State banks and power stations shut and public transport halted in some states as tens of millions take industrial action
Tens of millions of Indian workers have gone on strike demanding higher wages and an end to what they call the anti-worker and anti-people policies of the Narendra Modi government.
Last-minute concessions by the countrys finance and labour ministries, including a 104 rupee hike (1.20) in unskilled workers daily minimum wage, failed to ward off the action, which was expected to see state banks and power stations shut and public transport halted in some states on Friday.
Among the trade unions 12 demands are a 692 rupee daily minimum wage, universal social security and a ban on foreign investment in the countrys railway, insurance and defence industries.
A nationwide bandh Sanskrit for closed on the same day last year reportedly involved 140 million workers, and unions say the figure could reach 180 million this year.
Early on Friday, Indian media reported that schools and colleges in Bangalore had been shut as a precautionary measure and arrests had been made in West Bengal, whose chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, had promised a crackdown on demonstrators.
Images broadcast on Indian TV also show protesters blocking railway tracks and roads in Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha.
Just one major union pulled out of the national strike: the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh which, like the ruling party, is an affiliate of the Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.