Coming Fresh on Hartal

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The daunting task of opining anything fresh on Hartal brings us to its origins. Although there is nothing, much new or seemingly ‘fresh’ about the origin of Hartal, at this time, when in Kerala Hartal is taken up by the opposition, against the ruling party’s adamant stand on keeping its Chief Minister on the chair after the allegations against him on corruption, it will be interesting to notice when and where it was born.

The political system, currently, is maneuvering through one of its worse times of ethical collapse, not just in Kerala, but also in many other parts of the world. This status of the world affairs too makes it necessary to go back to the past and look for answers. Hartal was the answer Gandhi proposed as an effective strategy for civil disobedience. Since then in India, Hartal has been a tool, handy for political parties to assert their supremacy over individual liberty and over other parties.

The moment the government hikes the price of petrol, they will announce a Hartal. A political leader dies and before you know, there will be a Hartal. It seems, everyone, including the parties who announce Hartal and those who are subjected to Hartal, the common man, enjoy this political strategy. The most enjoyable aspect of this strategy is the holidays it provides the common people. Although, I doubt the efficiency of Hartal in bringing the government to reduce the hiked prices or adopt better reform measures, I should not deny it as ineffective. It is part of our cultural heritage. Denying anything close to cultural heritage would be to lose your life or being deported to some other planetary system. (You will have to look for other planets, mostly because no one else on the earth is going to take you in, especially if you are charged with treason.)

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Let us consider options to share the positive aspects of Hartal. The conflicts in Syria and Egypt could find missile free solutions in Hartal. The Indian model of Hartal often harbours violence and there would be chances of a good grenade throwing. However, never in India, did we use missiles on Hartal. Adopting Hartal in a comparatively nonviolent way is a potential game turner for countries like Syria.

Non-violence and ethical integrity were two pillars, the architect of Civil Disobedience in India, M. K. Gandhi based the system on. Therefore, the affectivity of Hartal under circumstances not envisioned by the architect of the idea would be catastrophic. Whoever uses it must use it cautiously

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