It seems no one really knew, but everyone loves a good nationwide strike and one more day off. Students are happy to have no class and to have exams postponed. It's a good excuse to go to the office an hour late and leave an hour early, citing the need to walk there and back. And for those who love big bonfires, it is another great chance to burn a vehicle.
In Dharan and other parts of eastern Nepal, the general discussion is about who will organise the next banda. The standard operating procedure is simple: choose a date, outsource activists, do something that will attract media attention and then wait for your turn to organise the next one.
Observers point out that the people who stage the demos, participate in the masal julus, torch vehicles, deflate or burn tyres are all one and the same. On a course titled Nepali Management 101, perhaps this would be a good example of outsourcing.
Why should we complain if all political parties outsource the services of the same people to broker their business deals? Isn't it good to have the same set of people honing their expertise and offering their services to a variety of clients? Perhaps Nepal could become the world's greatest source of outsourced protestor talent.
Nepalis have accepted bandas as a way of life when they should be rallying against them. The business of bandas is getting out of hand. Soon entrepreneurs running tanker business will be calling a banda to change laws so they can vandalize vehicles belonging to their competitors and parents will block traffic to protest against their children not being allowed to cheat in examinations or because they want job guarantees for graduates with poor degrees. (Wait, that's already happening.) Why should business organizations feel it acceptable to threaten shut down rather than debate a policy issue with the government?
This Beed always refers to Kathmandu as a sister city of Kolkata because if someone visits either city and returns without encountering a political showdown in the streets he or she will feel something is missing. Surely this is not the kind of experience we are packaging for Visit Nepal Year 2011. Something serious needs to be done.
Perhaps, a citizen's campaign, in which we resist and not co-operate with the banda organizers, can only bring this to an end. Any donor willing to sponsor such a program or should we get some parachute consultants in first to assess and write a report?