Tag Archive for 'West Bengal'

Mamata Banerjee personifies populist force in Indian politics

Simon Denyer from Kolkata in The Washington Post:

She spent her life fighting communists but is the biggest obstacle to economic liberalization in India today. She is the leader of a small regional party but wields more power than the prime minister.

Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of the state of West Bengal, is a rising force in Indian politics, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton paid a special visit to Kolkata this month to meet her.

The 57-year-old Banerjee — determined, resolutely populist and hardworking, yet eccentric and intolerant of dissent — holds the balance of power in India’s coalition government and has used that political might to huge effect.

Time after time, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s efforts to introduce economic reforms have foundered because of Baner­jee’s opposition. Time magazine recently listed her among the world’s 100 most influential people, and 25 out of 50 CEOs surveyed by a leading Indian newspaper last week said she was the biggest stumbling block to economic growth.

Banerjee is the personification of a fundamental change that is transforming Indian politics: the declining vote share of the country’s two main political parties and the rising influence of regional parties. More:

A letter to Mamata Banerjee: “…Madam, perhaps it might be time for you to resign and go.”

The Indian Express front page

The Telegraph front page

Ruchir Joshi in The Telegraph:

Madam Chief Minister Banerjee,

 I am writing this letter to you on my own computer and sending it out for publication via my own email. I am not, and have never been, a member of any political party, of any communist party anywhere including the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M).

I am a citizen of India, of West Bengal, of Calcutta, and I live in the constituency you formerly represented as an MP — South Calcutta.

I have also never been a supporter of yours or of your party, though I was certainly among the millions who celebrated after the election results last year. All of us were celebrating the end of the long, incompetent, corrupt, oppressive rule by the Left Front, even though I’m certain some millions of us were anxious as to what your tenure in power would bring.

But we had believed in the hope of paribartan. I think we, the sceptical West Bengali millions, were hoping that you would lead a better, cleaner, fairer government than the disgraced, departing Left Front. In the euphoria of the election results it was impossible to imagine that you could do worse than Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government.

I myself made a resolution that I would not write anything critical of you or your administration for at least one year. It was only fair, given the huge mess you were inheriting, a mess that was not only administrative and financial but also, centrally, moral. The Left had so completely dismantled and thrown away all decency and humanity in matters of State that you could trace the roots of all their other failures to this institutionalized immorality; surely you had to be given a fair chance to begin to clean up this overflowing sewer?

Sadly, despite my best efforts, I’m going to fall short of my promise by exactly one month. I am now forced to write to you openly in this column. Madam, in only eleven months you have proved yourself to be a grotesquely disastrous chief minister. More:

The D-Queen and her magic mirror: Mamata’s rule is fast turning into a tyranny

Ruchir Joshi in The Daily Mail:

What the people couldn’t see was that Queen-Didi always carried with her a huge mirror that was invisible to all but herself and her followers.

This mirror was both convex and concave. When she turned it one way, it made the Queen-Didi look like a really large Dude-y, when she turned it the other way it made her followers look like really small green-coloured Doodles.

So, when the D-Queen took over the castle and installed her DDCompany in cabinet, there were only one or two minister-people who weren’t her Doodles.

Soon, D-Queen began to make sweeping changes: she removed all billboards in the heritage areas of the city except the ones advertising her own party; she made grand deals with the Mountain People and promised the earth to the Jungle People; she made tough noises about the Sindustrialists; she promised the police would be given independence from all politicians. Read full story here

The people’s politician and the power of dressing: Sunanda K. Datta-Ray in The Telegraph

Dress code

West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra has switched to dhoti-kurta from the pin-striped suits he wore as Ficci secretary general. But his attire isn’t all that has changed. In Business Standard:

About 100 CEOs from across the country were seated in The Oberoi Grand Ballroom in Kolkata earlier last month. The event was the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry’s executive committee meeting. Amit Mitra, having served as the secretary general of the industry association for 17 long years, would have orchestrated the meeting without a drop of sweat on his brow — giving the discourse a helping hand, calling speakers on stage, directing questions from the audience et al. Today, he was the guest speaker. Those who had worked with him shoulder-to-shoulder had come to hear West Bengal’s new finance minister. Mitra didn’t disappoint. “I was amazed at the number of human skulls unearthed in rural (West) Bengal in recent days,” he said about the Left Front’s 34-year rule.

Had the politician in Mitra got the better of the lobbyist? There were no doubts left when Mitra told the CEOs that his leader, Mamata Banerjee, had ruled that there would be no victory celebration and only Rabindrasangeet would be played in the paras after Trinamool Congress’ landslide victory in the state elections. Of course, the political fervour was peppered with figures of the state’s gargantuan debt. The metamorphosis is best depicted by his attire; the pin-striped suits have given way to crisp, white, cotton dhoti and kurta. Ever since campaigning for the elections started, he hasn’t been seen in anything but dhoti and kurta — not even at premieres of movies, though his party colleagues are clad in Hawaiian shirts. More:

West Bengal now becomes Paschim Banga

West Bengal has been renamed Pashchim Banga.

In IBN Live:

The baptism of West Bengal was extraordinary in its plainness. From a popular standpoint, the growing clamour for a new name for the state had less to do with the old one’s historical redundancy than jockeying for an administrative advantage.

A drafting committee comprising leaders of both West Bengal government and opposition parties, who under normal circumstances would never have seen eye-to-eye on necessary policy implementation, unanimously picked a name that has no significance for the state both historically and logistically.

West Bengal’s historians and intellectuals are outraged at the lack of imagination shown by its leaders in picking a name that should have brought out the flavour of one of the country’s most varied regions and people.

Public opinion was in favour of something intrinsic, such as Bangabhumi, Bangadesh, Banga, Gaur Banga or even Bangla. More:

And in The Telegraph:

 Sharpen your tongue-cleaners, you have nothing to lose but your inability to roll your Os and your identity.

Those who do not speak Bengali but live in West Bengal need to learn how to spell Paschimbanga and say Poschimbongo, if an “all-party” decision today is taken to its logical conclusion.

That means many Calcuttans and countless denizens of Darjeeling, Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri will have to learn the art of strategically placing their Os in the right place every time they mention their home state.

Even those who can speak Bengali will have to figure out who they are: Bengalis, Bongolis or Poschimbongolis? If the word “Bengal” itself will not be allowed to exist, how can a derivative like “Bengali” survive without an existential crisis? More:

After the fall

In the wake of an historic defeat, can India’s communists finally break with the hidebound dogmas of their past? Ramachandra Guha in Caravan:

The recent defeat of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Kerala and especially in West Bengal—where it ruled for 34 uninterrupted years—calls for a detached, dispassionate analysis of the party’s place in the history of modern India.

In what manner, and to what extent, did politicians committed in theory to the construction of a one-party state reconcile themselves in practice to bourgeois democracy? What were the sources of the CPI(M)’s electoral appeal in Kerala and West Bengal? How were its policies constrained or enabled by its ideology of Marxism-Leninism? How should this ideology be rethought or reworked in the light of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the manifest attachment of the people of India to multiparty democracy? How might the CPI(M) restore and reinvent itself after these electoral reversals in Kerala and West Bengal?

In seeking to answer these questions, I shall start with the analysis of a printed text. This is apposite, since Marxists are as much in thrall to the printed word, or Word, as are fundamentalist Muslims or Christians. True, their God had more than one Messenger, and these messengers wrote multiple Holy Books. Withal, like Christianity and Islam, Marxism is a faith whose practice is very heavily determined by its texts. Thus, communists the world over justify their actions on the basis of this or that passage in the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin or Mao.

It was the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre who first drew attention to the parallels between a professedly secular belief system and religious doctrine. In a 1968 book called Marxism and Christianity, MacIntyre observed that “creedal uniformity, as in religion, often seems to be valued by Marxists for its own sake”. He added that this secular creed, like its religious counterpart, endowed its adherents with an emancipatory role denied to individuals who believed in more humdrum ideologies. To quote MacIntrye, “both Marxism and Christianity rescue individual lives from the insignificance of finitude…by showing the individual that he has or can have some role in a world-historical drama.” In this, Marxism and Christianity are akin to one another, and to Islam, whose devoted or dogmatic adherents likewise believe that their life and death find meaning and fulfilment in a pleasure-filled and enemy-free utopia. More:

Also in Caravan: Scenes from the last days of communism in West Bengal

Collapse of India’s Left

The front page of The Telegraph, Calcutta

Ashis Chakrabarti in The Telegraph on Mamata Banerjee’s victory and the collapse of Marxists:

Friday afternoon, Mamata Banerjee’s long march to “liberate” Bengal from the world’s longest democratically elected communist rule ended in a green revolution that was reminiscent of the revolutions — velvet, orange, rose, et al — that once felled the Berlin Wall and one communist regime in eastern Europe after another.

The big difference is this: none of those revolutions, except perhaps the one led by Lech Walesa’s Solidarity in Poland, was the making of a single leader the way the one in Calcutta has been Mamata’s very own.

It was in the making for several years, but the way it gathered momentum in the last few weeks was nothing short of a blitzkrieg that knocked the supposedly mighty edifice of the CPM down without the party leaders having a clue to what was about to hit them.

She began her campaign to end the CPM’s rule with the slogan: “Now’s the time” — that became the call to action in Prague’s Velvet Revolution. It proved illusory in 2001 but it has happened now.

But the slogan will take on a completely different meaning now. From now onwards, her years of street fight will be yesterday’s story. Both for Bengal and for Mamata, the story that unfolds from this morning has to be about her vision and work to create a tomorrow. It is not the ordinary change of government that comes and goes with every election, changing little in people’s lives.

For everything that she plans to do, she may have to undo plenty of things. The historic turnabout of the traditionally Leftist Bengal to her side is clear evidence that she has to reverse many of the supposedly irreversible legacies that have led to Bengal’s economic and social decline. More:

Ladies script sweep show: Sankarshan Thakur in The Telegraph

In The Times of India: Almost one-third of Indians will now be ruled by women. With Mamata Banerjee and J Jayalalithaa storming to power on Friday in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, they join two other women chief ministers, Mayawati and Sheila Dikshit, to administer 368 million, or around 30% of India’s 1.2 billion population.

But the day didn’t belong to just the women. It also belonged to the wise Indian voter who punished the corrupt and the arrogant with ferocious intent. CPM’s impregnable bastion of Bengal, increasingly working more for its cadre than the people, was blown to bits and its 34-year-old hegemony ended, while a corruption-tainted DMK, running Tamil Nadu like a family profit centre, was consigned to the dustbin.

The outcomes in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu dwarfed Tarun Gogoi’s hat-trick in Assam, the Congress’s shock defeat in Puducherry and the Left’s better-than-expected performance in Kerala, where it fell agonisingly short of the finishing line — 0.7% of the votes and four seats were the difference between the two fronts, UDF and LDF. More:

 

The eye of an Indian hurricane

In The New York Times, Jim Yardley profiles Calcutta’s Mamata Banerjee who is all set to topple Bengal’s Marxist regime:

Mamata Banerjee, the leader of the All-India Trinamool Congress. Image: Wiki Commons.

THE door opened, and out came Didi, as everyone knows her. Didi means Big Sister, but Mamata Banerjee is hardly big, at least in size. She is barely five feet, dressed plainly in a simple cotton sari and plastic sandals. Yet, as she stepped out of her tiny house, Didi began barking orders that sent her covey of male aides into a solicitous tizzy. It was time to wage her political insurgency.

“Go! Go! Go!” she shouted as she slid into a small black car and the driver lurched into the tumult of a city of 15 million people. “First, we are going to the hospital!”

It was last Sunday, and like almost every other day during the last two decades, Ms. Banerjee, 56, continued her unswerving pursuit of toppling one of the most entrenched political machines in the world. The Communist-led Left Front government has won seven consecutive elections and dominated the state of West Bengal for more than 30 years even as the state, once an intellectual and economic capital of India, has suffered a gradual decline.

Now, with new elections expected to be called no later than May, the Left Front appears on the verge of being beaten by a woman who, quite against convention and expectation, is emerging as one of the most powerful and unpredictable politicians in India. If Ms. Banerjee wins, she will join a group of regional leaders whose successes are reshaping the Indian political map.

“We have been fighting this battle for a long time, since my student days,” she said as the small black car sped through the streets of Calcutta. “We have been the only and lonely people who have opposed them.” More:

The art of dying

As in life, Jyoti Basu was astoundingly lucky in death. Sandipan Deb in Open:

As in life, so in death. The timing of his death is Jyoti Basu’s parting shot to all his critics, the final proof that, communist or not, he was born under some very powerful stars. In the nine years since he stepped down as CM, the Left Front in West Bengal has steadily crumbled under the weight of his political, economic and social legacy. Buddhadeb’s downfall has been the direct result of his trying to loosen the state from the Gordian knots Basu had tied it up in, so that the people of West Bengal could have a better quality of life. But the knots had been secured over 23 years, and won’t come off that fast, for Jyotibabu had changed the very mentality of a race, turning a progressive people into frogs in the well. Yet, no criticism was ever directed at him as he rested at home. More:

The last journey of Jyoti Basu

Manini Chatterjee in The Telegraph:

There was no hysterical outpouring of raw grief, no unruly outburst of manufactured emotion, no orchestrated display of organisational might.

Today’s moving and fitting tribute to Jyoti Basu — Bengal’s most enduring icon and among the foremost national leaders of post-Independence India — came not from the three-volley rifle salute nor the galaxy of leaders and VVIPs who thronged the bedecked stage in the Assembly before a huge battery of television cameras.

It came, instead, from lakhs and lakhs of ordinary people — men and women from the city and its suburbs, from distant villages and far-flung districts — who stood patiently in serpentine queues and lined every inch of the roads his last journey meandered through, having gathered in silent clusters along the entire route.

Most of them had come on their own, not shepherded by local party bosses as to a Maidan rally; some of them had never voted for the CPM in their lives, and many had ceased to vote Red in recent years. Yet they came, in an unceasing flow from early morning till journey’s end at 4.40 in the evening, to pay a homage that was spontaneous yet sombre, heartfelt but restrained and entirely in keeping with the persona of the man they had come to say goodbye to.

An era had come to an end, they knew, and they had come to make their tryst with history. More:

Jyoti Basu: 1914-2010

Jyoti Basu, who ruled Bengal for a record 23 years but was stopped by his party from becoming Prime Minister, died today minutes before noon after a 17-day battle with pneumonia. He was 95. As he had wished, his body will be donated to the medical school. [Full story here]

Below, from The Telegraph, Calcutta:

Born to charm

Sunanda K. Datta-Ray in The Telegraph:

Manmohan Singh once adapted a famous comment about Britain’s R.A. Butler to say that Jyoti Basu was the best prime minister India had never had. The prime minister may long ago have outgrown that personal view privately expressed before he held a governmental position; but there is no denying that Basu had a panache that never failed to impress. This writer too waxed eulogistic about the former chief minister in an anthology published about 15 years ago. It’s only when West Bengal is compared to other states that doubts about Basu’s long stewardship creep in.

People who worked with him in his early years in politics say he strove to model himself on Bidhan Chandra Roy, his hero. If so, the main resemblance was in his relationship with his party. Basu towered over his comrades as Roy had done over other Congressmen. He also had a broader perspective than other Bengali Marxists. Legend had it that he was on first-name terms with Indira Gandhi, whom he had known as a student in England. Others (P.N. Haksar, Bhupesh Gupta, Mohan Kumaramangalam) had also fallen under Rajani Palme Dutt’s spell and returned to join either politics (Congress or communist), law or the civil service. But surrounded by sycophantic civil servants, Basu was intolerant of independent appraisals. More:

Master of the politics of feasibility

Ashok Mitra, a younger comrade, pays homage to Jyoti Basu.

India is to be without Jyoti Basu. The new reality will not sink easily into most minds. For most of the past half-a-century, the man had filled a crucial spot in the country’s political landscape. It was a movable spot since circumstances were evolving all the time, but the picture would never be complete without this man’s position and point of view. Allies, permanent or temporary, would be there to seek his counsel. Adversaries, too, would be aware of the differences and the weight of his views. The general feeling of a lack of coordinates, which has accompanied the announcement of his passing, is therefore understandable. This vacuum of feelings will, however, be different from person to person. That too owes to the magic of his persona. He had a way of interacting on the individual plane with whomever he met.

And this is perhaps what charisma is about. After Subhas Chandra Bose, Jyoti Basu was the next idol the Bengali masses created and clung to. More

A patriarch remembered

Gopal Krishna Gandhi, till recently the governor of West Bengal:

“See my condition,” he said, “I have to meet you like this, sitting on my bed.” It was the day prior to his 95th birthday. “I can’t hear in one ear, and can’t see in one eye.” “You are not missing much,” I suggested, “there is so much around us one doesn’t want to hear and so much one does not like to see.” He smiled a wan smile, a variant of the dry smile of his that has been the photographer’s despair. I am not sure he had heard me.

When I went to call on him again on December 13, 2009, a day prior to my demitting office, he was weaker. He started the conversation by saying, “I cannot see, I cannot hear…” More

CPM’s Vajpayee? More like CPM’s Advani

And in The Indian Express, Saubhik Chakrabarti:

The biggest scandal in 30-plus years of Left rule in Bengal (of which two-thirds saw Basu as CM) is not poor industrial progress but the fate of the aam aadmi. There are tons of statistics. A few will make the point.

A warning first. Whenever Bengal’s data is assessed it is useful to remember Kolkata (Calcutta during Basu’s days in office) is an outlier, being by Bengal’s standards far richer and more modern than the rest of the state. To understand Bengal, one should look at its other 18 districts.

Consider, for instance, that Bengal’s official Human Development Report estimates that over 78% of Purulia’s population is below the poverty line. This is a shocking statistic for a state ruled for 20-plus years by a progressive moderate CM, whose policy centrepiece was agrarian change. Overall poverty levels in Bengal are better only compared to states like Bihar, UP, MP, Orissa and Jharkhand.

Bengal does poorly in schooling — its dropout rates for primary students are worse than all states save Bihar and some North-eastern states. Assam has more schools per lakh people. Himachal Pradesh has a better teacher-student ratio. More:

The revenge of the proletariat

Why the Marxists are losing Bengal after 40 years. Swapan Dasgupta in Tehelka:

lenin

Illustration: Anand Naorem / Tehelka

Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal’s ubiquitous ‘Didi’ has already acquired the reputation of a lady who, having fought the Reds unwaveringly since her political debut in 1984, is within smelling distance of capturing Writers’ Buildings. On November 15, when she undertook a short padayatra from Nandakuthi to Tarakeshwar in Hoogly district against the CPI(M)’s “reign of terror”, she was accompanied by a sea of adoring and belligerent humanity. There were two popular slogans: the first taunted the Reds, “Aye CPM dekhe jaa, Mamatar khamata” (Come CPI(M), and witness the power of Mamata) but the second was decidedly menacing, “Biman/Buddhadeb-er chamra, khule nebo amra” (We will skin Biman Basu and Buddhadeb).

The CPI(M) has reason to be worried. The electoral downslide of the Left Front in the Lok Sabha election of this year was quite precipitate. For the first time since 1971, the CPI(M)-led combine failed to win a majority of Lok Sabha seats from the state. Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, which had been reduced to just a solitary seat in 2004, stole the thunder by winning 22 seats. Mamata drove home her advantage in the by-elections to 10 Assembly seats held in November. The ruling Left Front won a solitary seat and the CPI(M) tally was zero. More:

Staying in the real India

Samthar, in West Bengal, is one of a growing number of Indian villages that are offering homestays to tourists. Jonathan Allen in The New York Times:

Photo: Grande Illusion / Flickr

Photo: Grande Illusion / Flickr

THE jeep had disappeared around the bend, and all the villagers who had disembarked with me had shuffled off to their homes. Night was falling, the cicada buzz was rising, and I began to get that panicky feeling that the city-coddled might experience upon finding themselves suddenly alone on the roadside in a remote village in the lower Himalayas of West Bengal with no idea where to go.

Before my panic escalated, a young woman wearing a black jacket over a fluorescent-yellow salwar kameez appeared. She said her name was Pushpa, and told me to follow her on what turned out to be an ankle-jarring trek down the steep, stony tracks that make up the byways of Samthar village. We lurched downwards for 10 minutes or more, passing the occasional blue barnlike house, my apprehensions lulled by the slow pendulum sweep of her plait against the back of her jacket.

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West Bengal’s mangroves

Kevin Fitzgerald in The Financial Times:

sunderbans

At 5am in the mangrove jungle of the Sunderbans National Park in West Bengal, the inhabitants, human and animal, have already been up for several hours. Nothing is yet visible through the cool mist.

By 6am the mist is lifting and fishermen are finishing their all-night vigils in small wooden boats. They have spent the night with small oil lamps to attract fish, and with that catch safely stowed in the bottom of their boats, they are fishing in the shallows for crabs.

Soon the sun is revealing sari-clad women, knee-deep in mud, fishing for prawn fry and men venturing deep into the mangrove, searching for honey and wood. It’s a picturesque scene.

More:

[Photo: Loony Libberswick]

Along the banks of a river, the India of old

A river cruise on the Hooghly, past Calcutta, reveals the country at its most rural, without a postcard or T-shirt in sight. From the New York Times:

cruiseHowrah Station in Calcutta was packed with travelers as I arrived to catch the 3:30 p.m. train to Jangipur. Passengers and porters charged in all directions, some carrying their suitcases or cloth bundles in their hands, some with their baggage on their heads. One man with a chair; another with a stepladder. At my feet, someone was charging his cellphone on the station’s electricity supply. Our train drew up, and the man next to me suddenly threw himself head first through an open window. With his feet waggling, he was stuck until a friend pushed him through. Luckily, I had reserved seats, so I was able to enter through the door and then settle in for the five-hour journey through eastern India.

A few weeks earlier, I had booked a river cruise on the Hooghly, a tributary of the Ganges that runs south through West Bengal, past Calcutta and out to the Bay of Bengal. I was one of 14 travelers – 13 Britons and one American – who had signed up with Assam Bengal Navigation with the hope of seeing India at its most rural. (I was there in late June, well before the recent attacks in Mumbai, a horrific event that should sadden anyone who loves India as I do.)

It was monsoon season, which promised drenching rains every afternoon, but none of us seemed to mind, and I had come prepared: a raincoat, an umbrella and waterproof shoes were all in my luggage. Plus, the Hooghly is navigable only when summer rains swell its banks.

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India’s elephants in peril

Sankar Roy at Asia Sentinel:

india-elephantAlthough the world’s concern has risen over the fate of India’s tigers, the descending numbers of India’s elephants have not caused alarm. They are not listed as endangered species. The Federal Ministry of Environment and Forests estimated the population of wild elephants at 26,413 in 2002, the last figure available. Although officials say the population has risen, the World Wildlife Fund believes that India’s elephant population has fallen by 50 percent over the last two decades. Statistical estimation on either tigers or elephants is not sound.

Obviously, as man encroaches, the elephant population faces problems, not least because they love to break into human settlements and poach not only crops but vats of homemade liquor. An Indian elephant needs some 500 square miles to roam, consumes 250 kilograms of leaves and wild fruits and drinks as much as 180 liters of water a day. Indiscriminate felling of trees and development projects cuts their habitat. Although the federal government has written and passed laws, implementation is in the hands of state governments, which often look the other way when poachers strike.

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Man-eaters rule in a land of widows

West Bengal’s villagers are increasingly the prey of tigers driven out of Bangladesh by flooding. Gethin Chamberlain in the Obserever:

In the remote village of Deulbari, everyone knows someone who has been attacked by a tiger. Until now, humans and tigers have coexisted uneasily in this outpost in the Sundarbans area of West Bengal, where 274 tigers were counted in the last census in 2004. This year has been different.

Approached through vivid green paddy fields dotted with pink water lilies, Deulbari is a village of roughly constructed houses, some with corrugated iron roofs, others just straw, bleached by the sun. It sits on the Indian shores of the mangrove forests that straddle the border between India and Bangladesh. After a cyclone last winter led to rising water levels and forced tigers from the Bangladeshi side over the border into India, the number of documented tiger attacks has soared. According to villagers, there have been 15 already this year, six of them fatal. The ranks of the tiger widows are swelling, and the horrifying tales are multiplying.

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Tata forced to relocate ‘people’s car’ plant

From a story headlined “Bullet into Bengal’s soul” in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

Ratan Tata with 'people's car' Nano

Ratan Tata with Nano

Bengal’s symbol of industrial resurgence, the Nano, died a violent death today, the trigger pulled by Mamata Banerjee, Ratan Tata said.

After a meeting with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Tata said: “Two years ago, I said if somebody puts a gun to my head, you would either have to remove the gun or pull the trigger. I would not move my head. I think Ms Banerjee pulled the trigger.” More:

Also in The Telegraph transcript of Ratan Tata‘s media conference:”This is a decision we have taken with a great deal of sadness…” Click here for more

Indians count cost of pyrrhic victory over Tata

Amy Kazmin in Financial Times:

Rising from the lush green paddy fields 40 kilometres from India’s decrepit former colonial capital Calcutta, Tata Motors’ flagship Nano car factory was expected to bring jobs and prosperity to a region little touched so far by the forces of globalisation now transforming other parts of India.

Instead, the high-profile plant in Singur – where Tata planned to produce the world’s cheapest car for India and for export – foundered on resistance of farmers such as 55-year-old Prabhat Shi, who saw little role for himself in the industrial sector, and preferred to cling to time-tested ways of living.

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Previously in AW: Time to say tata & bye bye?