Tata ta-ta!

You will say ta-ta in India when someone leaves. I don't know this is meant to wish good luck. I don't know how this originated. But suddenly, it seems to have become an irony, for Bengal.

Tatas finally announced they are leaving West Bengal. One can't blame them - this isn't an ordinary project, where long drawn-out negotiations can be done. They have to produce a car within time and within a set cost. And, though this isn't necessary known in West Bengal, rest of the world treats time as money too.

This, ironically, also comes just before the 'puja', the time when all bengalis all over the world celebrates. This is the celebration of home-coming. Unfortunately, this time, the celebration will be dominated by the thought of this departure, and its implications of Bengal's economic future.

Of course, going by pure economic logic, nothing should happen. Ratan Tata does not have any love for Bengal. He decided to open the factory here for perceived economic benefits. If such benefits are available in future, investments will happen in Bengal and the industry will come.

Of course, the industry-friendly branding thing takes a hit. This morning, an Irish businessman sitting in a Manila hotel asked me about this. Bad news travels fast, indeed! Next time, he is to make an investment, he will refer back to what he saw on TV today. It will take an extra incentive to win him back.

This whole affair centred around one personality. Ms Banerjee was the great hope for industry-friendly bengalis in Kolkata. I hope they have now realized that she is one big mistake! She has shown her true colours - opportunism and directionlessness. I am hoping that she will now get her redundancy package too, along with the other 4000 people who will lose their job.

The government also proved to be ineffective. Theocratic, shall I say, as most communist governments are. They suffered from a failure of imagination, and a failure of will. The leadership was exposed to be unsure and indecisive. Well past their time - it must be observed.

Along with the Chief Minister and Ms. Banerjee, the other person who should lose his job on this fiasco is the state's governor, Mr. Gopal Krishna Gandhi. He unnecessarily meddled in the affair without any proper influence and solved nothing. All he did is to give some currency to a politician well past her sell-by date. He can argue it is a well-intentioned attempt, but if he did not know what he can go for, he does not deserve to be retained as Governor.

Tata leaving will only make a temporary dent, and not be permanent. Dashed hopes, broken hearts will take time to heal, but industrialists are much less emotional. In fact, I shall not be surprised if someone is negotiating to take over the industrial wasteland at this very time.

However, if Ms Banerjee does not leave - NOW - it will make a far-reaching damage to Bengal. If we leave an indecisive and unwilling CPIM in charge, that will set the state back decades. Almost everyone knows this - and it is Obama-time for Bengal.


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