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Do we need freedom from Bandhs?

15 Billion Rupees lost due to Bandh to protest Inflation.

Strikes are a universally recognized form of protest. As a last resort, people in an industry stop working until an agreement is reached on their demands. A General Strike, outside the Indian Subcontinent, involves union workers over several industries, striking work. The last General strike in US was in 1919 and in UK in 1926.

A Bandh on the other hand is an exclusively South Asian form of protest, which involves shutting down of all businesses in an area and expecting its population to stay indoors. It was popularized by Gandhiji as a part of peaceful non cooperation movement against the British Government. This “Bharamastra” used to evict the British from India, is now being used indiscriminately to flex political muscles by all parties at the drop of a hat.

The latest Bandh, this Friday was indeed ironical. Called to protest price rise, it left our country with a deficit of 15 Billion Rupees! Will this loss help reduce inflation or aggravate an already bad financial situation? Hundreds of hungry families could have been fed for months in this amount, but then who cares.

Was this Bharat Bandh called as a last resort by BJP? On 15th April 2008 members of the opposition in Parliament, apparently agitated by price rise, created a ruckus in the well of both houses forcing the Presiding Officers to adjourn for the day (Rs 67 lac wasted). And when the much sought after discussion was held in the Lok Sabha on 16th April the attendance fell short of the quorum! An issue is important enough to bring a nation to halt is not important enough to be discussed in Parliament?

If instead of sitting on Dharna outside Parliament with yellow colored jackets, the BJP leaders came out with their own detailed prescription of reversing price rise and discussed it in the Parliament and Media, the nation would have been much better off.

Violence by “Aam Janta” in last 1 yr of BJP Rule
  1. After DAV College elections in the “Victory Parade”
  2. At Kanak Cinema during the screening of Akbar Jodha.
  3. At Petrol Pump in Haridwar Road during Municipality Elections.
  4. To protest Price rise this Friday.
Conceived as a non – violent means of non – cooperation, present day political parties blatantly use force and intimidation to close down businesses and public transport. Inconveniencing ordinary people to demonstrate muscle power does not bother either of our National Parties. Bands of party workers, led by an MLA, who played a dubious role in the recent Municipality elections in Dehra Dun, went around the town destroying public property and stopping public transport, manhandling anyone who dared to question their actions. In the Modern Indian Economic Theory, breaking public and private property and manhandling people reduces inflation! If politicians really cared for inflation, they would have urged ordinary people to work harder and create a prosperous India. A noble gesture by our elected representatives could be to donate a month’s salary towards feeding the poor, who are worst hit by inflation. That would show the people that they really care. Stopping pubic transport severely incapacitates the very section of society whom the politicians claim to fight for – the poor people.

Amazingly the State Government which has sworn to protect the Indian Constitution, made no effort to prevent forcible enforcement of the BJP sponsored Bandh. If it was a Congress sponsored Bandh, would the State Government be a similar mute spectator? Sadly, the same would have been true in a reverse situation also.

It is high time we bid goodbye to Bandh’s. They have served their original purpose of evicting the British from India. Now, they are misused more than they are used and cause more harm to the country than any conceivable benefit. Using Bandh’s as a substitute to good debate, within and outside the Parliament is unacceptable. Bandh’s reflect muscle power more than people’s power and have been declared as Unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2003.

People’s disillusionment with the major political parties was manifested in the strong showing by Rajni Rawat, in the recent Municipality elections. Its time we took a re –look at our political system. After fighting for Independence with Bandhs, its time we fought for Independence from Bandhs.

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From: You've hit the ball out the park! Inlcrdibee!
You've hit the ball out the park! Inlcrdibee!