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West Midlands car companies Jaguar and Land Rover could soon be bought out by Indian motor manufacturer Tata - a company which, as Barbara Panvel reports, has a questionable human rights record in its own back yard.

As we read about the Christmas Concert for Human Rights in St Philip’s Cathedral (see link here) UNITE trade union members welcome the Tata bid for Jaguar-Land Rover open arms. Perhaps they are not aware of the company’s use of state force on the powerless in India.

But why should we bother?

Enlightened self-interest?

Martin Niemöller explains:

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

By their inhumane and misguided policies and actions, West Bengal’s Chief Minister Bhattacharjee and Tata’s steel and car companies have succeeded in creating widespread opposition by small producers, community groups, intellectuals and politicians of different parties to the wanton displacement of people and the industrialisation of fertile land.

In one of the few countries which can produce enough food for its needs, fertile land is being covered with concrete – the best way for it to lose its real wealth and security.

India is now said to be "simmering" rather than “shining”.

Instances of violence by forces, requested or employed by corporates, include the killing of villagers protesting against the loss of land and livelihood for the establishment of Tata Steel's Kalinganagar plant, the firing by "security" forces on local people opposing the establishment of a similar plant in Orissa and the banning of public meetings by the government of Megalaya after local objections to the pollution and land loss of proposed uranium mining.

Change might well be on its way.

Will the juggernaut be arrested by the growing difficulty in accessing capital due to the credit crunch? Was that behind the sudden turn from expensive nuclear to wind-power. And will oil at over $100 a barrel make the importing of goods and food less commercially viable and enable deskilled countries like ours to reskill, retool, and once more meet our own needs.

In the 60s youngsters did not wonder whether they would find a job - a role. The question for all then was ‘which job shall I go for?’

It would be splendid to see have such opportunities once more placed before the rising generation - and the poverty and crime statistics plummet.

Does it matter if a company which wants to buy a British firm has a questionable human rights record abroad?

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