Monday, June 28, 2010

Another hartal

Vazhuthacaud Junction in Thiruvananthapuram at 11.45 am on Saturday, June 26.
area normally buzzes with activity at 11.45 am on most days, including Saturdays.

Kerala ‘enjoyed’ another hartal a couple of days ago. This one was to protest against the rather sharp rise in fuel prices. The hartal was called at really short notice — a lead time of about 15 hours. It obviously threw life in Kerala out of gear: no shops or restaurants or banks or public transport during the 12-hour hartal.
The decision to raise the prices of petroleum products and to let some fuel prices be determined by market forces is a pretty strong punch below the belt for most Indians. And for a State like Kerala that imports much of what it consumes, the pain is probably going to be more intense. There’s no doubt about that.
But how this hartal or the others that are likely to follow are going to send fuel prices down is unclear.
Why can’t all those benevolent people who promote hartals chose, instead, to focus their energy on finding meaningful solutions to the issues that spark-off hartals. For instance, economics and logic would indicate that there’s only one direction in which petroleum prices are likely to go — up. So wouldn’t the folks who called the hartal on Kerala on June 26 do more all around good if they choose to promote and support the adoption of non-petroleum energy sources? Why can’t they form a science cooperative to do research into non-conventional, sustainable energy sources and how they can be used — instead of petroleum — to fuel India’s growth?
Wouldn’t pushing for initiatives like this have much more meaning than calling silly hartals? And, perhaps more important, they would arguably create much more goodwill for the ‘brand’ and probably bring in more votes too.


Mee said...

Isn't a hartal done when all other avenues become bleak -cannot have no more negotiations? In such circumstances when daily living/income is under question it would be amazing if some bright sparks could think long term - tuff!:(

Sankar Radhakrishnan said...

@Mee: Should be like that, but isn't :(