As the residents of this tiny Gujarat town prepared for the final, delirious night of garba, there was something new to celebrate. The destiny of its 32,000 people had changed overnight — in a Nanosecond.
Thousands of lives are set to change after the decision by Tata Motors to move the production facilities of its Rs 1 lakh car Nano — the world’s cheapest — from West Bengal’s Singur town to Gujarat’s Sanand.
That decision catapulted the small, unknown town 35 km south-west of Gujarat’s largest city of Ahmedabad into an international dateline.
School dropout Rajesh Barot, 40, a deed writer at the sub-collector’s office, celebrated by blowing up Rs 350 worth of firecrackers hours after Ratan Tata made the announcement in Ahmedabad. He knows the Nano will touch his life, he had done his arithmetic: land prices would be pushed up across the town, so transaction fees for deeds too would go up, getting him more money.
The move will affect the young people’s choices in life, bring jobs, possibly halt migration to metropolises for work, and bring them more wealth as property prices shoot up.
Bhupendrsinh Gohil, 25, works in a photocopying shop but hopes to get a clerical job in the local Tata Motors unit — or a job with any of the 60-odd ancillary units to be set up along with the Tata plant.
The Tatas have a century-old link with the town. In Chharodi village where the plant is to come up, a marble plaque announces the contribution by his great-grandfather Jamshedji Tata of Rs 1,000 in 1899 to save the lives of drought-hit cattle.
More than 108 years later, the arrival of another Tata will touch the lives of people in dramatic ways in a place with a literacy rate of 72 per cent — much higher than the national average of 59..5 per cent — where children go to school and migrate to the big cities for jobs.
Eight in ten males are literate. They also like straight talk. “What kind of mind do the people of Singur have? They sent back a group like Tata!” said 24-year-old resident Pradipsinh Sisodia.
The Nano will be made on a sprawling 1,100-acre expanse in Northcote Pura 15 km west on the highway towards Saurashtra. It was earlier owned by a state-run agricultural university.