A couple of days ago I read in the news that Tata Motors has unveiled a new automobile, Tata Nano, in the New Delhi Auto Expo in
. This ultra cheap new car costs around $2,500 and can ‘comfortably’ seat four persons. Because of its cheap price and small size, Nano is soon expected to invade India ’s already over-crowded streets. Tata Motors declares that this tiny car “brings the comfort and safety of a car within the reach of thousands of families.” The People’s Car, a name given to it because of its expected success among poor families, will be launched in India later in 2008. India
Mr. Ratan N. Tata, Chairman of the Tata Group and Tata Motors, said: “I observed families riding on two-wheelers – the father driving the scooter, his young kid standing in front of him, his wife seated behind him holding a little baby. It led me to wonder whether one could conceive of a safe, affordable, all-weather form of transport for such a family.” Despite Mr. Ratan’s alleged benevolence, Tata Group is faced with some serious ethico-environmental issues which must be addressed if the Group’s claims of compassion and generosity towards poor families in
First, why the same poor people who are the target of Mr. Ratan's compassion and generosity are protesting against this tiny-cheap-new car?
According to The Economic Time, "
West Bengal's main opposition Trinamool Congress on Thursday threatened to stall its [Nano’s] manufacture at Singur plant.” The same source reports that "Leader of the Opposition" in the assembly, Partha Chatterjee, says:
“until farmers get back their land forcibly acquired for the Tata Motors small car plant at Singur, we will not allow the company to manufacture cars there. Mr. Chatterjee also said: “if pressure is put, there will be trouble.” Leader of the Opposition claims that some 347 acres were forcibly acquired by the Left Front government to enable Tata Motors to set up the plant.
In addition to the above serious claims, there was another group of the same poor people who protested in
against Mr. Ratan’s alleged compassion and generosity. According to The Times of India, the protestors’ T-shirt slogan was bold: “The ($2,500) car has Singur people's blood on it.” New Delhi
Second, it is common knowledge that
Third, there is another way to describe the real motivation of Mr. Ratan’s compassion and generosity. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels wrote what I quote here in their Manifesto in the mid-nineteenth century:
“The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilization. The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.”
It seems to me that Mr. Ratan’s real intentions are far from being genuine compassion and generosity for the great people of
Forth, considering the environmental issues that