Impressions 'n Expressions

Location: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

The permanent temptation of life is to confuse dreams with reality. The permanent defeat of life is when dreams are surrendered to reality.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Bangalore and Bangalooru...

This was written by Nikhil N R (who incidentally is my brother) in response to an article stating why the name Bangalore shouldn't be changed to Bengalooru as it would affect our perception in the western world. A couple of paragraphs have been added by me to illustrate why we are debating on a non-issue

What is in a name? Bangalore or Bangalooru, its all the same. I do not think that a change in name is going to affect the way businesses run or the way people live. You and I, will be going to our offices, like we always used to, eat, drink and enjoy as we used to. Now is it that Bangalooru is less fashionable or for that matter less westernized that it affects us from being what we are. Bangalore has been popular for its cosmopolitan lifestyle. But I dont see why Bangalooru will change this.

Or, to the other side of it, is Bangalooru going to save the city, bring us more business, have better roads than Bangalore, have something basic like drinking water for the less fortunate, education for the less privileged? Is it the mantra for Utopia?

Bottom line, whatever name you call it, you belong to the same place and change only depends on our deeds as Citizens of the city and not on the name.

The state government is the elected representative of the people of the state. They, represent you and the remaining six million. OK, numerically if we look at it, we may say that the government represents the views of only 22% of the denizens of Bangalore.* The government that is installed is the peoples choice but at 51% polling we are looking at only half the population. Though, no statistical evidence is available, I have observed that the people who throw brick bats at the government are those who may not have voted at all.

Now, 51% of the population took it upon themselves and felt the need to participate proactively for choosing their policy makers for the next five years using the constitutional authority entrusted to them. You and I, may or may not be there in the 51% block. But my individual voice cannot be considered as the voice of the citizens. The voice of the Citizens is what comes out from the government elected by the Citizens.

Having spent most of my childhood in Bangalore, I never considered myself as a Bangalorean. When I left Bangalore, I had fond memories of the place I was born, and was always proud to have been from Bangalore. However, as time flew by and as I gathered worldly wisdom; I began to be critical about Bangalore. I wouldnt be worried about the 1000 flyovers not crisscrossing Bangalore's airspace or the Moorthys or Premjis fleeing the city in the name of infrastructure. If not here, somewhere, they will make money and contribute to the GDP of our country, which is good enough. I would rather be worried about the people who are being sidelined.

Yes, it can be argued that renaming cities and towns by our elected representatives is more political in nature. Re-naming Bombay to Mumbai, or Madras to Chennai has not added or diminished the value that these particular cities had. Old timers may still refer to these cities by their old names, but businesses goes on.

We, of the Information Technology age, will hardly raise our voice either way, because for us it hardly matters. We are not socially deprived of our basic needs. We have our shopping malls and multiplexes, our McDonalds and KFC's. We complain of bad road conditions and government's inaction. We blame our elected representatives - though it hardly matter that we didnt cast our ballots when we had a chance to - for corruption at all levels. Yet, do we as individuals do anything about it. We raise our voice in protest against the atrocities committed in the name of upholding our cultural values, but we do not fail to pander to anything that is western. We have subconciously started believeing in the 'American Dream'. So we find the upwardly mobile, elite who have fallen for the 'India Shining' campaign looking at non-issues, seeking out their 15 minutes. For them re-naming a city is the biggest problem facing India. Not for them issues like poverty, infant mortality, and lack of basic provisions like drinking water, clothing and shelter for over 40 percent of the country's population.

In conclusion, a true Bangalorean should not be too worried about the name by which his town is being called. He should be worried about what the officials would be able to do for the less privileged who have been side lined in the past 10 years or so. I rather suggest that we should unite to address the issue of Human Development, of schooling for our children, of clean drinking water for everyone, of medical attention for the poor and for the 100 reasons for which we are called social beings. So let's join our hands and raise our voice for the people of Bangalore than for a non-issue.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Society and Me

The other day TV channels beamed images of police enforcing their rule of law in a manner that brought viewers to exclaim in protest. Moral policing, in any areas of societal living, is a highly debatable issue, but what happened in the city of Meerut in the state of UP was highly deplorable. Couples were routinely rounded up by these so called enforcers of the law and beaten up on the premise of immoral trafficking. In this day and time when the judiciary works under the tenet of 'innocent until proven guilty', what happened has to be condemned and stringent action should be taken against the perpetrators of these dastardly acts.

This event led me to thinking about how passive we have become and how much we have accepted because we are afraid to raise our voice in protest against the inequities of a society that has become highly right winged.

Why is it becoming increasingly difficult to swallow moral policing by the people who have taken upon themselves to preserve and safe guard culture and heritage?

Since when has groups of various shades and political convictions taken upon themselves to enforce their brand of cultural imperialism on the citizens of a free state?

There are so many examples of these impositions, be it vandalization of movie halls and commercial establishments, physical and emotional injury on respected people of the community, tarnishing respectability of media and public celebrities. It didn't start with Arundati Roy nor is it going to end with 'Operation Majnu' but it is a perfidious assault by a society that is becoming highly insular in its thoughts and increasingly myopic in its visions in an age that is supposed to be becoming more open and liberal. Political parties across the spectrum is becoming highly manipulative and using the latent communal divide to gain vote bank. We as a society are in danger of being subsumed by our own inertia at owning up to our weaknesses and our inability to raise up in protest to seek or ask for the freedom that we deserve. It is a right...but thru years of inaction and passive acceptance, we have have become impotent to seek freedom of thoughts and expression. In a global world where the driving force is greed there has developed a highly incestuous relationship between the policy makers and the corporate machinery to further enhance their hold on a highly commoditized population, it has become difficult to look at things in black or white..right or wrong. In a society where PPP is the only indicator of a successful economy...we have become inert to the basic wrongs that we see in front of us or read about in the papers. If there is protest, it is highly localised and ineffective and there is a marked lack of focus on pushing it thru.

Protests in its basic form is frowned upon by an elitist society..but lest not close our eyes to what is happening around the world and learn. In developed welfare states workers rise up in protest to fight for their it in Europe or in North America or even in countries like South Korea. During trade summits and WTO meets there are protests that show that we as individuals in a group can create a difference. But are we ready to take it upon ourselves to protest and raise a combined voice.

Societal living demands equal opportunity for all of us and a highly developed egalitarian society demands peaceful co-existence between various thoughts, opinions beliefs. But there is work to do and we hold it within ourselves individually to contribute to make this piece of rock that we were fortunate to inherit a better place.

For those of you who are interested, the two police officers who were involved in the inhuman behaviour in Meerut were suspended pending enquiry for taking the 'rule of law to an extreme'

Where are we going..