Faces of change

City in transition

Faces of change

It’s getting hard to keep track of all the changes taking place in Bengaluru these days. Quick recap — 5G technology is going to be launched here soon and Bengaluru will become the one of the first Indian cities to get mobile data speeds three times faster than 4G in a few months time. Granite cobblestones on Church Street Road are a sight for sore eyes. And Cubbon Park goes hi-tech with smart lights and CCTV cameras, mainly to keep a check on ‘unacceptable public display of affection’ but we are hoping safety and security is somewhere on the list of priorities too.

So what do Bengalureans feel about this makeover — one that the most dynamic city in the rightly deserves or just one of those feel-good policy announcements that will end back in potholed roads and stolen cameras soon?

Says Archana Prasad, founder of ‘Jaaga’, “The success of these changes depends on how they roll it out, including taking some innovative steps or doing quality checks. I have noticed that when there is ownership from local stakeholders, the initiatives tend to last longer.”

“If you look at the amount of detailing that has gone into the roads on Church Street, I am very optimistic. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into it and there are a lot of stakeholders on that street, like shop owners and so on, who are active participants in the process,” she says, adding that she is not very sure about the usefulness of CCTV cameras though.

Entrepreneur Suraj Nair strikes a different note. “CCTV cameras are good from a security point of view. We have many of these in my area and incidents of crime, especially petty ones like chain snatching, have come down drastically.”

“The idea behind these TenderSURE roads is good because they are giving Bengaluru a new brand image. But in the process of making good-looking places, the roads have become smaller and the footpaths are becoming bigger. Traffic is one of the biggest problems in the city so I am not sure about the practicality of this move.”

Meghana Ramachandran, a mathematics teacher, is of the opinion that while the initiatives by themselves are good, they are mostly focussed on certain places and a certain kind of people. “This facelift is centered around MG Road and adjoining areas. There are other places in the city, like Jayanagar and  Malleswaram, that deserve this sort of attention.”

When asked about the much-touted 5G plan, Meghana laughs, “There have been times when I have not even had proper 3G connectivity here so I am not sure how feasible this plan is. Also, how many people will be able to afford it?”
A common view is that there are many other pressing issues facing the city right now and sustainable solutions to all of these, along with a change in mindset, is what is needed. “Roads, tiny ones at that, are being dug up to make space for Metro pillars. And potholes are a ubiquitous feature. Why don’t we improve existing facilities before going for new ones?” says Meghana.

Suraj adds, “Garbage collection is another issue. Very few people follow the system of segregation and there is no scientific disposal. People don’t want to adopt changes and move forward. So Bengaluru is improving but Bengalureans are the same.”

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