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In this scheme of things, our future is being shaped at the cost of our present. We need to understand the pros and cons of bandh, strike or disruption, before indulging further
After witnessing the ugly scene of about 15 “volunteer patriots” belonging to a major political party forcing the staff of State Bank of India (SBI) to close its operations, I am forced again to reflect upon the kind of democratic rule we have in India. Accompanying police were mute spectators when SBI staff was pleading the restive mob to let them serve the customers. I felt ashamed that as a consumer activist I did not go to the support of the dedicated staff of SBI. I would have certainly failed since one cannot fight against a mob. But it is not a good excuse for not taking up the civic responsibility.
India’s constitution has provided for a parliament where our elected representatives are expected to voice their opinion and resolve any differences by a majority vote. It is not on the streets of India where the elected representatives or their followers in the name of showing support to the poor take the rule of law into their hands. Who has given these ‘volunteers’ of democracy the right to enforce their opinion on the silent majority? They are just an infinitesimally tiny part of the society. Still they succeed in creating havoc and deprive others of human rights.
It is but natural that we can differ on the impact of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in branded retail, or increasing diesel price or FDI in aviation or limiting the subsidized LPG cylinders to six per family per year. These weighty issues should be decided in a forum provided by the constitution and not through violent means of Bharat bandhs or city bandhs at the drop of a hat.
I do not blame these ‘volunteers’ for their degrading behaviour. Most are likely to have no jobs and very little education. They might have been even recruited by the so-called political leaders with a promise that some of them may be awarded with a ticket to contest in future corporation elections or be appointed to some government committees or given PDS shop licenses or LPG dealerships or petrol stations to operate, etc. All these avenues provide plenty of opportunity to earn black money. They are the drivers to make these ‘volunteers’ participate in these bandh type of protests. Those who have the most lung power and organizational capacity to inflict maximum hardships on the society are awarded with the opportunity to serve on various government-nominated or elected bodies. This is a cruel irony! This is definitely not democratic rule. What we have is unadulterated mobocracy.
If really concerned citizens with proper values and education were to enter political arena, this type of bandhs will stop. The parliament will really become the place where the future destiny will be shaped, unlike today where it is destroyed by mob violence on the streets of India. Real and dedicated leaders would not stoop down to high-handed manner of shouting and threats to prevent others of their rights to travel by public transportation or earn their livelihood or attend schools. How many street vendors and daily wage earners suffered on the bandh days? These are the very people in whose names these protests are organized.
The Supreme Court has ruled that any organization which calls for bandhs will be held responsible. Still it is a mystery that bandhs are organized by the political parties at their sweet will. Could the Supreme Court suo motu have taken up the case soon after the political parties threatened the Bharat bandh to prevent it? In a properly functioning democracy any political party which indulges in such citizen unfriendly behaviour would have been punished during the elections.
But in India unfortunately our voters still do not know that they have such power or responsibility. We have succeeded in bringing corruption to the national agenda. Let us hope that leaders like Anna Hazare and Santosh Hegde will take up a new movement to promote the election of honest political leaders to govern us. We need a movement to promote better governance. It can be achieved only when we can elect honest, competent and dedicated leaders like the ones we had soon after our Independence.
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