Wednesday, November 19, 2008

BANDHS & CLOSERS NOT A SOLUTION

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Feeling the continuous pinch of the closers of markets places, educational institutions, health centres, financial institutions, post offices, telegraph services, water supply& electric services, bandhs, hartals, strikes and alike over a period of months in the State Of J&K , I am reminded of contents of my article ‘The city of bandh’ published in a local daily of Jammu dated 6th DEC.1992. Since then the numerous bands called in J&K and else where have claimed many precious lives, property worth many crores have been destroyed, besides loss of millions of working man -days. In the name of a bandh, organisers take the whole society to ransom. Trains, buses, educational institutions, medical institutions and other community services don't run. Several people die each time. Insurmountable difficulties are faced by many innocents. This has happened despite the facts that Kerala High Court banned the bands in 1997 and this was upheld subsequently by the Supreme Court of India. Resorting to a bandh is wholly impermissible." Said the apex Court bench. Every body wants to solve the problem of his way, with out caring for the established procedure under the law of the land. Such situations are unfortunate and the society suffers.
It is not that always bandh & hartals organisers are un- justified to give a call for a justified cause, the delayed action of the Government agencies to resolve the issues result in delays in correcting their wrongful decision putting the public to inconveniences, loss to precious lives & property. A recent such example is Gujjars Agitation of Rajasthan in which the government is more responsible for the losses than any body else. Another long settled issues are of “Reservation to the Dalits includes OBC’S”, article 370, water sharing, which causes troubles without any solid results, contrary to their existing status. Such Constitutional issues should be found solutions in the Constitutional institutions.
In present agitations in J&K too showing indifferent attitude to the growing tension by the state authorities is more responsible than the public for the present tension. The whole matter has been mishandled from the beginning and now both sides are trapped in such a situation that any further delay may be so disastrous that we may have to repent for this delay for a very long time. The bandh scars are growing sourer day by day. It is not the matter of prestige of any individual government functionary or party but the safety and connivance of the suffering masses. Which should be addressed immediately? The government should come up with a solid solution to solve the impasse, so that peace & prosperity returns to suffering state subjects. The government authorities should not display as, if, they are working for the British Crown and to earn more appreciations for them, they adopt more tortuous methods towards their Indian subjects. But the authorities must know present the truth of “Masses are the masters and Government functionaries are their servants, engaged to work for their welfare and not for unjustified torturing the masses” The parties involved should think to solve the warring problem by adopting peaceful ways & means, so that peace& brotherhood our the most prestigious heritage are no further damaged for satisfying false ego of individuals and parties involved in the present turmoil. The State has already suffered much in the last 20 years of militancy virus. Let our leaders and government managers follow full restrain in their public utterances so that atmosphere of trust and brotherhood returns in already hatred charged atmosphere. It is easy to spread peas, but difficult to repack those spread peas and restored original flavour. I wish before this article is published, the normalcy returns to the Crown of Indian States namely J&K. All those who have suffered losses to their properties and families of those who have attained martyrdom are duely compensated and rehabilitated with perennial sources of livelihood .
As the society is becoming more mechanized & complex day by day but it still inherits numerous human & machines imperfections. The large number of vehicles & pedestrian using already congested roads some are bound to meet with accidents, large number of patients under going treatments for various diseases, some of more serious nature are bound to die in hospitals, large number of daily visitors to various places of pilgrims & hill stations are bound to face difficulties for man made & natural reasons, water taps have to go dry & electric transmissions are bound to get defective, roads are bound to get slips & damages for obvious reasons, prices are to rise. Despite best efforts by authorities adulterations& under weighing shall continue by some greedy business persons, police personnel’s at times shall continue to be unreasonable, bazaars & lanes shall continue to be occupied by small business persons, demolishing of unauthorised structures shall have to be resorted to by the authorities, dispute have to be there in a vibrant society, but all these should not provoke us to resort to bandhs, hartals and put the society to ransom and damage our national property. Before resorting to such actions, we must think about the welfare and bread earning of vendors, rehriwallas, pheriwalas (vendors with or without hand driven trolleys), phariwalas( Vendors selling goods on footpaths), way side shoe mender, small tea staler, daily milkmen moving on bi-cycles or scooters, daily wagers and many such who live on day to day earnings , patients who need immediate medical attentions. How daily bread earners pass their days with out life’s supporting commodities should worry us all. Whether their kitchens are running or not, whether their infants and children are getting food or not should be our common concern, so we should not drive them to point of starvation due to none of their faults. These poor people are not party to any wrong decision of the governments or political activists, so why put them to suffer, and it should be thought twice by the leaders or government functionaries before getting their ego satisfied. It has been seen in the past that some of the student unions need no excuse to engage in acts of vandalism and destroy the democratic fabric of our country. Resorting to large scale bandh hartals, on delay in sanctioning a DA instalment, wrongly fixing seniority of a few employee union leaders, disciplinary action for wrong committed by employees, delay in settling pay increase or finding an insect in public tap or a lockout in a factory cannot be justified for large scl bandh calls, so general masses should not fall prey to such mistakes of individuals. To settle such disputes, remedial measures enshrined in statue books should be followed. The Government agencies should put up in place effective grievances redressal systems so as to nip the evil in the bud. Any small spark if not controlled in time can take the form of a big fire disaster , so situations should be controlled on the first small adverse smell.
Un-law full acts by individuals or governments agencies even in foreign country provoke for bands& hartals. Particularly in developing countries instances of bands & hartals are numerous there by putting the life out of gear and bringing halts to all normal activities. But a large damage to life & property in India during bands & hartals is crossing all limits. During bands & hartals, political party workers, individual & specially hired goons for the purposes are seen destroying life & property as ,if, they are fighting against some foreign anti social elements. They forget that the property they are destroying is their national property & the persons loosing lives are their own country men. Why the organisers forget that the property being burnt by them during bands have been created from their money aced out from them in the form of taxes & the property so destroyed shall have to be re-built from their money at the cost of new developmental works. The anti Indian forces desire & plan to keep Indian development hampered, create hatred among different ethnic groups, religions, regions etc. Mostly the practical shape the things take during hartals, produce undesired damages. How so ever the good intentions may be of the organisers of bandh hartals, the path traversed is mostly the same. The band organisers go projecting in their speeches that they are doing so to save their union interests, their political agendas for the welfare of the country & its residents. Some others say that they are fighting to safeguard the interests of a particular religion or region under false threats.
If hartals is in- abatable, to awaken authorise from their slumber, it should not be stretched even for a moment than absolute essential. Resorting to democratic procedures for dispute resolving is the best and convenient way, it should be tried first.
Again continuing the storey of bandhs & their ill effects and reasons to avoid them it may be said that as per the records Kerala State of Indian union was slapped during 2006 about 223 hartals putting the state to revenue loss of over 2000 crores.The Kerala State Road Transport alone suffered a loss of Rupees ten crores in 2006 & Rupees 8.75 Crores in 2007 due to bands. The Kerala state nearly 3.5% of total population accounts for organising bandhs/ hartals out of which 0.5% are political party’s workers& 3% employees. They caused Rupees 233 per day bandh per person against average earning of Rupees 150per person per day. In an other estimate, one Indian city suffered a loss of Rupees ten crores to public property in a single day’s hartals. Keeping in view that the peaceful Hartals or protests as a part of democratic dispensation, so the Supreme Court of India in another judgement refused to grant stay to political reinforced bandh termed as Hartals Also keeping in view the comforts of the public during hartals, the Apex court simultaneously issued directives to the governments to maintain, peace, harmony and ensure the safety to public & public property during hartals. The Kerala High Court issued directives to the parties & government to ensure to maintain of normal life & transport, protect life & property. The court further issuer direction to the organisers of hartals to give to the effected parties’ proper compensation for damages to life & property from bandh initiating party accounts. In 2004 the Supreme Court even imposed a fine of Rupees Twenty Lakhs each of the two political parties, for giving bandh call in Mumbai on a major incident of bomb blast. West Bengal normally takes the cake in organising bands, but if, prevailing conditions don’t improve for good, I am afraid Jammu may take the lead this time.
Generally many audiences are ill informed. The bandh organisers at times spit so much poison that its poisonous reaction leave residuals effects for long time, some times resulting in more bandhs. The organisers of such bands forget the golden fact, ‘In safe & prosper India lies the safety & prosperity of all individuals, all regions, all religions all political parties’. To progress, we must have peaceful conditions, which are impaired in hartals & bands infested conditions.
Let the political parties in opposition evaluate truthfully the conditions of the things when they were in power, and the ruling bosses not to postpone possible solutions to solvable problems to a time when they shall be in the opposition and then find solutions by organising bands. The government agencies are kept engaged controlling of such destructive activities as bandhs, leaving hardly any time to attend to the welfare measures required for the society.
We have huge problems concerning our masses wanting immediate solutions & adequate financial resources have to be found to solve them. So where is time and justification to waste our resources in unproductive bandhs and hartals? In India we have yet to find employment to ever increasing unemployed youths , whose number was18.7 millions(1995-96) Yet in rural India 45% of our population is illiterate and 49% of our children in the age group of 6 to14 years are not in schools. A large number of our bread producing farmers are forced to commit suicides (One every 30 minutes) as, 84% of them spend more than they earn from farming. One woman dies every07 minutes during pregency and 6to8 million unsafe abortions are carried over un abated. Against the constitutional law of not allowing marring girls below the age of 18 years nearly 44% girls are married away before they attain this age. World’s 33% malnutrant children ( 50% of Indian children ) are Indian. In India shortage of houses is as much as 24 million out of which 99% are for persons of Lower Income Group. Nearly 24 to25% urban populations of Indian cities lives in slums &in cities 60% residents have no water available in their premises. Over 3.62 crores cases are pending in Indian courts including Apex Court . Every now & then demands are made to get the cases investigated from CBI, the premier agency with out caring for pendency of cases with it as high as 8668 in April 2008, with some of the cases pending since 20 years. When we shall get time from such unproductive acts like bandhs and hartals to attend to 200 million Indians, who go to bed fully or partially hungry as average earning of over 836 million Indians( 77% of population), is Rupees 20per day or less, with majority of whom are belonging to SC’S; ST’S,OBC’S& Muslims. When we are going to find time for putting to gear the defunct ,PDS,Public, Distribution System. We have to be united to kill the virus of the all round corruption in our society, ill heath, illiteracy, poverty, caste and sex based hatred, militancy, threats from across our boarders, smuggling into India intoxicants, regional imbalances and many more. So where is time and resources to waste in bandhs and hartals?
The unruly scenes displayed out in bazaars & streets during bandhs and hartals are also visible in our Constituent Assemblies & in Parliament proceedings, where beating by chapels and blows is not uncommon acts and this in turn at times results in more bandhs and hartals.
In the national interests let all political parties rise above their narrow manifestos and come out with alternatives to solve our national problems by resorting to legitimate methods only. It is well said by a great thinker" THERE IS NEVER A BAD PEACE & a GOOD DISPUTE.” Let us pay full head to the judgement pronounced by our law guardians in 1998 while putting restrains on bandhs, I quote -- Everybody is trying to tackle this problem. If anyone is going to react to this type of terrorism, there is going to be no solution to the problem." The judges pointed out that the apex court banned bandhs as early as in 1998. "We cannot shut our eyes to this. Unless a message goes to all concerned, this cannot be put down." One of the remedies was that the damages should be so deterrent that "if someone violates the court order he must be ready to face the consequences. Resorting to a bandh is wholly impermissible."
So in our National interests let us resolve to follow only Constitutional methods and to avoid bandh and hartals for the good of our country and its peoples. Let the trustful conditions be created and solution to dispute be found by discussions across the table to mitigate sufferings of general masses.
ER. H.R. PHONSA
8-08-2008 63/5 NANAK Nagar Jammu

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