By Atul C. Sarma
Louisville, KY: This has reference to the news item —Economic loss due to bandh: 13,000 crore — published in India Tribune dated July 17.
According to the report, India lost Rs. 13,000 crore during the Bharat Bandh recently organized by the Opposition parties against price hike and rising inflation in Maharastra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Delhi alone. This becomes visible in the national press headlines only because the main metro-areas are directly hit by its impact. The loss, however, depicts the tip of the iceberg — a continuing evil concocting massive economic wounds to the nation.
If the media would routinely cover the nationwide daily news from all regions of the country, I wonder, if there could have been a day without having such bandh elsewhere in the country!
Bandh is an instrument of protest organized by nation’s political parties making it a social pastime. Nowhere in the modern world, such irrational, ill-conceived and self-destructive protest takes place. To exercise democratic rights and privileges, a bandh should not be a weapon for political parties to promote economic chaos. Economy is the backbone of standard of living directly related to people’s life. Politics is a grocery-shopping venture of some vested interest to harness profitable mileage to grab the power-grid locally, regionally and nationally. The people, who have no respect to the ethics of labor, are prone to jump into the protest bandwagon without understanding its impact on national and social life; and the organizers claim victory taking irresponsibility for granted.
The huge population of India, mostly living in rural areas, cares very little for political gimmicks such as bandhs organized by the leaders, who hardly understand economic implications. When the economy is growing and the standard of living of people has started showing improvement, because of the Gram Vikash projects that have started providing power supply, running water, basic needs for education, healthcare, communication and employment in rural areas, the disgruntled political parties, which have failed miserably during the elections, are calling for all sorts of agitations including bandhs with no valid provocation.
As India Tribune reported, the IMF projects, the Indian economy is growing at 9.50 percent, whereas the growth rate of developed industrial nations trailing behind India and China by enviable margins. The price rise is directly related to the supply. Prices go up when production falls due to bandhs.
Under relatively low productivity, naturally price rise is inevitable. Due to continuing global depression, the entire economy of the world has shrunk.
A year and a half ago, for the Indian commodities that we bought in the US marketplaces, we paid almost half the price of today. Inflation is directly related to the buying power of the customer. No matter how the political parties cry, the economic growth of the country enhances the buying power in India. On the other hand, the monopoly of certain essential commodities, such as oil, petrochemicals, and raw materials, controlled by a cluster of OPEC nations mainly from Middle East, has augmented the inflation in the world market. Propor-tionately, the prices of industrial products have risen during this hard time of global economy.
The government is not made in heaven to subsidize cost rise at all the times. It will have to pass the burden on to the consumers. The parties, which are not in power, and which are organizing bandhs only with an intention to grab the power, must understand that they too cannot control rising prices because they have already damaged the economic system by their ill-conceived agitations. Because of the policies adopted by the Indian and Chinese governments and maintaining national productivity to meet the needs of the own markets, and the surpluses for export, the IMF projects a rosy picture of their growth rates.
Costing the nation economically by observing frequent bandh is a sinful act. It can be construed as an anti-national and unpatriotic activity equivalent to terrorism. The acts of road-blockades that cripple the transportation, shutting down the marketplaces, and closing the operations and offices, disturb the lives of daily wage earners and common people, more than they affect the lives of affluent politicians and businessmen. Such activities do not serve any constructive purpose other than creating more direct and collateral propagation of politically supported social disorders and hooliganism.
If India is free of those frequent daily bandhs, its economic growth could surpass that of China. It is possible that the cumulative loss caused by all those bandhs could outweigh India’s GDP.
A bandh is a political terrorism unleashed by the political parties, which are out of power with an intention to grab the power. Bandhs do not help people or the economy of the country. It is high time that India — the nation-in-rise — formulated a stringent anti-bandh legislation to shut down such anti-national activities of all organizations — political or non-political —making them responsible to pay for economic loss of the nation.