Millions of workers across India have initiated a 24-hour strike to protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic policies, particularly changes in labor laws.
At least 150 million laborers, including those in the banking, manufacturing, construction, and mining sectors, walked off their jobs on Wednesday.
The strikers say Modi’s business-friendly reforms will put jobs at risk and harm ordinary people.
Angry at the reforms, ten major labor unions went ahead with the day-long walkout, demanding the administration abandon plans to close ‘unproductive’ factories and sell off shares of state-run companies to enhance the public purse.
Early on Wednesday, television footage showed the strike’s impact on Kolkata, the capital of the state of West Bengal, where closed banks, stores and other businesses had left the city deserted.
The transport sector was also affected by the walkout. Long lines of commuters and school children were formed at bus stations, while travelers were stranded at airports as taxis and rickshaws did not do their regular jobs.
Many banks across India shut their doors for the day, interrupting financial services and imposing heavy losses on Asia’s third-largest economy.
Campaigning on the platform of reviving economy, Modi won a landslide election victory last May. However, the opposition groups have blocked key tax and land reforms and worsened investor concerns.
In the first quarter of the financial year, India’s economy grew by a lower than expected 7.0 percent. Economic experts say reforms are necessary to create jobs for millions of unemployed people.