It is more than a decade now that the issue of revival of paper mills in Assam has turned into a perennial process of making and breaking of dreams for the workers of the paper production units in particular and the people of the state in general. A hundred times the dream bloomed and every time it withered away and perished. While day dreaming may be an integral part of human nature, the powers that be have seemingly specialized in making full use of this human weakness by weaving dreams with the fabric of falsehood. The outcome being the creation of a system that has its socio-political and economic dynamics rooted nowhere.
However, it enables the mighty Czars firmly entrenched in the corridors of power to go hammer and tongs while projecting mirages with huge budget tags. Rightly or wrongly, such wild, wanton and wicked roadmaps hitherto terms as fiasco have come to be branded as ‘smart professionalism’ in the present ‘parivartan’ era. It does not matter two penny to the ‘smart professionals’ that the end result comes a cropper and that at the end of the day the innocent public find themselves thoroughly duped and cheated. Such ‘smart professionalism’ has come to stay in the body politic of the State while the public find themselves unsmartly caught in the web of frustration, hopelessness and despondency.
However, that does not in any way cause the mighty Mughals of Dispur and Delhi to even review its commitment to its brand of ‘smart professionalism’. Under the system that has emerged and has come to be labelled as ‘smart’, it is no longer a process that allows for duping the public just once or twice with false and unreal dreams. The system that has emerged allows for continuous process of making and breaking dreams by the high and mighty in the corridors of power. It is a smart system under which as one dream lies in a shambles and thousands groan in frustration, another unreal and colourful dream is caused to spring up on the horizon. Laced with electrifying rhetoric, the process has come to be tagged as high development and advancement under the new era of ‘parivartan’.
That being the order of the day and the body politic of the State apparently enveloped in a seemingly elongating pitch black eclipse, the obvious duty of the hour on the part of the all powerful ‘smart professionals’ is to mask the utterly dismal socio-political and economic reality with multi-coloured mirages with display of an abundance of blue patches with life-giving water.
With the approach, almost openly replete with contemptuous disregard, towards the teeming millions whose way of life has been reduced to a long groan amidst penury, misery and burgeoning unemployment, one is virtually compelled to comprehend if creation and projection of unreal dreams laced with elements of high economic development of kaleidoscopic nature has come to acquire the status of high watermark in the performance proforma among the political and bureaucratic Sultans of Dispur.
Despite all thundering rhetoric, as in several parts of the country, the economic scenario in Assam too is not at all rosy. To be specific and down to earth, it is rather dark, gloomy and hazy. In contrast to the unreal landscape, tactfully painted and portrayed with eye-catching loud colours, millions across the State wail in agony after being caught in the roving blood-sucking network of non-stop price hike, galloping corruption, joblessness, rising crimes and a host of mounting socio-economic evils. All rhetoric and tall lectures by the high and mighty apart, day to day life has definitely become harder and harsher for the man on the street with every passing day.
As stated above, the issue of revival of the closed (dead?) paper mills of the Hindustan Paper Mills located in Hailakandi and Morigaon districts of Assam is once again in the news. Media reports are rife that only recently all the nine BJP MPs from Assam in the Lok Sabha called on the concerned Union minister in New Delhi and urged him to revive the technically dead paper mills in the State. The rest of the news is of stereo-type nature. It reads that the central minister gave a patient hearing to the MPs and gave an assurance that he would look into the matter and put in his best efforts to get the mills revived.
While some media houses may inflate the news beyond all proportion (and even recognition) and brand it as a path breaking endeavour, the bitter reality is that it is just another ‘run-of-the-mill’ news bereft of any originality and significance if the history of the last one decade or so on the issue of revival of the mills is to be taken into account.
Since the days of Congress rule at the Centre, umpteen numbers of delegations called on Central leaders at various times with the plea to revive the technically dead paper mills in Assam. Alas! All labour had gone down the drain. All prayers had fallen on deaf ears. Nothing changed at the ground level; not even a twig had moved. With the past holding the testimony of the mill revival issue in Assam as nothing other than gutters and sheer gutters all the way, would it be prudent to presume that the hitherto tortuous path lined up with countless roablocks to suddenly transform into a super-fast highway decked up with roses merely because the ruling party MPs from the State had made an appeal before the concerned central minister to rejuvenate the closed mills?
Now that politically at least the closed chapter on mills revival has been opened up once again and news on the same has been flashed across the length and breadth of the State, one can rest assured that many more bombastic statements and press meets by the ruling party heavyweights of Assam could very much be on the cards in the days to come. In earlier days all such tall statements proved to be in Shakespearean language ‘tale told by an idiot, Full of sound and fury signifying nothing’. Will the move made by the ruling party MPs from Assam to get the technically dead paper mills of Assam rejuvenated and kicking prove the Shakespearean quotation to be redundant and meaningless? Well, history and the present moment in the existing scenario do not seem to be going against time-tested observation of the great Bard of England.
Again, from the standpoint of thousands of crores of rupees involved in the paper business in Assam, on fails to comprehend as to how the closed paper mills of the State could be put on the working gear by the powers that be to make the industry operational. As of now, with no paper production in the State, the mighty lobby of big paper barons of mainland India are having a free run sans any rival with the turnout running into thousands of crores of rupees. Obviously, one may not be on the wrong side in presuming that the paper lobby enjoys huge blessings of both Delhi and Dispur. It is only a matter of ‘managing’ the matter well by the rich and powerful lobby. And for sure, everyone is aware of the ‘management mantra’ in obtaining business blessings. As a matter of fact, virtually nothing in India works without the ‘management mantra’ in action.
While the ‘management mantra’ could possibly be massive in the light of the huge quantum of paper business in the State, one only feels that those manning the corridors of power would definitely not like to disturb the paper baron lobby. It is inconceivable as to how a system that heavily banks on “money matter works better” could move away from the system in the interest of the down-to-earth public. To be still more specific and precise, the powerful paper lobby of mainland India not only holds the ‘management mantra’ but effectively spins the ‘Brahma-astra’ of ‘management mantra’ to keep the bigwigs in the national and state capitals in good humour.
Most interestingly, it took just five days for the paper mills revival fiasco to get unmasked. Replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha on the issue of revival of the closed paper mills five days later, the same Union minister informed the House that on May the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had ordered the liquidation of Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited (HPC) which owns the Nagaon and Cachar paper mills in Assam. However, while the final nail has seemingly been hammered into the coffin of the paper mills in the state, the revival fiasco may be on in the days, weeks and months to come.
Talmizur Rahman is a Guwahati based senior journalist and commentator. He can be reached at [email protected]