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2006: The Battle for Singur

Singur was a nondescript town in West Bengal till Tata Motors chose it as the manufacturing location for its small car, the Nano, in May 2006.

Print Edition: Jan 9, 2011

Singur was a nondescript town in West Bengal till Tata Motors chose it as the manufacturing location for its small car, the Nano, in May 2006. As the state government started acquiring land for the project, the feisty Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee launched protests. Her objection was that fertile agricultural land was being handed over to Tata Motors. The Communist government, which was keen to prove the state's "industry friendliness", refused to budge. As a result, the next 30 months saw Singur turn into a battleground. Finally, in October 2008, Tata Motors pulled out of Singur and moved the Nano factory to Sanand in Gujarat. Ironically, even as the first Nano rolled out of the Sanand factory in June 2010, Banerjee's party crushed the Communists in the West Bengal civic polls. The Singur troubles rippled across other parts of the country with farmers and activists protesting and questioning landfor-industry deals with inadequate compensation and rehabilitation.

India Inc goes shopping
It was a year of mega mergers and acquisitions for India: 1,164 deals, valued at $35.6 billion, were sealed. The big news was Tata Steel's bid for Corus in October 2006 (which was eventually sealed for $12 billion in January 2007). But deals happened across sectors. Dr Reddy's gobbled up Germany's betapharm, Holcim bought into Ambuja Cements, Oracle acquired a majority stake in i-flex Solutions. The next year was even bigger with $32.76 billion worth of outbound deals, including the $6-billion buyout of Novelis by Hindalco.

FDI Allowed in single-brand retail
The government decided to partially open the retail sector by allowing 51 per cent FDI in single-brand retailing. The move enabled the likes of Reebok, Nike, Benetton to set up their outlets in India directly instead of operating through franchisees or wholesale trading models. According to KPMG, under the category of single brand retailing, the industry has received an FDI inflow of some Rs 900 crore between April 2006 and March 2010.

Did you know?
By raising a total of $7.23 billion through 78 public offers, the Indian IPO market ranked eighth in the world in terms of number and value in 2006.

Quote of the year

India, Indian institutions and Indians can have a shot at the world today. These chances don't come often... this is India's second tryst with destiny.
Uday Kotak, Vice Chairman and MD, Kotak Mahindra Bank

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