Jan 23, 2011
After my first article people asked me when is my second coming, or is it coming at all. But I believe every writer writes when something inspires him/her and I am no different.
Today is January 22; I wake up with the usual plan of attending college, and my phone beeps. "Hey is there college today? Heard it’s a Karnataka strike…" Being college students we are amongst the first ones to know about 'bandhs' and 'strikes' (because all we need is a ‘loss-of-attendance-free’ holiday). However, strangely, none of us had a clue. With my sleepy eyes I managed to get off my bed and find the newspaper and there it is, in bold letters in Kannada. It’s been declared a holiday for all schools and colleges. Reason: Some political turmoil. NO COMMENTS!
But my mother’s office, being a semi-government organization, remained open. On my way to drop her I saw children returning from school, and one of the saddest parts was that they were all asking for a lift as public transport had come to a complete halt. Somehow they had reached their schools/colleges but now they had no way to return home. I found the market open with a few cops patrolling the area, so I decided to go grocery shopping. In view of starting a conversation with the shopkeeper I asked him, "You guys don't have a bandh?" He replied, "Yeah right! Some people call for these bandhs, but end of the day we alone have to feed our family, they aren’t going to bother."
According to Wikipedia, "Bandh, originally a Hindi word meaning 'closed,' is a form of protest used by political activists in some countries like India and Nepal. During a bandh, a political party or a community declares a general strike. Often bandh means that the community or political party declaring a bandh expect the general public to stay in their homes and strike work. The main affected are shopkeepers who are expected to keep their shops closed and the public transport operators of buses and cabs are supposed to stay off the road and not carry any passengers. There have been instances of large metro cities coming to a standstill. Bandhs are powerful means for civil disobedience. Because of the huge impact that a bandh has on the local community, it is much feared as a tool of protest. The Supreme Court of India tried to 'ban' bandhs in 1998, but political parties still organize them."
Everything is supposed to be closed on a day when a bandh is ‘called’ for. In college terms it’s similar to mass-bunking the class due to a problem with a lecturer. The reason I’m mentioning this is whether declaring bandhs justifies the cause howsoever noble?
In a country like India, everyday every single person has to deal with a lot of chaos, may it be getting into overcrowded trains or buses, or a power cut or a dead telephone line or ‘no network’ or problem with water supply, or the recent price rise. And here come historic days like these where a bandh is called adding to the list of our never-ending chaos. We have at least five to six bandhs per year on an average! I am not against this because I attend classes on a regular basis or insist on doing so, but considering the bigger picture, common man slogs the whole day to look after his family and at the end follows all his duties as a citizen, so even one day without work would a huge loss for him.
If strikes, "WE WANT JUSTICE" slogans, screaming, smashing cars, setting buses on fire, terrorising the common people solved problems, today wouldn’t be in the computer era. Even 64 years after the British left we are following the same approach that we used to get independence, but against whom!!? World changed, people changed, generations passed on, but our ways of approaching a situation like this didn’t. Funny, is it not, in a country like ours where there is no dearth of intellects and smart heads, a meaningful constitution, we are still made fun of, because we don’t know how to handle conflicts, problems or confusions. At a higher level we are amazing, take for example Mumbai growing out of 26/11, but at the fundamental level we are ridiculous.
Once we grow up, most of the times we leave school at school, home at home, college at college - what I mean to say is we leave the lessons learnt behind. At school when a student has a problem against his teacher, his parents just don’t stop his studies then and there, or keep him at home the next day, he approaches his parents who in turn approach his teacher or the head of the school and sort it out. It would safe to assume that this is the most mature way of handling the problem.
Now, what makes a society, a nation? The fundamental building block is a home, a family! For every second issue if our parents had gone on strike none of us would be educated by now, or at college. When we come across a problem, instead of approaching it if we start bunking classes, at the end we suffer shortage, withdrawal of a subject or a indelible mark on our marks cards for the rest of our lives. Or let’s just imagine our parents went on strike against us. So why does it change when it comes to society - because it’s not mine?? It’s everyone’s but not anyone’s.
These are some figures given in The Times of India quoted from a blog post ‘Legally India’ titled 'Bandh (Un)necessarily Evil' regarding a nation-wide bandh against inflation.
Economic loss due to bandh (in crore):
13,000 according to FICCI
10,000 according to Assoc ham
3,000 according to CII
Maharashtra (estimated economic loss Rs 1,000 crore), Karnataka (Rs 725 crore), West Bengal (Rs 250 crore), Kerala, Orissa, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh (Rs 150 crore each) are among the worst-hit states. Though the stock market remained open, trading volume at BSE was down 52% to Rs 2,857crore against daily average of Rs 6,000 crore. Rail operations, especially in east, severely affected with 78 trains, 60 mail and 18 passenger, cancelled and 340 disrupted. At least 96 flights were cancelled across India, with at least 47 departures being cancelled in Mumbai alone. Over 62 lac commercial vehicles remained off road, according to trucker unions.
We don’t realize the consequences for common people when we call for a strike like this or of any sort. Even at the college level, as soon as little problems arise everyone talks about a strike. We are supposed to be citizens of tomorrow, what are u teaching us - every time there's a problem, dissatisfaction, go ahead and call for strike? We talk about being civilized, now during strike we are being terrorized. In our own motherland, a democratic nation, on a day like this we need to think before getting out? How insane!
My favorite line goes ‘If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.’ Politicians badly need to take conflict management classes. These strikes make them nothing more than crybabies throwing tantrums. If you have ever seen a little kid throwing tantrums you’ll know how unpleasant that is. Three more days to go for the Republic Day, first month of the year and what a start! Was Mahatma Gandhi born in our country? I think even he’d think twice before answering this if he were alive.
Like many of the youngsters I have no affinity towards any political party. But I do have my favourites. On a lighter note my most favourite politician is my mother - she’s the president of the house after all. No matter what the problem is she will never let a strike take place. Instead of strikes, we would have an hour's lecture and everything would be sorted out. I’m sure if our mothers were to take over the political scene we would be entirely different! Jobless people would be less. And most important of all, I’d be busy in college instead of writing an article here.
These are my views and this is not against anyone or anything. Figures quoted are from internet sources and are so mentioned at the required places. I welcome your views on this article. Together we can make a difference.
Jean D'Mello - Archives: