I was going to write a post regarding my reminiscences of the past world cups but then I happened to read about the violence at Nandigram. I am quite ashamed to admit that I came across the story only four days post the tragedy, lost as it was in the cacophony surrounding the World Cup. As I read report after report of the event, I am filled with anguish about the needless loss of lives. Now the whole thing has degenerated into political one-upmanship with L K Advani reportedly comparing the incident to the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre. The only silver lining seems to be the progress that the CBI seems to have made in the case. Hopefully a semblance of justice and normality will be restored to the situation.
This also seems to be a big blow to any market reform initiatives in West Bengal, a state which has been under the long shadow of trade unionism for decades under the Jyoti Basu rule. Buddhadeb seemed to be the new hope and the man who many believed would steer the state into a future which it richly deserved. Now the Nandigram debacle will definitely ring loud and long for many state governments who would give a second thought before they promise land to private investors through the controversial SEZs. Already we see the Jharkhand government adopting a more cautious approach. Kamal Nath is right when he says that Nandigram should not be the reason why an investment policy should be debunked. Obviously the fault lies in the execution and not necessarily the policy itself (but that’s another debate).
There are learnings for India here as it rushes forward to meet its golden inevitable future. Unfortunately, the road is long and hard if our growth has to be inclusive, as it must be. I don’t mind, as long as it’s not littered with blood.