Whose Global Investors’ Meet is it anyway?

An extraordinary advertising campaign—comprising hundreds of mediocre advertisements in newspapers and tens of silly spots on television, all obviously paid for with taxpayers’ money—has been unleashed by the BJP government of B.S. Yediyurappa in the run-up to the global investors’ meet (GIM) in Bangalore on June 3 and 4.

The media, while quietly accepting the advertising windfall, has done little to question the grandiose, even quixotic claims, which seem more intended at creating a favourable perception among the public of a regime marred by dissension, scandal, corruption and non-performance, and less about attracting “global investors”.

The government, it appears, has done little to learn from the ongoing protests in various parts of the country or from Karnataka itself, and it seems to tilt with the windmills of experience of similar investors’ meet, like S.M. Krishna‘s, where most of the promised investments never fructified and only served as a PR exercise.

A bunch of peoples’ organizations is organising a token protest against the global investors’ meet in Bangalore on Thursday, 3 June. The venue is the town hall, the time 5 pm. Below is the full text of the joint press statement issued by the organisations to explain their opposition.

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OPPOSE AUCTION OF KARNATAKA

Demand people-friendly and environment-friendly development

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The chief minister of Karnataka has announced that the two-day global investors meet in Bangalore will bring in Rs 3 lakh crore of investment as well as around 300,000 new jobs.

The promise of 3 lakh jobs to be created by the GIM and the prosperity it will bring to Karnataka does not appear to be true. The government is happy peddling false promises of invesment and job creation while ignoring the jobs lost.

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As per government data from the department of industrial policy and promotion, the total foreign direct investment (FDI) approved in Karnataka between 2000-2010 is around Rs 30,000 crore and the actual amount invested less than that.

So how will Rs 3 lakh crores be realised in two days, if the last 10 years brought in only Rs 30,000 crore? And if Further , the 3 lakh crores were supposed to bring in 3 lakh jobs. Now if the actual amount will be much lesser, how many jobs actually get created?

Also, here, each job is being created for an investment of Rs 1 crore (Rs 3 lakh crore = 3 lakh jobs). However, for the same Rs one crore which is invested in the small and medium industries, 20 jobs can be created.

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The government has approved MS Zuari fertilisers and chemicals ltd. to establish a urea plant in Mastihole village, Hukkeri taluk, Belgaum, with an investment of Rs 4,565 crore. It is supposed to create 1,560 jobs. It means an investment of Rs 3 crores for each job!

Similarly, the government has approved a proposal to India Cements limited to establish a 2 MTPA cement plant and 60 MW coal-based thermal power plant at Ganapur, Burugupalli of Chincholi taluk, Gulbarga district, with an investment of Rs 850 crores. The promise of job creation is only 175. It means that Rs 5 crore are invested to create one job.  (Sources: government orders—CI 27 SPI 2010, CI 32 SPI 2010)

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The State government has already acquired 50,000 acres and is in the process of acquiring another 100,000 acres of land. Hence a total of 1,50,000 acres are being acquired.

Even by conservative estimates, farming on 1 acre of land can support at least five people. Hence the 1,50,000 acres of land being acquired will support at least 7,50,000 people. Now once this land is acquired, all these jobs are lost.

Even assuming that the GIM really creates 3 lakh jobs and that all these jobs (including managers, technical experts etc) are distributed amongst those who lost jobs, it still leaves 4.5 lakh people jobless as a result of the land acquisition for the GIM.

In its defence, the government has stated that mostly non-agricultural land has been required. However seeing the gazette notifications for the land acquisition, we see that the government is lying.

For instance, one of the government orders (CI66SPQ2010, Bangalore, dated 17 February 2010) says that 1,542 acres of land has been acquired in Bailahongala, Belgaum. Out of 1,542 acres acquired just 25 acres of land is barren, the remaining 1,517 acres or 99.8% land acquired is agricultural land.

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There is a net loss of employment due to GIM. In addition, we will also lose valuable capital, water and electricity.

The Rs 3 lakh crore investment will not come directly from private firms. A large part of that will be from bank loans. Money in the banks consists of the savings of people of the state or is tax money which is with state owned banks. So in effect it our own money being diverted to them and coming back in the form of FDI.

All these industries will require water and electricity. No new water can be created. So even though there is an existing water crisis, billions of litres will be divested to these new industries.

We also already have an electricity crisis with many rural areas having 16 hour power cuts. Where will we get more power to supply to these industries? It is also a matter of shame that many of these destructive industries are provided massive subsidies of water and electricity, while the farmers in the state are committing suicide.

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Hence, by organizing the GIM the state government has sold Karnataka, piece by piece. People voted for a government to rule the state, and not sell the state and its resources.

The entry of special economic zones will be a major blow to the lands, environment and labour relations of the people of Karnataka. Already Orissa stand as a glaring example for us to understand what is going to happen in the investment friendly states like Karnataka.

Posco and Tatas have been targeted by the activists for their role in police firing and lathi charge on innocent people in Orissa. Over 100 people resisting Posco in Orissa were injured recently and even their medical care is being denied.

Over a dozen people were killed by police firing in Kalinganagar earlier and recently the police killed one more adivasi. We strongly object the entry of such a model of development which sheds human blood instead of human welfare.

If the state of Karnataka is going ahead with the this kind of a development paradigm at the cost of the life and livelihood of the dalits, adivasis and farmers, the global investors’ meet raises a set of questions.

Like, what will be the social, environmental, economic and political costs involved in this entire process? Like, why is this whole process being rushed through without public consultations and political consultations ?

In order to achieve overall inclusive development, we need to look at it from the perspective of increasing the purchasing power of the people of the state. However, these foreign direct investments will actually decrease the purchasing power of the people.

Keeping this in mind, people from across the country need to oppose this form of investor led development. We demand that the state works towards a development approach which is based on strengthening local economic systems.

The GIM however does not do anything to strengthen the local economic system or the people and hence the government should immediately stop this mode of development.

It is the responsibility of all of us, the people of Karnataka to force the government to abandon this destructive mode of development. We appeal to all citizens of Karnataka to join this resistance for a people friendly and environment friendly development policy.

Ultimately, it is matter of our jobs, our money, our natural resources and our lives.

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Peoples’ Solidarity Concern, Social Action Committee, Stree Jagruti, Sichrem, SCM, Radical IT Domestic Workers Union, Alternative Law Forum, Pedestrian Pictures, NAPM, Janasahayog, National Alliance for Peoples Movement, Karnataka Janapara Vedike, Samanatha Mahila vedike , Swabhimani Dalitha Shakthi, PUCL-Karnataka.

Photograph: Chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa inspects preparations for the global investors’ meet at the palace grounds in Bangalore on Wednesday, with minister Murugesh Nirani in tow (Karnataka Photo News)

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