Business As Usual ?? India-A Nation Ravaged
Megasthenes ,the Greek geographer and traveller ,who visited India in the 3rd Century BC made a striking observation about the country,regarding the remarkable Indian ability to carry on with their lives unmindful of whatever was going on around them, even if it was a war on their country. He talks of large populations of Indians “exempted from military service, who cultivate their lands, undisturbed by fear…while on the other side,men may be seen drawn up in array of battle and fighting at the risk of their lives, while other men close at hand are ploughing and digging in perfect security…”
The observation that he made thousands of years ago,still holds good. Here we are,though not actually at war,in a war-like state….like the stretched string of a bow:-first the 26/11 Mumbai attacks,then war mongering from Pakistan,the economic slow-down,the Satyam meltdown,the unceasing diplomatic war of words,a failed 9 day terrorist encounter at Poonch in Kashmir…the list is unending.And despite this,we have 2 of the biggest sectors of the economy on strike..
The issue i want to take up today is this…do the truckers and the oil workers,have a right to go on strike when the country is nearly crippled by external crisis ? Do ANY of us have the moral right to be indifferent ?
The Truckers and the Oil sectors are one of the largest sectors of the Indian economy.While trucks are largely privately owned,the oil sector companies are mostly PSU’s(Public Sector Units).
Why Do they Strike ?
The oil workers demand a hike in their wages.In PSU’s,the wages are hiked every ten years.The last hike was in 2007,but the workers demand the government had agreed to pay them more.They claim the average hike is only of 17%,and the government is hoodwinking the people into believing that the hike was of 55-150 %.Reports say that around 45,000 officers across 12 state-owned oil corporations have joined the strike, demanding higher wages.
Similarly,the road transporters have gone on indefinite nationwide strike demanding a reduction in diesel prices by Rs 10 a litre, reduction in tyre prices, and reduction in national permit fees from Rs 5,000 to Rs 1,500.
Are the Strikes justified ?
The Oil PSU officers are already paid well by industry standards and they have job security that the private sector doesn’t.They are among the most privileged minority in the whole world, people who have corporate sector employment with total job security. This at a time when corporate jobs are being lost in millions around the world (including in India), when downsizing is the buzz word and when employers are walking around with shot-guns.Even if their demand is well founded,a handful of well-to-do people holding the entire nation to ransom and paralyzing the economy,is nothing but cynical, selfish, irresponsible , criminal and MUST draw upon itself the scorn of the nation.
Indian truckers are by no means below-poverty-line basket cases. In fact, they have built a terrific reputation as tough entrepreneurs always willing to join the national effort during wars, emergencies and calamities.So what is happening now? Are we finally losing our marbles?
When nearly two million other Indians, in our armed, paramilitary and police forces are so readily willing to forget their own, and mostly justified, grievances over the pay commission and move to action stations, here are a few, financially so much better endowed than them, trying to bring the country to a standstill. What if the wage-earners of the armed forces also began drawing a lesson from this?
The world,especially Pakistan,must be laughing its ass off about the situation of India.We are a nation where the Union Home Minister has to cancel a vital visit to the USA to meet his American counterpart and exchange notes on tackling terrorism ;the only reason being,he heads the ministerial committee looking into oil officer’s salaries !
Is India a weak nation ? We,as Indians must realize this….and the sooner we do,the better…our country is down for the count,reeling under so many punches it doesn’t deserve to take.We don’t invade countries,we don’t run our tanks over unarmed and helpless people,we don’t fire missiles that kill hundreds of kids and maim thousands others…and yet,we are attacked.Time and again,our sensibilities are ravaged,our minds are scourged ; to the effect,that if the ‘Breaking News’ isn’t about someone being killed,it feels as if you are watching Cartoon Network.
Remember,that we are surrounded on all sides by neighbours who only differ in their level of hostilities towards us,be it the ever belligerent Pakistan,discordant China or ungrateful Bangladesh.Remember,and take heed…It’s not about how hard you hit..It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward…