Often we hear about some people or political parties going on strikes. Sometimes, there is a strike of labourers in a factory, a strike called by students or teachers in colleges or universities, strikes by doctors and nurses in hospitals or bandh announced by various political parties on one pretext or another. But whatever it is, strikes surely have become the order of the day. They have become an inseparable part of our daily life. Today, if we look closely at the psychology of the workers, it can be safely concluded that hartals have become the sole means of getting one’s demands accepted. It is not only the unskilled workers and labourers who resort to strikes but even qualified professionals like doctors, teachers, engineers and lawyers whenever their demands are not met.
There are many causes of strikes. In some cases, workers stop work as they are unhappy with the policies of the company. But strikes vitally affect the life of the common man as it may disrupt electricity, water supply. It brings a host of problems for citizens who will be at the receiving end. People ask for their rights but are totally irresponsible in doing their duty. They do not hesitate to damage public property, burn buses and hurt innocent people. Students, professionals and unskilled labourers, all resort to this kind of arson and violence. But before they go into stopping honest hardworking people from earning a day or a few days’ wages, they ought to remember the words of the late American President, John F. Kennedy’s quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.”
The striking workers of an industry or a service maybe well within their right to use the weapon of strike because it is a recognized trade union right. They may be fully justified in their demands. But that does not mean that it is right to choose hartal as a means of imposing pressure on the concerned authorities. The workers on strike may benefit by forcing the employer to accept their demands but people suffer if a general strike is called for. The common man cannot go on a strike against such injustice done to him by the strike mongers.
Sometimes strikes take a violent turn as many innocent people are killed or sustain injuries. Houses of innocent citizens, schools and religious places are set on fire. It creates a law and order problem. At times, police have to resort to tough measures and curfew needs to be clamped. The common man is unable to get food supplies and other essential commodities for daily use.
So, in a way, strikes and bandhs are a curse to the society. But these cannot be banned or stopped. Instead, one should try to develop consciousness in people to be aware of their duties along with their rights. The need of the day isn’t to impose a blanket ban on strikes, but to learn to behave responsibly in the larger interest of the nation and common good. Bandhs and strikes in India have become an integral feature of the mundane life of the Indian citizens. The history of bandhs, hartals, etc. is quite extensive and is associated with many political parties.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)