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Why should I support this Bandh?

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Why should I be forced to support a strike call (bandh) that I don't agree with? Where is my freedom of expression? Why is my office shut? Why is my son's school shut as well? Are the officea and schools shut because they support the bandh, or are they 'scared'? Why can state government not guarantee rule of law on general bandh day? Real shame in today's day and age, such "goonda-giri' driven bandhs are the most farcical tools of public vote in a democracy.

Leaving aside the "how can a ruling party support a strike" thing and talking specifics, what is wrong  with total decontrol of fuel pricess to let the market forces rule? Kerosene price rise can be buffered towards a gradual decontrol, but the public needs to alter their fuel usage pattern - shift the burden away from fossils - and energy companies need that push to innovate.

I am not against my taxes going towards subsidies to support the poor. But I don't want that to happen via support for more consumption of fossil fuel. I want to put my taxes towards primary education, rural infrastructure, and alternate energy research so that the poor can gradually afford to buy energy at market rates.


Ravi_D's picture

Good Q

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I'm completely with you SB. But who cares?

Will be very interesting to know how many really 'voluntarily' supported this shut-down in protest. Wish someone did a survey.

Public Agenda's picture

is about the Nation State

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This is not about the international prices of petrol. An imported litre of petrol remains at approx Rs 16 -17 / ltr.

This is about the context? If it is a BHARAT BANDH can any one person decide, while it is OK for the EGoM to decide to raise prices, Can any person say NO, BTW the Whole Countrry is saying No 

How does the govt collect so much more and despite that no dip in consumption?  There is even talk about the Reva co selling stake to M & M 

Its about the Commodity trade the BIGGEST MIDDLEMAN who sets the price  which came down from $ 147 / barrel to 36 / barrel in two months after the recsiion hit in September 2008. But please observe the trend :- post friday every weekend for 6 months the prices were highest ( which shows how international prices are rigged) so that fuel traders  get the max price. 

If we lived in a utopia which had EQUALITY and the MIDDLEMEN were controlled ....... dream on 

So are we OKAY to pay a price determined by the MARKET MIDDLEMEN or some other "market determined" rates

Last  year the GoI donated $ 10 billion ( 45,000 crores) to the International Monetary fund and bought  200 tonnes of GOLD from IMF. 

It'll be good to see what is the link between the IMF , the Market Middlemen, and the GoI, the FRBMA, and the Global  Macroeconomic stablity ( monitired by IMF)--- its far deeper than is apparent.

This 45,000 crores is much more than what the GoI is generating from fuel price hikes, but would we rather pay the IMF and generate the money from the Indian Poor( majority 60%), by making their cooking fuel unaffordable,.......OH !!.... If there were no middlemen, who would be happy to set the market price of kerosene

Get rid of the market RIGGING TRADER middlemen there and then call for a market price rather than only the shopkeepers, traders to bring in the RETAIL GIANTS who will also RIG prices and BECOME SUPER MIDDLE MEN

This is becoz just like fuel is a hit trading commodity, so is dal, rice, veggies etc 

This is how the LOCAL is global and the GLOBAL is local 

BTW the crude basket which India buys internationally is cheaper by $ 5 -10 than those others buy. 


bangalorean's picture


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Compare the quality of fuel what we get in normal petrol outlets to the ones which we get in international outlets in bangalore. Compare the quantity which we get in the normal outlets to the one in internationally controlled outlets, obviously what we get in normal petrol outlets is far more lower quality than what we get in international outlets.

Then what is the point in paying so high for low quality of fuel. More over is GOVT trying to subsidise electric vehicles for greener environment a BIG NO?????

Who is the controller, do we have a real democracy here, do we have an able GOVT here.

It is not sufficient if IT employee have meal 10 times a day. It is about poor people who even cannot afford meal twice a day with this inflation.

I am sorry to say that INDIA is a RICH nation with POOR people, this has to end somewhere somehow who triggers. Do we have to wait for another GANDHI are you waiting???


idontspam's picture

 So are we OKAY to pay a

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 So are we OKAY to pay a price determined by the MARKET MIDDLEMEN or some other "market determined" rates

Try this, take your home grown grocery to a mall and try bartering it for a TV of any value. sustainable innit. Price? Hmm can we ask the govt to fix the price. Thats not right, how can govt to have authority to fix prices, who are they? They are the ones screwing us right? So we go create a market where the people can fix the prices themselves, but wait you find that market makers rule. So lets take your word for it and you fix the price of what you think it is worth. No even that doesnt sound right. what gives?

psaram42's picture

Permit License Raj

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 “…..Tax exemptions are a legacy of the 1960s and 1970s, an era of license-permit raj and high tax rates, which most of us like to forget today as a bad dream.

Mr Chidambaram, in his second incarnation as finance minister, has been concentrating on the unfinished agenda of tax reforms, viz., scrapping exemptions, rationalizing the rate structure and streamlining tax administration. However, vested interests and lobbies have been working overtime to stall the finance minister…..The Financial Express

Is the ration card necessary for most of us now? When there are enough oils to burn us out, removing the price restriction does not look so out of the blue. This may be one of the ways to reduce global warming. That apart, the divide between the poor and the rich is more alarming, which we need to deliberate more. My worry is about the money laundering GIms sponsored by the mining dons and the loosing battle of Lokaukta Santosh Hegde.

The strikes and the bundhs are only some ongoing world over hiccups and turmoil. They are perhaps inevitable in a democratic set up, like ours.

silkboard's picture

Whole country is saying no - how do you know?

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Public Agenda dear (wish you used a proper noun to name yourself), how do you claim that "BTW the Whole Countrry is saying No "?

How do you know? Because the newspapers tomorrow will say so? Is it because the TV channels are claiming headlines like "bandh complete in Kolkata and Bangalore", or "all offices and schools shut in Kolkata, Patna and Bangalore".

It is ironic that we are seeing Bangalore named alongside cities like Patna and Kolkata. Having grown up seeing bandhs everyday at South Bihar (now Jharkhand) where jeep load of hooligans would do the rounds to "ensure" a bandh, same set of folks, for one party today and another party tomorrow, I am susprised to see that Bangalore of today is not that much different.

How the hell does one know whether the bandh has support of people or not? Only people who claim to know the public agenda can say they know (pun inteded Public Agenda sir). I don't.

If any party has the guts, let us have a bandh call without the threat of broken window panes or bones, And then we will see who supports bandhs and who don't.

silkboard's picture

Story of "protests"

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I can't produce evidences for these, but are second hand "quotes".

  • Attending political rallies - Rs 100-120 a day, plus 'biriyani'
  • Election time rallies - Rs 100-150 a day, plus 'biriyani', plus booze in the evening
  • Enforcing bandhs, pelting stones - Rs 200 a day, plus food.
  • Pelting stones, in Srinagar, Friday evenings, Rs 500.

Clearly, as the risk increases, so do the "rates" for renting hands of protests. Democracy baba democracy.

Public Agenda's picture

thanks for diverting from the focus on IMF

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@ IDS & @ SB 

Thanks for diverting about organising bandhs and TVs etc,etc 

That was not the point 

Why cant you examine the serious issues here?

please question the IMF 

what if the IMF sitting pretty is the Biggest GOONDA trying to decide (happening in SE Asia, Bangladesh)  

It just says that who are the ideological slaves .........

I am straight saying that India withdraws the 10 bn USD to keep the subsidy going 

sure the quid pro quo for the GoI was a .0025 ~ increase in the voting share at the IMF with the so called BRICS countries



silkboard's picture

Work on what we can

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PA sir, you are pushing your IMF and stuff. But I want to understand much more mundane things like bandhs, stones and protests first, because at least I am getting mis-represented in news headlines doing the rounds right now. You are perhaps not, so you want to talk intangible stuff like IMF.

So now that you are taking back your "All of Bharat supports this bandh", let us take one step up and talk pricing. On the pricing issue, why don't we first set our house in order first before getting into intellectually stimulating stuff around commodity exchanges and IMF. Why is it that at Shell, or even Essar earlier, I get 1 liter petrol when I ask for 1 liter, but only get 850 ml - 900 ml when I ask for the same? Or if we manage to 950 ml+, it tends to be adulterated? Why is it that you and I are super afraid to go to these same bunks with measuring tubes?

Lets cut inefficiencies in our own supply chain first, and then take on the world. And that can only happen only if the government gets out of this chain.

Enlighten us with your take on the inefficiencies in our part of the supply chain please. Do that first, because at least I get turned off as soon as the talk gets intangibly global.

murali772's picture

states' hidden agenda

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The irony of it all is that none of the state governments, which supported the bundh (rather, enforced them through subtle and not so subtle threats), including our very own, supoposedly because of the adverse impact the removal of subsidies has on the aam aadmi, is prepared to forego any of the sales tax increase that it will automatically benefit from. If there has to be a 'Public' agenda, that's what it has to be, rather than pursuing some global agenda of trying to palm off the blame onto IMF.  

And, very correctly as SB has pointed out, a permanent subsidy regime only breeds inefficiencies and corruption. Supporting the poor is very much needed, but there are a hundred better ways to do that.  

Muralidhar Rao
bangalorean's picture

Pls implement those hundred better ways

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I suggest to implement those hundred better ways first and then remove the subsidies. You know whats happening, even those hundred better ways are not getting implemented and even the support for poor is being removed.

A question why in US that fuel is so cheap, That means that they are doing something that india is not doing.  I am ashamed to say that 1 billion people cannot make it a point to the world how come??????, when a handful of people can create 2 wars FIRST and SECOND. 

HOW COME 1 billion people cannot make a difference to the world?????? Because of the inefficiencies in the current government. I can talk talk and talk but no one will understand, because no one wants to, thats waht POOR is going through.

I am seeing by my own eyes the struggle of the poor in this inflation. Rich wasting millioins of rupees while poor does not even have the money to have 2 meals a day.

This post can be provocative.... but i donot have any choice but protest silently ... with ahimsa.

ALL THE PEOPLE SHOULD STOP FILLING PETROL ONE DAY IN A MONTH.  Sacrifice going out riding your vehicles it will do so good to environment and also to you. IT SHOULD BE  "NO PETROL DAY".

Then lobbies will realise the power of people, power of BHARATH, let petrol go waste we will not create any demand on that day, we will tackle demand and supply headon.  Even the world will realise the power of india ......

idontspam's picture

 A question why in US that

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 A question why in US that fuel is so cheap, That means that they are doing something that india is not doing.  I am ashamed to say that 1 billion people cannot make it a point to the world how come?

Petrol in India will cost less than Rs 18 a litre without the duties levied by the Central and state governments. Around 59% of the retail price in Bangalore and Karnataka are central and state levies in the form of sales tax, entry tax, excise duty and cess, making the cost of petrol highest in the country. 33% is state levied. So its not IMF which is levying the tax, its not the world which is cheating us of our right to cheap fuel. Its our own govt. File an RTI to find out what are the taxes in our fuel and talk to state & central govts. via a PIL, better than organizing a world war I say.

Oh and do your bit to help the poor, talk to your elected representative about commuter rail.

silkboard's picture

the hundred better ways ...

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.. will mostly involve putting another tax on us to create inefficiency in some other supply chain. I want to put my taxes to better use, and towards funding those hundred better ways than the present ten or twenty.

Money is not in unlimited supply here. Now that the fuel pricess will become market driven, instead of the bandhs, let us pressure government on putting the new fund (Rs 53000 - 70000 crore I am told once subsidy is cut on fossil fuel) to the use that you and me want.

suryakamal's picture

Why fuel prices are highest in BLR / Karnataka?

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As rightly pointed by IDS, I find it odd the BJP government is supporting the bandh call instead of looking inwards as to why the fuel is highest compared to anywhere else in India?

I am not saying its BJP's fault that the taxes are highest on fuel here (not to mention the road tax, regn tax for vehicles) - successively all governments robbed us  and will continue to do so.

I am one for RTI / PLI on this.


murali772's picture

better management - the need

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I want to put my taxes to better use, and towards funding those hundred better ways than the present ten or twenty.

Quite right - what I meant was 'hundred better ways to manage the present ten or twenty'

instead of the bandhs, let us pressure government on putting the new fund (Rs 53000 - 70000 crore I am told) to the use that you and me want.

Indeed that's where the focus needs to be; and not just these funds, the entire lot that's available to the government, which is firly huge even as of now.

Muralidhar Rao
Public Agenda's picture

New forms of protest

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 are welcome

Even the father of nation said let the wind come in from all sides so keep all the windows open but dont get blown of your feet by educated people with bilnkered vision

the most socialist countries who have subsidised health care food security, insurance etc have seen lots of protests and strikes even recentely like France last year.

Clearly there is an issue of initiative from Civil society vs the Politicians stealing the initiative

but is it logical that  We buy vote share throu loan of USD 10 bn to IMF?

 A reversal of fortune: India lends to IMF

 IMF moots hike of India's vote, quota shares

Bheema.Upadhyaya's picture

See also WB loan status

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" My mantra to public bodies=> Enable->Educate->Enforce. Where does  DDC  fit?"
murali772's picture

what's the point being made?

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@public agenda, Bheema Upadhyaya

I read the Indian Express, Hindustan Times, as well as the TOI articles. But, I can't see their relevance to the discussions here. I am not an economist, but I don't think either of you are, either. So, what's the point you both are making?

The articles in fact appear appreciative of the government's moves - well, admittedly, in my limited understanding of the subject.

Muralidhar Rao
Bheema.Upadhyaya's picture

It was a complementary reading

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I agree with Murali. But I just posted this link as a complementary reading. In other words, if some one read the previous post , and thought India is lending to IMF, just wanted to show the other face.

If admins are shifting the last post to relevant category, please move the next post too....

" My mantra to public bodies=> Enable->Educate->Enforce. Where does  DDC  fit?"
Vasanth's picture

Why not Congress starting Bundh on KSRTC Price Hikes?

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Offlate, KSRTC is increasing its prices steeply without any reason. If there is a reason, there will be a steep increase. Bus fare was recently just 4-5 months back was increased by 5%. Now with increase in fuel prices, another 5% increase.

No one is questioning nor protesting including the so called opposite parties who do not care because the representatives do not use KSRTC services.

A Volvo ride from Mysore to Bangalore was 240 this November, without reason it was increased to 250. Now with fuel hike it has become 260.

Vinay's picture

Some good ol' middle class hypocrisy here?

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Public Agenda (and others crying against deregulation):

Pardon me for being blunt, but your 'concern' for the 'poor masses of India' smacks of selfishness. You, members of the great Indian middle class, want fuel prices to remain low so that you can continue driving your cars around and save your money to move into that new Shobha apartment.

The aam 'aam aadmi' might not be aware that India does not drill its own fuel but needs to buy it from Saudi Arabia, but people of the strata of society which blogs actively should know better. We buy fuel from OPEC, OPEC raises prices, the Indian public remains blissfully unaware - and this continues ad infinitum... but can it really continue forever? Where will the money come from - the tooth fairy?


Please keep the price-rise topic separate from fuel price deregulation. What is your opinion on deregulation of <B>petrol</B> prices? For, or against it? (And please note, I am specifically asking you about PETROL). Your talk of quality of fuel in state run outlets is a separate discussion altogether - bringing it up here obfuscates the primary issue.


abidpqa's picture

Petrol prices are low even

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Petrol prices are low even now. The indicator is the number of vehicles on the road. If the prices were too high. There would be less vehicles on the road. There is no justification for subsidies on petrol, but to complete the picture the diesel for cars also should not be subsidised.

If I participate in the bandh and tell that to the manager tomorrow wil he be happy and congraluate me? I dont think so. So the threats by the political parties is the other side of the coin. Bandhs are good at least in the sense It shows people are responding  to goverment decisions. Why only see the power of political parties, see the power of corporates too.

The loss of productivity claimed by the industry associations is not fully tested theory. I have not seen an economist substantiate it.

idontspam's picture

Practicality of suggestions

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 but to complete the picture the diesel for cars also should not be subsidised.

How do you implement that practically?

Naveen's picture

No subsidy for diesel, kerosene either

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It's high time we ended the fiasco that has been fuel subsidy (& with it, the highly corrupt, inefficient PDS system).

Distribution of rations for the low income groups (that have ration cards) can be through any kirana store, big bazaar, food bazaar or such outlets rather than through the existing overlong supply chain of the govt or govt corpns before it reaches individual BPL families at ration shops.

Private distribution outlets can maintain records of such distribution & file their returns. Entries can also be made in individual ration books at each issue of such subsidized commodities (grocery, kerosene, etc) to help trace cases of cheating. Alternately, BPL families can be given monthly tickets that will allow them a discount at purchase, which will have to be returned to the govt by shops when filing their returns for refunds.

Though this will have it's own demerits (such as bogus distribution records by shops), the chances for improvement in distribution are higher.

Car wallahs will not have ration cards & will therefore pay up full cost for any kind of fuel. IR, BMTC, KSRTC, & other public service companies must be asked to pay up in full first & then file their returns for refunds.

In short, this is an opportunity for a complete revamp of the subsidy regimes that have been profiteering whilst bleeding the govt & harrasing BPL families.

Transmogrifier's picture

Subsidies and conspiracies

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Distribution of rations for the low income groups (that have ration cards) can be through any kirana store, big bazaar, food bazaar or such outlets rather than through the existing overlong supply chain of the govt or govt corpns before it reaches individual BPL families at ration shops.

All you would need is something similar to USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Program. Admittedly, there is always potential to misuse any scheme (I have heard of people continuing to use cards when it is obvious that they do not need it), but atleast it cuts out most of the PDS chain.


@ PublicAgenda, while conspiracy theorists make for good movie-making, it's time (like many here are suggesting) that we look at why we pay so much as in the way of levies (59%?) and much worse, get so little. Let's take two examples:

1. In one of the most capitalistic of societies, federal and state taxes, on average, are about 45.6c/gallon (for petrol) or 16.7% at today's price of unleaded petrol. What do you get for that? For 18.4c out of that (or 6-7%) you get 75,000 km of Interstate system on which you could cover 950km (that's the distance to Chennai... and back...and then back again) in 9.5hrs.

But let's take an example from Europe...where the push to reduce carbon reliancy is much greater...

2.  In the UK, 68% of the price of unleaded is attributed to the Hydrocarbon oil duty and VAT, but most of the Hydrocarbon oil duty goes to infrastructure projects (source)...projects that we often draw inspiration from.

Does anyone have actual numbers on the Karnataka state budget (I tried looking but it's hard to tease apart the actual income from sale of fuel) before "market middle-men" take all the glory? Make no mistake, I agree that there's a lot more to oil than meets the eye... but oil subsidies are a problem of our own making. I say we question not just why we have a subsidy but also what happens to our 59%?

And while we're on the subject of conspiracy theories, let's atleast go for the ones that we can address...



idontspam's picture

 such as bogus distribution

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 such as bogus distribution records by shops

Not if it was biometrically verified from an idenfitiable handheld at the time of purchase. But, see some people believe privacy concerns overrule livelihood issues, as though todays tattered files are in a impenetrable vault. Breach of privacy is always 10 rupees away. Thats another discussion though.

silkboard's picture

Targeting subsidy, and the cess

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Thank you Vinay, abidpqa, ids, naveen, transmog and more for the support here. Pseudo socialists do not have much (data, or results) to show for their arguments, they don't usually stick to the topic :) and love bringing in IMF and WB to every discussion possible :) No bright or practical ideas from them yet on how to uplift the poor, their motto is stats quo !

Not that Murali or abidpqa or myself or others are not socialists. The thing is, we need two things:

  1. Better targeting of fuel subsidy. 35 rs a liter deisel for cars is simply not right.
  2. Subsidize transportation, not fuel. And the cess (which is on top of  govt subsidy) can't be used to promote even more consumption of fuel for private vehicles.

For #1, a fuel card like thing might work. I think of it like a prepaid card that would be issued to BPL families. Using this Fuel card, you get sales taxes/cess etc waived off at all fuel outlets. Fuel companies collect the tax later from government (this would be the subsidy) as part of a settlement. Such targeting schemes do have holes (you will buy petrol on your driver's card - for example), but with usage quotas, and link with UID, it could become better.

For #2 - in theory, some of the taxes we pay in Karnataka are supposed to go to funds for transportation projects (Metro okay, but please, not road widening). Additionally same Fuel/Energy card concept (don't collect indirect taxes from BPL) may work here as well.

Don't have much ideas right now. But I am sure the right guys will devise a better plan for accurate targeting and utilization of subsidies. Lets get out of the present mess first, thanks UPA for taking the first steps.

nl.srinivas's picture

Thanks SB

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Thanks SB for bringing back the attention to the core issue.

For me fuel price hike is not the issue why I supported this bundh. I am "convinced" that fuel price deregulation is inevitable. Why govt is heavily taxing the fuel is another issue.

The main issue for me is the inflation. Last year there was a marginal decrease in agricultural produce. But this definitely did not warrant such a high increase in prices of everything including rice, wheat, sugar and dal. I hold the govt completely responsible, both the central and state govts, for not containing price rise, PRICE RIGGING and HOARDING.

Unscrupulous traders, in collusion with govt officials, have managed to rig the prices and jack up the prices of everything.  The best quality rice costs less than 20rs in akki mandi and don't tell me it should cost 45+rs in the retail market. That is just middlemen eating up all the money. Govt has tuned a blind eye towards this and comman man is suffering.

And I don't think I have to mention good education and health facilities, which have become inaccessible and unaffordable even to the middle class.


Vinay's picture

Differential pricing for Disel

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While I admit that differential pricing for Disel is the best possible thing to happen, I've been trying to think of how to implement this in a practical situation. Ideally we need disel to be priced at 'deregulated rates' for the Scorpio/Safari owners while the BMTC buses and trucks need to run at subsidized rates. But I'm not able to think of any practical/foolproof way to make this happen. Maybe the easiest thing for the time being is to tax the hell out of Disel cars/SUVs (make the purchase price higher).


idontspam's picture

Maybe the easiest thing for

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Maybe the easiest thing for the time being is to tax the hell out of Disel cars/SUVs

First enable the alternatives. Here is one.

Public Agenda's picture

taking from the poor and making $ Billionaires

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Lets talks MEGA SUBSIDY (tax giveaways to the corporate sector)

@Vinay, @SB and others

The indirect taxes , GST, VAT, etc are paid for by all the public. Collections have gone up every year,  and exceed targets....

with 77 % of the ppl below the Rs 20 per day spending limit -NCEUS source (Arjun Sengupta Committee) the Indian state gives away annually Rs 5,00,000 crores of tax revenues to the Corporate and others sector under just 3 heads of account for the last 3-4 years (Annual Statement of revenue forgone as per the budget) also see (A civil society study of the FRBM) also loans the IMF 45,000 crs after which it raises the price of transport and cooking fuel for improving the investment climate (quoting the PM). This shows exactly what is being enabled and facilitated and who dictates.

The yes men brigade brooks no opposition and the BANDH is the way ..... and also civil disobedience the Father of the Nation way .

all it needs is unblinkered vision and an ability to say no thanks enough is enough....  but that seems a long way off for the educated but vocal minority in the country all becoz CONFORMITY has been cultivated.......

there is a NATION beyond the STATE, but for some the question is whther this is possible!

Vinay's picture

Disel taxes etc.

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Yeah, of course CRS is a good thing - but what I really meant was increasing the taxes on DISEL vehicles as compared to Petrol ones, since there seems no easy way to implement differential pricing for Disel with higher fuel cost for private vehicles.

Public Agenda:

No, let's NOT TALK MEGA SUBSIDY to the corporate sector.

I noticed in one of your comments above that you accuse others of 'diverting' the topic. I see you doing this at least 4 times already on this single page.

Just tell me one thing - the removal of subsidies on petrol - good or bad? For it, or against it?


silkboard's picture

Losing it Public agenda

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Thank you PubA for trying yet again to bring in your bigger picture. For the stat you produce from Arjun Sengupta committee, you know very well yourself that another committee has a number much lower than that 77% (37% - Suresh Tendulkar?). But wait, there is no point going into that debate, because whatever the method, what matters more is how the number has changed over last 60 years of subsidy regime? Absolute value of developmental stats is usually useless, its the time based charts and hostorical data that count.

Regarding BANDH etc, I suspect you didn't get the point. Father of our nation certainly did not pay Rs 200 + evening booze per person to down shutters, leave alone organizing marches and acts of civil disobedience. In fact, he canceled an entire movement after reports of violence (Chauri Chaura) were brought to him.

I think we have derailed this a bit too far from fuel and bandh politics, so will sign off from this post now. I am not shying away from your bigger picture talk, but let us do it in a separate post.

Transmogrifier's picture

It's high time we ended the fiasco

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It's high time we ended the fiasco that has been fuel subsidy (& with it, the highly corrupt, inefficient PDS system).

At least the planning commission thinks we can pull off a smart card based PDS.

" Karnataka, as frontrunner in ITES, should introduce smart card for public distribution system to tackle corruption in the scheme, Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, has suggested." (source: DH)


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