A Raw Deal For Farmers

There is a famous proverb “Apne Muh Miyan Mitthu,” : it means. “ Self praise is no recommendation”. Nitish Kumar often exemplifies this proverb while shouting slogans about development along with justice. The farmers of most districts in Bihar are being subjected to intense pressure. Farmers and labourers are under the threat of land acquisition and are even more troubled as they hear news about their protests being throttled by the Administration. About one year ago, four people died in a conflict in Forbesganj – Bhajanpur, of whom one was a pregnant lady. Here too the issue was land acquisition. The Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (BIADA) has provided 36.65 acres of land to Auro Sundram International Private Limited. The local people were holding peaceful movements for the construction of roads. But their agitation was savagely throttled. Another incident took place in Bhagwanpur block, Vaishali. The M/S Siddhi Refoils and Industrial Private Limited required 25 acres of land. Out of this, 17 acres was acquired without any dispute. The remaining land is in dispute. The farmers are agitating as they were not provided with proper compensation. The farmers are being intimidated by the representatives of the company and the Administration and false litigation has been started against them.
Work is underway for extending railway tracks and constructing a bridge over the Ganga River to connect Munger with Sahebpur Kamal Block of Begusarai. Here too, to save the land of a former Minister of Bihar, Narayan Yadav, the land of the surrounding seven villages is being acquired against the will of the farmers, although the Railway has got its own land. Last August, the farmers along with their children and pregnant women of Kahalgaon Block, Bhagalpur were beaten brutally. Here the land of 11 villages is to be acquired. The farmers here are against the land acquisition because the lands are fertile, multiple cropping ones and more than 50,000 people are dependent on that lands. How much and to what extent the State Government is in favour of the farmers and the common people can be seen in a case connected to the Buxar – Patna toll road. Originally, this road was to be constructed across Amhara village, but due to pressure from powerful landlords, the route was changed towards Bihta Chowrasta (High road crossing). When it was discovered that en route there is a godown belonging to the Tata’s, then the route was again changed. The route was changed yet again because this time the Cobra Beer Company was in the path of the planned route. Now, because of the route this road will take, the Bihta market and hundreds of houses of that area will be demolished. Obviously, the State Government is more concerned about corporate houses and their interests and is oblivious of the problems of the common people.

The farmers of most districts in Bihar are being subjected to intense pressure. Farmers and  labourers are under the threat of land acquisition and are even more troubled as they hear news about their protests being throttled by the Administration.

In 2007, 96 acres of land was acquired from the farmers of Naubatpur Block, located 36 kilometers from the capital city, Patna. At that time it was said that a sugar industry will be constructed on the acquired land. A few farmers filled up the consent form, but farmers who owned 30 acres of land continued to protest. Intermediaries and officials did not hesitate to affix false signatures, fill the consent forms fraudulently and acquire the land. The farmers sought justice by taking the matter to court. It was said that at that time, A.K. Madan was appointed to construct the sugar mill. But after seeing the determined agitation by the farmers, he changed his decision. After Madan withdrew, on 6 June, 2010, BIADA published an advertisement in a newspaper that in Mouja Kopakala of Naubatpur Block, Patna District, 96.7 acres of land has been acquired. This block is situated on the Patna – Naubatpur – Vikram National Highway No. 78, which is 30 kilometers from Patna. This land too was earmarked for the construction of a sugar factory. BIADA invited proposals for Land Acquisition for constructing the sugar mill. Liquor King Vijay Mallya contacted the BIADA and BIADA agreed to give 42.5 acres land to him. During this entire episode, neither the Land Acquisition officers nor the Administration bothered to discuss the matter with the affected farmers. This land situated in the Kopakala Block of Naubatpur and Dariyapur block was given to Mallya’s United Breweries (UB) Group of Companies in 2011 by BIADA to construct a wine factory. The farmers agitated against this, and their agitation is still continuing. The farmers went to the High Court, but the decision went in favour of the UB Group. Now this case is under trial in the Supreme Court. On 29 August, when an officer of the company along with the District Administration went to take possession the land, they had to face ugly protest from the farmers. While leaving, the Sub Divisional Officer (SDO) of Danapur Sub-Division gave an assurance that he would come back and talk with the farmers. But it didn’t happen. Shambhu Kumar Singh, who describes himself as the representative of the company, filed a case against 25 farmers. The charges were of looting and fighting. The Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) supervised the case and said that the incident was true. However, sources reveal that no looting and fighting took place. It is clear that Sambhu Kumar is trying to intimidate the farmers with the help of the Administration.
The villagers met the Director General of Police (DGP) related to this case. Now the Superintendent of Police (Rural) has been given the responsibility to investigate the case. The wine factory may or may not open, but Sambhu Kumar is surely earning a lot of money. Sahajanand Sharma has lost 16 ‘Katta’ land after the acquisition. Sahajanand was not ready to give his land. But Sambhu took the land with the help of the two sons of Sahajanand, Dharmendra and Devraj. Sambhu gave cheques of Rs. 10 lakhs to both and later kept Rs. 6 lakhs with him. Sambhu opened a ICICI bank account in the name of Sacchidanand Pandey, whose account number is 061605503711. The ATM card and the cheque book of the account are with Sambhu. Shanti Devi, wife of Jhamar Thakur, said that due to the land acquisition, she is losing 9 ‘katta’ of land, but she is refusing to give the land at any cost, saying, “This is the only source of our bread and butter”. Sambhu installed some pillars on her land, which were later uninstalled by the villagers.
Out of the 42.5 acres land which were allocated for the wine factory, the owners of 16-17 acres of land received neither compensation nor was any consent form filled by them. When the farmers were asked why they didn’t complain about this fraud to the local legislator, Rajjan Sharma, a farmer replied in a terse tone that the legislator himself is a broker of that company. Rajjan Sharma also said that Anil Kumar, BJP legislator promised them that he will provide double the rate for the land, you please stand back. Subsequently, when the farmers followed this up with him, he shocked them by replying that that he has nothing to do with it. So the land of the farmers was forcefully acquired and is being given to ‘desi’ as well as foreign companies, resulting in unfair and tragic displacement of farmers.


A Member of India’s Worst Businessmen’s Club


It may be a trifle uncharitable to hit a man when he is down, but Vijay Mallya has served as such a wonderful example of how not to run a business, that one has to set scruples aside. Jim Collins, management guru and author of several best-selling books on corporate success and failure (Built to Last, Good to Great) examines the reasons for why good companies fail in another book (How The Mighty Fall). This book gives five broad reasons why top-performing companies lose their way and collapse to either mediocrity or even bankruptcy.
In Mallya’s case, he has not only managed to qualify on all five counts, but has added several bits of foolishness of his own. Jim Collins will have to add a few chapters when he learns about the Mallya mishaps.Let’s begin with Collins’ five reasons.
Hubris: Mallya’s Kingfisher foray had all the wrong reasons for entry and staying the course to disaster. He entered the business for the glamour it brought to his portfolio (which is why, in any Kingfisher flight, Mallya talks to you directly on the video), rather from any special understanding of competitive advantage.
In India, given high fuel prices and related costs, success in aviation depends on reducing costs all the time. In contrast, Mallya ratcheted up his costs wherever he could – from handing out earphones to all passengers to serving high-cost gourmet meals in business class.
Overreach: Mallya’s prime folly, which again flowed from hubris, was overreach. The overreach happened at several levels. First, he failed to understand the difference between running a business with 25-35 per cent margins (booze) and one with 1-2 per cent margins, or even losses for long periods of time (aviation). He failed to see his managerial limitations in this new business where he didn’t have a clue on how to run it.
As we noted before, in the US, the last 30 years have seen nothing less than 50 airline bankruptcies. In India, we have seen at least 10 failures since aviation was opened up to the private sector in the 1990s. But Mallya does not seem to have noticed any of this.Trying to run an airline like the liquor business was his first mistake.
Despite the odds, the fact is Mallya did create the best airline brand in Kingfisher. Mallya can be excused for running a lavish Kingfisher, but trying to run a cut-rate carrier like Kingfisher was folly dipped in red ink from day one.This double overreach—from profitable liquor to an unprofitable airline and even further into a discounting airline—set the stage up beautifully for Mallya’s ultimate failure.
Denial of risk: It is one thing to blunder into an unprofitable business, quite another to bet the farm on it. But this is precisely what Mallya has done. He has staked almost his entire liquor business to save a sinking airline.He put all his eggs on one flight to disaster – including his shareholdings and personal assets – and failed to focus on what makes an airline succeed. Today, if Mallya is talking to Diageo to sell a stake in United Spirits, it is largely because he has pledged too much of his liquor business and his personal assets to keep Kingfisher afloat. He threw away his good business to rescue the bad.
Grasping for Salvation: Nothing exemplifies a bankrupt rescue effort more than Vijay Mallya’s constant refrain that he is talking to investors on Kingfisher.
This may be factually true, but why would any airline want to buy a stake in a company with Rs 7,000 crore in losses and an equal amount in debt?
Capitulation to irrelevance: Vijay Mallya is clearly going through the motions in talking about saving his airline when it does not have a snowball’s chance in hell of being saved.What he should be doing is abandoning the airline as a mistake, and save his shareholdings in the liquor companies, to the extent possible, from his creditors. So far, Vijay Mallya has gone by the textbook—Jim Collins’ textbook—to show he can fail successfully. There is nothing in the script so far to show he is not a member of India’s Worst Businessmen’s Club.
Source : Firstpost.com


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