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Fighting Government To Survive: The Bangalore Story

I am now of the view it should now be a global term for a situation where a politician holds a democratic state to ransom. Or when and his his cohorts emerge in brazen public eye to railroad anything that comes in their way of personal material upliftment. So, guess who has been Bangalored recently ? Well, its Bangalore !

The present war between politician and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda and NICE, the promoters of the Bangalore-Mysore expressway project is downright sickening. And its a scar on democracy, even what we know of it.

The Indian Express ran a story last week which exposed the fact that Gowda owned a 47-acre piece of land off the expressway.And because he couldn’t use the land (allegedly) the way he wanted, he was stalling the project big time. Actually, better still. He was getting the state Government to do it. What was suspected all this while or known but not said is now in the open.

Gowda then proved his intentions by getting the Government to engineer a `hostile’ takeover of the land around the expressway, which was handed over to the project as part of the deal. The Chief Minister (Gowda’s son) said the Bill would protect the land of poor farmers. The 47 acres he owns next to the expressway is worth a crore an acre, according to the Express.

Fighting To Survive

Ashok Kheny the man behind the expressway has fought over 300 court cases already to get the project going. He fought two in the Supreme Court as well. In the last judgement, the SC pulled up the state government for its antics. Then Gowda tried changing the law as well. As politicians only know too well, there is nothing the courts can do if the law itself is changed. Fortunately, there is some relief, at least for now.

The point is not the court case. So far one assumed that Bangalore or for that matter IT has succeeded despite Government. Now, its actually about fighting Government to stay and survive. And being insulted and called the vilest of names (land grabber !) while doing that. Commerce and polity couldn’t be at more variance than this.

We are supposed to be 15 years into liberalisation and we can't get a 111 km road project done without it becoming a national issue and politicians baring their fangs. And the fact that they push ahead with their agenda knowing the cat's fully out of the bag amazes me. Actually it does not, anymore. So much for media and so much for the courts.

This Government Is Destroying Bangalore And India

The other unfortunate truth is that the Government (as represented in the present context) is systematically destroying the little goodwill Bangalore’s entrepreneurs have generated. Not just for themselves, but for India. Bangalore was supposed to be India's showcase. Not for this Government. It gives a fig that its the country’s image is at stake. Because for one or two individuals, their land and ego matter the most. The rest can be damned.

The conclusion is that the politicians can succeed. Look around and see the number of projects and initiatives that are not moving. That’s how it stacks up. Unless the city’s citizens rise up against him. The average Bangalorean I know is pretty upset with the turn of events. Its about time this showed up somewhere. Else, even Bombay’s troubles will pale in comparison. Even Bombay, as columnist Sudheendra Kulkarni pointed out this morning in the Indian Express, built a Bombay-Pune expressway. As he says, we seem to be determined NOT to build a developed nation.

Comments

Unfortunately, as Mr. Govind puts it, bangalore is a scar on the face of India. I hail from nearby Mysore which is also going the "Bangalore Way" and we lost Infosys new campus because the TN givernment offered full co-operation that Deve Gowda and family did not offer in this state. After all Narayana Murthy is from Mysore, Karnataka and he wanted to put up campuses here for software development but he was made unwelcome in his own backyard. This is the state of affairs that our politics has come down to. Govind's last blog was also relevant and one can use both thee blogs as an indicator of how we want to see India developed, or not. A lot of people in Singapore recently expressed to me that they thought Bangalore was a fab place with high tech amenities. Call me anti-national and paint me with tar and feather me, but I had to debunk some of their perceptions lest they actually land up here, get out of the decrepit Airport, end up on the overcrowded, polluted, dusty Airport Road and go back with the impression of having landed in some otyher place and not the place they dreamt of! Sorry, this Indian dream sucks.
Sorry about the spelling mistakes earlier but we people are at boiling point and the frustration shows. I actually wanted to highlight all the infrastructure problems of Bangalore but that is well known. Whether Bangalore has a future in this chaos, time will only tell, but the future is certainly bleak with the current crop of politicians and no other credible lot to fall back on.
Sunanda Seetharam said…
I am happy that people are supporting the BMIC / NICE project and raising voice against the current government attitude. But common, net is accessed by only the privileged even today. How do the villagers , or for that matter even the govt know, the strong support the BMIC project has attracted. I appreciate Mr. Pai to have been physically present to support Mr. Kheny. If I were to be in Bangalore, I would be there too, eventhough no one would have invited me. I believe it is a peoples project and we the educated should have been there supporting the project. Even now it is not late. Can you join me during July 22/23 rd at 11 AM to show our support for this project. Let us go there in thousands and peacefully show our support for good infrastructure projects in karnataka. I will be grateful if someone can help me spread the word.
Will see you on BMIC in July!
kubera said…
I support Kheny. I am currently in NY and maybe missing something's. I still wonder , since Kheny is coming from US, should have learnt the art of Public Relations by lauching a strong public TV and Paper ads showcasing the benefits and let the pictures of the highway speak for themselves. Rather than just fight with politicogs. I would contribute if there is such a fund to support Kheny's vision.
abhi said…
Hmmm - GE, any idea why local media and Kannada channels are backing the govt against NICE?

Most of the guys in office who've worked on the field for local kannada channels talk about a "Krishnan-Jerome-Murthy-Janagraha "lobby" and refer to Nandi as a doomed project?

Why such a huge perception gap between national and local media?
Gowda being a politician after all must have some finger on the pulse of the voter?
abhi said…
errata in prev post: Krishna (aka SMK) as against Krishnan
Anonymous said…
The "kannada koota" is made up of primarily non Brahmin, non-elite and THAT is at the root of this problem. SMK is not a Brahmin but he's part of the overseas- educated elite that is being fought by the "sons of the soil" .

There is good reason to call K'taka the "Bihar of the South" today.

Ila
Anonymous said…
In addition to the Kannada Koota issue mentioned in the post above, is the caste/community angle. The BMIC project is coming up in an area that is dominated by the Vokkaliga caste, while the promoters of BMIC are mostly from the Lingayat community.

The other day, I was driving past a busy intersection somewhere in bangalore and saw a "Kannada flag" flying high. The road was badly maintained and there was garbage overflowing nearby. I thought it was a good example of the priorities of India's vote banks. Forget the roads and the garbage - it was more important to "protect" our impoverished identities.
srinivas said…
Pls read the report on this project in The Hindu dated 24th January 2007. It clearly exposes the "Real Intention" of NICE and Mr. Ashok Kheny.

If I am given ownership to sell Government acquired lands at rock bottom prices at prevailing Market prices on each side of the Toll road even before completion of the toll road PLUS enjoy 30 years of toll collection before handing over the toll roads back, I am ready to undertake similar projects all over India.

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