Saturday, August 23, 2008

A lesson in property rights

By Manuwant Choudhary

At a time when Mamata Banerjee begins her agitation in West Bengal against Tata's Nano car project where she demands the return of 400 acres of land to farmers, I wish to remember a story I was told by a colleague of mine Prasoon Acharya working for the Ananda Bazaar Patrika.

Prasoon told me how he was like most reporters from West Bengal who when they come to Bihar they are under a heavy influence of left socialist ideologies...and in their writings they often take up causes for the landless and even sympathise with naxal outfits, giving them a moral basis to exist.

One day Prasoon was on his way to Gaya in a bus and while he sits, alongside him standing in the bus corridor he meets two activists of the Ranvir Sena, a dreaded banned outfit fighting against the naxals in Bihar, and Prasoon starts a conversation with them how what they are doing is wrong.

The conversation went on for 30 minutes with neither side seeing each others point of view.

Suddenly, one Ranvir Sena man grabbed Prasoon's bag.

An angry and upset Prasoon stood up from his seat and shouted, "What are you doing?"

There was almost an exchange of blows between them.

When suddenly again the Ranvir Sena man smilingly hands the bag back to Prasoon. "What do you have in this bag? Maybe a pen and some paper, thats all, but see what you did when I grabbed it from you. You almost killed me."

Now do you understand how we feel when someone just grabs our farms?

Prasoon is now back in Calcutta, a senior journalist, and I cannot say for others but I know Prasoon understands how the farmers of Singur feel.


stock market prices said...

very nice! hahahahaha

Barun said...

Now Ratan Tata has offered to leave West Bengal, if Tata Motor is unwanted in Singur. May be the Chief Minister in Calcutta should consider nationalising all the Tata properties, businesses and establishments in the state. May be then, like Prasoon, Tata may learn the same lesson on property right.
If land rights were secured, and land market were free, then Tata Motors could have easily bought the land necessary at market price, and avoided the persistent controversy. For a project that costs Rs 1500, less than Rs 100 crore could have been set aside to purchase the land needed. Or at a fraction of that, the land could have been leased from the farmers for a periodic rent, or loaned from the farmers for a monthly interest, or in liu of share in the company. Or any other creative proposal to involve the farmers and landowners in the industrial venture. Instead of relying on the market, the Tata Motors decided to approach the state government for the least expensive item, land!