The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

FEBRUARY 2013 GENERAL STRIKE OR THE ‘BHARAT BANDH’: THE UNCIVIL CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE (I)

Two days of general strike of February 20-21, 2013 in India was violence-ridden. Reportedly, it cost almost over Rs. 25,000 crore. The ‘Bharat Bandh’ evoked a mixed response as has been happening with every other ‘Bandh’ by the political parties or the trade unions that in turn, are affiliated with this or that political party or ideology.

It can be said from the places where the ‘Bandh’ saw establishments shutting down, it was more from the fear of vandalism and not because of the camaraderie to join the brotherhood of ‘Bandh’ supporters.

It is always easier for the government employees to participate in such ‘Bandhs’ as they can easily go to avail an off day but most of the private sector entities, vulnerable to their balance-sheets and unfriendly towards employees, usually abstain from such practices unless and until there is a great call, something that the country has not seen post the call by Vinoba Bhave or the Jayaprakash Narayan Movement or the Lohia Wave, when there could be a complete shutdown on mere a call from a leader for a cause or a cause itself.

Also, the February 20-21 ‘Bharat Bandh’ had not any immediate precursor like some fuel price hike or introduction of a controversial policy like the Retail FDI. The country has already seen mixed-response ‘Bandhs’ over these issues.


The September 20, 2012 ‘Bharat Bandh’ to protest the fuel price hike and the Retail FDI decision evoked a mixed response, claims and counterclaims. The ‘Bharat Bandh’ called by the political opposition on May 31, 2012 to protest the steep hike in petrol prices was a similar story. The country saw similar developments during the July 5, 2012 ‘Bharat Bandh’ called again by the political opposition to protest the fuel price hike. Then there was yet again ‘Bharat Bandh’ called by the trade unions in February 2012.

So, there wasn’t any ‘newness’ in the factor to call the strike. But the general strike was called.

But was it really civil disobedience?

Mahatma Gandhi, who introduced (or invented) ‘Bandhs’ or ‘civil disobedience through complete halt of work’ in India had certainly different thoughts and commitment about ‘Badhs’ as means of protest.

The following conversation from the movie ‘Gandhi’ beautifully explains it. (Text sourced from the Internet.)

JINNAH'S DRAWING ROOM

PATEL: Well, I've called you here because I've had a chance to see the new legislation. It's exactly what was rumored. Arrest without warrant. Automatic imprisonment for possession of materials considered seditious...Your writings are specifically listed.

KRIPALANI: So much for helping them in the Great War...

JINNAH: There is only one answer to that. Direct action – on a scale they can never handle!

NEHRU: I don't think so. Terrorism would only justify their repression. And what kinds of leaders would it throw up? Are they likely to be the men we would want at the head of our country?

His stand has produced a little shock of surprise. Holding his tea, he turns to Gandhi with a little smile.

NEHRU: I've been catching up on my reading.

JINNAH: I too have read Mr. Gandhi's writings, but I'd rather be ruled by an Indian terrorist than an English one. And I don't want to submit to that kind of law.

PATEL: I must say, Panditji, it seems to me it's gone beyond remedies like passive resistance.

GANDHI: If I may – I, for one, have never advocated passive anything. I am with Mr. Jinnah. We must never submit to such laws – ever. And I think our resistance must be active and provocative. I want to embarrass all those who wish to treat us as slaves. All of them.

He holds their gaze, then turns to the immobile servant and with a little smile, takes the tray from him and places it on the table next to him. It makes them all aware that the servant, standing there like an insensate ornament, has been treated like a "thing," a slave. As it sinks in, Gandhi pours some tea then looks up at them with a pleading warmth – first to Jinnah.

GANDHI: Forgive my stupid illustration. But I want to change their minds – not kill them for weaknesses we all possess.

AZAD: And what "resistance" would you offer?

GANDHI: The law is due to take effect from April sixth. I want to call on the nation to make that a day of prayer and fasting.

"Prayer and fasting"? They are not overwhelmed.

JINNAH: You mean a general strike?

GANDHI: I mean a day of prayer and fasting. But of course no work could be done – no buses, no trains, no factories, no administration. The country would stop.

Patel is the first to recognize the implications.

PATEL: My God, it would terrify them . . .

AZAD: Three hundred fifty million people at prayer. Even the English newspapers would have to report that. And explain why.

KRIPALANI: But could we get people to do it?

NEHRU: Champaran stirred the whole country. (To Gandhi) They are calling you Mahatma – the Great Soul.

GANDHI: Fortunately such news comes very slowly where I live.

NEHRU: I think if we all worked to publicize it . . . all of the Congress . . . every avenue we know.

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Now that is the concept of ‘Bandh’ as the Mahatma had proposed and yes, it was not at all a passive act. It terrified the British as Sardar Patel had reacted on Mahatma’s proposal.

It was beginning of Mahatma’s experiments with civil disobedience as the tool to reorient and direct the Indian freedom struggle that ultimately led the country to the Independence.

It is not that the civil disobedience movements called by the Mahatma didn’t have any violent incidents. It is about how the Mahatma reacted on it. It is about the countrywide support on Mahatma’s call.

The ‘Bandhs’ in India of today are in stark contrast to what a ‘civil disobedience’ movement ought to be (and certainly, the Mahatma’s way is the most powerful one).

To Continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/