"Waiter! What's this bandh thing?"
"Well sir, it's an entertaining dish, I suppose you could say."
"Well, for goodness sake, what does it take to make one?"
"Oh, that's easy, pick up the newspaper on any given day and you will find some 200 reasons to make a bandh."
"Really? It doesn't take much then? Go ahead, give me the details."
"The thing is, not everyone agrees on the ingredients and at the end of it all, more often that not, no one can really remember exactly what went into it. There are always rumours afterwards, any of which could have been the main ingredient. Of course, there are your staple items that can always be counted on. Those would be:
One. A group of impressionable teenagers.
Two. A band of delinquent young men
Three. Rocks, tyres, bricks, sticks, and eventually shotguns, rifles, riot gear and big police sticks
Four. Said groups of young people block roads, force transport not to move, force shop keepers to shut up for the day, and close schools.
and Five, to quote V for Vendetta, 'what will happen?', 'what usually happens when people without guns stand up to people WITH guns'"
"OK, but your last one, for example, what was in it?"
"According to popular belief there were at least three major things:
One. Two students were kidnapped some time ago, much like how it used to happen...you know, during the insurgency. Yesterday they were found dead, perhaps with knife wounds, perhaps not. No one actually knows who murdered them, but popular belief is that the Maoists were involved. Yes, I see the question you are about to ask, they would be the political party leading the insurgency and who are now (effectively) in power and have promised that this kind of thing doesn't happen anymore. The young delinquent men often conclude that obviously it IS happening right now and thus mass in large groups waiting for the slightest excuse to get a little bit violent.
Two. You remember the fuel crisis a while back? Well, transport prices went up, didn't they? They haven't come back down since petrol became available again. Students tend to get upset about these things.
Three: Some people are upset that the private schools have money. Or that people can afford to send their children to private schools. Or that they have to pay too much to send their children to private schools. Or something. I do know that it involved private schools, money and a bunch of generally grumpy people.
Having said that it could be anything that goes into it. I've heard of another ingredient being the proposal to break the country into autonomous states, and in another, the government refused to provide public money for the ritual sacrifice of animals."
"Right, I think I understand, well, what's it good for?"
"One. It's a good excuse not to go to work for the day.
Two. Boys love hanging around in groups destroying things.
Three. It's a crude but effective way of getting the government or other people to do what you want. Take the animal sacrifice example, I believe they got their money back.
Four: It gives those involved a rush and a feeling of power over others - you may choose to see this as a negative, but I'm calling it a positive, only for those involved though.
Five. Usually bideshis and bicycle or motorbike riders are left alone. It's just cars, buses, trucks and shops that people seem to get angry at."
"So the drawbacks?"
"Well, pretty much the flip side of all the good things. If no one is at work, then no work is being done. If boys are destroying things, the guy that owns them usually gets upset, or has to pay to fix it. Being such an effective way of getting your way, it is positively reinforced, next time there's a problem, everyone will remember how effective the last bandh was. If people like the feeling of having power over others, well, we know how useful that really is. Bidesh or not, it's a sure way to get you nercous about whether you will get to the airport on time tomorrow..."
"I'll have the chicken..."