Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tank Bund breached

After several decades of standing strong the bund on M G Road (now called a boulevard/ promenade) is coming down to make way for the piers to support the overhead tracks of the upcoming Bangalore Metro.

While it is hoped that the Metro will help ease Bangalore's traffic congestion slightly, what will be lost is a monument of Bangalore's history.

The bund according to history was constructed to separate the adjacent lake from the then South Parade. This bund flourished over the years with added vegetation and trees that acted as a carbon sink as well as an area that helped rain water seep through the earth to recharge the ground water table. Once the Metro towers over this area and though the bund maybe reconstructed in an albeit smaller form, it will be hidden from above by a huge concrete structure radiating heat and the loss of trees will only aid in increasing the ambient temperature in surrounding areas. Also chances of rainwater seeping into the earth in that area will be much reduced. Need the reader be reminded that the water table level in Bangalore in some areas is reducing at the rate of a meter a month!

A view of an 87 year old Bougainvillea grown on a pergola on the bund

Unfortunately the cries of anguish from the public that have just awakened are too late, as they come to realise that one more green monument of Bangalore is biting the dust. The only reminder that a tank bund existed in the vicinity will be the name of a shop on the commercial side of M G Road- Lakeview.

Plans are afoot to cut down more trees along major roads- around 300 trees in all. Will protests come once more after they are gone?

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Dog Bytes

Amid the rising heat comes news of dogs running wild, and turning their canines to bear on tender human flesh amid the lanes and bylanes of Bangalore.

Opportunisitic NGOs and people come out in defence of stray dogs or against them.

Amid claims that mass killing of dogs will not help, it is clear that the ABC in its current form atleast hasn't worked in the dog's favour nor to the citizen's advantage.

Clipping the ears is said to be proof of a stray dog having undergone a birth control operation. Though one can only verify that by physically examining the dog. That doesn't prevent a dog from attacking a human though they claim the aggressiveness of a dog is reduced after the operation.

What has been observed is that the door to door garbage collectors encourage dogs to follow them around as they go around the city collecting garbage. Also humans who wouldn't put their own children out of their home, prefer to feed dogs outside their home and encourage strays in this manner.

Tall claims that they help prevent crime by being watchdogs indicates the Bangalorean nature to look out for cheap alternatives to fight crime. The end result of such an attitude is another human has to pay for it at some other time and place maybe with their own life.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

To the ‘loo’ we go

To the ‘loo’ we go.

Bangalore among a couple of other cities in Karnataka is all set to fight the war of independence again. They will be renamed to satisfy the politicians who are merely searching for issues that are easier to tackle than the common man’s problems.

Bangalore from Nov. 1st will be called Banga’loo’ru. (Refer my previous post). If part of the criteria for choosing the name was the propensity of the local population to relieve themselves on roads and other public property, then it would meet that.

But it is a political whim, which is the latest flavour of the day for a state government that tries to use regionalism to make up for its deficit in governance. It is just the latest in a series of regional events.

Bangalore was recently in the news when a large number of schools were threatened with closure for violating a law which dictated that they should use Kannada and not English as the medium of instruction.

The schools may not be providing quality education, but they exist for a simple reason- to satisfy a demand, a demand unmet by City Corporation schools (public schools). Anxious parents eager to see their children do better in life, seek schools that can teach their children the language in global use- English. English they feel is the best way to get jobs in the private sector that will pay them well rather than the government. Can the government pay better salaries to their staff other than politicians?

Unfortunately sometimes these small private schools operate out of sheds and other areas. How could the government remedy this situation? Why can they not improve the public school infrastructure? They can even transport students across the city to public schools using the city bus fleet. Let them operate a few buses/ maxi cabs exclusively for public school students to pick them up from their homes and drop them in school and vice versa.
Even the public school classrooms lack basic facilities such as blackboards, tables, chairs, etc. Why can’t the government be penalised for that?

A couple of days back Bangalore and the entire state of Karnataka was held hostage to a state supported bundh (closure of all establishments for a day), to reiterate the point that Belgaum (a district in Karnataka under dispute with Maharashtra a neighbouring state claiming it) is an integral part of Karnataka. With all this political posturing, what was forgotten was the common man. Memories of the mob violence during the bundh after a noted film actor’s demise ensured that most people stayed indoors. They knew the government wouldn’t protect them. The uneducated wouldn’t even be able to read a map and point out the location of Belgaum and Maharashtra.

The main people to suffer were the daily wage workers, who suffered a loss of a day’s wages and went to sleep that night hungry, while the politicians burped after a full meal and relaxed in air-conditioned comfort. Let us convert politician’s wages too into a daily wage system and we shall see a reduction in bundhs.

Yesterday I had traveled to the vicinity of Sarjapur Road. A year after the floods (read one of my earlier posts) that ravaged the area, one can’t see any change in the basic infrastructure. Roads that appear to have survived a World War run through the place with humongous pot-holes and bumpy surfaces. The government has shown their inability to work on basic issues, focussing instead on relatively less important issues.

Along with the return to an old name for the city, let us take a step back to the days of feudal rule as well. ‘Old is Gold’

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Man dies, Bangalore burns

Bangalore riots and arson

April 12, 2006 was the day that Kannada film actor Singanalluru Puttaswamaiah Mutthuraj passed away in Bangalore. He was 77. He was better known as Dr. Rajkumar.

His name will become synonymous with violence in Bangalore. It was in 2000 that widespread rioting and arson consumed Bangalore when sandalwood thief Veerappan had kidnapped him, from his farm in Gajanur a small hamlet in Tamil Nadu where he was born on April 24, 1928.

In 2006, Bangalore became a funeral pyre when Dr. Rajkumar died of a cardiac arrest. Anti-social elements in the name of his fans ran riot, forcing closure of shops and other commercial establishments. Bangalore was under a virtual dawn to dusk bandh on April 13th, 2006. The previous day itself, offices were forcibly closed in areas such as Rajajinagar, while shops and other commercial establishments in other areas of Bangalore also closed by 7 PM. Bangalore turned into a ghost town, where large MNCs and small shops alike shut down knowing very well that the government and the police would never be able to handle the situation. Offices and commercial establishments closed in an unofficial bandh, not as a mark of respect, but from the knowledge that the government couldn’t ensure the peace and security of Bangalore and Bangaloreans. If this was to be taken as a litmus indicator of the faith of the people in the government, the government has failed the test miserably. The CM was in a state of denial, announcing all the while that the situation was well under control, meanwhile ghastly images on TV showed a city on fire!

Shops were ransacked and looted, public and private vehicles were burnt, and offices of companies such as Microsoft, AXA, etc. were stoned. Corporate Bangalore was forcibly shut down. It was a day when democracy ceased to exist and a few elements dictated what others were to do. Cable operators blacked out all channels except for those channels that they wished the public to view. Lawlessness prevailed on the streets of Bangalore.

After his death, a blundering government shifted his body from place to place around Bangalore; further angering his so called fans. His body was initially moved to the Bangalore Palace, and then shifted to Kanteerva Stadium (earlier Sampangi Tank) and laid there for the public to pay homage. The stupidity of the government in utilizing this as the venue for his body to be viewed is overwhelming. An expensive synthetic track laid for athletics was trampled under millions of feet and later under heavy tyres as riot police stepped in a vain attempt to control berserk crowds. An OB (Outdoor Broadcasting) van of NDTV a well-known news channel was the target of mob fury. The van driver, who came face to face with the mob, was an eyewitness to the fact that many in the mobs were under the influence of alcohol. Many were villagers from around Bangalore, indicating that possibly political and muscle power had paid for their journey to the city, as well as their alcohol supply.

Many in the mobs, were youth leaping with joy in front of cameras, trying to get a few words in front of a camera, not out of respect for the departed soul, but to satisfy their vicarious pleasure of seeing themselves on camera. Several buildings and vehicles had pasted photos of Dr. Rajkumar on their windows hoping to escape mob fury. His face had become a sign of “mafia protection”!

Forcibly closing shops were not enough for rioting anti-social elements in Bangalore. Fashion guru Prasad Bidapa was eyewitness to a motorcycle being burnt in front of Bangalore Club, and its rider being beaten. Shattered glass from car windows was strewn on the streets even in areas such as St. Mark’s Road and Grant Road. At least five people have died and several vehicles burnt and several shops looted. At least five people have died and several vehicles burnt and several shops looted. Losses due to closure of businesses and damages caused will be in millions of rupees.

Dr. Rajkumar was finally laid to rest in a fish market-like situation, where his near and dear ones were jostled from side to side. The police were unable to plan and barricade an area for his family to perform the last rites.

You can view some pictures in my photo blog:- Focus, Shoot, “Bang” on Target

Some more info on Rajkumar:-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajkumar

Monday, February 20, 2006

Bird Flu ( Avian Flu) ( H5N1 virus) & Bangalore- Are we prepared?

Bird Flu ( Avian Flu) ( H5N1 virus) & Bangalore- Are we prepared?

Bird Flu has made its presence known on Indian shores by the death of birds in Maharashtra. What has come to light is that it appears to have been present in India for a few days at least before it came to light.

It at present is transmitted from bird to Man. Now that it has made the hop from Bird to Man, after mutation and recombination with already existing influenza virus in Man, it could modify into a strain more deadly, which can be transmitted from one human to another.

The hygiene and precautionary measures in India are far from satisfactory. Photos in newspapers and video clips showed personnel handling dead fowls with their bare hands, and injecting live ones while holding them in their bare hands.

The immediate public reaction was shock & the boycott of purchase of poultry. But the virus at present isn’t transmitted from “well-cooked” poultry. But in how many restaurants in Bangalore can you expect dishes to be well-cooked?

The stated method is transmission from sick birds to humans. The food chain before a poultry product or an egg reaches your table is,
Chicken / or egg is taken from farms by humans (possible bird influenza victims)
Chicken/ egg brought to open market for sale by the seller (possible bird influenza victim)
Chicken / egg sold to servant/ restaurant (possible bird influenza victim)
Chicken/ egg lying around in a non-vegetarian restaurant/ hotel before cooking (remember the same cooks and waiters are moving around with exposure to it) (possible bird influenza victims)
Finally at your table, if it hasn’t been cooked properly it could still carry it.

Also remember that it is just another flu virus, so it could hop from human to human in the same way that ‘normal’ flu is transmitted. So aerial route is a possibility?

How many poultry farmers will voluntarily cull their source of livelihood? Will the government give any incentive to them so that they cull them? With the prices dropping will the business minds try and make a “killing” on profits by substituting other products with “cheaper” chicken, and kill the customer in the bargain?

What can we do if it reaches Bangalore? Are we prepared? Is the government prepared? These are questions that we have to ask ourselves and the government?

Could it be like the Plague which struck Bangalore in earlier times and resulted in the creation of new layouts?

The route an Avian virus could take...

A few links where you can get info on Avian flu are:


Saturday, January 21, 2006

"No Trust Among Thieves"

The people of Karnataka are on the brink of a possibility of seeing a change in government.

But will it help the common man? Extremely doubtful, seeing the manner and reasons for which its happening. It’s widely publicized in the papers of the hankering for power by politicians. Nowhere is there a mention of people’s problems as reasons for a change in governance.

This transporting of politicians before the “Vote of Confidence” is interesting for a number of reasons.

If there is a change in the government we can be sure of: -

1) Lack of "confidence", trust and faith among the governing officials- the reason why they are spirited away right now.
2) Lack of integrity- if they could be bribed to change their stance.
3) Lack of strong individual character, and no moral values- they shift stances with the wind.

So common people take out your purses, no matter which party is the government of Karnataka, it is the Indian politician who remains as corrupt as ever!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

BMP claims another victim

The lackadaisical attitude of the BMP towards anything related to the city welfare stands exposed once again. A senior colleague of mine sustained severe bruises and a serious fracture of her left thigh after she fell into an uncovered drain in front of her house in 8th Block Koramangala. This incident happened on the morning of December 26th 2005. The drain had been uncovered for de-silting, which entailed dumping the contents of the drain on the road and leaving the drain uncovered for months.

Major surgery is required in an attempt to set right her leg.

Remember this could also happen to you or your loved ones.

Following is an open letter written by her colleagues to the BMP.

Public Relations Officer,
Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP)
N.R.Square, Bangalore-560002
Office Phone No.:22975523
TeleFax: 22975582

Citizen Service Centres:
1. Head Office, BMP, N.R.Square, Bangalore
2. Public Utility Building, M.G. Road, Bangalore
3. Bhashyam Park, Malleswaram, Bangalore
4. Jayanagar 2nd Block, Bangalore

SUB: BMP claims another victim


The BMP in Koramangala is busy demolishing buildings, but they don’t care to replace slabs over storm water drains after allegedly cleaning them, which entails dumping the muck on the road.

A senior colleague of ours, fell victim to the BMP negligence on Dec 26th 2005, after she fell into such an opening over a three feet deep storm water drain in front of her house in 8th Block, Koramangala. She has sustained severe bruises and a serious fracture of her left thighbone. This will require a major operation tomorrow in an attempt to set it right. She has been admitted in St. Philomena’s Hospital. The BMP commissioner should resign owning responsibility for this negligence on the part of the BMP. The BMP should also pay adequate compensation covering all expenses plus her salary for the months she will not be able to go to the office.

The CM and other bureaucrats are too busy changing names of cities and towns, rather than focussing on problems. Of what use are they to the citizens of Bangalore?? Let this serve as a warning to the other citizens, they or their loved ones could fall victim to a similar fate.

Yours sincerely,

Her colleagues

A village by any other name is still the same.

Bangalore-> Benga'loo'ru

All this city renaming is totally uncalled for. These so called guardians of language and literature cannot even prevent the deterioration of Bangalore.

After re-naming roads after certain individuals, the government now seems lost in a world of despising the pages of history. After all, Bangalore aka Bengalooru was only once a village and a fort. Indian kings and chieftains didn't look at building Bangalore into a small town. It was just a small fort and village to defend. Kempegowda's towers built in strategic locations were built on important routes to the fort to mark not the expansion of the village but to contain it as anything beyond those points would be difficult to defend! It was only the later invasion by Britishers and expansion of a village into a small town which came to be called 'Bangalore'.

Politicians attempt at renaming shows that they have no achievements to showcase, so they do what they are best at eating public money. Renaming will cost millions of rupees in reprinting & rebranding. We can rest assured that the city will now take a step backwards into the Dark Ages.

While we end up calling it by a village name, it shows that we are still of limited vision, and stunted in growth. We aren't worthy to be called Bangaloreans, but plain villagers.