There is a
very interesting article in the latest issue of Economic and Political Weekly –
“Of Hartals and Heroes.” Obviously the article is about strikes. It is about
strikes in Kerala. That makes it more interesting, because there has been an
endless stream of strikes in Kerala.
half of the story. The real interesting part is that it is written by a Thiruvananthapuram
based film critic, C S Venkiteswaran. What have film critics to do with
strikes? Yes they have entered the scene because the films and media has now
menacing is the issue? Here is what a news report in Hindu of Feb 9, 2013 says,
“Senior counsel M.N. Krishnamani, appearing for the petitioner, told the [Supreme
Court] Bench that in Kerala, there had been 363 hartals and bandhs resulting in
mass destruction of public properties...”
Chaplin, a labour activist, identified four levels of general strike:
A General Strike in a community.
A General Strike in an Industry.
A national General Strike.
A revolutionary or class strike—the General Strike.
But in India they have invented a
fifth class – ‘State Sponsored Strike!’ Political parties in power have
declared strike very often. The Supreme Court slapped a fine of Rs 20 lakhs on
ShivSena and BJP in Maharashtra for calling a bandh in 2003. Bandhs by political
parties were banned but who cares? Actually it was Kerala High Court which
observed, “"no political
party or organisation can claim that it is entitled to paralyse the industry
and commerce in the centre, State, nation and is entitled to prevent the
citizens not in sympathy with its viewpoints from performing their duties...
Such a claim would be unreasonable and could not be accepted as a legitimate
exercise of a fundamental right by a political party or those comprising it."
On 12th December 2013, when the strikers
blocked a road, a lady arrived there on a scooter. She was apparently on her
way home but the road was blocked by strikers. She got into a verbal duel for
blocking the road with the strikers as well as with police. The strikers had a
bad day because this was promptly covered by TV cameras. [See video below]. The strikers never had
anticipated such an ambush.
Venkiteswaran tells us that the public
sentiment against strike is getting strong. The lady was awarded Rs 5 Lakhs by
an industrialist for her courageous act.
Kerala is learning, the lady showed the
way, we hope men will follow.
Labels: bandh, hartal, Kerala, Strike