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Entries by tag: bangalore

I attended BJP's Anti Cow Slaughter rally today
pramod kde
The Karnataka government's desperate efforts to ban cow slaughter now rests on what President Pratibha Patil will say, because the Governor has refused to give his customary nod to the Bill saying it has cross-State implications.

The BJP has pledged to hold many rallies promoting their cause beginning September. I read about one such event happening at Town Hall today, and being unemployed, was drawn to it like flies to dung. Took a quick detour from wherever I was officially headed and spent some time there.

There were around 500 people, split between sloganeering on the Town Hall footsteps and listening to speeches by various BJP bigwigs. I was wondering if the crowd would be all villagers paid for by the hour, but it was mostly urban - many middle aged and older folks, a few youngsters. On the dais were state BJP president K S Eshwarappa, Venkaiah Naidu and also Ananth Kumar, who represents Bangalore South up in New Delhi. I couldn't stay for long, so here are a few pictures and videos I took.

Here is a video of the slogan shouting:

Here's one person starting his speech:

Deccan Herald covered the Bill and its constitutional implications in depth a few Sundays ago. A recent Hindu article claims 2 lakh people could be negatively impacted. Deve Gowda has been actively opposing the Bill.

Witness the wheels turning
pramod kde
Two big phenomena are heading towards their climax in Karnataka - one is the mining mafia and all their side effects. The other is the rage for road widening.

First the mining. Almost this entire week, our State legislators have been constantly heckling and threatening each other, with the opposition members clearly going in for the kill as they sense that the end is near for the wanton illegal mining of the last few years. Here's a report from today where the Chief Minister himself admits to major lapses.

If you haven't read this thrilling narrative from Tehelka ...Collapse )

The War Memorial, and the lost lakes of Bangalore
pramod kde
Today's Deccan Herald had a front page news item saying the war memorial at Indira Gandhi park has been cancelled! This is a win for the people who opposed it on environmental grounds.

Meanwhile, a Bangalore based NGO (Arghyam, of Rohini Nilekani fame) has conducted a video contest called Lost Lakes of Bangalore and they are screening all the entries in Domlur on Saturday.

Check out this winning entry (drags a bit though):


Is Bangalore becoming smarter or is it just me?
pramod kde
Of late I see a marked difference in the way people in Bangalore are relating to their city government. I say this after observing the recent elections, and reading many stories where the government embarks on a foolish scheme and is beaten back, often successfully, by affected citizens. Especially since we live in congested times and public (i.e., government) services are extremely stretched, few have the patience to withstand more suffering in the hands of government.

Consider the Lalbagh musical fountain episode, where they wanted to spend X no. of crores to build a rock garden and musical fountain in that park. The Deccan Herald made front page news out of it and lo, they soon had a whole section devoted to letters protesting the scheme. The scheme was cancelled after it failed to get approval from some other government body.

More famous is the case where a young girl died when the wall of a medical college collapsed on her. Unrelenting media pressure forced the government to investigate the issue quickly, and the mayor of the city even paid a visit to the deceased's parents.

Another anti-government movement that is growing steadily is the campaign against "road widening" by BBMP where it involves annexation of private property without consent. To protect themselves people have started to organize, for example this report about a Ring Road Property Owners Association. As always I shall resort to CitizenMatters for the links. See this story and another one where people are recruiting surveying firms as they don't trust the government's acquisition process. I have personally run into people whose apartments and their neighbouring houses have been targetted.

Today's Hindu had a full page report on the opposition to a War Memorial that's being planned in Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park in Vasanthnagar. The High Court ruling has gone in favour of the government (what's new?) and the case will proceed to Supreme Court. One article in favour of this memorial is by the founder of "Bangalore Patriots Society" who profess great love for the military. Check out their informative website. It's unfortunate that this idea is the brainchild of a Rajya Sabha MP called Rajeev Chandrashekhar who comes with an excellent professional record in Silicon Valley and is also the son of an army officer.

Most of these citizen initiatives are reactionary, defensive and ad-hoc. But yet they're forcing government to change its functioning in a hundred small adjustments. This is qualitatively different from sentiment a few years ago where people were yearning for government to launch mega schemes, also during the S M Krishna era where big businessmen were openly running the show via agencies like BATF. In fact, Ramesh Ramanathan had to write an article in 2006 called "Wicked problems of urban infrastructure" (link) where he asks people to look at the process in which changes happen rather than the solution itself. I wonder if the Metro was just being conceived now would it look very different?

I can recall another political thought from this blogger which goes:

"There is a very intimate relationship between social recognition of the process of inquiry in the realms of science and technology and social recognition of pluralism / civil society within Democracy. Pluralism / civil society are, in actuality, a distributed form of inquiry into the rules of governance & human affairs.

A society that doesn't fully internalize the notion that Truth is discovered through distributed inquiry vs. revealed through Cannon also views the chaos of democracy not just as inefficient but, rather, as something outright dangerous. "

It is in that sense that I say that Bangalore is getting smarter.

Anand Bala writes about Global Investors Meet
pramod kde
[This is a guest post by Anand Bala. He writes about the recently concluded Global Investors Meet in Bangalore. Check out his video (also embedded below) from a protest rally he attended.]

Neo-liberal winds seem to be hitting Karnataka strong and hard. The storm is headed straight to the mineral wealth and public resources of the state of Karnataka. This is probably not the kind of storm the flood ravaged victims were expecting. Rehabilitation is progressing at snail’s pace and flood victims will probably spend the monsoon in a tin shed while parts of their district are being signed off in an MoU @ an event called the “Global Investor’s Meet”.

The “Mining Barons” of Bellary are gunning to make the district into a steel hub. 4 steel mills are coming to the state. This includes a mill owned by Reddy brotthers. With them holding the revenue portfolio, one has to be blind not to miss the conflict interest in getting some of these deals through.

If you still don’t see the conflict of interest, let me explain it like to you are two year old – Reddy brothers own iron ore mines. Steel mills need iron ore. Reddy brothers stand to benefit directly from any steel mill in and around Bellary (because they will in all probability get to supply ore). In such a scenario – holding a revenue portfolio has to be insulting to the intelligence of the common man.

Allow me to cite a specific example. When the floods hit Karnataka (Oct 2009), the CM thought it appropriate to levy a cess on mining trucks (since they were so many of them and the mining industry was drowning under wind-fall profits). Our revenue minister, Shri Mining Reddy, vetoed the idea. If that doesn’t get you mad…nothing will!

The Global Investors Meet

The BJP has put together this grand mela to bring in some investment to the state.

For the government it’s about investment, infrastructure, jobs and development.

I won’t re-invent the wheel and will let this document (put together by Vinay Sreenivsa of Hasiru Husuru and Arul Selva of Slum Jagathu) do the talking.

Now… lets looks at the major claims/targets that the government is setting for this meet –

  • 5,000,000,000,000 Rupees (5 Lakh Crores!)
  • Generate Employment for 650,000 people
  • 103,000 acres to be allotted

If you will allow me to do the math – it works out to a

  • 76,92,307 or 76 lakhs per job :(
  • 1.5 acres per job!

Nothing is for free! I am sure when a person is pumping in millions he wants subsidies in exchange. This would imply – subsidies for power, water and use of infrastructure. Starting to look like a raw deal, particularly if you consider that a big chunk of these trillions of rupees will directly benefit the business interests of current cabinet members.

I don’t need to remind most people of what is happening in the “red corridor” and the implications of marginalizing people for mining. There is no denying that it is a possible “worst case” scenario (God forbid!).

The silver lining in all this is that the entire event could turn-out to be a damp-squib. Thankfully the constitution has a process in place for land acquisition and the concept of “public-purpose’ should come into play. I will not be surprised, if the large land acquisitions meet with stiff local resistance. If we look at the track record of the government of Karnataka, we will see that promises around big investments remain largely on paper.

I will be the first to admit that I have socialist leanings. But I am in no way against the concept of free enterprise. What I am against is transferring our public resources to the hands of a few powerful people who are already bloated with wealth. The alternative that I have in mind is to encourage small and mid size industries that can collectively have a much larger economic multiplier and prevent leakage of collective wealth. We also need to make sure that the interests of the people whose common property will be taken away are well protected. Sadly, with the Bellary Janata Party in the picture, I don’t see any of this happening.

A group of organizations came together today (June 3rd 2010) to hold a protest against the GIM. I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout from the media. There was a crowd of about 50 people and the wet weather could not dampen the spirit of resistance,

Update –

  1. A company promoted by the Reddy Brothers signed a 36K Crore MoU with the govt of Karnataka during the Global Investors Meet.
  2. While the ministers families are walking with an MoU and access to mineral resources, flood victims have been told, “they have to manage

The above is what Naomi Klein refers to as Disaster Capitalism. Use a national disaster as an opportunity to sell of resources that the most marginalized sections of society control. It happened after Katrina, it happened after the Tsunami and it happened after the Haiti earthquake. I guess it’s Bellary’s turn to go ‘global’.

Talk by Prafulla Samantara on Issues in Orissa 27th may 2010 at SCM @5.30pm
pramod kde
[I got this mail via the ALF (Alternative Law Forum) mailing list]

Dear Friends,

When many people's movements have resisted the sale of Orissa's natural
resources to global multinationals, the state government resorted to brutal
police repression in retalliation. Police firing has taken place in Kashipur,
anti-POSCO movement, Kalinganagar and other places in Orissa in the recent
past. Karnataka government is practically following the same development model accepted by the Orissa Government.
Therefore we feel that it is essential for activists to learn more
about the Orissa experience so that activists generate connections and energies to deal with this mess.

We are glad to inform you that Prafulla Samantara*, the well known activist
intellectual who is connected with most of the people's movements in Orissa
will be here in Bangalore on 27th. We felt it is a good opportunity to listen
to his views and involve in a discussion on the growing repression against
people's movements in Orissa. Prafulla will speak about POSCO,Vedanta, Kalinganagar and other major issues in Orissa.

We are glad to invite you to participate in this meeting which will take
place at:
Venue: SCM House, Mission Road, Bangalore
Time: : 5.30 pm
Date: 27th May, 2010
We request you to participate in the meeting and inform all your friends.
People's Solidarity Concerns
*About Prafulla

Prafulla Samnatara, is President of Lok Shakti Abhijan, Odisha Chapter and one of the National
Convenors of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM). He has been actively participating
in various democratic people’s movements to protect human rights, environment and right to livelihood
of millions of people in Odisha state as well as in the country.
His mission is to have alternative development that is sustainable development to replace the present
economic models of high consumerism and greed. Sri Samntara is actively organizing people to create
opinion against destruction of forest, agricultural land, water resources, indiscriminate mining in the
name of development. He is involved in various people’s movement against big corporations who are
plundering natural resources.
In Odisha, since 1994 tribal people and farmers have been struggling peacefully to exercise their right
over natural resources opposing big companies who are to displace lakhs of tribals and poor people from
their habitats and sources of the livelihood. In Kashipur, Niyamgiri, Maliparbat & Deomali, Aluminium
companies are a threat to rich forests and perennial water sources after mining of bauxite.
Sri Samantara has been providing solidarity to these tribal movements. He is the first petitioner to the
Supreme Court of India against Vedanta company.There are other people’s movements against Tata Steel
factory in Kalinga Nagar, POSCO Steel project in Jagatsingpur, Birlas in Maliparbat, Arcelor Mittal Steel
project & Sterlite steel project in Keonjhar. There are people’s protests against the pollution of thermal
power plants and sponge iron industries in Orissa. All these movements are to protect land and water
from destruction and pollution. Sri Samntara as an activist co-ordinates to unite various people’s organizations
to support these people’s movements. He was an active particpiant in a successful movement in Gopalpur against
Tata steel plant that saved the Rusukuliya river and Pipalpanka reserve forest in Ganjam district.
Odisha has become a laboratory for MNCs and other companies to finish resources at the cost of people’s livelihood. Sri Prafulla Samntara is not only involved with these movements, he writes in various newspapers
and edits his own Odiya fortnightly journal on these issues. He has also published many books and leaflets on displacement and police repression. He always believes in non-violence yet he is a target of corporate violence
because he is always with the tribal people.
Orissa’s future is threatened by devastation of ecology as more and more mining companies are chopping down forests and carrying out open cast mining; as the proposed projects will multiply air and water pollution
immensely; as these industries will consume enormous amounts of water. Sri Samantara believes that all quarters
of the society must join hands to stop this impending ecological disaster.

Head of Programs
South India Cell for Human Rights Education(SICHREM)
35,1st Floor,Anjanappa Complex, Hennur Main Road,Lingarajapuram,
St.Thomas Town Post,
Bangalore - 560084, Karnataka
Ph: 080-25473922 / 25804072-73
Fax: 080-25492856,

Lounge Piranha and other rock acts at Kyra, Bangalore
pramod kde
Kyra is a new restaurant cum performing arts venue in Indiranagar, Bangalore that I had been wanting to visit for a while. I was able to make it yesterday and watch some rock music. I'd heard of this event via the venerable Hindu where Lounge Piranha, one of the performing bands and co-organizers speak about promoting independent rock music in the city.

The venue feels more intimate than an open air rock concert. There's standing space for about 100 people in front of the stage, and a few dozen people can watch while being seated at the restaurant tables set above this area. When we stepped down towards the stage at the end we could hear Lounge Piranha enjoying some banter with the crowd. The audience was mainly people in their mid 20's and dressed up for the night, with a smattering of older folks like our group.

The first act was a band called No Safe Word who did an OK job. The vocalist had a very nice full-throated voice which he put to good use only a few times. At other times his singing was quite the cat's meow.

(Here I must mention that this is my first ever rock concert. So bear with my opinions)

Next up was The Bicycle Days who were way more enjoyable. I used my uber ubiquitous Nokia 5800 XpressMusic to record a full song. (Twice this weekend I've said "Heyyy..same phone!")

If you liked the visualizations that they were projecting there's an even better set in this short clip

Finally came Lounge Piranha who had an already happy crowd to play to. I found their music very good in parts and bafflingly boring at others. Overall the audience enjoyed it thoroughly.

One thing I felt was that you can barely understand what any of these bands are singing, which is a trait they share with classical musicians. After a while you learn to ignore it I guess.

Last night's event was priced at 200 bucks, which included 100 rupees on food and beverages. That makes it ridiculously low in my book, esp. when restaurants on that 100 ft. road will charge you 250 bucks for fresh vegetables and baked wheat. Let's hope we have more venues like Kyra in Bangalore, preferably at walking distance from our homes :)

Land of contention
pramod kde
Land is a resource that continues to be highly contentious in present day Bangalore. As the classes conflict, government is used as the means to forcibly overcome property contracts. Yesterday's paper had this report of farmers in Devanahalli not wanting to give up their land for some IT Investment Region that is being planned. Ever since the international airport came up there, that region has become highly politicised and farmers have been known to become millionaires overnight by selling their land. It's hard to say how genuine any protestation from there is. But still, there's no denying that property rights are under constant threat.

There are plans for a Bangalore Financial District in that area, and there's also a Global Investors Meet coming up in June. So the government is trying to create a "land bank" of sufficient size to pitch to investors. To be fair, the Industries Minister claims there will be no forced acquisition.

And today is another story from the same paper. This time, residents of some nice, middle/upper-middle class apartments called Mantri Paradise on Bannerghatta Road are up against the commuter class. The government wants to widen the roads to help people travel faster, so parts of these apartments have been identified for demolition. Now I can't vouch that these apartments are not illegal and BBMP is not demolishing only those parts, but still..what an ugly state of affairs!

A seminar about the Civil Nuclear Liability bill
pramod kde
On Saturday, April 3rd I attended this seminar on the Civil Nuclear Liability (CNL) bill . The CNL is a recent move by the Indian government which outlines how people will be compensated in case an accident happens at a nuclear power plant. People are opposed to this bill for 2 main reasons: the nature of such a crime has been changed to civil from criminal; and the government might be modifying our laws to suit the companies which run reactors rather than the victims of a nuclear accident. The seminar was organised by a bunch of civil society groups like Greenpeace, PUCL and ALF.

It was compered by Karuna Raina, an activist with Greenpeace India. She set off the event by listing her main problems with the bill: It assumes a cap on the liability ($500 million), it only looks at human compensation and not environmental, and it also assumes that we actually need such a bill in the first place.

Click here to read the rest...Collapse )

Sunkenahalli has a lot of choice this time around
pramod kde
The area I live in comes under a ward called Sunkenahalli for this time's BBMP elections. There are so many candidates contesting (10) that it feels like we're having a primary! You can find out more at this site.

Today morning the Congress candidate was out making housecalls. He's a young man called Kiran Kumar, who is a Mechanical Engineer and lists "Social service" as his occupation in the pamphlet that he gave.

More interesting is the candidate named Prakash Belawadi. He is supposed to be a famous theatre and arts personality (though before my time I am afraid). Even he had dropped by a couple of Sundays ago. I was not awake to witness the event, but today I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he represents the Lok Satta party. His manifesto has a rather rare emphasis on conservation and heritage.

The one thing I liked was his promise to keep development works transparent, unlike the Natl. College flyover and the ongoing Tagore Circle underpass that got foisted on us stealthily. Regarding roads, water supply and electricity, I see the role of government in these things as dubious at best and so don't have any expectations. Altogether, it's not a bad time to be if you are the voting kinds.

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