On August 31, the Supreme Court in a landmark judgement decided the fate of the Singur farmers, that had been hanging by a string for the past 10 years. Setting aside the land acquisition by the West Bengal Government in 2006, to allow Tata Motors to set up a factory for it’s Nano project, the apex court, directed the current government to return the land to it’s erstwhile owners within a period of 12 weeks. And buoyed by the SC’s verdict, the state government is advancing to include the topic in school syllabuses now.
This issue has been making headlines for the past few weeks now, with the West Bengal government calling it a “victory of the the people of Bengal”, while the leftists, labeling it to be the hegemonic triumph of Mamata Banerjee, who is said to have acquired power in Bengal riding upon the Singur controversy. Nonetheless, it is indeed a watershed moment for all agitations surrounding the adversities of land acquisition.
The Singur Movement, from 2006 to 2016 has now catapulted into a historic discourse about the success of a struggle of the farmers, which the state government is now pushing to launch as an event to be remembered for generations. And, for that the proposal to include it into school curriculum, is being made by this government.
As per reports, from the 2017-18 academic year, the syllabus of class IX and X will include the Singur struggle. History books would honor and eulogise the farmer struggle to acquire their land, and Mamata Banerjee’s 14-day dharna at Singur along with her fast that lasted some 26 days. Likening it to historic events like the Sepoy Mutiny and the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the School Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said that a movement where the farmers together fought for a their own cause, despite all adversities, and eventually turned victorious at the end, is worth recognition in the history books, and that students should know all about this. Along with Singur, the Tebhaga movement and Krishak andolan (peasants movement) will be pitched for inclusion.
Earlier the Education Minister mentioned that as the Singur movement has historic relevance, he is consulting with intellectuals and educationists and pushing the proposal to include Singur movement in the Syllabus Committee. Once approved it will be taken forward.
A senior official of the education department, responded to this, saying “These are some of the major incidents that will surely get place in the syllabus but we are still to finalise the details of the movement. We had first round of talks and we need some more discussion before we can give it a final shape”.
With the Trinamool Congress Party gaining ground in the national landscape, this move although seemingly noble, might have a larger yet underlying discourse. The question that arises at this juncture, is that, would a similar mass struggle cropping up around the time of Mamata’s government, get the same recognition, as did the Singur movement, which was largely against the CPI(M) -led government of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.