By Bhavita Kukreja:
A Bharat Bandh was declared on the 20th of September by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Left Parties to protest against Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and price hike in diesel and LPG subsidies. Taking note of the country as a whole, the protest was a peaceful one but protestors had disrupted road and rail traffic in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha. It was seen in some parts of Delhi that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) protestors forced shopkeepers who had opened their shops to shut them down. Even in Assam normal life was disrupted- markets, shops, educational institutions, banks and private offices remained closed while long distance private buses were off the roads. This incurred the government a loss of Rs 2,000 crores in just one day.
Industries like The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said that the Bharat Bandh caused losses ranging between 1000 crores to 12,500 crores to the economy and it would obviously impact the economy adversely. Even though all parts of the country were shut down and were affected by the Bharat Bhandh, Mumbai, the financial capital of our country wasn’t affected much owing to the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi across Maharashtra. It is not just shops which were supporting the protest but also the many auto drivers. Although they were all out on the streets, they refused to take in passengers proving that they were a part of the protest.
We all have heard and seen numerous debates on television and in the newspapers regarding the FDI and the rise in diesel prices: the protest was also regarding these issues. This impacted the economy greatly; at this point of time the economy cannot afford to bear such losses. Although the move of the government to get FDI into our country will deeply affect the economy and will put at stake the earning source of many families by virtue of the entry of these foreign stores. At present it certainly is affecting the lives of the middle class families with the constant rise in the prices of fuel, be it petrol or diesel or even LPG subsidies. The need of the hour is for the opposition parties to understand that this move of theirs affected the families living below the poverty line in specific, as the many vendors on the streets who put up carts and earn their daily living were not allowed to put them up. The political leaders can afford to go on a strike and take the day off but they have to realise that in the cities there are many people who earn on a daily basis and that is how they survive.
The Bharat Bandh may have been a success for the political leaders as they got tremendous support from the citizens of India. But never once did they think of the common man who had to suffer owing to the same and who has been suffering for long now. It is not only about those who are least affected by such moves but also about all those who do not get to earn their daily wages and are thus forced to starve the whole day and sleep on an empty stomach. It certainly is not about not standing up against what is wrong but, it is about choosing the right way while taking every aspect into consideration.