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Ransacking of Wistron Apple Phone Factory : Will Bangaluru / Karnataka Go The Calcutta /Naxal Bengal Way

Ransacking of Wistron Apple Phone Factory : Will Bangalore / Karnataka Go The Calcutta /Naxal Bengal Way : Lesson From Haryana Maruti Case                                                                                                                rp_RKU-263x300.jpg

Rajiv Upadhyay

On 12 thDecember’2020 , Saturday,  the Wistron factory ,manufacturing Apple phones in Kolar ,near Bangalore ,was ransacked by its irate workers and some alleged outsiders .The management estimated the loss of Rs.430 crores by this attack and a large number of i- phones were stolen  .Some sources  reported that the actual loss was only about fifty crore rupees but that too is veryhigh . The workers were employed through a contractor who had not paid the wages to workers although the company had paid the money to the contractor. There were reports of some un authorised deductions by contractor  and alleged low wages . But the workers attacked the factory not the real culprit ie the contractor .The Taiwan company had  relocated from China and  set up this factory in Kolar . It was so happy with its investment till this attack that it was planning to increase investment in India from Rs 682 crores to Rs 1947 crores . This possibly may not come through now . i – phone manufacture in India was an important step in Atmnirbhar Bharat . This attack gave India and Bangalore a huge negative international publicity .China peeved by growing Indo Taiwan friendship , promptly reacted as its Global Times called it an ‘example ‘ and warned US and other companies of the risks involved in leaving China and moving to ‘India ‘.

What was more shocking was the State Government Reaction which did not arrest all the guilty workers immediately . Instead some unconvincing communalisation was tried by local politicians.  In view of China- Taiwan hostility and the present lowest phase in Indo China relation , Chinese hand in ransacking  needs to be investigated . The CPM and allied labour unions had even supported China in 1962 war when  late EMS Namboodripad had refused to call China an aggressor . Karnataka government could learn from Haryana government . In June 2012 ,  Awanish Dev  , an HR Manager of Maruti Industries in Manesar plant ,was attacked and burnt alive by the irate workers . The government promptly deployed almost 1200 police personnel , arrested all the  guilty workers and filed cases against 145 attackers . In March 2017, the court sentenced 13 workers for life imprisonment and punished many more . Immediately after the attack,Maruti had stopped further investment in Haryana and set up its next factory in Gujrat . However , reassured by the just and prompt government action , it is now considering expanding the Gurgaon plant . UP government did not act as promptly in 1977 when in a similar confrontation with workers a factory was gutted in Ghaziabad and two persons died and 77 were injured near Mohan Nagar . Eventually due to militant trade unionism imported from Bengal , Ghaziabad lost future investments to Faridabad in Haryana.

South India and Karnataka are favorite investment destination for foreigners due to reputation of  sincere , peaceful  labour  . This incident has not only marred the reputation of Kolar  for ever but will certainly affect the FDI from Taiwan and relocation of companies, leaving China, in India . Indian reputation was already bad due to our  endless red tape as proved by the fact that only two out of 56 companies that moved out of China actually came to India . 11 went to Taiwan , 26  to Vietnam and 8 to Thailand. The much hyped improvement in business friendly India is a myth as reportedly , in the name of rationalisation as several forms were typically  just clubbed together rather than effecting real simplification . As per World Bank it takes 18 days to register a new company in India India compared to 9 days in China . Similarly land acquisition in India needs 34 steps and takes 110 days optimistically . Recently Bangalore ( Bangluru) attracted a record 8 billion dollar FDI in IT Sector  because of its good weather and big eco support system for IT related activities .  However its poor infrastructure and  inadequate public transport and traffic jams , water shortage etc are  now driving young IT aspirants to live in better planned  cities like Pune and Hyderabad . IT Moghuls like Premji have reportedly sounded informal warning to Karnataka government to quickly improve its infrastructure in Bangalore ( Bangluru) . Also Karnataka has unfortunately emerged as the sixth most corrupt state in the country which is a big negative factor . Petty corruption harasses and puts off foreigners . The recent avoidable language agitation against hindi sign boards in addition to Kannada and English ,too had its adverse effect on reputation of Bangalore as a liberal , tolerant and immigrant friendly city . So Karnataka should not assume TINA factor or  continued FDI as  a compulsive option  for local and foreign investors . Attack on Apple supplier will give it widespread adverse international Publicity which must be countered like Haryana , by jailing guilty workers and punishing culprits by expeditious trial  .

The politicians who are trying to shield guilty workers should remember how militant trade unions destroyed  Calcutta and Naxal infested Bengal  in early late sixties and seventies  .

United Front  government in West Bengal  issued a circular in 1967 that in case of Gheraos , police will not intervene with out the permission of the labour ministry . Although this was stuck down by High Court but its diluted version stayed . The strikes and lock downs increased from 179 and 49  in 1965  to 678  and 128 in 1970 . The attacks on managers increased in leaps and bound and government and Police often found fault with capitalist management did not protect the managers . On 12 th January 1968 Vice Chairman of a  leading Engineering company was attacked with bombs , injuring his driver seriously and bursting his ear drum . The factory was ultimately closed down for several months . In the yeras that followed Jasop , Braithwaite, Burn &Co, Metal Box, GKW were all affected by labour trouble and ultimately became sick and many were nationalised .

Laxmi Pat Singhania had moved from Kanpur in 1942 and set up Aluminium Corporation of India at Asansol .One day a Works Manager of his factory was thrashed by workers for two hours . Singhania met CM Ajoy Mukherjee and Dy. CM late Jyoti Basu ,who accused the Works Manager of attacking workers . One day workers cut off power supply to Aluminium Smelter leading to long closure ofplant and huge loss . It was ultimately nationalised in 1974. Singhania moved to Delhi and started afresh .Aditya Vikram Birla shifted to Mumbai , Siddharth Birla To Delhi , By 1990s a long list of companies including Bata, Brook Bond ,Philips, Shaw Wallace, Indian Ispat ( now JSW) ETC shifted their head quarter out side Calcutta and Bengal. By the time the new realist CM Buddh Dev Bhattacharya tried getting Tata Motors , JSW , Salim group of Indonesia to Bengal  , Singur bombed his efforts .

An inaction or luke warm action by Karnataka government on Wistron ransacking  will damage the interests of State permanently as happened in Bengal and Ghaziabad .

Also government must improve the infrastructure on war footing . Bangalore has been used as cash cow for state coffers too long with out proportionate improvement in infrastructure . Bangalore with just 0.4 % area houses 16% of the state population . It contributes 74 % of stamp and registration tax,52%of the motor vehicle tax,57% of excise duty,60% of commercial taxes and with 1.3 lakh crore software exports account for 98% of software exports . Yet its roads have increased by just 1250 % while the motor vehicles have increased by about 6050% in last forty years leading to massive traffic jams and extremely slow traffic movement . Similarly public transport , water supply have just not kept pace with city’s population growth from 16 lakhs in 1970 to almost ninety lakh now .

Politicians after legendary CM Krishna , are more  worried about the rural vote bank while  cutting the stomach of the proverbial golden egg laying hen by neglect and diversion of the much needed funds . It needs to be reversed speedily and effectively for restoring the proud heritage of  once the garden city of India and its  acquiring the Silicon Valley Status globally .

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3 Responses to “Ransacking of Wistron Apple Phone Factory : Will Bangaluru / Karnataka Go The Calcutta /Naxal Bengal Way”

  1. PD Malaviya
    December 18, 2020 at 7:52 am #

    A very good article.

    There is not much expectation from the CM, but if the Central govt take note, some action might be forthcoming.

  2. December 18, 2020 at 10:43 am #

    Let’s hope not. China appears to be the hidden trouble maker.
    Centre is already seized with the matter. Issues involved are grave in nature.

  3. shashidhar
    December 18, 2020 at 5:31 pm #

    It’s a fact that attack on Wistron Apple Phone Factory at Kolar has already sent a bad message to the national and international community and the corporate world…. stringent action has to be taken against the culprits to regain that confidence.

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