It is clear that building infrastructure such as was built for the commonwealth games can be termed 'useless' as the direct employment it generates is short term and the fringe benefits for the growth of the cement and steel industries might not be so large as to justify the expenditure. But what of other infrastructure that is being opposed today? From dams to industry? There is no doubt of course that private appropriation of national resources should not be allowed. Vedanta for example should not be allowed a runaway profit on the bauxite that it (would have) mined. But the very concept of retention price which Prof. Patnaik had elaborated on in another article in the EPW can be very easily applied to the capital goods industry that is based directly on the use of primary resources (of course a public sector company would be ideal, but this is a solution in the absence of any forthcoming investment from the government). It might be difficult to apply the administered cost or cost plus methodology to some industries such as the car or chemicals industry for example, where you are now forced to compete with other states (which might not have restrictions). But for natural resource based industry this might be easier to do (and it was being done in the power sector, oil and gas sector etc. till recently), as the resource is concentrated in an area. The glorification of the 'tribal way of life' as well as the legitimization of obscurantism (in considering the Niyamgiri hills sacred) is almost as bad as losing sight of the fact that infrastructure does in fact have a class dimension. Should the left oppose Vedanta as it is one sided infrastructure development or should it be proposing these alternatives here? How does this understanding of 'infrastructure' translate into action on specific issues?
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