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Essay on “The Baneful Bandh” Complete Essay, Paragraph, Speech for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

The Baneful Bandh

Our freedom struggle was a pioneering and trail blazing exercise, which bequeathed to independent India several of its unique legacies. Though many of these legacies were quite effective and acceptable in the context of the struggle, their modified versions in modern times have not been very welcome. ‘Bandh’ is one such legacy, the meaning and relevance of which have been badly devastated by its gross misuse by political parties in contemporary Indian society.

But `bandh’ was actually not a weapon of mass protest employed during the freedom struggle. Mahatma Gandhi did support the closure of shops and business, as well as the evasion of tax payments to the foreign government. Besides, he also encouraged protest marches and strikes. But it is doubtful whether he ever ordered the stoppage of all social activity, as modern `bandhs’ usually do. Perhaps, since social activities in those days were less complex and sophisticated than they are now, extreme steps like `bandhs’ were unnecessary.

Even if the claims of legacy, and therefore of legitimacy, are genuine, the practice of violence during `bandhs’ will weaken the heritage claims of `bandhs’ considerably. Hence, it is clear that the supporters of modern `bandhs’ are on weak ground when they attempt to found the legacy of ‘bandhs’ amongst the inheritances of the freedom struggle.

With or without legacy, `bandhs’ in modern times have become a painful and often excruciating nuisance. They may be planned at extremely short notice, often of less than a day, upsetting the plans and programmes of the general public. Whatever their pedigree, `bandhs’ invariably leave behind tales of pain and anxiety: of stranded passengers at railway stations and airports; of tragedy of the deaths of the sick and the suffering, who could not be saved because of the inability to arrange timely medical aid; of postponement of examinations, and of functions and meetings; of destruction of both public and private property; and above all, of deliberate violence and setback to development.

Considering the genuine revulsion of the general public towards `bandhs’, it is extremely foolhardy of their perpetrators to claim that `bandhs’ are the sincere and spontaneous reactions of the people against unpopular policies and practices of governments. The success of `bandhs’, which its organizers usually claim, is more the result of the people’s fear to oppose them than of their solidarity with the causes or issues that inspire ‘bandhs’.

Bandhs are undoubtedly anachronisms in modern civilized societies. In an independent country with a democratic government, it is absurd to claim that the entire population can turn so hostile against government policies as to decide, voluntarily and unanimously, to cease all activities for periods as long as a day or more. In a democratic society, it can be reasonably assumed, that if a section of the society is opposed to certain government policies, the rest of the society supports the policies such a premise, there is no sense in the claim that the support for `bandhs’ is total and voluntary.

Political parties, irrespective of ideology and priorities, are the chief perpetrators of `bandhs’. For them, it is a relatively easy and substantially effective way of publicizing their grievances. The effort and time required to organize protests and to influence public opinion are saved by the call for a `bandh’. All that the parties need to do is contact a few newspaper offices to inform them their intentions.

Naturally, it is the political parties that are the most vehement opposers of the policy to ban `bandhs’. They have stealthily, but rather stupidly, brought in the ideals of the fundamental rights, particularly that of the freedom of expression, to substantiate their stand. But when they do so, they conveniently overlook the principle that a fundamental right may be exercised by a person only to the extent to which it does not impinge on the fundamental rights of others. Furthermore, the right to expression, which politicians talk about in the context of `bandhs’, is irrelevant. During `bandhs’, when all activity is expected to stop, what scope is there for expression, particularly expression opposing bandhs’?

In a democratic society, several ways to express opposition and to register protests are available. Politicians should make use of them to highlight grievances and to command publicity. Rather than take the easy way out through `bandhs’, politicians should work hard at influencing public opinion and thought. If their issues and policies are just and reasonable, the general public will definitely come forward with support for them. Such voluntary support will be more spirited and sincere than that the politicians expect to gain by coercing, frightening and threatening the people.


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