By Anonna Dutt:
150 years of British rule changed India completely. India had been left in shambles. But, the Indians did not stop, they persevered and worked hard and finally we have an India that is competing in the world market. And yet, all along we have been going on, criticising the Britishers and discussing how wrong it was on their part to acquire colonies and exploit their resources.
But isn’t India being a hypocrite here? Isn’t it contradicting its own words? A wave of what economists now call “Neo—colonisation” has hit India and has hit it really hard. In a bid to fulfil their personal desires, corporates are buying large amounts of land in other countries. What is all the more surprising is that the Indian Government is actually supporting them by giving them subsidies for their “Foreign Ventures”.
Karuturi Global, the largest flower producer in the world, could not get enough land in India to cultivate flowers for its market share. So what did it do? It leased some 1,200 square miles of land in Ethiopia. V G Siddhartha, Head of the Cafe Coffee Day chain, has leased 1.85 million hectares of Amazonian forest land in Guyana, South America to run a furniture business in India.
Mostly, now Indian Industries are moving out to South American and African Countries like Kenya, Senegal, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Madagascar. The basic reason for this kind of acquisition is population explosion, food shortage around the globe, rise in food price and the growing desires of a few corporates. To Indians, who do not have to bear the result of their deeds, Africa is just a low-cost, high-efficiency business place. What do we have to say about the Britishers now?
In 2008, Ethiopia faced an acute food shortage; over six million people were starving and the reason for food shortage – Less rainfall. But somehow, miraculously, it was possible for India to cultivate crops on the Ethiopian land, during the same period. Does it sound somewhat similar to the Bengal Famines?
When faced with the charges of Indian Government supporting the new type of colonisation, this is what Mr. Sharad Pawar, Union Agriculture Minister, had to say “Some companies are interested in buying agricultural land in other countries for sugarcane and then selling it on the international markets. It’s business, nothing more,”
The sad story continues further still, this kind of acquisition is not restricted to farmland only. Ravi Ruia, an Indian Billionaire, owns coal mines in Mozambique, oil refinery in Kenya and a call centre in South Africa. Bharati Airtel, India’s largest cell phone provider, in June gave a price of $9 billion for African Cellular operations of Kuwait’s Zain. Videocon Industries paid $330 million for two coal mines in Mozambique.
These are just some of the examples; there are many more that portray the sad story of Neo-colonisation. This is actually the time when we need to look back to our own past and see what oppressions we faced as a colony. Then we might just come back from our reverie and realize, what we are doing to the less developed countries is wrong and at some point it has to stop. And we have to stop it, so why not take a step towards it?