And Kerala hits a century to claim the title spot!
The October 16th hartal was the 100th hartal in last 10 months in God’s Own Country. Sadly, this does not call for a celebration, rather an appraisal to find a way out of this social menace! This saga of hartals seems to be never ending, as various political parties befool common people saying they are doing it for ‘people’s welfare’. There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that, despite specific directions by the Supreme Court and the High Court, political parties are frequently calling hartal and strikes, seriously inconveniencing citizens.
Who wants hartal?
The party that called for the 100th hartal claimed that ‘people wanted this hartal’, to protest against price rise of fuel, etc. Now that the hartal is over, has it had any positive effect? No. One of my facebook friends rightly quoted: “Nobody wants hartal; only the political fraternity wants it, which is for political gain only.” Truly, this has nothing to do with the welfare of the people and in fact is against the interest of the majority of people. It’s a matter of pity that the politicians neither understand what the people wants, nor the loss the people and the state incur due to a day of shutdown. Or, are they pretending they don’t understand? Probably yes, because, as I understand, from time to time these political parties are creating an opportunity for the criminal-minded followers to vent out their instincts on a legal platform; at the expense of the general public.
After every hartal the party that organises it would say, ‘it was great success’. Yes, it is, because it is fear-mongering that wins hartals in Kerala, and nothing else! People choose to ‘stay out of trouble’, rather than participate to make the hartal a success. This is a point that political parties conveniently choose not to understand!
The only ray of hope I see at the end of the dark tunnel is the intervention of the honourable Kerala High Court, who, while terming the hartal as illegal, directed that various departments should go hand in hand to ensure the safety of the public on the hartal day. Thanks to the HC for voicing the people’s concerns by directing the ruling government to dispel hartal fears, and that whenever a hartal or a strike is called, the government should take adequate measures to see normal life is not paralysed.
Certainly, protesting against injustice is a priceless democratic right. However, that shouldn’t be by invoking more inconvenience to people – through intimidation and vandalism. Hartal in its real terms is ‘satyagraha’, a peaceful means of protest. But what we have in the name of hartal today is ‘Bandh’, that has been abolished – old wine in new bottle!
A Ray of Hope:
This social menace shall never be repeated in God’s Own Country if various political party leaders decide not to do so. Time has encroached once again to hold on to the time-tested mantra of “satyagraha”, rather than ‘atyagraha’ (covetousness). However, we can’t be so optimistic that this menace can be wiped out instantly, knowing well how our democracy functions. However, a ray of hope is that many villages, irrespective of politic inclinations, have come forward to unitedly say ‘No to Hartal’. This is a good symptom for change that should be encouraged. Let’s hope that good sense prevails!