Ban the Bandh...!

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:

By Jean D'Mello
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Comment on this article

  • Siddhartha shankar Mishra, Sambalpur/Odisha

    Fri, May 10 2013

    How long this will carry on ? Do you think this Bandhs will bring any change ? My question is pretty simple. What next? Yes, a point sure has been raised, and stuffs the voices have been heard. But will this change anything? I don't think so. And the reason for this - past experience.

    I'm not against protests. Its our birth right to raise voice against any wrong doings. But as long as protesting doesn't cause long term impact (or at least some impact), there is no point to it. So if you want to protest, give it some meaning, not jut for the sake of doing it.

  • Ann Pais, bejai, mangalore

    Wed, Jan 26 2011

    Awesome article......too good..sometimes i even think to myself why do we have the political parties...anyways i hope so God lead them in the right way.

  • Aaron Lewis, MANGALORE

    Wed, Jan 26 2011


  • Abraham Coutinho, Mundkur/Bombay

    Tue, Jan 25 2011

    Constitution of India enshrines fundamental rights to it's citizens. Right of Expression is one. So you exercise this to protest. You are not given a right for forceful bandh or destruction of public property. For example, an hotelier & his union can go on strike by closing their hotels for a day or more to protest vegetable/onion price increase. Further take a "Morcha" on road. It should be peaceful and with Police Permission in advdance. So far ok. But they can not stop buses or destroy vegetable shops or hurt venders.

    One is allowed to enjoy his Fundamental Right without disturbing/hurting others Fundmental Right else pay/compensate for the loss.

    What happens now is, the political parties raise the issue and to show or to know by themseleves their strength they call the Strike/protest and go for destruction so that the people or the opposite party should fear. This is not justified.

    The concept of strike/hartal/bandh was used by Mahatma Gandhi also then against British but he had not all initiated the concept of destruction. British were driven out and our presnent day politicians retained the bandh culture with wrong concept of destructions that is what hurts and creates loss for the nation.

    When the shops on the road side were made to close and Govt./private buses went off the road for fear of loss and public do not peep out fearing casualty, the Political Parties call it a "successful Bandh" at public cost.

    We do not need such bandhs.

  • iarab, Bangalore

    Tue, Jan 25 2011

    It is heartening to see that the perpetrators of this Karnataka bundh are issued High court notice. Want to see them behind the bars, so that other miscreant politicians will not dare to attempt a bundh call.

  • Antony Herbert Crasta, Mangalore/Sydney,Australia

    Tue, Jan 25 2011

    Bandhs are evil and a curse primarily on the people and also on the nation at large, due to which a lot of income and revenue is lost, and hence, should be avoided at any cost. Should they, however, become necessary, adequate prior notice should be given so that the common people do not get caught up and face hardship and inconvenience. In any case, the Bandh should not be carried out to make a political point as apparently has been the case recently in Karnataka. By the way, enjoyed reading your article Jean - nicely compiled and written. Keep going!


    Mon, Jan 24 2011


  • Syed Mohiddin Saheb, Sastan / Muscat

    Mon, Jan 24 2011

    Nice Article. The BANDH should be Banned. No permission should be granted to call for Bandh.

  • Bobby Malhotra, Mulki

    Mon, Jan 24 2011

    Ms.SHEILA RAI, BELMAN..May be you are not aware the person behind in the past for bundhs/hartal..none other than famous union leaders like..Mr.P.D'Mello (for docks), Mr.George Fernandes(for hotels/railways/bus),Mr.Quadros (kal-pila taxi)..etc..There 'parampara' continued by others..Always look for root-cause of problem and not what present happenings..Who has started all these bundhs.. none other than christian union leaders!! Jai Ho..

  • George Cruz, Mangalore/USA

    Sun, Jan 23 2011

    I totally agree with Mr. shetty, Mangalore. The corrupt congress & JD(s)party is teying to destroy Yeddy & BJP in Karnataka.

  • Felix F., India/Ksa

    Sun, Jan 23 2011

    In my opinion the only accountable, loss, that can be attributed to Bundhs (Not frequent bundhs) and those who suffer from Bundhs, are common people, whose income depends on daily sales, like, retailers, restaurants, Fish/vegetable/Meat vendors, auto rickshows/Taxis owned by individuals, daily wages workers and the like, and not the Economic loss due to bandh (in crore): as mentioned in the article.

    These losses in crores are only in paper, and for statistics. Nobody suffers any loss worth debating.

  • Mervin D'souza, Belman/Dubai

    Sun, Jan 23 2011

    Timely article and a wake up call for all of us.It really shows the struggle of a common man in India during these Bandhs.Youngsters with a refined thinking process against these Bandhs is the only hope...keep writing jean...

  • Clara Lewis, Kemmannu/Dubai

    Sun, Jan 23 2011

    Yes Mr. Eico lobo people power should conquer all this silliness, what happened in Tunisia is eye opener to all power hungry leaders. Now only people power should save India from corruption.


    Sun, Jan 23 2011



    Sun, Jan 23 2011


  • shetty, Mangalore

    Sun, Jan 23 2011

    Shame on this governor & the congress...they are responsible for all these...what else can people do when their mandate is openly disregarded & one old biased governor acts on his own??

  • Joel Fernandes, Mangalore/Kuwait

    Sun, Jan 23 2011

    Lovely article. The ruling party calls for a Bundh, common man suffers but most Kannadiga common man have been blinded and vote the same party. Yeah, like hell, do we have a choice of a "good" party? None. India is only infested with bad politics, self-gratifying politicians and look to prosper themselves alone. Well, I still wonder how politicians have access to the money in the treasury. Can someone explain how they stash away the millions in swiss bank?

  • Ted, Mangalore

    Sun, Jan 23 2011

    Mature. Concise.

  • A.S.Mathew, U.S.A.

    Sun, Jan 23 2011

    Good and timely article.

    I have seen several labour strikes
    in the U.S. by the airlines
    pilot association but no
    destruction to private or public
    property. If they destroy any
    property or touch human lives due
    to their strikes, they will be
    liable, and will end up in jail for
    longer period.

    But, the communist influence in
    India and the neighbouring countries have created this
    anti-social disease with the whole
    intention to cripple the normal
    life of all people. More
    disorder and destruction means,
    greater victory for their ultimate

    It seems like a fun for all to have
    seasonal "Bundh", but the majority
    of the people never calculate the
    lost of wealth, time and productivity of the state or nation! Many industries and
    capital investments are lost to
    those states with the highest
    number of strikes and Bundh.

    Karnataka's lost
    property value is figured out as
    Rs. 2000 crores, but there are other lost list when totally
    added, it may be Rs. 10000 crores.

    There must be a total ban of
    Bundh in India: I have experienced
    a few times while visiting India.
    For the foreign visitors, it is a
    rare experience of terrible
    memories and inconveniences.

    All political parties must unite
    to make a law to ban Bundh and
    other unnecessary strikes which
    will create problems for our
    normal life and peace. Stop
    this hooliganism and insanity under
    the pretex of "Bundh".

  • Westor, Kallianpur

    Sun, Jan 23 2011

    It is a shame that the ruling party calls for a bandh and "IMPOSES" it on others. They later have the audacity to claim that the public "CO-OPERATED" with them in ensuring its success. The losses cannot be measured. A patient needing immediate medical help may lose his life or a youth can lose his job as he fails to turn up for an interview owing to these senseless bandhs.

    Destroying public property in the name of protest is foolishness of the highest order. The government (and public) are supposed to safeguard them, but we see that the government itself is hell bent on making the common man's life miserable.

    We vote not just for change, but for "POSITIVE CHANGE". Somehow that's not feasible as long as these goons run our state.

    Jean, it is heartening to note that a student like you is against a bandh when i am sure most of your peers think otherwise. Well written article. Keep it up !!!

  • floyd d'souza,

    Sun, Jan 23 2011

    gr8 article jean! especially d last part. n even i do support ur cause. btw dis was an eye opener 4 me. everytym i used 2 wait 4 such occassions like bandhs, so that we get an extra holiday. bt u ve changed my thinking! hats off 2 u!!
    vl defenitely take ur autograph next time i meet u. i think u shud leave engineering. become a writer!
    ur both d articles were awesome!
    i m now excited 4 d 3rd article of yours 2 come out!!!!

  • Syed Mohiddin Saheb, Sastan / Muscat

    Sun, Jan 23 2011

    Nice Article. BANDH should be bandh. It should be banned and the leaders of party calling for Bandh should be arrested and punished. These leaders dont have proper enough education,knoweldge. These selfish, so called patriotic leaders, spoils the PEACE and HARMONY of our society,nation. The police or secutity should provide safety to the business, colleges,education centres,general public instead of so called,dirty,uneducated culprits.There should not be any permission to any party's call for Bandh.

  • Jawar D'Souza, Doha/M'lore

    Sun, Jan 23 2011

    The people who call for this Bandh should be caught and hanged in public so that no one will be calling for a Bandh. We are the only people going to pay for the losses which cteated by a handful of Goons.when will the people get educated god only knows. Article was good Jean keep on writing may God Bless you.

  • Bobby Malhotra, Mulki

    Sun, Jan 23 2011

    Good Article by Ms.Jean D'Mello..You are absolutely right..but person behind these bundh/hartal in the past none other than..famous union leaders viz. Mr.P.D'Mello/George Fernandes/Quadros etc.. Jai Ho..

  • Ruchir Agarwal, mangalore

    Sun, Jan 23 2011

    Well written article Jean.A lot of patience and effort has gone into it.
    As long as our politicians are there we cannot stop these bundhs.But what one must raise his voice is the way its suddenly called at the of a hat!! At least a weeks intimation must be given to the public and various institutions so that they can prepone or postpone their event or schedule.Saturdays bundh caused immense harship to the common man, the businessman and also to the schools ,colleges and hospitals.A particular School had to postpone their School day at the last minute.

  • praveen, mangalore

    Sat, Jan 22 2011

    thee repeated bandhs in our country are one of resons slowing our is time we banned them entirely.our b p o industry clients laugh and if we tell them we have a bandh here.

  • rico lobo, nakre post,karkala

    Sat, Jan 22 2011

    jean,your article is truly an eye opener,little do the big wigs realise whats at stake for the daily wage earner and those that make a humble living from day to day,this is the century when we the populace should show our dislike for any party or politician by voting them out!!!! sadly this is not the case and we trudge along...besides the economic cost to the state and exchequer,what was gained by this "bundh",really needs to be debated...if a bunch of jokers/politicians/goons can run and ruin our country/state,its time to get rid of them...people power should conquer all this silliness...jai hind

  • Lawrence, Mangalore

    Sat, Jan 22 2011

    its shame on ruling party of karnataka to call for a Bandh. its a too of weak parties to call for a bandh. Opposition parties used to call a bandh but now days have come that ruling parties call the bundh. high court or supreme court should rule out the loss of the day and should make politicians to pay who had called bandh and who have participated in this. India is moving towords the literacy and the people behave as if they ar illiterate. God save them and lead them in correct ways.

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