news Friday, August 01, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute| August 1, 2014| 8.00 pm IST Bangaloereans have been dealing with the news of crime against women and children in their city, in different ways. While some took to the streets, others started online petitions or poured suggestions on Facebook groups. On July 31, a Bangalore bandh was called by the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike. Are bandhs (hartals) the right way to express anguish/displeasure?  We saw a Facebook post by Diya Bhat, a 10th standard student at National Public School and found it worth sharing. SAY NO TO BANDH The gory rape of a six-year-old recently at a private school in Bangalore, has sparked controversy and started many passionate arguments across the city. The reflex action was a protest march and a bandh. Now, like all normal school-goers, I love unexpected holidays. But I am also concerned about the actual impact a bandh can have. In our excitement to have that one rare golden day, where we can have some extra study time, or possibly finally be able to finish that project, or even be able to sleep and play all day (for the lucky primary schoolers who don’t have a ton of work to do and live in apartment complexes with friends nearby), we forget the real purpose of the bandh, and most of the student population is far too young to actually understand its impact. We aren’t the only ones forgetting the bandh’s significance either. Rather than a silent protest, bandhs are now a political tool. People don’t step out on bandh days, not in agreement of the protest, but because they are scared that they may be affected by riots in the city’s streets. It is highly hypocritical that the curfew day meant to protest violence is actually the day when violent protesters run rampant. Bandhs also have an adverse effect on the economy. A bandh means that life comes to a standstill for one full day. Twenty-four hours may not seem like a lot, but the sheer loss it causes to businesses is a number which is hard to think of. Bangalore has a population of over 10 million people. Assuming that approximately 50% of these are in the productive age category, this amounts to a productivity loss of 5,000,000 person days - over 14000 years! It is estimated that over five hundred crores is lost in a one day bandh in Bangalore alone. When I say life comes to a standstill, I mean everything. Even hospitals don’t work (at least not on full scale) on a bandh day, preferring to stay minimally staffed with just enough doctors and nurses to take care of in-patients. One can’t imagine the difficulties faced by patients who fall ill on bandh days, much less stroke sufferers, cancer and kidney dialysis patients Moreover, multinational corporations have put Bangalore on the international map. We have to be concerned about the brand image that we portray to the world at large. Citizens of the city serve a global population and we create a poor image of our city, and even our entire country when we have explain the concept of a “bandh” to foreign customers. In addition to the financial losses caused, people of other nationalities tend to lower their opinions of our country when they see that the standard reaction to a rape is a protest march, media sensationalism, and occasionally a bandh. Yes, we are all concerned about the safety and security of our women and children, but surely there are better ways to tackle this, than resorting to a bandh. As one of the youngest and most forward looking cities of the country, Bangalore has to show the way to the rest of the country on how we can find more productive ways to register our protest and concern!