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So, let me first describe what a banda actually is in Nepal.

Bandh usually translates directly to 'general strike'. Bandh is originally a Hindi word meaning 'closed', is a form of protest used by political activists in some countries in South Asia like India and Nepal. During a Bandh, a major political party or a large chunk of a community declares a general strike, usually lasting one day.

Often Bandh means that the community or political party declaring a Bandh expect the general public to stay in their homes and strike work. Those mainly affected are shopkeepers who are expected to keep their place of business closed and the general public. Public transport operators of buses and cabs are supposed to stay off the road and often do not carry any passengers. Usually the entire city grinds to a halt.

Bandhs are powerful means for civil disobedience. Because of the huge impact that a Bandh has on the local community, it is much feared as a tool of protest. Bandhs are often associated with partisan political forces.

They often come about before a major political decision is made, to effectively strongarm the illusion of democracy in the country.

The video below depicts my area of Kathmandu during a bandh, fast-forward to around the 4 minute mark and you'll see the police force being idle, allowing the mob to pull people off of their own vehicles.

Bandhs are widely criticized and denounced by people from all walks of life in Nepal however this has not prevented political parties from commencing bandhs throughout the country. Transport halts, school and college closures and business shutdowns all occur during a bandh. Drive your motorbike or car during a bandh and it will get damaged by those enforcing it. Rickshaws + bicycles are normally not bothered.

Year Transport strikes Total Strikes
2010-2011 73 221
2011-2012 106 257
2012-2013 134 183
2013-2014 72 201
2014-2015 22 185
Total 407 847

For a total of 5 years (1825 days), the country has endured 847 days of strikes. In 5 years the country has been on general strike 46% of the time. Imagine the GDP that has been lost as a result. Phenomenal.

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Jonathan Clarke


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Jonathan Clarke

@beilabs

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