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, 3 March 2013


Complete write-up

Two days of general strike in India was violence-ridden. Reportedly, it cost over Rs. 25,000 crore. The ‘Bharat Bandh’ of February 20-21, 2013 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.)


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.


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).

It is well known by now that when the ‘Bandhs’ are called by the political parties or when the election time is not near, the ruling political group doesn’t care much about it.

The ‘Bharat Bandh’ on May 31, 2012 didn’t see the prime minister appealing the concerned parties to call-off the ‘Bandh’. Similar was the story during the July 5, 2012 ‘Bharat Bandh’. The prime minister didn’t make any appeal even during the September 20, 2012 ‘Bharat Bandh’.

Then, elections were still pretty far away.

During this ‘Bharat Bandh’, it was the time, to seriously think about the elections which are just some quarters away. So, even if there was not any immediate spark, the government was looking at it with watchful eyes.

Also, the call this time was not by the mainstream political opposition. Involvement of the central trade unions as well as the banking and transportation unions, which represent a considerable segment of the population, was enough to make the government feel nervous in case the ‘Bandh’ got a widespread support.

And so, we had, our comfortably-numb prime minister appealing the trade unions to call-off the strike.

But the violence during the ‘Bandh’ gave the government the necessary counter-points to hit back and questioning the authority and morality of the ‘Bandh’, two factors a must for any civil disobedience movement – authority of non-violence and morality of rightfulness – as the Mahatma has shown the way – as we saw in the massive public protests during the anti-corruption movement called by Anna Hazare or the leaderless massive but peaceful civil protests against the Delhi gangrape of December 16, 2012.

These movements were active and provocative enough to awaken millions and bring an arrogant government to the talking table. Whatever has been the outcome; there were moments when millions felt it was their duty to be the part of the protests to raise the voice against the System and the systemic corruption.

This ‘Bharat Bandh’ or to say any other in the recent past, has been an utter failure on being active and provocative to motivate and mobilize masses for a cause because they were not peaceful and lacked in moral authority. 

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -