical survey on the nature and extent of land acquired in West Bengal for various development projects, nor is there any research on the
specific problems of application of the Central and State Acts on land acquisition in West Bengal. Recently, Walter Fernandes and his team have
undertaken a comprehensive macro-level empirical survey (sponsored by the Ministry of Rural Areas and Employment Govt. of India and North-Eastern Social Research Council, a research oriented NGO) on the nature and extent of development induced displacement and rehabilitation in the 16 districts of West Bengal for the period 1951 – 1995. Being one of the research supervisors in the aforesaid research project for the South Bengal districts (Medinipur, Bankura, Purulia and Hughly), it is within the knowledge of the present author that the results of this survey may be published in future (personal communication Walter Fernandes, 2000).

Since Independence, besides the colonial Land Acquisition Act of 1894, there existed another State Act entitled West Bengal Land (Requisition and
Acquisition) Act, 1948. The latter Act is no more applicable in West Bengal since 31 March 1993 by a decision of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly. In fact, when this particular piece of legislation was first enacted in the State Assembly it was stipulated that the Act has to be renewed in the Assembly by a majority decision every five years since this is a very powerful and coercive law. The Government opinion was that the State of West Bengal, which had to receive millions of refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan just after Independence, needed huge amount of land for various developmental purposes. For this reason, the Government was in need of an Act, which was more powerful than the colonial Act in acquiring land from the private owners. By West Bengal Land (Requisition and Acquisition) Act the Government could first requisition a particular piece of land for which the payment of compensation may not be made before the land take-over while in the earlier LA Act of 1894 the Government could not take possession of any land without payment of compensation. In the absence of any district by district published records on the amount of land acquired by West Bengal Government by the two Land Acquisition Acts it is not possible to make any assessment of the policy directions of the state Government in acquiring land by these two Acts which vary in their basic approach towards the payment of compensation to the project affected people. But the long period (1948 – 1993), that is nearly 45 years, during which the West Bengal Government has kept this powerful Act alive is itself an evidence of its frequent application. In terms of political composition, it should be noted that during this long period both Congress and Left ruled Governments, who were in power, continuously renewed the Requisition and Acquisition Act of 1948 in the State assembly.

The debates and discussions that took place in the West Bengal Assembly around West Bengal Land (Requisition and Acquisition) Act 1948 revealed certain interesting points which are enumerated below:

1. Without any exception, the political party in power (Congress or Left) invariably justified the extension of Act-II for quicker acquisition of land for various development works.

2. Both the Congress and the Left Parties criticised the oppressive character of the West Bengal Land (Requisition and Acquisition) Act, 1948 whenever they were in opposition although representatives of the parties in the Legislative Assembly went for vote on the bill twice only. It seems that whether the parties would go for vote depended on factors other than the immediate issue at hand.

3. The delay in the payment of compensation seemed to be the most commonly accepted issue which was raised in the Assembly and no substantial improvement seemed to have taken place with regard to the time taken for the payment of compensation.

4. No member ever raised the point that the Government has a moral responsibility for rehabilitation of the displaced persons due to the acquisition of land. It may be noted in this connection that the Report of the Expert Group on Land Acquisition formed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India, which was published in 1967, categorically mentioned rehabilitation of displaced persons as a “moral responsibility” of the Government.
Since 1967, no member of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, irrespective of political affiliation, was found to have made use of the aforesaid report of the Expert Committee to demand rehabilitation of displaced persons during debate sessions on Act-II. Incidentally, the report is still available in the Library of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly.

5. It is only the Left Members who have suggested that the rates of compensation for the rich and the poor should also be different but they did not make any move towards the differential payment of compensation through amendments in either Act-I or Act-II since they are in power from 1977.

6. The speech delivered by the Land and Land Reforms Minister of the Left Front in the 103rd session of the Assembly on 23 February 1994 revealed the pace at which the land acquisition process was in operation in West Bengal (15,000 pending cases under Act II). One could easily infer from this the kind of harassment caused to the displaced persons in the districts of West Bengal although no member (belonging to Left or Congress party) spoke on this issue in the Assembly. Every political party seemed to have taken the stand that this harassment of the people of West Bengal caused by land acquisition was an inevitable outcome which has to be shouldered by the poor farmers for the sake of development of the state (W.B.
Legislative Assembly Proceedings 1956, 1963, 1967, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1978, 1983, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1994).


Moral Betrayal of a Leftist Dream

Economic and Political Weekly April 7, 2007

Once a political movement becomes
an object of public hatred and
derision, it presages the erosion of
its base and forecasts the eclipse of its
credibility. Sad to say, the Left movement
in West Bengal is hanging under such a
threat. We should not in the least undermine
the serious challenge faced by the
Left Front government there which stands
on the threshold of a new direction of
growth and faces choices of models to be
adopted. But whatever choice it makes has
to be embedded in probity and integrity.
And it is in this respect that the Left has
failed us. Nandigram is an example of one
more betrayal on the top of the already high
pile of disappointments.
The debate over the popular agitation
and the state response in Nandigram has
till now been confined mainly to three
issues: (i) the conflict between the economic
priorities of agricultural production
and industrial growth; (ii) the way the state
should handle it; and (iii) its human rights
dimension. Notwithstanding the importance
of debating these questions, it is
urgent to foreground the more basic
concern – the decline in moral standards
in Left politics over the last two to three
decades which has eaten into the marrows
of the Left movement and dragged it into
the present quagmire.
When in 1977 the West Bengal electorate
voted the Left Front to power with a
thumping majority, they did not bargain
for a communist revolution, but expected
a clean and efficient administration that
would carry out long awaited land reforms
and meet the basic needs of the urban
populace. Endowed with a legacy of
struggle against exploitation and an image
of sacrifice and honesty, the communists
of West Bengal were supposed to set their
government as a role model for other states.
Today, after 30 years of continuous rule, the
Left leaders of the state face the problem
of re-establishing their credibility not only
among their own constituency, but also in
the entire country. The initial euphoria over
the success of land reforms, the panchayati
system and adult literacy programmes, soon
gave way to scepticism when skeletons
started tumbling out of the cupboard.
At the turn of the 21st century, it was
revealed that only15 per cent of the net
arable land had been distributed in the
state. Even among those who received
land, on an average 13 per cent had lost
it by 2001, and the number of landless rural
households increased from 39.6 per cent
in 1987-88 to 49.8 per cent in 2000 (according
to the West Bengal government’s
first Human Development Report). The
Human Development Report of the Planning
Commission brought to light far more
devastating facts – in rural West Bengal
85 per cent of the population did not have
pucca houses; women and children were
more underfed and anaemic than in other
states; 35.66 per cent of its population still
remained below the poverty line – all these
figures reducing the state to the 20th
position in the list of 32 states and union
territories in terms of the human development
index. The government’s tall claim
of improving the lot of dalits and tribal
people was also punctured soon when the
Pratichi Trust, headed by no less a person
than Amartya Sen, came out in 2002 with
shocking revelations about the discrimination
against students of scheduled castes
and tribes in the primary schools of the
state. As for the other Left proclamation of
enhancing the status of the Muslim minority
(which constitutes almost a quarter of
the population of the state), the Sachar
Committee found that its share in state jobs
was only 4.2 per cent. We must add to this
the dismal record of the government’s
failure to prevent closure of factory after
factory, leading to unemployment and
suicide among industrial workers.
One can, of course, endlessly go on
arguing over the causes – whether it was
the centre’s “step-motherly” treatment in
allocating financial resources, whether it
was the Left leadership’s failure to plan a
long-term strategy of follow-up measures
to bring about sustainable development, or
whether it was the built-in structural hurdle
in the capitalist system within which the
Left had to operate. But curiously enough,
despite all these failures, the overwhelming
presence of the Left is all-pervasive
in West Bengal, as evident from its ability
to emerge victorious with the same thumping
majority in every consecutive election
over the last three decades.
Expanding Base,
Shrinking Ideological Roots
Paradoxical as it might sound, it is this
victory at the polls – “the never ending
audacity of elected persons”, as once
described by Walt Whitman – that pulled
the Left down to the depths of abominable
Moral Betrayal of a
Leftist Dream
A sense of public anger in West Bengal over Singur and Nandigram
has not added up yet to a statewide agitation against the Left Front.
The electorate is wise enough to recognise that there is no viable
alternative as yet. But if the CPI(M) continues to be obdurate,
public outrage may take desperate forms. Reactionary forces like
the Trinamool and BJP are waiting in the wings – the first such
ominous signs were evident in Singur and Nandigram.
Economic and Political Weekly April 7, 2007 1241
deceit and criminality that were witnessed
in Singur and Nandigram. At face value,
the Left – primarily the CPI(M) – had
expanded its base in West Bengal. But it
had been at the expense of ideological
principles. The fibre of morality in the Left
muscle has withered, and politics in West
Bengal has been reduced to an arena for
partisan manipulation.
The rot started with the CPI(M)’s using
the administration to spread and consolidate
its party base by selectively distributing
largesse, and forcibly doling out
plots of land to sections of the farmers and
peasantry, who ultimately became their
apparatchiki and retainers. This privileged
segment of the rural population has emerged
as a tyrannical force in the West Bengal
countryside – bullying the villagers into
accepting their party dictates, persecuting
those who refuse to toe their line, extorting
money in the name of collecting party
funds, and assuming the role of the sole
arbiter in any village dispute. In several
cases, the landless followers of the party
were settled on plots without any legal
sanction, as a result of which the beneficiaries
did not have any valid papers of
ownership. Sharecroppers working on the
lands of the CPI(M) farmers, instead of
being registered, were promised fringe
benefits in lieu of their due share of crops.
Today, the disastrous consequences of such
short-sighted and irresponsible measures
are evident in Singur and Nandigram, where
these villagers, without any legal documents
to claim compensation for their plots,
which are about to be taken away for industrial
purposes, are refusing to part with
their land and rebelling against the same
party which had once helped them. Their
limits of patience broken, the long intimidated
villagers – both the deprived and the
erstwhile beneficiaries – have come together
to retaliate against the CPI(M). They
are paying back the party in the same coin
by driving out its cadres, burning their
houses, and bludgeoning those who refuse
to join them. Reports of atrocities suffered
by CPI(M) cadres and of those by its
opponents are being believed or disbelieved
solely on the grounds of political predilection.
But while our hearts go out to the poor
CPI(M) followers who have been killed or
driven out from their villages by their
opponents, we must ruefully admit that the
CPI(M) has to blame itself for meeting this
sticky end. By its intimidating method of
establishing party hegemony in the past,
it created the insurmountable dissensions
that are splitting the rural masses today.
It is the same unscrupulous method of
establishing party hegemony that has
corrupted to the marrow the entire administration
and every institution of West
Bengal today. Subservience to the local
party apparatchiki (which includes regular
payment of a fixed amount, described under
the euphemism of “contribution”) is the
criterion for the appointment of teachers
in schools, obtaining a bed in hospital for
treatment, or gaining access to facilities
that should be available to every citizen
in the normal course. The Left Front government
has thus racked up a record of corruption
and official lies in day-to-day governance,
arrant duplicity and muscle power
in politics, and crass partisanship in the
distribution of benefits – a register which
is only second after the score achieved by
Congress, BJP, Samajwadi Party or other
ruling parties. It is increasingly being felt
in public perception that the Left is no
different from these parties, when it comes
to running the administration.
Loss of Moral Philosophy
While shelving the ultimate goal of building
a socialist society, in its bid for immediate
political gains in the competitive electoral
race, the CPI(M) in West Bengal has
abandoned the moral principles that once
underpinned the philosophy of communism.
Establishment of party paramountcy
through rapid aggressive expansionism has
become the substitute for patient ideological
training of its cadres and followers.
The present malaise can be traced to two
predispositions in the Left movement. In
general, the building of the Communist
organisation has been traditionally based
on the Leninist concept of vanguardism –
the discontented and exploited class supplying
the energy and manpower, and the
intellectual vanguard providing the leadership
for the revolution. In West Bengal,
because of the low ideological level of the
present generation of its leaders and ministers,
its vanguardism took an uncouth
form. They simplified Marxism into a
militarist drill of sorts, riding roughshod
over political opposition and cultural dissent.
It gave them the gratifying sense of
superiority and fanatical self-confidence,
without making them realise that a time
would come when the classes that they led
could become organised and autonomous
enough to resist the dictates of the vanguard
(which has happened in Singur and
Nandigram). The second proclivity is
rooted in the birth of the CPI(M) in 1964.
It was born as a rather belligerent child
with a persecution complex – its leaders
being put behind bars soon after its formation,
its cadres hounded by the state,
and forced to operate in secrecy for a long
time. As a result, after coming to power
in the 1967 and again in the1969 state
assembly elections, the party began to put
all its might in spreading its base and
devising self-protective mechanisms,
which often led to turf-wars with smaller
Left parties (e g, the Communist Party of
India, Forward Bloc, and the Revolutionary
Socialist Party). Further, the Naxalbari
uprising posed not only an ideological
challenge, but drew away from it a large
number of its younger cadres and followers.
Incapable of self-introspection and
self-correction – given their inferior intellectual
calibre – the party leaders resorted
to physical violence to eliminate the
Naxalite threat. The most shameful incident
took place on August 12, 1971 in
Baranagar, near Calcutta, when CPI(M)
cadres joined the police in hunting out and
slaughtering more than 100 young Naxalite
workers and sympathisers.
Although stained by such violent acts of
muscle power and overbearing arrogance,
that past record of the CPI(M) had paled
into insignificance by 1977, in comparison
with the more brutal atrocities that the
people of West Bengal had to suffer under
the Congress during the 1975-76 Emergency.
So, when in the 1977 assembly
elections, the people voted back the CPI(M)
to power, they expected it to be more
chastened and develop into a more responsible
party. Alas, after the initial period of
success and sobriety, the party relapsed
into its old mental groove and mode of
functioning! The germs of intolerance,
insecurity and pugnacity with which it was
contaminated at its birth, turned into a fullblown
Need for an Alternative Left
A few words of caution need to be
added. All this sense of public revulsion
does not add up yet to a statewide agitation
against the Left Front government in West
Bengal. Most of the incidents that have
outraged us are violent examples of local
zealotry – both of the CPI(M) and
Trinamool variety. There is no general
reversal of support against the Left government,
and no wind of a change in favour
of the Congress, Trinamool – and least of
all, the Bharatiya Janata Party – which are
trying to fish in the troubled waters. The
1242 Economic and Political Weekly April 7, 2007
electorate is wise enough to recognise that
in the absence of any viable alternative that
is committed to affirmative action in favour
of the poor, the Left Front still remains the
best bet. But if things are allowed to drift
and the CPI(M) continues to be obdurate
in its overlordship and pigheadedness,
public outrage may explode and take
desperate forms. Right reactionary forces
like the Trinamool and BJP are waiting in
the wings to take over the leadership of
such agitations. The first such ominous
signs were evident in Singur and
Strangely enough, instead of striking an
independent path and giving an alternative
Leftist orientation to the movements in
Singur and Nandigram, the ragbag of
various Naxalite groups in West Bengal
have joined the Trinamool-BJP cabal – in
a bid to extend their political base in the
state. The disgusting sight of Naxalite
leaders cuddling up to Rajnath Singh of
the BJP in the same dais during the recent
anti-CPI(M) agitations, suggests that they
have adopted the same blinkers of political
opportunism that blur ideological vision,
as had happened in the case of the CPI(M).
Both the CPI(M) and the Naxalites have
debauched the dream of the Left.
West Bengal is in need of an opposition
to challenge the hegemony of a partisan
and oppressive CPI(M) governance. But
it cannot be left in the hands of the
Trinamool-BJP combine – which is more
dangerous given its potentialities of creating
total anarchy and communal mayhem
in West Bengal. The Congress Party
in the state is in a shambles. The alternative
therefore has to emerge from within a new
democratic Left, with constituents that are
seriously committed to the ideology of
socialism and courageous enough to restore
the moral integrity and high principles
of the movement. The time has come
for all Leftist intellectuals in West Bengal
to listen to the still small voice within
them, the inner voice of the ethical self,
and address the question that was raised
many years ago by Langston Hughes, the
famous black poet of the US:
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore –
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
…… …..
May be it just sags like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Email: sumbiz@sancharnet.in

Political Economy of Land Grab

Economic and Political Weekly April 7, 2007 1281

A new phase of capitalist expansion led by “global capital”
is driving governments, including those of the left, to dispossess
and displace peasants from agricultural land, even using
force to break up peasant resistance. The article offers an
understanding of this new phase, with a focus on the role and
compulsions of governments. The analysis is in the tradition
of radical political economy, and is based on a revaluation
and expansion of Marx’s conceptualisation of rent and the
primitive accumulation of capital.
The peasants are resisting such virtual
eviction in many places, but the state
governments are using or threatening to
use a colonial Land Acquisition Act, which
allows the government to acquire “for
public purpose”2 any land, on payment of
“compensation”, even though the owner
may not be willing to part with the plot.
The acquired land is then handed over to
the enterprise at a subsidised rate. That is,
global capital has to pay just a fraction of
even the meagre compensation that is given
to the peasants.
This is just the beginning of this new
phase of capitalist expansion. Critics of
this policy argue that the compensation
being offered is not “adequate”; that those
who are not landowners but depend on
agriculture for their livelihood are not
compensated; that agricultural production
will go down as the proposed SEZs or
industrial estates are largely located on
prime agricultural land; that the tax
exemptions offered to enterprises located
in SEZs together with the loss of water
cess and other payments, which the displaced
farmers used to make, cause heavy
revenue losses to the state governments;
that severe ecological damage will occur
where the SEZ is located on what was
originally forest land. The governments of
the states are impervious to such arguments,
whatever the colour of the party
in power in the state. They are also equally
ready to use force to break up farmers’
resistance. This raises the obvious question:
why are the state governments bent
on pursuing a policy that is bound to cost
them a lot of rural votes?
The pithy answer is that they have no
option. Once the path of development
called globalisation has been chosen, such
eviction was always on the cards. Of course,
they hardly had a choice. Without a grassroot
level movement with a different ethics
and morality based on the local3 (as
opposed to the effortless surrender to that,
which is globally mobile) this course of
development was inevitable, no matter
what be the public posture of the party or
coalition in power.
To understand the compulsions of the
Left Front government one must try to
understand the phenomenon of globalisation,
how the meaning of imperialism
has changed in the context of globalisation
and how the role of the state has undergone
a drastic transformation in the age of
globalisation. These questions can be properly
addressed only if one revalues and
expands the concepts of rent4 and primitive
capital accumulation.
It is often said, and quite validly, that
there is a great gulf between the imperialism
of today and that of Lenin’s time.
But this statement often implies that the
significance of the state has diminished
greatly in this new era of globalisation. It
is true that the flexibility of the state,
particularly in economic matters, is being
gradually eroded, especially in the poor
countries, through the process of liberalisation.
But this does not mean that the need
for state power has been exhausted.
One of the characteristics that differentiate
this age of imperialism from its
immediate predecessor (that is the period
extending right up to the 1960s and 1970s
of the last century) is its immense dependence
on state power for rewriting economic
laws and for their harsh implementation.
In the previous period – which used
to be called the period of neo-imperialism
– imperialist capital’s open and observable
reliance on the state was not the order
of the day. While in the present era laws,
regulations, and even principles of jurisprudence
are being grossly altered with
impunity to facilitate imperialist plunder.
In this overt fight the international economic
organisations play a stellar and
crucial role, but it is only through state
power, acting at the behest of global
The question of displacement of
farming communities to acquire
land for industrialisation has
assumed great political significance,
primarily because of the strong resistance
offered by these communities at Singur in
West Bengal and Ghaziabad in UP. Land
acquisition has become a prime objective
of the state governments, as they clamber
over each other to seek the graces of global
capital.1 Following in the true tradition of
the distributors of grace, global capital
doles out the goodies to those who offer
the best tributes in terms of tax exemptions,
subsidised provision of natural resources
like land and water, and the like.
The idea of special economic zones (SEZs)
suits this particular need of governments
and of global capital. The SEZs are territories
demarcated by the state governments
with the concurrence of the central
government. Enterprises located in these
territories are exempted from customs
duties, income and excise taxes. They are
also enticed with other privileges like free
or subsidised water supply, subsidised electricity
supply and, most importantly, with
the promise that the right of the labourers
to associate in trade unions will be suspended.
The areas where the SEZs are
located are usually chosen by some global
enterprise or a fraction of global capital.
The concerned state government then
acquires the land from the farmers against
payment of some meagre compensation.
1282 Economic and Political Weekly April 7, 2007
capital, that the necessary changes can be
Capitalist Rent
The principle endeavour of imperialism
in the current age is to extract rent, taking
advantage of natural or imposed immobility
and non-replicability. The reason can be
found in the history of evolution of capitalism.
Grossly put, since the 1970s, technology
and the organisational structure of
capitalist enterprise have evolved in such
a way that income distribution is becoming
acutely skewed. Technological innovation
is directed towards reducing manpower
requirement. At the same time the need for
technicians with some degree of mechanical
competence in the operation of computeraided
production processes is increasing
disproportionately. This technical labour
force has to be compensated for the investment
in acquisition of such training. Though
they can hardly be differentiated from their
older traditional counterpart in the labour
force, in terms of their mechanical deference
to the orders of the management, they
earn higher wages. For this small segment
of the workforce, as well as for the expanding
segment of managerial staff, salaries
and wages are rising. For the large masses
of the population, who cannot afford to
acquire such skills, unemployment is on
the rise. To maintain the demand-supply
balance, the sectoral division of investment
is adapted to the increasingly unequal
distribution of purchasing power. An increasing
proportion of the workforce is
employed in the production of luxury goods
and services. Demand has to be generated
for such commodities. Esoteric needs have
to be created in the minds of the small
fraction of the workforce that can buy. So
there is an expansion in the workforce
employed in sales and advertisement. But
this is insufficient for compensating for the
sluggishness of demand caused by the
phenomenal decrease in the rate of growth
of the demand for mass consumption goods.
The culture of the market-oriented society
has mutated to the aid of sustaining/seducing
the exponentially expanding desires of
the rich. An elementary aspect of this new
culture is that it breeds a perception of a
fast rate of obsolescence of consumer
durables. This also causes a fast rate of
obsolescence of technology – both of that
employed in producing such commodities,
as well as that embodied in the durables
themselves. The cost of increasing R&D to
support this fundamental systemic
requirement is balanced by the accompanying
reduction in labour required for production.
This further adds to the trend
towards decrease in the demand for mass
consumer goods. Credit financing of consumer
purchases is a commonly used
instrument for boosting sluggish demand
under the circumstances. This leads to the
expansion of the financial sector dedicated
to financing consumer purchases. The small
workforce employed in this segment also
belongs to the developed enclave. Globalisation
expands the scope of earning profit
in another area – speculation. New instruments
of global speculation emerge. Faced
with this current phase of systemic crisis,
global capital is also expanding the scope
of other routes of surplus extortion, which
have always been available within the
system. It is increasingly falling back on
the tried and tested method of investment
for colonisation of resources to extract rent.
This may be a trifle baffling and so calls
for some elaboration. Capital, having
acquired proprietary rights over the
resources that were previously under the
control of the feudal classes used them for
rent earning which supplements its profit
earning.5 Put very succinctly, rent is earned
on the basis of immobility of resources and
of produced goods. It may be extracted
through the establishment of proprietary
rights over immobile resources. Or it may
be extracted by curbing the mobility of
produced goods across the boundary of a
designated market. This latter is what is
usually called monopoly profit. Within
Marxist political economy this is best
treated as a species of rent.6 This is theoretically
reasonable because rent is extracted
on the basis of immobility and
monopoly over the rarity that cannot be
devalued or diluted because of immobility.
The additional price that is extracted by
the monopolist firm originates in just this.
The immobility of a resource may be a
natural characteristic of the resource (as
in the case of land, minerals, etc) or the
immobility may be created by devising
suitable laws and regulations (like in the
case of knowledge, genetically engineered
varieties of plants, etc). Patent laws render
knowledge and technology immobile and
non-replicable. The right to such resources
vests with the capitalist enterprises that
fund research or are able to use bourgeois
legal processes to sanctify the theft of
knowledge which belonged traditionally
to some community. Thefts of rights over
traditional plant varieties and over traditional
herbal medicines are some examples
of the latter process. If some other economic
agent wishes to use such monopolised
science and technology, it has to pay a
subject to royalty. Technology (for example,
genetic engineering) too is used to
generate such monopoly. Seeds are being
so engineered that plants that are born of
such seeds are incapable of reproduction.
Monopoly over immobile resources generates
rent for the owner.
The immobility of resources may be
used in either of two ways to generate rent.
The immobility may be used to depress the
payment to some input purchased by capital,
or the right to the immobile resource
may be appropriated by global capital itself
to extract a rent from the user of this
resource. The immobility of labour is the
most striking example of the former, while
the appropriation of land by global capital
for realty business is a common example
of the latter kind of rent extraction.
Rent generated by the immobility of
labour and appropriated by global capital
raises some thorny theoretical issues and
therefore calls for some elaboration. Since
its inception, trade in services had been
excluded from the purview of the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
The reason that was generally advanced
was that in the case of services, unlike in
the case of goods, production and sale are
simultaneous events. As a result, insistence
on free trade in services would amount to
the insistence that every country should
allow every other country to set up service
providers. This would not require just free
access for foreign capital, but also the
indisputable right of foreign enterprises to
set up shop with their own personnel. It
was argued that this would infringe on the
right of sovereign nations to allow or
disallow foreign nationals the right to enter
the country. However, at the Uruguay round
of negotiations it was decided to include
trade in services within the purview of
GATT under an agreement called GATS
– the General Agreement on Trade in
Services. Subsequently, it was also included
within the scope of the World Trade
Organisation (WTO). Trade in labour
services was however kept out of the scope
of GATS. One of the reasons offered for
this exclusion was the same as that
advanced at the initial stage of formation
of GATT for exclusion of trade in services
in their entirety.
The real reason was that the exclusion
of labour services from the purview of
WTO implies that the unemployed in India,
for example, cannot migrate to the US in
Economic and Political Weekly April 7, 2007 1283
search of jobs, though the provisions of
GATS ensure that an American insurance
company can set up an establishment in
India as a service provider. The company
cannot be barred from employing personnel
from the US either. Because labour is
immobile the wages in high unemployment
areas like India are less than the
wages in say, the US. This is also compounded
by the difference in the socially
conditioned needs of labour. This culturally
determined difference, in turn, is sustained
partially by the immobility of labour. The
wage difference allows global capital to
earn super-normal profit by fragmenting
the production processes controlled by
them, outsourcing parts of the process to
the low wage areas. If we designate any
earning above the normal that originates
in the immobility of resources as rent then
the additional profit that is earned by a
publishing house in an advanced country
by outsourcing editing, proof reading, etc,
to some concern in the low wage areas can
be called rent. Such rent earning is not
restricted to parent concerns located in the
advanced countries alone. Enterprises
owned by global capital and located in
poor countries like ours can also earn rent
from the immobility of labour by putting
out parts of its production process to smaller
enterprises which are exempt from statutory
regulations relating to minimum wages
and other benefits for labour, environmental
standards, etc, which are applicable for
larger concerns to which laws like the
Factories Act apply. This has a significant
implication, which we have mentioned in
passing.7 The “first world” is not geographically
specific any longer. This is one
instance of the impact of globalisation of
capital. There is little point in distinguishing
big capital in terms of origin, even if
this were actually possible. Their objectives
are the same and therefore their
operations would cause the same kind of
Rent extraction by global capital originating
in the immobility of labour has
another important theoretical implication.
Immobility of resources generates rent.
The so-called scientific laws of demand
and supply do not decide the distribution
of the rent originating in the immobility
of a resource. This shows up the claim of
the scientific logic of the marketplace to
be part of the ideological apparatus that
is generated in the course of capitalist
growth and which is essential for persuading
the doubters, of the efficiency of the
system. The business process outsourcing
(BPO) enterprises located in the low wage
regions enjoy a cost advantage on account
of the low labour cost. This generates rent
that is attributable to the immobility of
labour. But this rent does not accrue to the
BPO enterprise. It is appropriated mostly
by the enterprise owned by global capital
that puts out work to the BPO unit. The
distribution of rent is determined by the
distribution of economic power. In the
present age this is entirely the preserve of
global capital.
The question of power, with all its
“unscientific” connotations, is something,
that the discourses of both neoclassical and
traditional Marxist political economy treat
as an aberration in the age of capitalism.
A revaluation of rent in the age of capital
however shows power, which cannot be
reduced to any economic index, as an
inseparable aspect of the capitalist economy.
This is global capital’s “feudal
Primitive Capital Accumulation
In order to facilitate rent earning of global
capital the state must actively ensure both
the proprietary rights of capital over resources
and also the immobility of these
resources. The process of acquisition of
these rights is what constitutes primitive
capital accumulation (PCA). So rent extraction
and PCA are fundamental aspects of
the economy in this era of globalised capital.
A concept, that is central to our analysis
of the international economic organisations
is PCA. Let us elaborate this concept and
its centrality in the current phase of capitalist
development. Since the demise of the
primitive tribal communities,9 society has
been divided into the surplus producing
working classes and the surplus appropriating
classes. In each society, surplus is
appropriated in a specific way. For a particular
mode of appropriation to be viable,
a particular state structure, containing a
specific legal apparatus is necessary. The
modern capitalist state and its legal system
may appear to be non-discriminatory
because, in a formal sense, they are impersonal.
10 But this blase indifference can
be sustained only by a very crude and
fundamental discrimination below the
surface. A process that is both prior and
simultaneous to the working of the “nondiscriminating”
capitalist market constitutes
this discrimination. The capitalist is
able to earn profit through the process of
buying and selling in the market, which
just requires this neutral state apparatus,
only because the working classes have
been dispossessed of all means of production
other than the ability to labour. Without
this the component that is common to all
production processes – labour power –
would not become a purchasable commodity.
This process of dispossession, which
simultaneously creates capitalist property
relations, together with the laws and regulations
for contract and exchange, is called
the process of primitive capital accumulation.
This is, of course, a commonplace
of Marxism, but one whose deep significance
has conveniently been forgotten by
many Marxists, particularly those running
states, which are trying to curry favour with
global capital. How else can one explain
the eagerness, verging on greed, with which
a state government run by Marxists is
displacing farmers to provide land for
setting up industrial ventures, up market
housing complexes, and so on.
The Tatas have reached an agreement
with the Leftist government in West Bengal
to set up a car-manufacturing unit at a place
called Singur. The land earmarked for the
project is very fertile and produces multiple
crops. Conversion of multiple-crop land to
non-agricultural land has violated the state
government’s own announced policy, but
that is a separate issue. The farmers were,
by and large, vehemently opposed to the
government’s plan to acquire their lands
for handing over to the Tatas. A major
opinion, which comes through in the interviews
given by the farmers is that all the
talk of compensation – even if one were
to ignore the failure to keep the promises
made previously by the state government
in similar cases – was quite meaningless
to these peasants. What was the correct
quantum of compensation? They led a life
that quite satisfied their material and
cultural demands. For this they were totally
dependent on their plots of land. It was as
much a part of their culture and life, as it
was a means of livelihood. The peasants
had a holistic culture that directly opposed
the commodity culture of globalisation.
The concept of land as a commodity was
thoroughly alien to their culture. From our
cultural perspective, which refuses any
holistic or ecological position, we can
invent a justification of their stand: loss
of land will deprive the peasants of the
opportunity to work (which is the realisation
of human existence), even if they can
earn sufficient interest income from the
monetary compensation without doing
any work! The state government was definitely
using violence to intimidate the
1284 Economic and Political Weekly April 7, 2007
organisation formed by the peasants to
resist the attempts of the government to
evict them from their land. But also “leftist”
mass organisations had been asked to
“explain” to the peasants that the money
being offered was more than sufficient
compensation. In other words, these
organisations were being deployed to carry
out the task of cultural transformation –
from a holistic culture to the commodity
culture that is consistent with the needs of
global capital. This experience also teaches
another important lesson – the significance
of an overdeterministic or interdependent
approach. It is not just a question of economic
transformation that was involved,
but changes at all levels of social existence
and perception.
The recent spate of state violence against
farmers to force them off their land in order
to hand it over to global capital for real
estate business or for setting up industrial
enterprises11 reminds one vividly of the
passages on primitive capital accumulation
in Marx’s Capital. The passages on
the transformation of arable land into
pastures in Capital read eerily like a description
of the eviction of farmers for the
creation of SEZs.
Marx quotes Bacon on an Act of Henry
VII, promulgated in 1533 and comments
on it:
The device…was profound and admirable,
in making farms and houses of husbandry
of a standard; that is maintained with such
a proportion of land unto them as may
breed a subject to live in convenient plenty,
and no servile condition, and to keep the
plough in the hands of the owners and not
mere hirelings’ what the capitalist system
demanded was on the other hand, a degraded
and almost servile condition of the
mass of people, and the transformation of
them into mercenaries and of their means
of labour into capital [Marx 1954, p 674].
This Act was a sort of act, which we
nowadays call a “Land Reform Act”. This
Act even contained a clause that limited
the number of sheep that could be owned
to 2,000, where it was reported that some
even owned as many as 24,000. If a cottage
was built for an agricultural labourer it had
to have an attached plot of arable land of
at least four acres in size.
the cry of the people and the legislation
directed, for 150 years after Henry VII,
against the expropriation of the small
farmers and peasants, were alike fruitless
(ibid, p 673).
…The rapid rise of the Flemish wool
manufactures and the corresponding rise
in the price of wool in England gave the
direct impulse to these evictions…The new
nobility was the child of its times, for
which money was the power of all powers.
Transformation of arable land into sheepwalks
was, therefore, its cry (ibid, p 672).
In place of wool one has to just substitute
“cars”. True, there is no produce of the soil
that the car manufacturer, Tata, directly
needs. None the less, every materially
productive activity requires land. From
this point of view, it is immaterial whether
agricultural land is transformed into pastures
or is converted into the site of a
factory shed or is traded off as real estate.
Further on Marx quotes Bacon:
Inclosures (sic) at that time (1489) began
to be more frequent, whereby arable land
(which could not be manured (sic) without
people and families) was turned into pasture,
which was easily rid by a few herdsmen;
and tenancies for years, lives and at
will (whereupon most of the yeomanry
lived) were turned into demesnes (ibid,
p 673).
So we see a re-enactment of the same
sequence of events that occurred in Britain
in the 16th and 17th centuries. The attempt
to prevent the expropriation of the peasantry
that was attempted by Henry VII,
could not withstand the onslaught of PCA
in the late 17th and the 18th centuries. By
the time of Elizabeth I, it was officially
recognised that these laws had fallen into
disuse and that pauperism was rampant.
This was implied in the passage of the poor
rates. Of course, the poor laws were to be
used to wring out the maximum hours of
work from those who had been dispossessed
as a result of the enclosure movement
and the general tendency of land
concentration in that period (ibid, p 667).
We even find parallels to the privileges
that are being offered to the capital
invested in the SEZs.
After the restoration of the Stuarts, the
landed proprietors carried, by legal means,
an act of usurpation, affected everywhere
on the continent without any legal formality.
They abolished the feudal tenure on
land, i e, they got rid of all its obligations
to the state, “indemnified” the state by
taxes in the peasantry and the rest of the
mass of the people, vindicated for themselves
the rights of modern private
property…(ibid, p 676).
The owners of the enclosed lands, therefore,
were exempted from the normal
financial obligations to the state, much in
the same way that the enterprises within
the SEZs are exempted today.
There is a widely held view that PCA
occurs prior to the establishment of capitalism.
The seeds of this idea are there in
Marx’s Capital.12 In reality this process is
endlessly entwined with capital’s expansion.
Marx discussed the process of dispossession
in the context of right to land,
but the process of dispossession/occupation,
which is essential to the survival, and
expansion of capital can be treated as a
theoretical concept. For its expansion
capital does not appropriate just land. It
acquires rights over knowledge, culture,
nature and even the games that people
play. In fact the process of acquiring control
over markets can also be seen, theoretically,
as a part of PCA.
Importance of Rent
One is aware that this is a somewhat
different way of looking at PCA than was
proposed by Marx. Never the less, one
feels that expropriation of the right of a
community to any resource and the simultaneous
conversion of that resource to
employable physical capital can be termed
PCA without violence to the essential meaning
of the term. One is also conscious that
the concept of PCA is being deployed here
to understand a process that has not been
analysed through PCA. To us what is
important is that on the basis of exclusive
rights acquired by global capital, it appropriates
rent, which is concealed as profit.
The laws of the state and economic rules
and regulations are changed, even drastically,
whenever necessary to facilitate this
war of occupation. Marx did not discuss
this significance of PCA. But, as we have
discussed, rent earning is perhaps the most
significant aspect of global capital today.
So we find the repetition of history
somewhat as a farce. The grotesque aspect
is that the “leftists” who had once demanded
land reforms that were expected
to give some security of tenure to the actual
cultivators (though understandably there
was never any legal measure adopted to
give land to the tiller) are now championing
the expropriation of peasant rights.
There is a significant difference between
the course of economic history that is
unfolding in India today and the course
narrated by Marx. PCA was supposed to
constitute the prehistory of capital, but we
find that it is also a simultaneous event.
This is not much of a surprise. In these
postmodern times we have long ceased to
believe in purity. The idea of society moving
through fated stages, where each stage is
born through the dialectical supersession
of one stage by another, is no longer
generally accepted as a valid proposition.
Economic and Political Weekly April 7, 2007 1285
What were previously the dominant positions
in society are distorted and appropriated
by the dominant positions in the
succeeding order. The new dominant
position also mutates in the process. There
is no purity in the positions of the dominant
and the subordinate positions within a
society, either. Both mutate in the interest
of systemic stability to generate a modified
kind of hegemony of the dominant. This
has been called “synthetic hegemony”
[Chaudhury, Das and Chakrabarty 2000].
Capital does not, therefore, abrogate precapital.
It distorts and appropriates it. In
the process it too is modified. (This of
course begs the question whether one can,
even theoretically, conceive something
called “pure capitalism”. Quite obviously
our position would be that this is not
possible.) Our discussion of the importance
of rent to global capital is rooted in
such a conception of transition.
Imagining an Alternative
In conclusion we will talk about imagining
an alternative. We have remarked
that the ruling left does not really have an
option. It has to expropriate the rights of
the peasants. There is no point, other than
that it has some rhetorical worth, to blame
this party and that leader. If one goes
through the large number of leaflets published
by the various left-of-left-front
groups criticising the ruling left front, one
can sense their theoretical discomfort. They
criticise the government for lying, for suppressing
truth, for police repression, and
such other violations of what are broadly
liberal bourgeois ethics. It is important to
criticise the violations of bourgeois human
values. The barbarity of the government,
its violation of the constitution must be
highlighted. Such critiques can serve the
rhetorical purpose of showing up the heartlessness
of the system. But if there is no
possible alternative path of development
then in the current age of global capital
what is happening is inevitable. Unfortunately,
the left has also abdicated its responsibility
of imagining an alternative.
And this goes for almost all shades of left.
One proposes that the search for an
alternative should start from this clash
of ethics involved in the process of primitive
capital accumulation – the ethics of
the peasantry versus the ethics of the
market, of global capital; the ethics of the
forest dependent people versus the ethics
of the market which proves with its “costbenefit”
analysis that it is efficient policy
to displace these traditional right holders
and construct dams. In general terms the
alternative must emerge out of the clash
between the ethics of the local and the
ethics of the globalised. We do not think
that the beginnings of an alternative lie in
ensuring global mobility for one who is
locally confined. The entirety of what is
rooted in a local space can never be globally
mobile. If that were possible then this
essentialism would be correct – nature,
culture all have but one essence, which is
expressed in market price. Culture cannot
be globalised. It either dominates or is
dominated. The manifestations of so-called
fusion cultures involve a hierarchy between
the fused cultures. I think even appreciation
of a culture by one who belongs
to another culture involves a relation of
domination or fragmentary appropriation.
Nature, too, cannot be globalised. The local
community had rights over what was part of
the natural balance of the locality. Actually
“right” is a misnomer in this context.
Perhaps one can say that the relation of
nature with the local people was one of
mutual dependence. Wood becomes the
property of one who uproots the tree. This
property owner appropriates rent. Trees
become wood. And the one who initiates
this metamorphosis after death becomes
the rent-appropriating owner.
The project of constructing an alternative
path of development must stop rent
extraction by the global while respecting
local differences. The locally rooted
working people are the bearers of these
differences. Cooperative-based production
must emerge from the initiative of the
labouring people. And some kind of machinery
for direct interaction will have to be
created to prevent rent extraction. The
alternate globalisation that we are talking
about is the globalisation of the relations
between these cooperatives.
The proposal perhaps begs more questions
than it answers. A basic question –
why should the labouring people be the
bearers of local specificity? Consider one
who is employed in a factory. The person
can no longer be identified as a worker if
this factory shuts down. So if the particular
region or locality, the factory, loses its
specific characteristic – that of producing a
particular good – the worker ceases to exist
qua worker. On the other hand, the owner
of the factory is not the bearer of this
regional specificity. The capitalist’s calculations
are based on the generality of market
existence, on the expression of this universal
– the market price. It is with profits
calculated at market prices that the capitalist
is concerned. The capitalist has no
qualms about shutting down a factory to
construct luxury apartments on the land if
this business promises greater profit. One’s
identity as capitalist, what we can after a
fashion call capitalist class position, remains
unscathed but the working class position
ceases to exist if the factory shuts down.
The characteristic of a factory is to
produce manufactures. The bearer of this
characteristic is the labourer engaged in the
factory. The characteristic of agricultural
land is to produce agricultural crops. That is
why when the government takes over agricultural
land for construction of industry
or amusement parks the peasants oppose
such moves. Does it mean that one is
opposed to all change, to the production
of new goods and services, to all relocation
of labour? No. But we do insist on the nee
for working out a participatory change.
Even the development of science and technology
is responsive to the power structure.
So a cooperative relation must grow between
science and technology and an alternative
development. It is now almost a
cliché that education and the pursuit of
knowledge and science must be adapted to
the needs of production. I would not disagree.
But I would be specific: the relation
must be cooperative. In the present situation
this slogan simply amounts to the demand
that education, knowledge and science
must all be subservient to the needs of
global capital.
This proposal for exploring alternatives
is rather inchoate and, therefore, likely to
be confused with various kinds of civil
society movements. A possibility that is
rather unpalatable is to be equated with
radical environmentalists. So let us mark
at least some of our distance from them.
They have a tendency to forget history and
present some position in time as if it was
the original, unsullied, natural situation.
So when one talks of “locality” one must
remember that it is also the result of some
complex historical process through which
some communities had been displaced.
The current natural and demographic structure
has a history, which includes displacement
of adivasis and spoliation of a past
natural balance. The attempt to disown
history or the complex process that has
brought the present into being may work
in favour of some self-seeking interests.
Just as we should not disown history, so
also we cannot reject the present. Modern
development creates refugees of development
by constructing industry or housing
1286 Economic and Political Weekly April 7, 2007
resorts for the rich on agricultural land; by
the loss of fertility caused by modern
farming that cannot be replenished; by the
loss of occupation of the fishermen caused
by the discharge of chemical effluents into
water bodies; by the displacement of forest
dwellers and agriculturists on account of
construction of large dams. The displaced
crowd cities in search of livelihood. They
construct marginal communities in the
“illegal” shanties lining railroads, leaving
behind old settlements, old community
identities. They find odd jobs in the
unorganised sector, remain unemployed or
engage themselves in “anti-social” activities
to eke out a living. They form new
communities. Their desires and demands
change. We cannot turn back the wheels
of this inhuman progress by rejecting the
present. To which past shall we return?
Which historical situation shall we designate
as original? We have to start from the
present – from the current demands of the
labouring communities. This must be the
starting point of the movement to construct
a cooperative human psyche so that one day
the worker in the armaments factory will
also march for peace. The alternative does
not lie in the imposition of some leadership’s
dreams and schemes, ignoring the
present demands of the community of
working people, which are expressed
mainly in their economic struggles. Rather,
one can attempt to limit the scope of market
centrism by joining in the economic struggles
of such communities. If one can mobilise
public pressure to compel the government
to increase its social welfare spending,
for example, the orientation of health
and education towards the demands of
market worthy individuals may be partly
The little that we have been able to
articulate by way of an alternative to the
devastating course of globalisation simply
constitutes a preliminary proposal based
on a theoretical understanding. It has no
pretension to constituting a plan of action,
however sketchy. Indeed such cannot be
the product of an intellectual exercise,
individual or collective.
We will end on a self-critical note. The
proposal is for the construction of a different
economy and society based on an
alternative set of ethics. Ethics is born of
morality, which is constituted in the process
of living, of dreaming, of dreaming
of a different living. But we have based
our proposals on our theoretical analysis.
Analysis is inevitably limited by the categories
it uses, by its structure of logic.
Categories spring traps which analysis
cannot avoid. But an alternative ethics can
be established only by transcending the
categories of the dominant culture, which
cloud our thoughts. Transcendence occurs
through the daily conflicts of our life.
Transcendence is a process, which the
dominant categories cannot capture, analysis
cannot pin down. It occurs in our desires,
which build, and are built, into our dreams.
If it were an analytical process then intellectuals
could competently draw up blueprints
of social change. Certain terms that
we have deployed in this paragraph indicate
our inability to theorise transcendence
in the same way as we theorise materiality.
Terms like “cloud”, dreams’, “desires”,
“cooperative relation”, etc, are terms that
we do not use as economists.
Our proposal for an alternative rests
largely on a binary – general/specific.
Unfortunately, in spite of trying to evade
the issue through various linguistic
juggleries, one is forced to admit, at the
end of the day, that ultimately, a major
lacuna of all analytical exercises dealing
with the nature of society and change is
the inability to transcend binary thought
categories. The particular binary that we
have deployed has its own limitations. We
have said that the labouring people are the
bearers of their local specificity. We have
advanced some arguments in support of
this proposal. But even an exploitative
class with a localised power base is a
bearer of local specificity in some sense.
The landed aristocrats, say the zamindars,
extracted/extract feudal rent on the basis
of feudal landed property rights over a
defined territory. So this lord was/is the
bearer of local values. It follows that we
are not proposing an alternative based on
the dreams and desires of the labouring
people simply because they are the agency
of the local. Faith in the working people
is an autonomous, fundamental characteristic
of our position. Opposing the concrete,
which has a specific character that
cannot be dissolved in any generality or
essence, against a faceless entity that dissolves
into a particular manifestation of an
essence, may lure the analysis into some
snares. We often tend to ignore the existence
of a power structure at the level of
the local community. Our hope is that the
local working people’s cooperatives will
be able to transcend local sectarianism
also. One must, of course, be constantly
alive to the other possibility.
We should be watchful about the limitations
of using the “general/concrete”
binary or the related “global/local” binary.
But we should be conscious that in the age
of globalisation the greater danger lies in
being blinded by the seduction of the global,
which includes, among other devices, the
glorification of universality against the
tyranny of the locality. Globalised production
and consumption are not conditioned
by any societal norms. The market can
only register “demand”, i e, need backed
by purchasing power. It has no way of
taking cognisance of the need to live of
the poor who do not have the wherewithal
to buy what they need to survive. The
harsh individualistic culture that sustains
support for the market, would find
this refusal to judge the need to survive
as intrinsically superior to the desire to
satisfy a whim to be ethically correct. If
the survival of the poor family had been
desired by the society, the family would
have been able to earn sufficient income
by selling the resources at its command in
the market.
Building the alternative will entail,
among other things, recovering humanism,
a concern for others in society, which
has been buried deep under decades of
market hedonism. The alternative does not
consist of just changing the policies of the
government. We will all have to participate
in the construction of a new humanity
and a society. It is but inevitable that global
capital and the state will resist the construction
of the alternative – cooperative
construction, that is. Counter resistance
in self-defence will follow. The details of
the alternative will ultimately be worked
out in the course of this construction
and struggle.
Email: pranabkbasu@gmail.com
[I have benefited greatly from my conversations
with Dipankar Das and Sumit Chowdhury while
this piece was evolving. I am also grateful to
Dipankar for meticulously going through the
initial draft.]
1 By the term “global capital” we are referring
to capital that has crossed a certain threshold,
in terms of size, to acquire the passport to
global mobility. The significance of this
categorical separation will become obvious as
we go along. For the time being it is sufficient
to note that this type of capital is not geocentric
in either source or area of investment. It has
therefore little or no national allegiance.
2 “Public purpose” is a vague term, which can
be suitably interpreted to suit the needs of
global capital. For example the government of
West Bengal has used this Act to acquire land
that will be handed over to the Tatas for
Economic and Political Weekly April 7, 2007 1287
construction of a small car factory. This has
been interpreted as a public purpose because it
is claimed that it will provide employment to
the people of the state. Even if one does not
contest the veracity of this highly improbable
claim, one can still ask how the employment
of workers by a profitable enterprise in order
to enhance its profits can be termed as a deed
with a public or social purpose.
3 We will elaborate this alternative later.
4 Rent is earned on the basis of monopoly of
rights over resources that are not replicable.
Marx discusses this in volume III of capital
[Marx 1959]. Primitive capital accumulation
(PCA) is discussed in volume I of capital [Marx
1954]. There are now three classes of economic
functionaries. There are the landlords who have
dispossessed the traditional right holders of
their rights and established sole proprietary
rights over land. There are the capitalists who
take this land on lease against payment of rent
to the landlord to use the land for profit. And
there are of course the labourers who work on
payment of wages.
Discussing the basis of the ability to extract
rent, Marx says, “…the monopoly of the socalled
landed proprietor of a portion of our
planet, enables him to levy such a tribute”[Marx
1959, p 625]. Marx then goes on to divide rent
into two analytical parts: differential rent (that
is generated by the extra productivity of some
plots, which causes the product to fetch more
revenue than is sufficient to cover normal wage
charge, material cost, other charges and profit
at the normal rate); and absolute rent (that is
generated by diminishing wage and/or rate of
profit on capital invested on such plots). This
latter is rendered possible because such capital
or labour has no alternate field of employment.
Marx cites the case of the small farmers who
cannot hire in large plots of land. Because of
the large numbers of such farmers in comparison
to the number of such plots available, the owners
of such plots were able to depress the profit
on capital of the small farmer and so extract
absolute rent.
To my mind the key factors that allow rent
extraction are barriers to the ability to replicate
– this aspect Marx mentions explicitly [Marx
1959: 633] – and monopoly. The planet earth
is not replicable and so monopoly over fractions
of this earth allow the owners of these titles
to extract a payment, called rent from the
capitalist who would employ this resource. But
if these attributes exist or are created in other
fields then rent could be extracted from these
fields too. The discussion that follows may be
simpler to follow if we introduce another aspect:
the aspect of immobility at this point. Let us
elaborate. Suppose all the landowners in India
get together and decide to charge at least a
minimum rent, irrespective of productivity of
land. The capitalists who are land dependent
have to foot the bill because land being immobile
across market boundaries cannot be obtained
within the geographic area of India without
payment of such absolute rent. If land could
be imported competition among rentiers would
reduce this component of rent ultimately to
zero. Like in the case of what is called quasirent
in neoclassical economics – free entry of
firms into the competitive markets force down
rent to zero in the long run by wiping out what
is a virtual monopoly in the short run. Marx
discusses the converse case [Marx 1959, p 629].
The owners of worst grade small plots were
able to extract absolute ground rent because
of the competition among a large number of
small capitalist farmers for such plots. This
was not out of their pockets but squeezed out
of the labourers, who could be paid low wages
because of the unavailability of alternate
employment. In the long run, however, such
rent could not be paid because the emigration
of labourers led to wage increase.
If these attributes are present in other fields
the right owners can extract rent. We discuss
just one example. The free flow of knowledge
(i e, its mobility) is cut off through the
imposition of suitable patent laws. This renders
knowledge, science and technology nonreplicable.
The owners of patents then have
monopoly of rights in these fields that can be
used to extract rent.
Another direction in which we have expanded
Marx’s idea of rent is that though the functions
of the owner of rights that entitles one to rent
and the function of the capitalist are separated,
in our discussion they vest in the same entity.
Marx treats this as an exceptional case,
rather than as the rule [Marx 1959, p 751].
This is simply caused by the changed
historical circumstance, which also explains
the simultaneity of global capital’s expansion
and PCA.
5 There is some difference between this and the
discussion in Capital. See fn 4.
6 Marx calls this surplus-profit and treats it as
a kind of absolute ground rent [Marx 1959,
p 775].
7 See footnote 1.
8 The term “feudo-capital” has been used to
designate this symbiosis [Chaudhury and
Raychaudhury 2003].
9 Such societies, which are arguably the earliest
form in which humans organised themselves,
have been characterised as classless. Class
division, that is the division into surplus
producers and surplus appropriators, can occur
only when society produces a surplus over and
above its subsistence requirements. In other
words, surplus production is a necessary
condition for the existence of class divisions.
Since science and technology were (are) very
rudimentary in these societies, such societies
did not (or do not) produce any surplus. Hence
class divisions do not exist.
10 The capitalist has the necessary finances to
purchase the inputs (including labour power)
that are required for production. The laws of
private property ensure that the inputs belong to
the capitalist because he/she has purchased it
in the market. So the output produced from
these inputs also belong to the capitalist. The
money earned by selling this final product in
the market constitutes the revenue of the
capitalist. The excess of the revenue over the
cost of purchase of the inputs is the surplus,
which, naturally belongs to the capitalist. So
for appropriating the surplus as profit, all that
seems to be necessary is that the market should
The market is the place where exchange of
goods and services occurs. In an act of exchange
two parties simultaneously give and take two
properties that are of equal worth. For example,
I give ten rupees to the shopkeeper and the
shopkeeper gives me a ball-pen. They are of
equal worth, in the sense that we have both
agreed to this. Otherwise the transaction would
not have taken place. This exchange is possible
because I was recognised as the legitimate
owner of rupees ten, and the shopkeeper was
recognised as the owner of the ball-pen. Also
once, the shopkeeper and I had agreed to the
price, exchange required that we kept the
contract to exchange the ball-pen and the
money. In plain words, it was necessary that
I did not run away with the ball-pen when it
was handed over to me. Thus, for the market
to function only the laws of private property
and contract are necessary. These laws are
impersonal. Anyone who has the money can
own property (the state does not designate by
name who can own property). Any two persons
who own property can contract to exchange
(the state does not bar any property owner
from exchanging the property).
11 Ultimately it will be impossible to prevent land
handed over to capital for industrial ventures
from being transformed into real estates if it
is more profitable. All indications are in that
direction. According to the projections of Merrill
Lynch, the Indian realty sector will grow from
$12 billion in 2005 to $ 90 billion in 2015. The
fact that Merrill Lynch has invested $ 50 m
in Panchsheel Developers, a regional developer,
Morgan Stanley has invested $ 68 m in
Mantri Developers, a medium-sized Bangalorebased
developer, indicates that this is not all
hype. Real estate funds set up abroad for
investment in India alone totals $ 2.7 billion
currently (‘Land Grab and Development Fraud
in India’, Analytical Monthly Review, editorial,
September 2006).
12 “…but the accumulation of capital
presupposes surplus-value; surplus-value
presupposes capitalist production; capitalist
production presupposes the pre-existence of
considerable masses of capital and of labourpower
in the hands of producers of commodities.
The whole movement, therefore,
seems to turn in a vicious circle, out of which
we can only get by supposing a primitive
accumulation (previous accumulation of Adam
Smith) preceding capitalist accumulation; an
accumulation not the result of the capitalist
mode of production, but its starting point”
[Marx 1954, p 667].
AMR (2006): ‘Land Grab and Development Fraud
in India’, Analytical Monthly Review,
September, Kharagpur.
Basu, Pranab Kanti (2001): Asiatic Feudalism,
Capitalism and (non)Transition, PhD dissertation,
Department of Economics, Calcutta
University, Kolkata.
Chaudhury, Ajit Dipankar Das and Anjan
Chakrabarti (2000): Margin of Margin: Profile
of an Unrepentant Postcolonial Collaborator;
Anushtup, Kolkata
Chaudhury, Ajit and Sarthak Raychaudhury (2003):
Feudocapitalism, Other Voice, Kolkata.
Marx (1954): Capital, Vol I, Progress Publishers,
Moscow (reprint 1974).
– (1959): Capital, Vol III, Progress Publishers,
Moscow (reprint 1974).

नंदीग्राम पर नयी फ़िल्म

यह फ़िल्म 14 मार्च की घटनाओं के सूक्ष्म विवरण के साथ आयी है.

देखें : नव उदारवाद का नया चेहरा बजरिये नंदीग्राम

देखें : विकास के नाम पर लोगों के उजड़ने की कहानी

उन्होंने मेरे पिता को टुकडों में काट डाला

देखें : न हन्यते

नंदीग्राम में 100 से ज्यादा लोग मारे गये हैं, 200 अब भी लापता हैं. वहां महिलाओं के साथ सीपीएम के कैडरों ने बलात्कार किया. बच्चों तक को नहीं छोड़ा गया है. सीपीएम की इस क्रूरता और निर्लज्जता का विरोध होना चाहिए. हमें नंदीग्राम, सिंगूर और हर उस जगह के किसानों के आंदोलन का समर्थन करना चाहिए, जो अपनी जमीन बचाने के लिए लड़ाई लड़ रहे हैं. यह दस्तावेज़ी फ़िल्म किसानों के इसी संघर्ष के बारे में है. यह फ़िल्म नंदीग्राम के ताज़ा नरसंहार से पहले बनायी गयी थी.

नंदीग्राम में जनसंहार के बाद के द्श्‍य

यह फिल्‍म पुलिस द्वारा नंदीग्राम में बर्बर तरीके से की गयी हत्‍याओं एवं उनकी भयावहता व बर्बरता के बारे में है. इसके कई दृ़श्‍य विचलित कर देनेवाले हैं.

नंदीग्राम प्रतिरोध्‍

नंदीग्राम में सरकारी आतंक

देखें : माकपा की गुंडागर्दी

नंदीग्राम में सीपीएम सरकार की पुलिस ने जो बर्बर कार्रवाई की, वह अब खुल कर सामने आने लगी है. यह फ़िल्म उसी बर्बरता के बारे में है. इसके कई दृश्य आपको विचलित कर सकते हैं. आप इसे तभी देखें जब आप वीभत्स दृश्य देख सकने की क्षमता रखते हों. हम खुद शर्मिंदा हैं कि हमें ऐसे दृश्य आपको दिखाने पड़ रहे हैं, पर ये आज की हकीकत हैं. इनसे कैसे मुंह मोडा़ जा सकता है?