On a number of occassions the opposition parties in India have called for a bandh to protest against price rise and other matters. A bandh ( closure) is a legitimate form of protest against any policy and is frequently resorted to by the political parties. It is form of protest where in a complete shut down is effected of all services and markets as a mark of protest.
Bandh's in India can trace their origin to the days of the British Raj.Theoretically they are supposed to be peaceful and voluntary, but in most cases the bandhs are enforced not with alittle coercion and force. Bandhs can also turn violent, resulting in damage to property both private and government 0wned.
Some time back the Mumbai High cart had come down heavily on the perpetrator's of the bandhs, the Shiv Sena and BJP and fined them 50 lakhs of rupees, as the court felt that Bandhs affected normal life and privacy of an individual and should not be resorted to. The spirit behind this judgment is laudable, but the fact remains what is the legitimate way a political party can articulate the grievances of the people in a peaceful manner other than a bandh?
The Bandhs culture picked up in a bigger way as a form of protest during the sixties when the fire brand union leader
The bandhs also led to wide spread economic losses to the economy as trade and commerce was brought to a standstill. This is certainly a negative aspect of the bandhs.There have been even cases when governments in power like in West Bengal have called for bandhs against policies of the central government. In such cases the state machinery was put to use and the Government itself took transport and other government controlled services of the road.
The bandh is certainly a legitimate form of protest in case it is voluntary and no element of coercion or force is part of it.This is an excellent way of registering a protest.But care needs to be taken that bandhs are not for frivolous reasons as the losses in terms of finance and commerce can be prohibitive.Also the element of coercion needs to be completely eschewed