The Re-Making of a Local Ruling Class

During the last months several ‘land scandals’ have entered the public stage in Gurgaon. The state industrial development agency HSIIDC is accused of having sold land dedicated for ‘public purposes’ to private firms, which then used the land for commercial purposes. The immediate reaction is to complain about the obvious rampant ‘corruption’ connected to the land deals. A deeper analysis would be necessary which would have to locate the ‘corruption’ within the formation and re-formation process of a ‘local ruling class’.

Obviously there are the local landed classes involved, who are supposed to sell their land to the state or private companies. The price of land determines whether they will make the jump from peasantry into ‘petty bourgeoisie’ and how high or low this jump will be. Given the vast amount of migrant labour exploited in Gurgaon industries, the local landed class is a necessary social back-bone of the ruling class. They have to be compensated for their loss of land and obtain middlemen functions either as labour contractors, landlords, local politicians, union leaders or other trading positions.

The price of land is of immediate importance for commercial traders of land and private developers like DLF. These companies have been not only important developers of (industrial) infrastructure, they also have been one main entry door of global financial streams into Gurgaon, which then re-diverted from real estate into other sectors. The multinational industrial managing class has similar interest in ‘cheap land’, but depends on ‘good relations’ with the local landed classes to a higher degree than the ‘real estate capital’. Recently the ‘industrial class’ started to complain about a ‘burocratisation’ within the Haryana state apparatus, in the form of increasing power monopoly of the HSIIDC and cases of double taxation.

‘Corruption’ in this sense has a ‘productive function’ – in capitalist terms – beyond the individual forms of embezzlement. It functions as ‘grease’ within the re-shifting of different sections of ruling class and re-distribution process of different incomes in form of land revenue, rent, profit, taxes. The larger picture of extended capitalist cycle shows that despite the initial importance of land prices the main ‘grease’ stems from the exploitation of the industrial working class. The following news snippets can give an idea of the various layers and interests – the true common interest ‘as representatives of capital’ will be revealed during times of social turmoil alone.

Land Scandal – 5th of February 2011

DLF plans to appeal in the Supreme Court against a Punjab & Haryana High Court order to demolish properties on a land owned by the country’s largest realtor in Gurgaon. In September 1995, the state government had sold 30 acres to East India Hotels that runs Oberoi group of hotels to develop a hospital and hotel management institute for the public. The hospitality firm sold the land to DLF. DLF converted the land into special economic zone and took necessary approvals from the central and state governments. The High Court has termed the transfer of land by the Haryana government to the private firms as illegal: “Facts alone are enough to establish the nexus of M/s DLF Ltd with the government to grab the property in question… subsequent facts of granting necessary approvals for setting up a SEZ etc. was an attempt to cover the malafide action of Haryana government.”

Land Grab in Rewari and Manesar

Finance Minister, Capt Ajay Singh Yadav, comes out strongly in defence of Rewari’s aggrieved farmers facing a threat of land acquisition. The farmers, in their memorandum, have mentioned that the HSIIDC has issued a notification for acquiring 500 acres in Dharuhera. He is learnt to have added that the industrial town at Bawal and Manesar are a stone’s throw from Dharuhera where plots can be given to boost industrialisation. “Therefore, I feel that acquiring more land around Dharuhera for the industrialists is of no point as, in this way, no agricultural land would be left for farmers and their livelihood. As of now, there is a saturation point of urbanisation and industrialisation in Bawal and Rewari blocks,” the letter says. HSIIDCs expansions plans are the talk of the town this year, on the list are several villages near the Manesar IMT. Development plans might soon be rolling out for the 1800 acres of land earmarked for large scale industrial and commercial setup by the government. The state is also supposed to make sure that the villagers, who own this chunk of land, get handsome compensation, at the going price of more than Rs 50 lakh per acre.

Farmers Protests Concerning Land Grab – 15th of February 2011

The Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government in Haryana is under attack from various quarters over its land acquisition policy, converting agricultural land into industrial or commercial property. The Opposition is trying to make the most of the situation. The INLD has already announced a state-wide agitation against the ‘pro-builder and anti-farmer’ stance of the government. Farmers of Pachgaon, Kasan, Mokalwas, Baaslambi, Kharkhari, Sehrawan, Kukrola, Pukharpur and Fazilwaas villages have already held two mahaypanchyats and blocked the Delhi-Jaipur National Highway-8 in protest against the government’s move to acquire their land. The protesters soon blocked the highway, refused to talk to the SDM and demanded that either the Divisional Commissioner or the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) be sent to accept their memorandum. Meanwhile, an anti-riot squad of the police force was deployed at the blockade site as a preventive measure. Ultimately, Gurgaon ADC VS Hooda and SDM Satender Duhan went to the farmers’ leaders and accepted their memorandum.

Industrialists complain about HSDIIC

The industrialists of Gurgaon and Manesar claim that the new industrial policy of Haryana grants unprecedented powers to HSIIDC. According to them, besides getting away with a rather lopsided estate management policy, HSIIDC has also acquired chunky portions of industrial land all over the state. Industrial areas in Gurgaon, previously under HUDA or the department of industry, according to the 2011 policy, are to be duly handed over to the HSIIDC this year. But this transfer of jurisdiction is being contested by the industrialists of these areas unanimously. The Gurgaon Industrial Association announced that they are going to ask the Chief Minister to intervene and stop the transfer forthwith. The general concern of the industrialists is that a transfer to the HSIIDC ambit would entail double taxation.

Haryana sets up ‘Japanese Township’

Japanese investment constitutes more than 33 per cent of the total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) received in the state so far: Suzuki, Honda, Canon, Yakult, Denso, Mitsubishi, Toyo, Daikin, Yokohama, Showa, Nippon, Kansai Paints, Asahi and Stanley. There are about 2,000 Japanese nationals working in such these companies. Some of them shuttle between Japan and India. Now, the Haryana government is planning to set up a Japanese township. The Japanese township would be set up near Madina village in Rohtak district, 60 km from New Delhi, along National Highway 10.