In this ongoing parliamentary election, the anti-left opposition has come up with various innovative allegations against the Left. It is evident that the Congress, BJP and their allies are frightened; frightened of the emergence of the Third Front in India's political scenario; frightened of the inevitable necessity of a sane alternative in the Indian Parliamentary arena.
The most important allegation which came up from this section in West Bengal is, “The Left Front Government has closed all industries in WB, and now just bluffing the public by showing a penchant for industrialization.” Very interesting, indeed. It is not unknown to people that a lot of industry was forced into closure in West Bengal after the Partition of Bengal in 1947, this is a historical fact.So many people can easily relate this accusation with past experience and think, “Yes! Lots of industries are closed! Then why is this hullaballoo of the government over industrialization? It is the government which made West Bengal barren of industry, now what is the point in proving that it is industry-friendly? This must be all fake.” They are coming to a conclusion. And this is the beauty of consent manufacturing. Consent manufacturing in West Bengal has become an art for the media barons of the Ananda Bazaar Patrika (ABP), and their friends in various areas. Let us check out the facts about this carefully manufactured consent about “huge industry closure” in West Bengal.
Let us take the case of small and cottage industry as this is the most labor intensive form of industry. Throughout the country, 8,87,000 small and cottage industry have been closed, out of which only 26,800 were in West Bengal, while in Tamilnadu the figure was 1,27,000, in Uttar Pradesh 1,22,000, Punjab 82,731, Maharashtra 54,243, Gujarat 39,159, Karnataka 46,000, Madhya Pradesh 65,000, Andhra Pradesh 38,582. All of the above-mentioned states are known as “industry-friendly”, some are “super-industry-friendly”, but West Bengal is ahead of them all in conserving its labor intensive industry. This data was presented in Parliament by the Union Ministry of Trade & Commerce.
This data is from 2007. After that, from the middle of 2008, greater economic turmoil started as the global recession intensified. This was totally ignored by the Central Government, and as a result, a significant number of industries are estimated to have closed by the end of the year all over the country.
Today the AITC (better known as TMC) is an ally of the Congress in West Bengal and the main mouthpiece of this industry closure campaign in West Bengal. They must remember the tenure of the NDA, when they were one of the allies of the BJP in the NDA. Under NDA rule, hundreds of state owned industrial units were closed in West Bengal and other states like Cycle Corporation, Tyre Corporation, MAMC, Durgapur and Haldia Fertilizers, Bengal Immunity, Bharat Ophthalmic, Smith Stanistreet, Bharat Process, Waybard, NJMC, NTC… the list goes on. NTC was closed in Mumbai and in place of that shopping malls and multiplexes have come up. Kanpur NTC, which was a huge industrial area is totally dead now. In Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, the picture is the same, but the policy never changed. The government at the center never admitted that their faulty economic policy is pushing so many companies to their deathbed.
“National Commission for Enterprise in the Unorganized Sector” has presented a report to the Prime Minister on December 2008. It was clearly mentioned in that report that the neoliberal road in policy is killing the bulk of people in the unorganized sector and the future of small scale industries are being nipped in such a way that they can never grow. According to the report, in 2008, 88 crore people were dependent on the unorganized sector in one way or the other. Though the rate of production has increased from 1993 to 2005 in an uniform manner, the life of these people remained the same, or rather has deteriorated. The commission analyzed the various ways these industrial units have been affected by liberalization and gave a detailed report. Most of the small scale units do not get bank loans. Only 2% of the total loan was available for small scale industry, recently this has decreased to 1.2%. Only 5% of the industrial units which had at least Rs 25 lakh as capital could get loans. The commission expressed its anxiety over the fact that the share of this loan has been continuously reducing from 1990 onwards. The central government's own survey highlights the fact that one of the main reasons for closures is the unavailability of working capital and this crisis of working capital is created because the banks are mostly driven by neo-liberal norms.
So, it is humbly urged that the manufacturers of consent as well as the anti-left parties go through their own central government reports on industry closure once again, before they come up with this innovative allegation. It may tell them a story which they had never thought of!