This Monday evening when I went to the market to buy regular groceries, I found the auto driver a bit depressed & after enquiring, he said that there was no business through the day because of the bandh. Disruptions because of bandhs affected him badly.
Over the years, Bandh has become the only way for the politician, associations & fringe elements to stage protest over various socioeconomic issues. Disrupting lives, causing inconvenience, burning public properties are the benchmarks for evaluating success of these bandhs. People living at the bottom of the pyramid like Drivers, Daily wage worker, Street food vendors, shopkeepers get badly affected by bandhs. For many, a day of no work means sleeping without food in the night. People calling bandh lived in ivory towers celebrates inconvenience of common people as successful. Hungry stomach of poor people can never be or should be benchmark of successful bandhs. Its high time that political parties innovate new way of staging protest.
This brings to my next point- The other important new understanding is that mobocracy is the voice of population. Mobs forced closure of workplaces, schools, colleges & in some case even hospitals. They jam roads, block train movements & do chest thumping for voicing concern of common man whereas the very common man is denied of basic care because of forced bandhs.
Shaheen Bagh, Impasse at Delhi border due to farmers protest, Maharashtra Bandh this Monday… list is very long. Leaders of all political or non-political associations are always selective on the issues of protest. If they believe that the topic can be politically beneficial, they force strikes otherwise they will dump common man on their own. The same BJP who championed the cause of price rise during UPA are now keeping a blind eye to the ever-increasing prices of petrol, diesel & important commodities. But none in the opposition are interested in cornering the government on the issue price rise. Opposition parties are interested in protesting Lakhimpur violence because of the impending state elections. Before I move on to my next point, do you know- Everyone is turning blind eye on recent selective killings in Kashmir.
Here is the thing- Because of Bandhs, Kids not able to attend school, patients not able to reach hospital on time, office goers must take forced leave, daily wage earners sleeping without any food in his stomach, and of course loss of property. People do not move out to avoid getting injured or their vehicle get punctured or damaged. Hooligans on the road force people to close shops, not allowing to move outside of house. Do you know slowly but surely political parties will lose support of common people because of the inconvenience caused by these bandhs.
This brings me to my next very important point. Is bandhs or strikes being the only way to stage protest? Can organizers of these bandhs can be innovative to find new means to stage protest where common people are spared from the inconvenience. Can’t they find an empathetic approach to connect & garner support of common people.
Its high time that political parties review protesting through Bandhs. Support by invoking fear can never be sustainable. There can be multiple ways to stage protest without disturbing the lives of common people. Why not state choose to provide food to all poor farmers for a month in village panchayat to stage protest or why not they choose to distribute leaflet to everyone to garner support for the cause.
If we quickly run through few protests that resulted in meaningful achievement, we should know that none of them are violent protest or protest lead by mobs, yet are very successful
- India against corruption by Anna Hazare was one of the most successful campaigns but not a single time, it caused inconvenience to common public.
- In May 2018, protesting bus drivers in the Japanese city of Okayama have been completing their routes – but not taking fares from passengers.
- The Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955–1956)- To protest racial segregation and inequality for blacks, Montgomery’s black population refused to use public transportation
- The Tree Sitters of Pureora (1978)- To protest deforestation, people Built tree houses, refused to leave them.
No one ever benefits from strike. Its time now that inconvenience to people must be avoided & new, innovative & meaningful ways to be identified for staging protests. Otherwise, very soon political parties will lose support of common citizens.