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the bandh politics

By: ishani_ckb Posted Sep 25, 2008 General 1110 Views

The history of Bandh goes way back to the 1960s. However, it used to be a spontaneous action and focused on some real and sensitive issues then. In later years, some over-enthusiastic political leaders started misusing it for their own interest. The word ‘Bandh’ has its origin in Hindi which means ‘closed’. The term has been coined in the Oxford dictionary explaining it as ‘a general strike’. In short, Bandh can be defined as a device resorted to by political parties, organizations and unions to focus attention of people on some issues by disrupting the normal life like closing down shops, banks etc. A wide range of organizations such as political parties, trade unions student associations and women groups etc., summon Bandh in order to place their demands to the Union Government and the State Governments.


The coverage of a Bandh varies depending upon the intensity of the issue and the political power of the organization supporting it. Sometimes Bandh cover only one city, one district, one State; at times even the whole country.


There are various reasons for calling a Bandh. India has diverse ethnic groups with different social and cultural identities. Consequently, the people here consistently face problems in political, social, cultural and economic issues. Most of the Bandhs are called for political issues. Some political parties demand for separate union territories, separate autonomous States or to attain even independence from the mainland India. Other motives of calling Bandh could be inter-tribal and inter-ethnic misunderstandings leading to aggressive clashes and conflicts, religious issues and demand for economic packages like installing new industrial units or against it.


The practice of Bandh has incurred innumerable financial losses by paralyzing the functioning of Government offices and other business establishments from time to time. In December 2006, a 12-hour Bandh called by some pro-Kannada organizations in Bangalore over a border dispute with Maharashtra cost around Rs. 2000 crore. In West Bengal, Bandh is much more frequent and arguably this is the place where the average number of Bandhs per year is the highest.


The Supreme Court is completely against the Bandh politics and banned it in 1998. In 2004, it fined two political parties, namely, BJP and Shiv Sena for organizing a Bandh in Mumbai against bomb blasts in the city. However, as of early 2008, the plight continued and only time can say if it would end or not.


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