ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Under High Auspices

The President's independence day message many had felt was directed more at the Government of which he is the formal head than at the country and people in general. 

The President's independence day message many had felt was directed more at the Government of which he is the formal head than at the country and people in general. He did not for instance stop with exhorting the people to tighten their belts and to accept hardships but went on to say point blank that austerity ''should start with those at the top for the large majority of our people are already leading austere lives by necessity". On the food crisis again the object of his criticism was clear: "in times of relative plenty we do not do enough to conserve stocks. In times of relative scarcity we fail to organise fair distribution".Further "we are not willing or able to take action against the antisocial elements". Who can be the "we" in this context but the Government?
The President also touched on the growing number of strikes hartals and bandhs witnessed in recent months and warned that "in these difficult days it is the duty of us all to preserve democratic institutions and habits of behaviour". Was this piece of advice intended for the Government too? The question is raised sharply by the attitude of the Maharashtra Government to the 'ghera dalo' organised by the Sampoorna Maharashtra Samiti in Bombay on Wednesday over the MaharashtraMysore boundary dispute.The Samiti's plan announced days ago was to throw a cordon of volunteers imported from all over the State and from the areas in Mysore claimed by Maharashtra around the State Secretariat so as to prevent anyone including Ministers from entering the building.The sponsors of the 'ghera' amply succeeded in their objective from all accounts. Not only did they prevent anyone from entering the Secretariat but they paralysed the Courts by preventing advocates and judges from approaching the court buildings and obstructed large numbers of school children college students and officegoers who had to pass through the areas "occupied" by the agitators. And not all this was done peacefully or by gentle persuasion.

In this respect Wednesday's 'ghera dalo' was significantly different from Thursday's Bombay Bandh. On Thursday trade unions of workers exercising their right to strike directed their members to stay away from work in protest against price rise food shortage and unemployment; on Wednesday ordinary citizens were forcibly prevented from going to work by agitators of the Samiti as a "demonstration of the people's wrath against the Government's inaction" on the border question.

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