Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Auto Strike

It was a weird sight this afternoon, returning to the office after an appointment outside, there were not many autorikshaws on the road. Autos as we call it here in Madras, seemed to be in short supply. Normally you would always see a swarm of them at every corner or even on the road sometimes. I waited for almost 5 minutes to stop one that was slowly cruising towards me. It was after i acquired this for myself, as my ride, that i learnt about the auto strike today. Apparently auto, trucks, and cabs were on strike to protest the increase in petrol prices.

The petrol price was increased by the Union Government about a week ago,based on the international pricing. The price per gallon of oil had just recently touched 60$, and so the Govt felt necessary to shift some of the burden to the consuming public. The Govt had also been slowly dismantling the subsidies on Cooking Gas, Kerosene and Diesel. It is but natural, atleast as the current global thinking on privatization and globalization goes, to let the price move up and down based on demand and supply. But one thing that the people of who preach globalization and privatization dont want to admit is free movement of people. If everything were to be left to demand and supply, then let people also move to where jobs are available and where labour is paid more, so that they can pay more to buy these things that are produced by private companies.

Back to the strike. What purpose did it serve ? Did it get the empathy of the people ? I am not so sure of any of these things. The Govt surely was the least bit bothered by it. The deciding authority sits in Delhi and they were busy attending a conference, so apart from enjoying the lectures and speeches there, and all the free food that would be floating around, there is no time to be affected or concerned by the strike in Chennai. Unfortunately, the auto drivers dont have a great following either, thanks to their regular and continuous harassment of passengers. If you look at their plight objectively, you would realize that they too are a suffering lot. They are affected by privatization but cannot privatize themselves. They are more like a bonded labour class. And they have no other choice but to fleece.

For people who talk privatization, they must also be able to perceive its full impact. Partial privatization doesn't help, partial globalization doesn't help. If we are to be truly governed by capitalistic morals, then let all barriers fall.

-- this article was written on June 28th.

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