Special 'Economic' or 'Political ' Zones?

The game of politics has threatened to bowl out development yet again. With the crucial UP AND Punjab elections round the corner, Special Economic Zones (SEZ) policy faces the brunt of political propaganda. Without in-depth analysis, the political parties singing the 'aam aadmi' tune with the blatant call of stopping the SEZs. It is interesting to see that despite the strong opposition from major political parties, none of them are disowning the policy. Afterall, they do not want to miss out on their share of the pie if the SEZ policy is a success. With issues like the Singur land acquisition being mixed into the SEZ debate, analyst BG Verghese has rightly termed development in India a " political khichdi"

With allegations of faulty acquisitions of land, mass displacement of farmers and as the Janta Dal (U) calls the policy a play in the hands of corporate land grabbers, the SEZ policy has been labeled as the devil's work. The future investments of over 60,000 Cr. and employment generation of 9 lakh, estimated in the next 2 years, seems to have been conveniently overlooked. With a broad generalization in the issue, the government's indecisiveness has stalled the work of several non-controversial SEZs. Brandix Apparel SEZ in Vishakapatnam, Foxconn SEZ in Tamil Nadu, TATA Gopalpur multi-product SEZ and Bharat forge SEZ near Pune are just a few of the SEZs which are put on hold. The irony lies in the fact that besides millions of dollars in investment, lakhs of employment opportunities and most importantly no land acquisition problems, the machines of these companies are yet to warm up.

Undeniably certain genuine concerns need immediate addressal, for proper implementation process to take place. A proper rehabilitation needs to be formulated to avoid another Kalinganagar backlash. Such a policy is also necessary to check the insecurity of the investors. Adequate and suitable compensation for the acquired land is the key to silence the opposition. Thus, a few modifications are required, however the political antics should be curbed to realise the SEZ dream successfully, just as China, America and South Korea did.

Though SEZs are not the sole solution to the problems of Development in India, however they could have a major contribution. The SEZ policy is currently facing the pangs of labor, however with a proper delivery, it could grow into a beautiful child.  


Papa don't preach: AXN ban stirs censorship debate again

The recent ban on AXN by the Ministry of Information and broadcasting (I&B) has brought up the age old debate of censorship yet again. The very concept of censorship on television is a contradiction in itself. Where the remote is in the hands of the viewer, there is a choice to be made. The censor is the person holding the remote and who decides whether he/she or even his or her family should see the programme or not.

The well tested fact remains that all publicity is good publicity. Thus, the ban on AXN, which is primarily an urban channel, has caught the imagination and curiosity of the viewer. The human nature coaxes us to explore the forbidden, thus after the two month ban, AXN could expect higher TRPs. Censorship cannot become the carpet that an attitude of one segment of society against the demand of another can be swept beneath. Banning the entire channel does not solve any purpose. The so-called moral police of the society needs to re check its methods of enforcing its rule. It is like curbing the freedom of speech and expression and choice, which our forefathers fought for. In the day and age of global communication and the Internet, ban on one particular channel is a wasteful exercise. The viewer has many sources to satisfy his curiosity. AXN was made the scapegoat by the government to project its self-righteousness. Previous governments were no different with Sushma Swaraj banning FTV Sharmila Tagore, as the head of the Censor Board, had put forward a more feasible option. She asked the government to implement a watershed hour only beyond which adult films would be telecast.

The human mind is a free spirit. Any attempt to curb it will lead to severe repercussions. In a free and democratic society, if we can give the people the right to elect the leaders, then we can entrust them with the sensibility to choose what they want to watch. We do not want to live behind the iron curtain. 


More by :  Ishita Russell

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