Bandh (Hindi: बंद), originally a Hindi word meaning ‘closed’, is a form of protest used by political activists in some countries in South Asia like India and Nepal. During a Bandh, a major political party or a large chunk of a community declares a general strike, usually lasting one day.
If you are not from around Nepal or India, the term bandh will be really new to you. But if you are like me dwelling in Nepal, its like a common word used every week or so and everytime when you are talking about Nepali politics. If you are like me, a student a bandh will usually mean a holiday, not technically an official holiday but a forced closure of vehicles and business resulting in .. well a holiday. But that doesn’t make it a good thing ;). Many business have collapsed, many factories permanently closed, properties vandalised and the list continues. At one time I had to walk for about 3 hours carrying my luggage uphill and downhill about 15 km because some wise group of men decided to call a bandh in the middle of the Prithvi Highway for their crutial demands that far surpassed the agony of hundreds of thousands of stranded passengers.
I don’t know the condition of bandhs over there in India but in Nepal its pretty severe. This site[nepalbandh.com] has a calendar, the calendar keeps records of all the bandh that had happened and might happen. A few things that you’ll notice there:
- There was not a single day in November that passed without a bandh at some hour at some part of Nepal.
- The days of this month, December also isn’t free from bandhs. There will be 2 bandhs tomorrow.
- There was never a month without atleast one bandh.
- Last 9 weeks went without a bandh-free day.
I’m not sure if there’s a place in the world with that kind of record statistics.
As sad as it may feel, this is how it goes here. And as ridiculous as it might sound, the status quo is such that the only way to make yourself heard is to organize a bandh.