Sep 20, 2012

All Stop! [264/365]

Source: Mangalore Today
Bandh- One of Gandhi's only legacy that all political parties practice.

Many years ago, when I attended school for a short period in Kerala during the Gulf War, there would be an average of one bandh a week. Every single week. We used to have atleast 3 weekly off days, and as school kids this was simply amazing. I can't tell you how I loved listening to the radio in the morning when the newsreader would announce a State-wide bandh that day. Double that ecstasy if there was a class test on that day. YAY!

That was 20 years ago. Keralites gradually became weary of the frequent bandhs because of the way it held the State to ransom.
The High Court banned parties from declaring any more bandhs and urged politicians to figure a more meaningful way of non-violent protest. That gave birth to hartals. Not much has changed and there has been about 363 hartals in the 7 years since.

India was held at knife-point today by one of her main Opposition parties - Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - to protest a litany of sins that the ruling party has committed.
If you ask me, there was nothing Bharatiya or pro-Janata in declaring a bandh that accomplishes nothing but mind-numbing losses to the national exchequer. It is said that for every day of shut down, the State and Central governments loose tens of thousands of crores in revenue. Not to mention loss of private business revenue. Ofcourse, no one is complaining since coming close to Ganesh Chathurti (yesterday) and the weekend (day after tomorrow), most Indians would have just taken the Friday (tomorrow) off to jet off on a 5 day impromptu vacation. Who's bothered if the country just lost about a 5th of its GDP because of the bandh?

It appears like our elected and non-elected representatives are waiting for a reason to shut shop. Having lived through a dozen such, it won't take an rocket scientist to figure out how this will turn out.

  1. The ruling party passes a bill/legislation.
  2. The opposition will fight for it. It does not matter what the legislation is or how it will help the nation. 
  3. The opposition will demand a rollback. Demand duly refused.
  4. The opposition will demand the resignation of every single minister starting from the PM.
  5. The PM will refuse to resign. 'Make me'
  6. Opposition declares a bandh.
  7. Bandh happens.
  8. The ruling party will not move a finger.
  9. Second bandh happens.
  10. Partial or complete rollback of offending bill/legislation.
  11. Opposition will claim victory.
  12. Repeat cycle.
As news hungry journalists prowled the nation for reports of violence, I saw a report about the unique way the government in Kerala approached the issues of increase in diesel. The citizens understood why the prices were hiked and the government simply lowered the tax that it charges on the fuel per litre and brought the burden down by just as much. This was one of the reasons why life went on as normal in a land where you'd have an average of one hartal every fortnight.

Which brings me to the question; Mr Advani, would you mind paying for the loss that this country has suffered because of the bandh you announced?
Meanwhile, Mr Gandhi is rolling in his grave at the way our politicians have corrupted a concept he popularized.
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