Thursday, February 02, 2006

Airport Strike & The Left

As I plan to go to India today, the over-riding concern that is top of my mind today is the strikes that are affecting airport terminals, specially in Calcutta [Oh yes, as a friend reminded me – the name has changed, the place has changed too – but let me live with my old flame!]

I am hassled, and confused. Hassled, because I don’t know what awaits me. Confused, because I do believe that workers are getting marginalised in most cases and they do have a right to strike.

But, do they have the right to disrupt public services, block the roads, and harass people?

NO. This is precisely the problem in the ‘left’ thinking and this is why they are losing the battle. As in everything, the battle today is for the mind – and the mind refers to the mind of the uninitiated. And, creating trouble is not very helpful in winning minds.

Let’s give an example. Ask anyone on street why this current strike is happening, and you will get the answer that the workers are striking against the modernisation of the airports. While the leaders of the strike have a very sophisticated logic behind the strike, they have completely failed to communicate that. Those made them lose the battle of the mind, one more time.

The other issue here is the people who are striking, and whose jobs are at stake, are public servants, paid by the government. Again, ask the man on street – the insurance salesman, the computer programmer, the daily labourer, the company manager or a teacher in private school – and there is utter incomprehension on this count. Most people who have interacted directly with such ‘public servants’, have been appalled by their lack of concern, arrogance and lack of effectiveness. Every one knows that they had taken their job for granted. If that goes now – well, what’s the fuss – jobs will go if you don’t do it properly?

Again, as the ‘left’ stands for such strikes, they lose their political character. They stand for ‘Babus’ and not the ‘workers’. They attempt to protect people who undermine ‘work’, not a good idea for a party who wants to stand up for ‘labour’.

It is a losing battle – please let me land!

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