From noun to verb, whither Bengaluru?

From noun to verb, whither Bengaluru?

Bengaluru, they say, is the most happening city in India. Most of the big cities in the country, and for that matter in the world, today are experiencing phenomenal growth. But for now, let's scale down the focus to 'Namma Bengaluru,' the city where I grew up, studied, and currently reside. It appears that when the noun became a verb, all the trouble started for this city!

Here are certain given facts about Bengaluru:

• The 'air-conditioned/garden' city of India for its pleasant climate and tree cover, though dwindling in recent years, continues to be beautiful and adds a glamour quotient to the city.

• The 'pensioners paradise' with an interest for the retiring and the retired to settle down continues to attract them.

• Companies from the yesteryear that are in the public-sector space even now like BEL, HAL, NAL, BHEL, HMT, ISRO, etc to the current IT companies like Infosys, Wipro, etc offer fantastic employment opportunities for the young and the old, making it the destination city of choice

However, all of the above are contributing to:  

• Cost escalation in all areas, from groceries and vegetables to real estate and movies.

• Huge population growth, exacerbated by increasing migrant population, has doubled at close to 10 million today in approximately 15 years.

• Constrained infrastructure, offering too little for too much of an explosion of lifestyle in almost all walks of life.

• Rising vehicular traffic to cater to the ever-growing need to move a large number of people, cutting across zones.

• A slow erosion of Bengaluru's original culture of being laidback, orthodox, neighbour-friendly, with a working intelligentsia environment.

The original charm is lost. There was peace and tranquillity that existed in Bengaluru which has been overtaken by the hubbub and chaos that seem to be prevalent in almost all parts of the city and at all times. The resultant conditions include but are not limited to:

• Roads dug-up everywhere making it difficult to commute, in addition to making the air extremely unclean, dusty and unhealthy resulting in illnesses.

• People have lost their sense of cordiality and coexistence and are in a constant struggle – be it road-rage or even mafia-activity.

• A callous, 'don't-care' attitude towards our surroundings, manifesting in all the filth and froth.

• Vehicles on the road and on the footpath in all directions leading to gridlocks at every intersection where one would have otherwise breezed through. It's mostly not the volume but the sheer apathy and the mindset of the drivers.

• In a desire to be a "connected smart city," there are cables underground as well as above ground. The green tops are being choked to death with cables running around them in a serpentine fashion

• In the pursuit of more and quick money, we have let loose one too many desires - the street vendors, the stray animals, the unlicensed  pubs, the non-existent basement parking...the list goes on.

City, by chance

Who is taking cognizance of all that is happening around us and initiating corrective measures? Leave alone taking remedial steps, who is even planning? Leave alone planning, who is to take the blame for the failing city? Leave alone fixing accountability, who are they?

Bengaluru is happening 'by chance' and not 'by design.' There doesn't seem to be even a method to the madness! If not, we would have had answers and solutions to many a question and incident.

Should we not take the blame? We responsibly cast our valuable votes and elected people to positions who grossly let us down. Was it a one-too-many misguided expectation that has spiralled down to a point of no return? Where is our citizen voice? Where are the public interest groups?

Citizen voices and public interest groups can help raise the issues and make some small amends. What we need though is for the government to draw up a holistic, future-proof blueprint, and debate it in public, while setting up task forces to take them through sustainable implementation towards successful closure. Band-aid approaches which are short-term in nature and will lead to 'bursting-in-the-seams' situation must be shunned.

Until then, "Whither Bengaluru?" seems to be permanently etched on my lips. I'm pretty sure that is the case for many of my fellow clan: the concerned, disgruntled Bengalureans!

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