India’s Hindu nationalist opposition party Bharatiya Janata called on a nationwide strike on Monday July 5 to protest the government decision last month to raise fuel prices. Across India, businesses in financial capital Mumbai were largely shut, colleges and schools were closed; plane flights, local trains, and bus services were cancelled. Opposition-ruled states were completely shut down. As a result, trading volume at the Bombay stock exchange plummeted.
The protest followed the government plan to gradually phase out subsidies on diesel, and the decision to raise the prices of kerosene and cooking gas which are still highly subsidized. Despite public opposition, the government remains firm on its plan, saying that it can no longer afford the huge subsidy cost to keep fuel prices below market level, especially with the current widening deficits. “The subsidies for the petroleum products have reached a level which is not connected to sound financial management of our country,” explained Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Fuel protests bring India to a halt [Financial Times, 5 July 2010]
India fuel strike bites as tests resolve for reforms [Reuters, 5 July 2010]