Sunday, January 15, 2006

Truth is out - now what?

Travelling on Bangalore's roads, I have always been struck by the paradox of how such a rich city could have such poor roads. Why pick roads? Because, that is something so basic to a society. Remember what we learnt about how ancient civilisations flourished? They gave importance to transportation. Smooth vehicular movement led to better interaction, a livelier society; better trade led to a truly self-sufficient society.

Nothing of the essentials for good roads we lack. Best engineers, best managers, skilled workers who can work with the best materials; and an economy (I mean specifically of Bangalore) that is booming. Look at the money we splurge; who says we are poor? Definitely not in the monetary sense.

It's only the paradox that's puzzling. Like most Bangaloreans I too know the reason why we don't have good roads. We have never heard it on TV or read in newspapers, because no one has proof of it. Everything that you hear can't be broadcast or printed, especially negative things. If some journalist wrote, it will at best be seen as "his or her view".

But, now finally the chief minister himself has spoken. "There is a nexus between corporators and contractors. Vested interests are coming in the way of calling of tenders. Many road repair works haven't started." Not that Dharam Singh as a person has any more credibility than any of us. But by virtue of his position as the CM, his utterances gain a certain amount of value.

The words from the chief minister's mouth not only give credence to something that is popularly known; but also an admission of failure of political governance. That a chief minister and the enormous amount of state machinery that he has in his command have not been able to break this nexus shows how widespread and deep this nexus is.

There is more indication of this nexus. Many builders who have been only too willing to tar the roads themselves, are being prevented by corporators. Not without reason. The central government is about the release Rs 1000 crore for Bangalore's infrastructure. Should we state the obvious?

What hope do we have when the fence begins to eat the crop? Any way out? Cribbing is now considered a negative approach. So, what we can we do in a positive manner. May be, what Murthys and Premjis are planning to do -- move out to better places. What about others who can't do that? Pretty little, when people who have been specially designated with the task of doing a lot are either doing the wrong things or not doing anything at all.

Democracy is not just about voting and the power of the people to bring in change. "Power of the ballot" sounds nice, but is meaningless if the electorate have only thousands duds to choose from. Democracy works only when people who have been elected to positions of power exercise that power for the benefit of the people whom they serve. Voting is one time occurrence. But governance is a continuous process.


  1. Very true. The Mayor when she was a corporator rarely came out of her home. Her husband went around as Corporator collecting money for anything and everything that happened in her ward. Today she is the Mayor, no prizes for guessing who will be the actual Mayor!!

  2. They say IT overload ruined blore.. and then ask corporates to keep investing more... and then continue to say IT overload ruined blore... wonder if they would ever come out of their loop and show something in action...

  3. I've posted a review of a book "Ladies Coupe".. do check out.. one of the better books that I ever read... :)

  4. Ah yes... Bangalore's infamous roads.. maybe they'll do somthing about the Giant Mosquitoes qhile they're at it...

  5. You know once the residents of our layout could not take the statre of roads anymore and went to our municipal corporation and complained to the corporator. He verified the records and told us that as per his records the roads had been laid 3 times in the past 5 years!!!
    This seems to be a city where theives are stealing roads overnight as we never ever saw one of those roads in all the years we have lived in this layout!!!