Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Bangalore, anyone?

Bangalore, anyone?
The Hindu

Even as thousands of new vehicles are registered every day, a mass rapid transit system continues to elude us

At the cost of being really tedious, let us put some things down, just for the record. Close to a thousand new vehicles are being registered every day, but the solution of a mass rapid transit system of Bangalore continues to elude us. The flyover projects are stuck with no sign of a resolution of whatever conflicts they are mired in. The BDA's massive Arkavathi layout project was shelved, at whatever cost of surveys, planning and publicity. Registration of properties on a certain category of land has been put on hold. Other promised infrastructure projects languish in courts and committees. Sorry, but nobody cares.

Creaking city

Nearly one in five people in Karnataka live in the city, which also generates the bulk of the State's income. Even if some political party did take note of and campaigned on city issues and the city voters elected such representatives, the issues need not be addressed in the government's agenda. Bangalore is just a couple of districts and a few MLAs, see.

Honestly, even if this were not about politics, the resolutions passed at Sunday's political rally in Hubli are remarkable for their complete indifference towards Bangalore, save two points to which we shall return later. Come to think of it, even previously, the rallies that have been held in the city have been about the state of the film industry, the situation of particular castes and communities and to celebrate the birthdays of venerable politicians. It is true that some people demonstrated over the miserable roads and all, but nobody really cares.

When the State's polity gets further divided into caste and community agendas and future coalitions are forged on slimier grounds — an eventuality all of us must face up to — it is inconceivable there will be a "Bangalore" political party. There is no likelihood of true political representation of this city. Every city councillor of the Mahanagara Palike probably represents a bigger wealth centre in his ward, sometimes a bigger population, than an MLA. But we could say the mayor of Bangalore is not exactly endowed with power like, for instance, the mayor of New York ("The second most powerful job in the U.S.A.!"), nor is the poor Palike allowed to raise resources like its counterpart in Mumbai.

Frustrated corporates who made a bid to frame and execute a Bangalore agenda want to go to China. The former elite of the city, who earned for us the reputation of being laidback, watch in horror as their neighbourhoods are taken over by a noisy consumerism so abruptly gross and callous. I had the stunning realisation of age and stupidity at once recently, when standing at the corner in front of the Basava Bhavan at peak hour. I, among a similar throng of formerly laidback people, just waited for nearly 17 minutes to cross the road. There is no signal for pedestrians to cross, stupid, do it when you can. Somebody said: "Dispaced elite!" Quite right.

There is nobody you can cry to. The city itself is sought to be divided between old Bangaloreans and "others," Kannadigas and "others," the old economy — public sector industries, government organisations and banks — and the new economy — IT, BT and BPOs. There is sudden culture of hurry, hurry. Call centre drivers terrorise us on their way to deadlines and targets. They are apparently fined if they don't deliver according to the punishing schedules. If you did call the numbers (listed beneath cute copy such as "How am I driving?") you reach an instrument that will record your complaint. Anyway, the driver has a wretched enough job.

How do we get anybody to listen? It's not that the big parties don't want what they can get out of the city. In the speeches reported from the rally at Hubli, the parties want to do their grand finale in a Bangalore rally. And, in the resolutions passed, they want jobs reserved in the IT and BT industries for the backward castes, dalit and minority communities. Funny, if anybody is inclined to laugh.

Wanted: leadership

The only way to get anybody to listen would be to be politically counted. The industry, services and trade in the city should have the gumption to gang up against the political parties. They need leadership, maybe, and they should find it. They talk about it enough, in any case. They should probably contribute their funds with more intelligence and care. Civic organisations could gang up and build a movement to funnel the frustrations of the city people. It's so cool to give advice. What should we do, really? Perhaps start by getting the Chief Minister go to the Basava Bhavan circle (not very far from his place of work) and get him to cross the road incognito.

Forget it.

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At Wednesday, July 27, 2005 at 12:42:00 PM GMT+5:30, Blogger Arun said...

Ah.. we are people who keep whining and do just that. You and me inclusive.. :)


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