Italian team with 430 members in India for Tata-Fiat project at Singur.
• One Italian Parliamentarian raises questions.
• Tatas are to lose credibility, not credit this way.
It is not news that FIAT is to join Tata as a partner in the ill-formed Singur project. The 50-50 equity in this joint venture is to take the project ahead, rather would enable the West Bengal Government push it at the huge cost to the local farmers, farmland and other resources and democracy itself. Tatas are very much in the Italian news, gaining much publicity not only as a millionaire purchasing Corus but also as a 'spiritual capitalist'.
A team of 430 persons including the PM, the ministers, officials, businessmen and others are already in India. They reached Kolkata and the Italian PM was felicitated by Calcutta University. The team apparently visited Kolkata announcing that they had arrived for a felicitation and doctorate to be confirmed upon the Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, at the Kolkata University. This is however concealing the main purpose behind the visit.
The Italian newspaper 'LA Rebublica' as a commercial deal announced the news of Tata-FIAT joint venture in 2005. The main features of the deal declared were" strategic alliance to explore opportunities of mutual benefit, sharing of common vehicle platforms between the two companies and even possible joint development of models, which could be badged and sold by both companies in different geographies".
Here in India too, our national dailies reported that FIAT is to be in. (The Times of India published an interview on Jan 18, 2006). Tata is not expected to save the fast sinking car maker FIAT earlier, but it is now to happen after the Tatas could extract cheap iron in Jharkhand and take the risk in Singur. The news again appeared in La Republica as "Auto low-cost FIAT-Tata" expressing some skepticism about the low price, 3 times less expensive than the other automakers. There was news in November and December 2006 in other major Indian dailies too, about 4000 crore investment to be shared by TATA and FIAT.
Tatas were again projected as ‘Number One’ industry and rising star of the stock exchange in 'Panorama' an Italian weekly, having a reassuring effect. On January 22nd, 2006, The Hindu declared this as flashy news. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was a special invitee speaker at the seminar held at Turin, organized by a governmental organization.
THE INFORMATION ABOUT FIAT-TATA DEAL REFERRED TO RANJANGAON FACTORY FIRST BUT IT BECOMES CLEAR THAT THE PROJECT THEY ARE HIGHLIGHTING NOW IS CERTAINLY THE 1 LAKH RUPEES WORTH CHEAP CAR FACTORY, JUST WITHOUT MENTIONING 'SINGUR' (SEE NEWS IN THE AUTOMOBILE BUSINESS REVIEW). Is this project anything other than one to come up in Singur? It cannot be, since there is no plan for a similar project by Tatas at any other venue announced as yet. Is there any?
When the Italian delegation is in India and is to visit Kolkata, is anyone watching? The team must be questioned on what they know of Singur, Tatas and Government's relation with the people. Those concerned of the serious conflict in Singur, the struggle and repression by the West Bengal government, the campaign of falsehood by the State and the Party in power and the wider issues involved, reflected in the people's war for survival, SHOULD WRITE IMMEDIATELY TO THE AUTHORITIES AND MEMBERS OF THE DELEGATION, EXPRESSING SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLE'S STRUGGLE AND WARNING THEM AGAINST ENGAGING THEMSELVES IN A PROJECT WHICH IS BUILT, NOT ONLY VIOLATING THE RIGHTS OF INDIAN CITIZENS BUT ALSO FIAT’S OWN MANDATE ON SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY. (Email contacts given below)
Medha Patkar Simpreet Singh Mukta Srivastava