Monday, July 5, 2010

Bharat Bandh

Performing an appropriate chance pe dance, I left for Pune the moment I came to know that there is a possibility that Monday will be a holiday. Promptly ignoring the reason for the holiday, namely the Bharat Bandh, I built wonderful castles in the air about eating out, watching I hate luv storys etc. Needless to say, dil ke armaan aasuo mein beh gaye. While I simply made plans to catch up with friends and relatives, I started wondering about this so called for-the-common-man-movement. 

A poll on some crappy (but I presume reliable) news channel showed that 40% viewers believed that the bandh was for their good, whereas 60% felt that it had no bearing on their lives. The papers are full of rising inflation and rising prices of essential commodities. Everyday a question is posed to the government about their inaction regarding this burden on the common man. The opposition has run from pillar to post, ensuring that the people get to know about inflation and the supposedly indifferent government. From moving cut motions against price rise of fuel, to the latest bandh, from the look of it, we seem to have a very reliable opposition working in our interest. However, is moving a cut motion the right method to agitate against price rise? Don't even get me started on the bandh..

Obviously, I'm most upset because I didn't get to watch I hate luv storys. Apart from that though, the bandh brought normal life to a complete standstill. Though the government took efforts to ensure that it didn't, it pretty much did. Thank God, hospitals were working properly. When such incidents occur, you usually find the common man cowering at home, and mawalis ready to pounce out on the streets, destroy public property and slap people around. The whole atmosphere is tense, tv channels keep showing damage and destruction in a repeated loop, further forcing us to get scared and sit at home. The loss to the public coffers due to bandh on trade should be considered an insult to us as now there is less money to perform work for the good of the public. So, what was the point of all this? Apart from political mileage, save little. 

As a solution, I hope the day comes when any goonda mawali thinks 10 times before destroying public property. An intelligent opposition has twin tasks. One is to challenge the government when it gets too sure of itself. The other is to engage the government in dialogue to skillfully solve any crisis. It's never enough to just do one of the two. For political gain, the opposition can ensure that  the media  gives it due credit for good suggestions for improvement of the situation. I believe this would be a win-win situation for all...


  1. Often people fail to understand the subtleties of a bandh. Attacking public property spurs economic development. By itself, the government is unlikely to launch public work projects to create jobs. Repairing the property damaged during bandhs creates jobs. True that some money is wasted but look at the tons of dollars wasted in US in Federal bailouts. Compared to that, bandhs provide stimulus to bus and truck manufacturing industries and allow people to have some fun as well. Would you prefer the bandh-enforcers-for-hire to be out of a job and take to banditry (and later get judicial immunity by forming a political party)? Another aspect is the extra holiday which everyone gets. It is simply not possible to have holidays to please every minority vote-bank else we will have less than 100 working days per year. Instead, any alienated section can call for a bandh when they have festivities. A bandh lasts for just a day and is preferable to communal riots which may occur due to canceling a holiday. Finally, bandh is in the true spirit of the Father of the Nation who split the nation into three and ensured a lifetime of headaches due to pugnacious neighbors. The history textbooks say that he taught the people to protest through Satyagraha. (It’s a different fact that the same concept, when put forth by a gangster-cum-actor, had a bigger impact but no one believes this since the history textbooks don’t say so.) In the past, our British masters would lose money due to bandhs but who cares if we are the ones losing money now? Traditions must be followed!

  2. Hm... very contrasting point of views put forth... both make sense but which one is actually making a difference...
    Today there was a really nice article in Times of India written by Chetan Bhagat about the bratty behavior of Pakistan.