In India, we often hear about the strike in one sector of the other. There is hardly a day when we do not read about any strike in the newspapers. Strikes by students, mill workers, government employees etc., have become perpetual headache to those citizens who believe in democratic values and who want to see democracy flourishing in India.
Strikes are the evil legacy of the Industrial Revolution. They were almost unknown in the good old days of cottage industries and small scale industries. In those industries, the worker and the employer were the same. There was direct contact between the cottage worker and the customer. If he satisfied his customers, his life was happy and smooth. With the introduction of machinery and the starting of big factories and mills, thing were remarkably changed. The differences between the employed and the employers began to originate. The rich employers became greedy and began to subject the employers to cruel exploitation. In this sorry plight, strike was only weapon in the hands of the desperate employee or labourer. No wonder that dissatisfied, underpaid and exploited workers go on strike when every means to remove their grievances is ineffective. When the choice lies between starvation and laying down tools, the worker naturally prefers the latter method, of course.
Labour organisations and Trade Unions
After the Industrial Revolution, the condition of lot of workers and labourers have been very miserable. By and by, however, labour organisations and trade unions came into existence. The industrial employees realized the importance and strength of unity and union. The trade unions and labour organisations adopted the method of large scale strike to bring the employers to their heels. Besides the growth of socialistic and communistic principles in the present age gave a further impetus to the strike movement. The employees’ faith began to grow when they succeeded in getting their demands fulfilled with the weapon.
Strikes – The result of the Second World War
The modern world is severely suffering from the fever of strikes. This terrible inflation was the outcome of the Second World War. Prices w high and living became very costly. People failed to cope with the rising prices with their fixed salaries and limited incomes. Discontent began to grow and there was a general cry for increase in wages almost everywhere, Strikes were observed in many countries of the world and many States of India. Even the primary teachers of Uttar Pradesh struck a blow for improving their lot and observed a two months strike in the beginning of 1949.
Strikes in social and educational spheres
Social and educational spheres have come under the effect of strike fever. Here the cases are not economic. There are bitter fruits of the Non-Co-operation and Civil Disobedience Movements launched upon by Mahatma Gandhi to oust Britishers from India. These two movements were launched for a political gain but the spirit of indiscipline and disobedience created by them persists. The worst phase of this evil is found in educational institutions. Students with innocent hearts and immature minds, are filled with strange notions of liberty and democratic rights. They fail to understand the difference between educational institutions and business concerns with the result than the student strikes have become very common those days in schools colleges and universities.
Evil consequences of strikes
A successful strike is a rare thing to be seen. There is lack of honest leadership, moral strength and patriotic approach in strikers. Interested and selfish opportunists create trouble. They leave their followers in lurch after grinding their own axe. Sometimes, the grievances and demands of the employees are not genuine. Sometimes the strikers lose balance of mind and indulge in bickerings at the instigation of political leaders. The result is that strikes fail generally, and the employers and the authorities responsible for law and order come down on them with a heavy hand. No strike is entirely successful. It generally leaves behind a trial of dissension, distrust and tension. Generally, employers try to victimize strikes directly and indirectly. In addition, strikes cause a great national loss. The country’s economy is shattered as the production come to a standstill. Strikes also demoralize the workers by making them greedy with the result that they hunt up pretexts to go on strikes demanding higher wages, more facilities and less work.
‘Gherao’ means encirclement of the employer by the workers in order to compel him to redress the grievances. It is of new origin in India. After the end of national emergency, Gheraos have become frequent. The workers of different governments and non-government departments have adopted “gherao’ as the means to fight against the employers. It aims at coercion. The Central Government and the most of the State Governments have totally disapproved it. The methods of gherao are the sign of savagery in the civilized human society.
India in democratic nation, Democracy is the rule of law. Strikes and gheraos aim at creating lawlessness. They should be controlled with an iron hand. Democratic values to be flourished, require an atmosphere of law and order. The persons who take law in their own hands and indulge in acts of rowdyism, must be severely dealt with and must not be allowed to undermine our faith in democracy by ugly tactics. India requires discipline, mutual regard and obedience to law of its citizens to become a mighty nation.