Today the opposition parties in India had called for Bharat Bandh (nationwide strike), to oppose governments recent move to hike fuel prices and continuously soaring inflation.
Today of course was also the day, when I had to spend quite a bit of time commuting on the streets of Delhi, due to professional and personal reasons.
While thankfully I didn’t have to travel to places which saw major disruption, but I could see politicians along with their “supporters” out on the street, even before I hit the ring road (around couple of km from my home).
Thanks to all the protests, I ended up taking a lot of detours and covered more distance than I should have. Now couple that with already high fuel prices and things just couldn’t get any worse and thankfully, they didn’t!
Protests which I encountered, were mostly peaceful, though disruptive nonetheless and the crowd in an almost customary fashion, had deflated tyres of two government run buses and smashed windscreen and rear window of one of them.
However what was funny was the fact that at one of the intersections, protesters almost behaved like traffic signal! What happened was, they were blocking traffic on one of side of the road and there was a smallish jam on that side, so the cops there, almost sweetly escorted the protesters to the other side, so that traffic on that side could start flowing once again.
Of course normal life was disrupted as majority of the shops were closed during the day and so were quite a few schools and offices.
While my life wasn’t too much affected or suffered, I guess things were a lot different for poor people, who can only afford to eat, after slugging it out for the entire day.
However I do kind of sympathies with the protestors, not because government decided to deregulate petrol prices and is in a mood to do the same for diesel. I am angry because they did that, after raising taxes earlier this year, knowing fully well, that deregulation would further push up the price of fuel!
After all if they take away extra tax imposed earlier this year and fee for BS IV standard fuel, then we would only have to pay Rs. 48.22 for a liter of petrol in Delhi, oppose to Rs. 51.43 we are now being forced to shell out!
Heck even if we only take away the extra tax, even then we would end up saving Rs. 2.71 per liter of petrol!
But such a step would make the current government pro people, something I am afraid, they just do not want to be and thus are in no mood to listen to the opposition parties or for that matter, the general public!
Of course such a step would also ensure that people wouldn’t get to enjoy these forced holidays, long detours, hours of extra time to listen to their favorite FM channel while stuck in traffic and get to see the comedy of bandh and in a way, democracy, being played out on the streets!