Kolkata: The shift from an agricultural economy to an industrial one could cause “some little pain” but “there is no choice anymore.” “There is no way agriculture can provide jobs to the satisfaction of the new generation. They need jobs,” non-resident Indian industrialist Lord Swraj Paul told The Hindu here on Tuesday.
Lord Paul, who is heading a delegation of the United Kingdom branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, earlier visited the site of Tata Motors’ automobile manufacturing project at Singur in Hooghly district. The Indian subsidiary of the Caparo group, of which he is chairman, is also setting up a component unit at Singur.
“In any country industrialisation is the only solution. China has shown it …they have the manpower and we in India can compete with China with our manpower resources,” he said.
On giving priority to industry over agriculture, Lord Paul said that “though there is a tragic part to it what other way do you have [but industrialisation].” “In the West we did not find any other solution.”
A group of supporters of the Trinamool Congress-led Krishijami, Jiban, Jibika Raksha (Protection of Farmland, Lives and Livelihood) Committee demonstrated near Singur at the time of Lord Paul’s visit there.
The Committee is demanding that land alleged to have been forcibly acquired for the project be returned to its owners.
The police, however, prevented them from coming in the way of his convoy. A flag of the Trinamool Congress was hurled towards his car as it passed by. West Bengal Assembly Speaker H.A. Halim accompanied Lord Paul on his visit to Singur.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee later described the visit “as a political programme.”
“It was a small group of about 25 people but such things happen anywhere in the world,” Lord Paul said when asked for his comment on the incident.
“You get the impression that some people are going to be unhappy if you move towards industrialising from an agricultural economy. But we will have to do so if jobs are to be given to the people.”
He said he was aware “that some people have died,” in violence in the State over land acquisition for industry. “Any death is tragic and it is the responsibility of all the political parties not to allow such a thing to happen again.”
On the progress of work at the Singur site, he said, “It is very impressive … and we are delighted. We have welcomed the Tatas in Britain too; they have very strong British links.” By deciding on Singur as site for the Tata Motors car project “the Tatas have put West Bengal on the world map,” he said. “The ‘Nano’ has made an impact across the world.”