It’s an old story that is being repeated with unfailing regularity. ArcelorMittal is the latest biggie to throw up its hands in despair. A Financial Times report on Sunday said delays over getting land in Jharkhand and Orissa may force the company to move out of the two states where it wanted to pursue $20 billion steel manufacturing projects.
At the heart of the problem is a shameful tug of war. ArcelorMittal has to convince tribals to part with land in return for hospitals, educational institutions and jobs. Instead, an unknown group called the Adivasi Moolvasi Raksha Manch (tribals protection forum) is egging locals not to part with land. Under normal conditions, philanthropy is not the domain of a steel company. It is to ArcelorMittal’s credit that it wants to stay in India despite such problems.
India is not a normal place. After more than 100 years of empirical evidence that industrialization can remove poverty, there is ferocious political opposition to the idea of progress. The question is: why do our political parties and citizens love poverty?