At long last, there is some indication of the Assam government bestirring itself to legislate against bandhs and strikes that disrupt productive work all over the State. This is not to suggest that there is a great deal of productive work in the State at any given point of time. Over the years, our politicians and bureaucrats have combined to ensure that the very culture of productive work should not only be opposed but actively sabotaged so that a culture of rejecting work is helped to grow and to strike deep roots in government departments. Today our government departments are known for their total rejection of timely work that is supposed to benefit the people. In fact, it is the government that is most responsible for actively destroying a healthy work culture in the State. And this ought to be a good enough reason for people to start asking why people in government service should continue to receive handsome salaries for doing no work at all, and worse still, for ensuring that all vital work even related to the very security of the State and its people is left undone. Over the years, our bureaucrats have failed to protect the land rights of the indigenous people. As a result, 50 per cent of the tribal land is occupied by illegal migrants. What is remarkable is that there is not even the slightest sense of regret or remorse among politicians and bureaucrats responsible for such a state of affairs. True, there has lately been a great deal of talk about developing skills among the youth of the State. There is even a proposal to let the Singapore government set up a skill centre in Guwahati to cater to the needs of the entire north-eastern region. All this has been very belatedly conceived by a set of bureaucrats who have no idea of what skills ought to be developed in this region. They have lately become obsessed with skill development merely because this seems like a fashioble activity. There is absolutely no true commitment to the needs of the State because the people who are trying to develop skills are themselves lacking in any significant skills.
However, despite a total absence of any significant work ethics, the Home and Political Department of the Assam government is now all set to place the legislative draft proposal of ‘The Assam Prevention of Unconstitutiol Bandh Bill’ at the next Cabinet meeting of the State government for its approval. According to the provisions of the Bill, calling or participating in bandhs or strikes may invite imprisonment or fine or both. The draft Bill aims at preventing loss of human life and property, besides the huge revenue losses caused to the State exchequer. It has provisions for punitive action against those calling bandhs, strikes or blockades. According to official sources, consultations with all the line departments are over, and the draft Bill will, in all likelihood, be placed in the next Cabinet meeting. It is being claimed that apart from the imposition of fine, the violator of the law would also be responsible for any kind of losses caused or damage inflicted on public and private property. What has apparently not been very clearly understood is that it may be easy to impose hefty fines but that collecting such fines could be a major problem considering the ability of the violator to pay such fines. As such, the punitive measures envisaged for violation of any legislation against bandhs and strikes could become ineffective because the violator may not be able to pay the hefty fines imposed. It may, therefore, be far more practicable to opt for pel provisions that rely mainly on long prison terms.