Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Sorry, we're closed

India closed on Monday. Actually, that's a little unfair. Parts of India closed on Monday, and Bombay was one of those. Opposition parties across the country called for a Bharat Bandh ('Bharat' meaning India and 'bandh' essentially close, as in, 'Close the door please.'). As Bombay currently has a strong BJP coalition (and Shiv Sena influence), as opposed to the country as a whole, which is governed by the Congress Party, it meant that the city decided not to open.

The street was the quietest I've ever seen it (or should that be heard it?). Buses stopped and shops were closed. I was told that the trains were running but it was hard to verify as the nearest station is a half hour walk away. Apparently it was a general strike called in response to the governments decision not to subsidise petrol prices any more (BBC link). India has a forecasted budget deficit of 5.5% of GDP for the 2010-2011 financial year and has plans to bring this down further over the coming years.

It's a messy situation. Running a deficit is not sustainable in the long-term without running into the sorts of issues that many European countries are facing now but some say the strike is just a political manoeuvre by the opposition to cause havoc and spread discord.

All I know is that India closed for the day. I'm glad this wouldn't happen in the UK. It would be most inconvenient to arrive home in a little under two weeks time (yikes!) and be told at the airport, "Sorry, the UK's decided to close today. Please come back tomorrow."

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