Thursday, April 12, 2007

Special Economic Zones

Want to see what's going to happen here in America, when the men playing God get all their pieces on the board? C.S. Lewis had a name for men like CFR foreign-policy-set members... he called them "men without chests". It is with such men we will have to fight.

Actually, with the land being taken for the Trans-Corridor Highway, it's already begun. And some Texans don't intend to stand idly by and watch their land being taken by Imminent Domain.

This from CFR's website:
Daily Analysis

India’s Growing Pains

Indian activists protest government land seizures

April 4, 2007
Prepared by:
Lee Hudson Teslik

India’s torrid economic expansion over the past five years delighted investors internationally, but the inevitable shakeouts of rapid growth are starting to rub some nerves raw at home. Thousands of Indian farmers battled police (Telegraph) in the country’s West Bengal state in March, protesting government plans to confiscate their land and turn it into a special economic zone (SEZ). After fourteen deaths and chastisement from groups like Amnesty International, the state abandoned its plans for the SEZ. But after reviewing the SEZ policy, India’s Prime Minister announced in late March that new zones will continue to go up across India (Jurnalo).

Special economic zones typically offer tax breaks to encourage multinational corporations to set up shop in a developing country. The companies in turn help the host country by bringing jobs, tax revenues, and direct investment. China has nurtured SEZs with great success since 1980 (People’s Daily), most notably at a massive 126-square-mile economic zone in Shenzhen. Launching SEZs often requires large swaths of land to be set aside—or forcibly confiscated, with reimbursement rates dictated by the government. Although India’s SEZs have used much smaller pieces of land than China’s, India’s population density makes clearing space for businesses a politically incendiary proposition, as is detailed in this paper by the Society for the Study of Peace and Conflict (SSPC), an Indian think tank.

Compared to China, India joined the SEZ game quite recently. The country first implemented SEZs in 2000, but the zones only exploded in popularity after the 2005 SEZ Act (PDF) expanded the program of benefits they offered. Applications for new SEZs spiked, and as of January 2007, the Indian government had approved plans for 237 projects (Economic Times).

At the time of the 2005 bill, India’s commerce minister predicted new development spurred by the act would create five hundred thousand Indian jobs (Frontline) by the end of 2007. Business leaders gave even rosier projections. The chief executive officer of Reliance Industries, an Indian manufacturing conglomerate spearheading two major SEZ projects, said in an interview with India's Rediff news agency that each of Reliance’s twenty-five-thousand-acre projects could create up to five million Indian jobs.

But controversy swirled around the zones from the start. Some analysts doubted the noble-sounding goal of job creation, wondering whether SEZ projects might be little more than a “land grab” (World Bank PSD Blog). Others questioned the business rationale for the projects. Some economists, for instance, said that rather than promoting new business, the zones might simply be granting tax breaks to companies already eager to build in India (Economist).

The most aggressive opposition by far, however, has come from the farmers and other Indians whose land stands to be taken. The Reliance project alone aims to swallow up forty-five villages, according to the SSPC paper cited above. With more than two hundred SEZ projects approved, and over three hundred more applications pending (IPS), March’s riots were a grim reminder that patience could quickly wear thin on one of India’s most ambitious development initiatives.

Society for the Study of Peace and Conflict

Rajat Kumar Kujur
Article No:103

February 7, 2007

Special Economic Zone: The New Conflict Ground in India

More than a decade of opening of India, the Special Economic Zone (SEZ), probably has become the most controversial economic reforms announced in recent time. While some consider it as India’s supersonic engine of growth, others severely criticize it as the latest land grab instrument in the hands of the industrialists. Serious discourses on models of development, displacement and rehabilitation, employment generation, foreign investment, primacy of industry over agriculture are being raised in justification as well as against the whole concept of SEZ. Despite the heated argument as of January 2007, the Union Government has given final approvals to 237 SEZs and in-principle nod to about 165 zones. Besides, 300 more applications are in the process of approval.

.......The threat of massive displacement from agricultural areas has been the main focus of these agitations. Strange but true the opposition to SEZs is taking the shape of a loose alliance of incongruent outfits which include activists like Medha Patkar, former Prime Minister V P Singh, many NGOs and even outfits owing allegiance to Left extremists.

All this is nothing but a gigantic play for power/money. It has nothing whatever to do with the will of the people, or the rights of people. It is in a word, Corporatism on a global scale.

It's not going away.
And it's gonna be nasty.