EDITORIAL: General Strike

Reports say that a general strike is going on in Imphal Municipal area beginning 6 am of Friday. Except for figuring in most casual manner during chit chats at local tea stalls, no real picture of general strike could be observed in any locality of Imphal. This is not the first time where life goes normal amidst general strikes or calls for general strikes. Surely, there might be one reason or another behind all general strikes. But when the entire scene did not reflect any picture of general strike during the stipulated hours, the moot question arose whether the general strikes were called arbitrarily.

Seemingly, some of such general strikes were called with a shallow reasoning that the demands lying behind the general strikes could be realized by exerting some pressure on the Government at the expense of the public. Obviously, such strikes called arbitrarily lacked public support and did not reflect the scenes generally associated with general strikes. This does not mean to abet the general practices like burning tires, blocking roads using boulders and timber or commit arson and vandalism on people defying the general strike.

In the event of any general strike called with genuine reasons in the interest of the public, those organizations calling the general strike need to do thorough home work to make their strike a real one, or in other words make it effective. People would not simply brush aside such genuine general strikes. This comment does not mean that the general strike being called by the All Manipur Rickshaw Drivers and Pullers Welfare Association is unreasonable or arbitrary. But the unfolding scene has all the elements to be misread by the people. Perhaps, that is why people, this time, are not giving the kind of importance that a general strike usually commands. It appears that the association which called the general strike is also not fully committed.

Theoretically, in a democracy people have the rights to   express what they wish and what they do not. Yet, if some people or groups are thinking that they can realize their wishes, which lack common interest, by holding the people to ransom, they are committing serious and dangerous blunder. Whether any general strike is supported by the people or not, there are some punks who, on hearing about the general strike, are ready to commit subversive activities in the name of the general strike.

On the other side, there are people who prefer to hole up inside their houses rather than courting trouble outside just on hearing the words ‘general strike’. Nevertheless, the general strike which lacks the spirit of a real general strike is causing some disturbances to some sections of the people. We are all witnesses that in Manipur where different groups are operating, general strikes, bandhs and blockades have become something chronic regardless of whether they carry people’s mandate or not. To any keen observer, it is clear that only a tiny fraction of these agitation met with success, with the main demands on which the agitation were based eluding the organizations for years, if not for good.

It is also a fact that all these general strikes, bandhs and blockades bring suffering to people, though the degree may vary. At the same time, these agitations are also always a matter of headache for the Government. Viewed from another perspective, it goes without saying that Manipur suffers immense economic loss due to bandhs and blockades. Summing up all these points, we can safely conclude that it is the nation as a whole who suffer unfailingly from bandhs and general strikes. Keeping this in mind, all of us need to introspect if one is justified to indulge in such activity just for some interests of our own in spite of all the negative impacts such activities produced on the society. Yes, all the people have the right to voice their grievances and demand what is due to them. But there is no point in undertaking protest movements which would only breed trouble and suffering among the people, and end in failure. It’s time to seek nobler ways of pursuing one’s demands.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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