News Wrap


In 2006-07, there was an anti-land acquisition moment, against the Left Front government. Abiding a verdict (2010) of the Supreme Court, agricultural lands were returned to their legal owners. The barren land full of broken concretes were not reclaimed, and made favourable for agricultural purposes. Till date, 80% of the land remains unsuitable for agricultural activities. Neither agricultural development, nor industrial development has taken place in Singur. Earlier, Tatas faced by the land agitation, had shifted the Nano car manufacturing plant, out of Singur. Today the returned plots are non-cultivable avid Singur Town does not have enough jobs for agricultural labourers. The land which was returned to farmers in 2016, is far from cultivable. An average farmer, after a long legal battle received back about 60 cottahs of land, which had been converted to concrete or covered with debris. The concrete pillars and cement slabs on the land cover at least seven to eight inches of the topsoil. Removing the debris, will take at least ten more years, for the land to turn cultivable again. It is an expensive procedure, and the farmers cannot foot the costs. As compensation for the "unwilling" farmers, many without legal papers and facing; family disputes, the state government pays a monthly dole of Rs 2,000, and 16 Kgs of rice at Rs 2 per Kilo. Without employment opportunities, Singur farmers have migrated to other towns and cities.

India's jobless rate rose to 7.6% in April 2019 the highest since October 2016, and up from 6.71% in March 2019. Factory activity expanded in April 2019, at its slowest pace in eight months. New business growth was moderated curbed by the elections, and a challenging economic environment. Softer increase in new orders restricted growth of output, employment and business sentiment. On the prices front, input cost inflation eased to a 43-month low. The rate of change in inflation was marginal, and below its long run average. Despite considerable economic growth at 7% per annum, and increasing self confidence as a major global player, India continues to be a disaster zone, in which millions of lives are wrecked by hunger and by pitiable investment in health and education services. Reforms that are boosting economic growth are not enough to improve the giving conditions of the poorest, dismantle caste and gender hierarchies, and generate employment. The 7% GDP growth is the lowest in five years, caused by declining growth of private consumption, tepid increase in fixed investment, and muted exports.

On 26th April, 2019, Ecuador's Waorani Indigenous tribe won their first victory against big oil companies, in a ruling that blocks the companies entry onto ancestral Amazonian lands, for oil exploration activities. A criminal court in Puyo, Central Ecuador, accepted a Waorani bid for court protection in Pastaza province, to stop an oil bidding process, after the government moved to open around 1,80,000 hectares for exploration. The lands are protected under Ecudor's constitution that establishes the "inalienable, uriseizable and indivisible" rights of indigenous people" to maintain possession of their ancestral lands, and obtain their free adjudication." The wealth in the subsoil is owned by the state. The Wasrani, who number around 4800, also inhabit other Amazonian provinces. There will be a new consultation, applying standards set by the Inter-America Court of Human Rights, based in Saw Jose. Earlier the Ecuador state had reached an agreement with the Wasani over oil exploration in 2012, but the tribe's leaders said they were duped. The Ecuadoran government announced on 27 April 2019, it will appeal a ruling won by the country's Waorani indigenous tribe.

Poland and the Czech Republic are home to large Asian communities, but they vehemently oppose European efforts to redistribute Syrian refugees. As part of a student exchange between Vietnam and the socialist republics of Eastern Europe, the first Vietnamese arrived in the 1980s. Many settled and brought over relatives. An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 Vietnamese are in Poland, and 60,000 to 80,000 in the Czech Republic, which is the highest proportion on in Europe. Buddhist temples and cultural centres have sprouted up in Poland and Czech Republic, where the Vietnamese have integrated well. Consonant—heavy local languages initially forced them into mute professions such, as whole sale food and textiles. The industrious Vietnamese flocked to trading centres in Poland and the Czeach Republic, to open grocery stores and even retail chains. Some run Asian condiment import companies. The Czechs and Poles have over time come to accept the Vietnamese as a "Safe" type of migrant. These are instances of finger pointing on public transport and bullying in schools. After the financial crash of 2008, some Vietnamese Czechs turned to drug dealing, a trend exaggerated by media. Poland and the Czech Republic have made it hander for people to immigrate. The flow of new arrivals from Vietnam is now a trickle. Most second generation migrants attend local state schools, and some are Czech or Polish citizens. Noodle soup is now a rage in Prague and Warsaw.

[Because of circumstances beyond our control we could not publish "News Wrap" for the last two or three weeks. Any way, we are back again from this week. Inconvenience is regretted—Fr]

Vol. 51, No. 52, Jun 30 - Jul 6, 2019