Definitions from Wikipedia
Bandh, originally a Sanskrit word meaning “closed”, is a form of protest used by political activists in South Asian countries such as India and Nepal.
Hartal (pronounced [həɽt̪aːl]) is a term in many South Asian languages for strike action, first used during the Indian Independence Movement (also known as the nationalist movement). It is mass protest often involving a total shutdown of workplaces, offices, shops, courts of law as a form of civil disobedience. In addition to being a general strike, it involves the voluntary closing of schools and places of business.
There was a time and place for Hartal’s and bandh’s, but all political parties use this as a vocation to express their grievance for anything and every thing. A call to inaction that cripples the country. Most of these strikes are enforced by goons of the major political parties and has negligible public support.
what was once used as a purpose to pressure government into action about essential issues that had been neglected or issues that revoked the fundamental rights of citizens is now used by political parties at large as a measure to show their clout.
Lately the pattern of strikes by unions and political parties seem to focus on disrupting the lives of ordinary citizens. In fact the objective of such strikes is to inconvenience the public at large and gain browny points by appearing to fight for a just cause.
For a country like India strikes by a single union or even a small faction can affect millions of people. Given the number and frequency of strikes, it feels like strikes do more harm to the general public and is primarily a vehicle for political PR and marketing.
The cost of a Bharath Bandh is between 18,000 to 25,000 crore. The cost of a hartal (state wide strike) is about 900 crore.
The hardships caused to the common man by a strike are multifarious
- Revenue loss
- Students are affected
- Daily laborers and workers lose wages
- Patients get affected (Its better these days)
- Tourism industry and small businesses are affected
- Visitors and travelers are affected
- People’s lives are at risk
- Compulsion to participate in bandhs
This is so disheartening when the entire nation is suffering from poor economic growth, corruption and other issues. India is the biggest democracy in the world. In a democratic setup, everyone has the right to articulate their views and vocalize their problems as long as it does not lead to infringement of law. In a number of developed countries including the US and France, an embargo has been put on bandhs or strikes. It is quite regrettable that the political parties in India abuse the democratic rights of the people by calling these bandhs and strikes which often cause a roadblock to the economic development of the nation. People can’t go to work, students are unable to go to school, and exams get postponed. The backbone of the economy is affected badly. Is this the thing we looked for in independent India, certainly not! There is no logic for calling these bandhs and strikes when so much hardship is caused to the common people. It is the common people who bear the brunt of these so-called machinations of public welfare.
In this day and age there are tools like change.org where people have been campaigning for a call to action and have succeeded in enabling the change, why are we still relegated to the mediocrity of pre-independence struggle with the British Raj.
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