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Rediff.com  » Business » Rs 130,000,000,000! That's the cost of Bharat bandh

Rs 130,000,000,000! That's the cost of Bharat bandh

Last updated on: July 5, 2010 19:55 IST

Rs 130,000,000,000! That's the cost of Bharat bandh

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Stating that the Bharat bandh called by the Opposition against fuel price hike has cost the economy around Rs 13,000 crore (Rs 130 billion), the industry on Monday said the protest is "odd and absurd".

"It (bandh) is not justified at all. Political parties interfering and disturbing day-to-day work is not at all appropriate. The protest is quite odd and absurd. They will only lose their political ground," Godrej group chairman Adi Godrej told PTI.

According to Assocham, the strike eroded the national GDP "by a production loss of nearly a full day which in monetary terms can be roughly estimated at Rs 13,000 crore."

The calculation is based on assumption that the GDP would stay around Rs 50 lakh crore with a growth rate of over 8 per cent in current fiscal, Assocham added.

The CII on the other hand estimated the total loss to the economy on account of the national strike "would be greater than Rs 3,000 crore (Rs 30 billion)."

The entire Opposition has called a bandh on Monday against the recent Rs 2 per litre hike in diesel prices and decontrolling of petrol prices that led to an increase in price by Rs 3.5 a litre.

While stating that the increase in prices of petroleum products will naturally put some additional burden on the common man, Bajaj Auto chairman and Rajya Sabha member Rahul Bajaj said, "I believe the government had no choice but to take this step, which was long overdue. Otherwise, oil companies would have been in serious difficulty."

He, however, said bandhs are against national interest and also cause serious inconvenience to the common man.

"I can understand some protests by the Opposition parties to this step. However, I am against bandhs," he added.

Supporting the government decision, CII director general Chandrajit Banerjee said the chamber "has been a strong advocate of market-linked pricing and taxation of petroleum products and hopes to see the reforms in this direction completed in the course of the year."

While Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry did not comment on the national strike, PHDCCI said transportation was severely hit in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Rediff.com presents the voice of India on whether the Bharat Bandh to counter price rise serves its purpose. We are also incorporating here some of the messages that our readers posted below another slide show on the same issue.

If your business too has suffered losses because of Monday's bandh please share your experience with our readers.

Text: PTI

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Image: Activists from the Rashtriya Mahila Brigade (National Women's Brigade) hold swords and sticks as they block a railway track during Bharat bandh in Patna.
Photographs: Krishna Murari Kishan/Reuters
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'Can the political parties feed my family today?'

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Indrani Roy Mitra & Manu A B in Kolkata and Mumbai

Madhab Mondol
Rickshaw-puller

I earn about Rs 350 per day. I live in a slum at Garia, south Kolkata. My wife works as a housemaid in the locality. I will lose a day's income, thanks to this bandh.

Someone told me that this bandh is in protest against price rise. But I fail to understand how will it bring the prices down by ruining a day's earning for people like us?

With our meagre earnings, my wife and I have to take care of our two kids and an ailing mother.

But today, I have to stay at home sans the Rs 350 that could have fetched some comfort for my family members.

My wife and I have been pinching penny to get my mother admitted to a hospital for a check-up. For families like ours, loss of Rs 350 is a huge thing.

I don't have any allegiance to any political party whatsoever. I don't trust any one of them. To me, all are same.

Today, the Opposition has called a bandh. If they come to power tomorrow, they will be as insensitive as the central government is today.

All political parties have the common agenda: to ruin this country and to exploit the poor.

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Image: Madhab Mondol.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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Meru Cabs suffer Rs 25 lakh loss

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Rajesh Puri
CEO, Meru Cabs

The Meru Cabs were on the roads till 7 a.m after that we had to stop services. We estimate today's loss to be about Rs 25 lakh (Rs 2.5 million).

However, after the petrol price hike, our fares have not gone up. We suffer a loss of Rs 100 per cab per day due to this discrepancy. Conceptually, I agree that the fuel prices should be de-regulated but the manner it is done is not justified. There is no rationalisation of taxes or uniformity in petrol prices.

This political bickering must stop and a reasonable approach should be taken to price petrol. We have sought a price hike but we have not yet got the approval from the government. Our cab drivers should find it economical to run the cars.

If the fares are hiked when the ordinary taxis went on strike, our fares should not be the same just because we have not gone on a strike. As for the price rise, the consumption has not gone up by 20 per cent as the population has gone up by 1-2 per cent. So there is no reason for a demand-supply mismatch. The level of price rise is not justified.

Ratnakar
Driver, Meru Cabs, Bangalore

The bandh has affected our business. I would have made at least Rs 1,500 of which I pay Rs 900 to the company. I work really hard to make money as prices have gone up like never before.

I have to save enough to look after my mother and run the household. It is a tough life. I try to work for 16-18 hours with small breaks in between. Not all trips are long.

A trip to the airport is good but now we are asked to pay Rs 25 for every pick-up from the airport. Earlier, I could save more money but not anymore.

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Image: Rajesh Puri, CEO, Meru Cabs.

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'This govt has earned a bad reputation'

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Says Gobinda Barman on rediff message board

The government should ponder over the isuue: why the poor and the ignorant join the Naxalites.

To cater to national and international demands, the governments ovaer the years had to escalate oil-price.

But, the governments must keep a strict vigilance over the commodity price hike.

This UPA government, however, according to me, has only tried to swell its party fund.

It has not paid any attention to keeping the prices of commodities low. The UPA government has already acquired a bad reputation among the masses.

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Image: a
Photographs: Reuters
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'A bandh serves no purpose'

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Dipak Das
Daily labourer

I am a daily labourer without any permanent job. Getting a day's job is a difficult task for me. Often I am without employment for days. I live in a slum in south Kolkata with my family of three.

At times, I earn Rs 2000 a month, at times even less.

My wife has just given birth to a child and hence had to quit her well-paying job of a housemaid. Now they are all dependent on my earnings.

I studied till Class IV after which my father, a mason, died in an accident and I had to take up a job at a dhaba. Since then I have been doing one odd job after another but could never live a comfortable life.

I heard the Opposition parties have called this bandh in protest against price rise.

I do agree with them that inflation has gnawed into the entrails of our very existence but does the solution lie in calling a bandh?

Don't the Opposition parties understand that a day of no-work means starvation for us?

For them, this strike may be an election plank but what about us?

Since we are born poor, are we destined to die?

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Image: Dipak Das.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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'Our profits have come down by 20%'

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Pradeep Kumar
Grocery store owner

The bandh has forced us to shut our shops. But since it was announced earlier,  people have already bought things in advance. It is definitely a loss for us.

I do not support any kind of bandh that disrupts normal life. The prices which have gone up will not come down. Our profits have come down by 20 per cent.

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Image: Pradeep Kumar, grocery store owner.

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'I support this bandh if it brings down the prices'

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Binod Das
Hawker

I earn about Rs 800 per day on an average by selling plastic goods. I am forced to keep my roadside stall shut today.

For a poor person like me, Rs 800 is a lot of money and I am at a loss figuring out how I can make up for the loss.

Having said this, I must also state that I support the issue over which this bandh call has been given.

The unbridled price rise is just driving us crazy and something needs to be done. The Opposition parties are right in taking up this issue across the nation.

I do hope that this strike succeeds in countering the problem. I do pray that the bandh compels the government at the Centre to take some concrete steps so that people like us are not forced to die of starvation.

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Image: Binod Das, hawker.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty.
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'Petrol @ Rs 53/litre is simply absurd'

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Proloy Goswami
Students Federation of India leader

We do understand that bandh disrupts life and rings in many problems for the common people. Today's bandh is no exception.

But we appeal to the masses to acknowledge the fact that this strike is called for their sake alone.

The United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre has no right to hike the petro prices especially at a time when inflation is creating havoc on our lives.

Data that we have with us suggest that the government buys petrol at Rs 16.50 per litre. Then why should the common people buy it for almost Rs 53 a litre.

Let's take a look at the selling price of petrol in other developing countries of the world:

  • Pakistan: Rs 26/litre
  • Bangadesh: Rs 22/litre
  • Afghanistan: Rs 36/litre
  • Nepal: Rs 34/litre
  • Myanmar: Rs 30/litre
  • Cuba: Rs 19/litre

Which neo-economic policy does the UPA government talk about all the time?

What justification does this policy have that make poor the poorer and compel the marginalised to die of starvation?

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Image: Proloy Goswami, leader of Students Federation of India
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty.
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'It's time we threw the UPA govt away'

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Says Ravi Kant on rediff message board:
Let us look at the performance of the United Progressive Alliance govt:

  • Corruption has only increased
  • There is no plan to contain population (Is the government scared of minority votes)
  • Inflation is in double digit for the last few years
  • Farmers still don't get paid reasonably for their produce
  • Politicians are in collusion with middlemen making millions
  • The government is incompetent to handle the Maoist issue. Why should they not use army to fix the problem and support states infected by the menace. UPA must stop calling this a state issue.
  • Look at J&K. This government has no guts to arrest or kill the separatists. Where is the need to talk to Pakistan on this issue? It's a closed chapter and we must tell Pakistan that J&K is an integral part of India.

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Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Photographs: Richard Clement/Reuters.
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'The strike will not benefit us in any way'

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A L Quadros,
Secretary, Bombay Taximen Union

The Bharat bandh has hit the taxi services in Mumbai resulting in a huge loss of over Rs 2 crore (Rs 20 million).

"About 55,000 taxies including cool cabs are off the road today. Each taxi would lose about Rs 300-400 due to this strike. We are against the strike as it will not benefit us in any way. The is a political game and they will get a mileage out of this. Not a single party supported us when we went for an a agitation to hike fare," Quadros says.

Today, we are not plying to be safe. The government has not given us any assurance that we will be protected or compensated for any loss, he pointed out.


Image: Inset: A L Quadros, secretary, Bombay Taximen Union.

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