Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

The Bandh – then and now

In Uncategorized on July 10, 2010 at 3:55 pm

The nation came to stand still on July 5, 2010. A bandh was called by united opposition against price rise especially decontrolling of fuel prices by government.The bandh was more or less free from violence and no unwanted incident was reported. This was biggest all India strike in last several years, the last one was organized when Indira Gandhi imposed emergency suspending the constituion.

Before comparing these two major strikes, leaders and people who participated in both, lets analyze the reaction of various sections to the bandh that was organized on July 5, 2010.

There were clearly three sections emerging who immediately declared the bandh as unconstitutional, illegal, against the people and against the economy. First and most vocal was representative of Government and ruling alliance members against whom the bandh was called and who declared their unwillingness to reconsider the decision on fuel price even before the bandh began. on the night of 4th July 2010, Finance Minister has declared that there is no question of revisiting the decision.

The second group who cricized the bandh was industry associations like CII, FICCI, Assocham etc. FICCI has declared that Bandh has cost a loss of Rs. 13,000 crore to the nation. CII declared the cost as Rs. 3000 crore. [ Rs. 13,000 crore per day is overall estimated value for our economy, so according to FICCI it was a complete loss, though later CII and Assocham tried to balance the equation and came up with altered figures.]

The third major group that criticized the bandh is constituted by people who had nothing on stake with success or failure of bandh but who oppose any deviation from normal peaceful and “law-bound” life.

Its not that everyone else was happy with the Bandh or wanted it to be successful, but others have accepted that some major protest is required to create pressure on the government on price rise which has crossed all limits in recent months and no respite is visible to common man in future.

Decontrolling of fuel price is a complex issue and there are various dimensions to it. But one thing is clear that Government was under tremendous pressure by oil companies and under that pressure it decided to revert the decision taken years back by Indira Gandhi to bring fuel price under Government Control and thus giving oil companies a free hand to decide the price. One important factor that government wants to hide and opposition do not want to talk about is various taxes on petroleum products which if combined together is almost 100%.  Government decided to keep earning tax-money on fuel and pass the burden of increasing prices to the end consumer. Taking  a clue from the  Government  transporters have also decided to pass on the burden further and the process stopped at the consumer standing last in the chain.

so will this bandh help the common man? can common man expect some relief after successful and historical bandh?

The answer is “NO WAY”.

Did someone ask “why”?

To understand this, we need to go back to emergency period and all India strike organized by people at that time. that was the time when there were no 24X7 media channels, no sms opinion polls etc.

But major difference was of the leadership of opposition.

During emergency,the difference between income of common man and income of party leaders was minimal or negligible, though leaders like Jaiprakash Narayana still had 50 times annual income as compared to the average income of common man at that time. The situation has drastically changed since then. The average property of Members of Parliament (MP) elected in 15th Loksabha is Rs. 6 crore. And in terms of average annual income, the difference is of 2000- 2000000 times as compared to average common man. So when these leaders talk about increasing prices, it simply doesn’t make sense.

Similarly the drastic difference of leadership of Government is also there. Though Indira Gandhi had suspended the constitution and imposed emergency but she was aware of the importance of mass support, she had contested loksabha elections herself . Another positive side of her was that she responded to all communication to her, even if it means communicating to worst of political enemies, the letter written by Jaiprakash Narayan and her regular responses are proof of that.

Our present leadership is totally out of touch, Prime Minister has never contested election and has no intention of doing so. Communication with people and opposition happens only through media and “answerable” is  an alien term.

Thats why, common man can not expect any immediate relief unless he decide to change or create leadership, change our attitude and decide to take on these heavyweights…even if it means more bandhs, hartals, disruption and restlessness…