S. Anand in Tehelka:
Let’s look at the material reasons for Ratan Tata’s love for Narendra Modi. Tata Motors gets a soft loan of Rs 9,570 crore at a negligible interest of 0.1 per cent to shift the Nano project to Gujarat. Repayment is deferred for 20 years. In all, the Modi Government has offered over Rs 30,000 crore in sops to Tata Motors. So Ratan Tata says, “You are stupid if you are not in Gujarat.” Martin Macwan, a human rights campaigner in Gujarat, compares this with the compensation offered to Dalits who have been forced to do manual scavenging. To quit the profession and seek an alternative livelihood, the state offers them a rehabilitation package — a bank loan of Rs 80,000 at 11 percent interest. Stigmatised Dalits, forced into a subhuman occupation for generations, are asked to pay hundred times more interest for a pittance of a loan. With which they sometimes open a tea stall. From which no one would drink tea. India officially has 7,70,338 manual scavengers and the state is the biggest employer.
Of course, all of this is assuming that those who have signed the petition will actually turn their phones off on the 30th of January. What are the odds? I think everyone's going to be happy they did their bit by signing an online petition. They might even send a few SMSes to mark the occasion.
Oh - the Cellular Silence petition here.