India Is A Laboratory.

“India is a laboratory for learning how to be competitively efficient rather than complaining about the difficulty of the Indian market.  If we approach it as an active laboratory of innovation and understanding of cost and quality management or price performance management, then we can leverage it in other parts of the world.”

– C. K. Prahlad.

Among the experiments that are conducted regularly in our great laboratory are what are called bandhs. Wikipedia rightly calls a bandh a form of civil disobedience.

Here is a recent article in the New York Times which gives a fairly unbiased view of the phenomenon. I just wish to elaborate on some of the elements that are not apparent to non Indians.

Mahatma Gandhi was one of the cleverest men ever. He understood Indians like no one before or after has done. He wanted the Indians to participate in the freedom struggle and asked them to do the one thing that he knew they will gladly do, without questioning. He asked them to do nothing. Thus was born Satyagraha the greatest form of civil disobedience. That experiment with inactivity perfected in this glorious laboratory continues to hold this country to ransom even 63 years after the British gave up and departed.

The Bandhs are forced closure of normal activity. One does not really have a choice in the matter when the political party that forms the Government of the state concerned calls for a bandh as is often the case in Kerala and Bengal where the last remnants of Communism still survive though on their last ventilator supported systems. If one wishes to protect himself and his property, he better pull the shutter down and stay home whenever these political parties call for a bandh.

The non communist parties so called cadres are just hooligans who go around enforcing the bandh by threatening law abiding citizens into closing down shops and establishments and forcing taxis, autorickshaws, buses etc off the roads.

All this is done to protest something or the other in the name of the poor. It is a different matter that the poor lose one day’s wages and usually go hungry as all eateries where they get their daily meals are closed down anyway. Most Indian workers are the non trade union, read communist, protected daily wage earners and for them a day of not working causes quite a bit of inconvenience. Try telling that to the comrades. They will retort that it is for the cause. The comrades of course do not have to worry about their own meal for the day. The party provides them with that plus some nice Indian hooch too. The most civil way to disobey! The classic Mahatma Gandhi hunger strike!

Yes, the laboratory that is India is conducting many experiments and will sooner than later enable it to occupy its legitimate place as a world power. The poor be damned. Or should it be, sacrificed as experimental guinea pigs?