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Exploitation and Murder in Greater Noida

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

There is a very interesting, and pretty well “balanced” (for a pro-capitalist bourgeois newspaper) piece in the Financial Times about the murder of Lalit Kishore Chaudhary, who was the CEO of Graziano Trasmissioni India.

The piece does a good job of letting some alternate views in by quoting Santosh Roy, who is president of the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (connected to the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation) as well as the company reps.  There is essentially a dispute between how Chaudhary was murdered.  Some say it was deliberate, others think it was from a rival company, others say it was in the heat of the moment by an unknown worker or group of workers, etc.

The important thing to remember, which the article only hints at, is the conditions the workers were under by the management at the Graziano plant.  While others may take the management at their word on their good intentions, history, and a Marxian theoretical outlook (and a history of neo-liberalizing India and the poor conditions in companies that take part in this) should show us to be quite weary of almost anything that comes out the mouth of a capitalist.

The article, among some of the other things, states:

employees were made to work 14-hour shifts for meagre wages and that even during the past three months the “company was not allowing some workers to go home”. “The management didn’t allow unions. If there was a union, [the chief executive] wouldn’t have been killed.”

Not only did management not allow unions, thus radicalizing the employees already under extreme conditions, but Chaudhary had connections (apparently) with the local mob and:

“The problems were deep-rooted there,” says Rajesh Tyagi, convenor of the Graziano Workers Solidarity Forum and a lawyer at the Supreme Court. He wrote a report cataloguing the steps towards confrontation, based on the testimony of two workers. “For workers, there was a long-term battle against the management,” he says.

Not only where there long term and deep rooted problems in the company itself, but for that area, and India in general (due to the neo-liberalizing of the market) there were long term problems rooted in the extreme poverty of the country itself, which was only exacerbated within the last 20 years by policies that have forced, and are forcing, farmers off their lands, and setting up “Special Economic Zones” (or, as some in India call them Special “Exploitation” Zones).

The article, rightly, touches upon this:

The situation was further inflamed by disputes over land. To bring foreign companies to Noida, the government of Uttar Pradesh, one of the poorest states in India, had made agricultural land available for factories. The scheme had stoked local resentment among dispossessed farm labourers. “Steadily, the government is taking farmers’ land and now youths are unemployed,” says Aditya Ghildiyal, president of the Greater Noida Industries Association, and who works at the New Holland tractor plant next door to Graziano. “The money given for the sale of land runs out.”

Comparisons have been drawn, mainly by union leaders, with a more high-profile dispute about plans by Tata Motors to open a car plant in West Bengal – a factory that would have produced the Nano, a flagship of India’s technical advances. Farmers, backed by Trinamool Congress, at the time in opposition, laid siege to the proposed site. Activists staged protests demanding that the government return 400 acres of land to farmers who had not accepted compensation for their relocation. Tata finally gave in and moved the project to the western state of Gujarat.

It is unfortunate that it had to come to murder but there needs to be some culpability upon the company for this situation and the overall trend of “opening up” the Indian economy which, among other things, has caused a huge rise in farmer suicides in regions such as Maharashtra.

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