The government, since 1991, knew that it was not enough to privatize the public sector and to sell off precious public assets to private hands. It had to do two more things.
First, it had to make sure that public sector enterprises would fail and would then lose legitimacy. The government starved these public sector firms of funds and watched them swing in the wind. Without investment, these firms were unable to make improvements and so began to deteriorate. Their demise validated the argument of liberalization, although their demise had been manufactured by an investment strike.
Second, the government pushed to break trade union power by using the courts to undermine the right to strike and by using the legislature to amend the trade union laws. Weaker unions would mean demoralized workers, which would mean that workers would now be utterly at the mercy of the private firms.
This strike, like the 17 before it, is about livelihood issues and about the right to strike. A new trade union law sits in the legislature. It would mean the death of trade unionism in India. Tapan Sen’s statement about enslavement seems less hyperbolic in this context. If workers have no power, then they are effectively enslaved to the firm. This is already the case in factories that operate almost like concentration camps.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction