Jamming freedom

intense CITY

Jamming freedom

For most old denizens and the free-spirited, Bangalore is part of a free country. No questions there. But on August 15, as the country enters the 64th year of Independence, many are forced to reflect upon the limits of their personal freedom, and a creeping sense that the Government is subtly curtailing their choices.  

Here’s a lament, being heard increasingly across the City, especially among youngsters: “We are slowly getting used to a life where the government dictates what we should eat, they tell us what time to get back home at night, they even tell us when we should lose our hard earned property to their ill conceived projects.” Strict dress codes imposed by the non-State, private college managements are also apparently part of the same system.

Social analysts have observed that increasingly in the last few years, the imposition of rules whether in the name of moral principles, religion or law and order, have actually restricted the choice of Bangaloreans to live their lives. “Is this the act of a zealous government trying to regulate our lives or merely the price we pay for leapfrogging into a cosmopolitan hub?” wonders aloud a social scientist, preferring anonymity.

The argument for and against the early closure of all drinking and eating places in the City is now familiar. The fact that all the eateries and pubs wind up by midnight has been one of the most irksome feature of life, at least for most youngsters in Cosmopolitan Bangalore. No amount of protests, not even the intervention of a Cabinet Minister has made the City Police Commissioner, Shankar Bidari budge from his stand.

When Jayant, a doctor moved to Bangalore from Mumbai two years ago, he could not believe the timings the city imposed on him. Often, he found it frustrating when he went to restaurants and had to place his last orders by 10.45 pm. “It is unfortunate that people tend to get used to rules however unfair it is,” he rues.

To a suggestion that restaurants be allowed to operate beyond midnight keeping the requirements of many who work in night shift, Bidari has this to offer: Bangalore has a population of one crore, out of which less than 10,000 work in night shifts. Moreover, the police have allowed those organisations working during nights to have canteen facilities. There is no bar on these canteens to operate. No one will be in a mood to enjoy night life after completing night shift in offices. Hence, the observation becomes irrelevant, so goes his contention.

Then there is the matter of choice of food. The anti Cow Slaughter Bill is such a delicate issue that the religious connotation associated with it would make most people hesitate to offer a viewpoint. But those for vouch for individual freedom, beef is a favourite food of many and it was only the present government which saw alarming dangers in a practice that has been around for centuries?

Now, there is another trend which Bangaloreans aren’t too impressed about: Taking over their properties in the name of development projects. 

Is paying money or offering the unpopular Transfer of Developmental Rights (TDR) sufficient balm to the scores of people who have secured their parcels of land after much struggle. Here’s the question they want the State to answer on Independence Day, as a resident put it: “Does the Government have a right to tell us to get out of our homes and tell us where we should live, simply because they had a misplaced idea of widening every road and alley to alleviate our traffic problems.”

Urban displacement, then, has emerged as a big concern. For many, it amounts to a direct infringement of their individual freedoms. The Mayor has given us a temporary reprieve from the road-widening issue, but now the city-in-charge Minister, Katta Subramanya Naidu declares that the citizens should get used to the idea. Therein lies the dilemma for the citizens, already in a bind over the challenges to their personal freedoms.

Voices

Brajesh Rajak,
Law Student, NLSIU


On freedom to wear: “Strict regulation on dress code is a violation of the right of freedom provided by our Constitution. We should be free to wear whatever we want
except those which are not vulgar. Dress code should not become a means to impose a specific ideology on youngsters. The debate that students should wear kurta or should not wear jeans in campus is absurd. These kind of regulations will pull us backward.”

Aamir Khan,
Student, Christ University


On students’ freedom: “Student representation in university academic bodies will help resolve matters of students interest. But it is ironical that students are
discouraged to bring collective representation in universities, especially in Bangalore.
Students are the biggest stakeholders in the system of education. However, it is essential to separate student bodies from political affiliations.Beginning this Sunday, Deccan Herald brings you a brand new feature 'Intense-City', echoing the critical issues of a vibrant and dynamic Bangalore.


U R Ananthamurthy, Jnanpith awardee:

“I fully agree with what the City police chief says and support the Act. I am not against drinking, but I am worried about public safety. Extending the deadline will only increase drunken driving, brawls and such other problems. One can always have drinks at home. In England, pubs close at 10.30 pm. The youngsters can always have drinks and enjoy personal freedom of partying at private places or their houses, ensuring that it doesn’t affect others’ personal freedom. ”


Beginning this Sunday, Deccan Herald brings you a brand new feature “Intense-City”, echoing the critical issues of a vibrant and dynamic Bangalore.

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