Saturday, January 19, 2008

NDTV Profit on the Singur issue after the unveiling of Nano

NDTV Correspondent

Thursday, January 10, 2008 (New Delhi):

While Tata Motors unveiled its car in a blaze of glory and publicity on Thursday, angry residents of Singur village in West Bengal burnt a replica of the Rs one lakh Nano as a sign of their protest against the company and its plans to displace them.

People in the area, about 40 km from Kolkata in Hooghly district, have been protesting against the state government's decision to acquire land for the under construction Tata Motors plant.

There were anti-Tata slogans and demonstrations by the people, protesting under the aegis of the Singur Krishi Jomin Raksha Committee (Save the Singur Farmland Committee).

Earlier in the day, India's giant Tata Group has unveiled the world's cheapest car that auto analysts say could turn upside down the cost of vehicles globally.

The long-awaited "People's Car", over which the company has thrown a shroud of secrecy, was slated to be unveiled in the auto show at Pragati Maidan by Ratan Tata, the 70-year-old tycoon who heads the tea-to-steel group.

Tata, whom the Indian media have likened to US automobile pioneer Henry Ford, has said he hopes the ultra-cheap car will "make a contribution to making life safer" for Indian families who often travel four to a motorbike -- father driving, mother riding pillion and two children wedged in between.

The car, expected to carry a sticker price as low as 2,500 dollars could "revolutionise car costs downward," said leading Indian car analyst Murad Ali Baig. It "is bound to be followed by other low-cost ones."

The four-door five-seater rear-engined auto, described by those who have seen it as boasting "cute" looks, is targeted at drivers trading up to four wheels from two in India as a booming economy creates new affluence.

The car on which Tata Motor engineers have cut costs to the bone has sparked a race among global automakers to come up with rock-bottom priced vehicles to appeal to this growing lucrative segment in India and other emerging markets.

The lightweight car has only one windshield wiper instead of two, no power steering, no power windows and no air conditioning, according to media reports and company comments.

Already Germany's Volkswagen, leading Indian motorbike maker Bajaj Auto and France's Renault and Ford among others have said they planning or mulling new cheap cars for India where small autos comprise two-thirds of annual passenger vehicle sales of one million in the country of 1.1 billion.