Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bandhs don't achieve anything

Yesterday's Bharat Bandh was quite a success, depending upon what one means by the word success. It was called by Left and BJP (a unique collaboration) to protest against the recent fuel price hike.

By success, do we assume that fuel prices will be brought down? Today's hardship to many people was definitely much more than what people endure with higher fuel prices.

Less than a fortnight back, we were stuck at Aluva railway station because of an LDF-sponsored bandh again the same issue. Kerala shut down today for a second time over the same issue. Less said about the damage done to Kerala's well-being due to hartals and bandhs the better.

Yesterday, we had to take my ailing 70-year-old uncle to hospital as his condition worsened. We were worried if our vehicle will be attacked. Since public transport was off, commuting became difficult.

My argument is not that the government should endlessly increase the fuel prices. The ripple effect has definitely derailed home budgets, and of course, we all want cheaper petrol, diesel and cooking gas.

A more constructive approach would have been an attempt to walk the talk by opposition-ruled states. Karnataka is ruled by BJP and Bangalore is among places where fuel is the most expensive. And a good chunk of the fuel price a Bangalorean pays is state-levied taxes and surcharges. And public infrastructure definitely doesn't match up to the hype about the city.

The pricing structure of fuel is not as easy as opening and closing the shutter of a shop. If political parties are genuinely concerned about, not just fuel prices but, our overall standard of living, they need to be less destructive in their policies. Development and progress can't just be lipservice, as it's just now.

Hope we won't see these bandhs and hartals again.

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