Tyranny of Bandhs


So many times this has been said and by practically everybody. Yet all are still having to say it over and over again. When will the culture of bandhs ever end is an exclamation in resigned exasperation that everybody in Manipur would have one day of the other made. What is general the message anyway of these bandhs? Even if the issues behind them are real and weighty, they do not any longer register in public`™s benumbed consciousness. They have come to mean nothing more than another day of extreme inconvenience or business lost for those who earn their living by their labour. They are therefore a boon for only those who relish no work, and children for whom bandhs mean another day of no school. Why can`™t the habitual bandh callers try exercising their faculties a little to realize that rather than sympathy, their bandhs attract public scorn regardless the issue. What can possibly be the point of bandhs then, we simply fail to understand. Perhaps bandh callers get a kick out of posing themselves as a public nuisance. But the equally important question is, should the public keep on tolerating a known nuisance? Because they have been doing so, bandhs in the state are also getting increasingly trivial and more often than not, farcical too. Today, there is practically a bandh for every occasion, even for the smallest and most localized issues as the non-declaration of government job interview results.

To be fair however, there is another way of looking at the issue. That things have become so bad and nothing moves, especially works that have to do with the government, so to get the government to act on any issue, there is no option but to take the matter out on the streets. There must be a great deal of truth in this for the state`™s experience has been that the government indeed acts on any matter pushed hard enough from the streets. The question is, if these issues are its obligations, and especially if it has given the promise it would keep these obligations, why must it have to always wait for these matters to come out on the streets and then concede. Apart from exposing its lack of commitment, it is also resulting in a conditioned behaviour, whereby it has come to be an instinct of the place that bandhs and strikes are a necessary method to have the government keep promises and obligations. This is not an excuse on behalf of the bandh callers however. They must be made to realize that in demanding through bandhs what they see are their rights and entitlements, they are depriving others who do not share their concerns of their rights. Surely kindergarten students who miss their classes on account of bandhs, or the daily wage earners who miss their wages, or the small entrepreneurs who lose their day`™s valuable businesses, cannot be interested in the non-declaration of government job DPC results or TA and DA increase of government employees. Therefore, if anybody feels an issue is of public interest, deserving to be taken to the streets, they should let the public have the last say on its merit. Let bandhs and boycotts be supported voluntarily and with a free will. Only then would the real worth of the issues involved come out.

We advise the government to begin unwinding the wrongs and flaws of the past. First, let it learn to bite off only as much as it can chew and not make promises that it does not intend keeping or is beyond its means to keep. Let justice and rule of law prevail by doing all that it is obliged to do, overboard. It is acknowledged that the state`™s resources are meagre, but if these poor resources were to be distributed fairly and without ignoring the deserving, there would not be so much discontent all around as now. If inspite of having done all this, there are still strikes and bandhs, let it be firm on them. Let it not bend to each and every arm-twisting manoeuvre. We do respect the right for the subject of a government to protest perceived injustices, but when matters get pushed too far, and the welfare of a greater section of the people are put at jeopardy to serve the selfish interests of a few, the government must even oppose the moves. For in such cases, it amounts to these selfish vested interests holding the larger public to ransom to meet their ends. If the government gives in to these pressure tactics, it would amount to encouraging other vested interests to resort to similar means too.


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