04 November 2003

ho hum yet another exam goes down the drain :-(
i guess one thing is very clear.
3.5 yrs of work as a s/w engg has really dulled my abilities in lateral thiniking which i definitely possesed before i came over to this industry.well apart from the industry i am to blame too ! :-( let me see whether i can salvage anything left before it is too late !
and today was a real good article that appeared in "The Hindu" (one of the decent newspapers that i get in my hostel, the other being indian express.to say the least times of india is absolute shit.as we say in tamil vadikattina kevalam ( filtered waste :-) )
tried to get first day show tickets for matrix revolutions.bookings not open yet.so planning to go tomorrow again.
this is another instance of the hype that is present in bangalore(more of that hype in the article below).
people pay 70rs for a theatre that squeezes your legs and forces you to sit in a cramped manner simply becuase it happens to be in the so-called "center" of bangalore.but dont even to bother distrub this good theater which is actually much better with lots of leg room and much better sound quality ! when will the denizens of bangalore learn to separate the wheat from the chaff ?

this is the full text of the article, also available online @ http://www.hindu.com/mp/2003/11/03/stories/2003110301700100.htm

A bit, a byte, and a LOT of HYPE

For the rest of the world, Bangalore is the most happening city with its two lakh computer geeks generating Rs. 15,000 crore in revenues. But, asks ANAND PARTHSARATHY, why is life getting harder for the citizen?

IT power and IT.coms are not going to solve all of Bangalore's problems — Photo: K. Bhagya Prakash

BRITONS, WHO endured severe shortages of food and shelter during World War II, had to put up with the presence of thousands of American soldiers who took over the best accommodation and the best girls in every village by flaunting their wealth. This led a newspaper to famously rue that the Americans were "overpaid, oversexed, and over here".

Don't be surprised if the native Bangalorean, in the not-too-distant future, concludes that the two lakh computer geeks in the city — flaunting their doggie tags with the logos of the world's biggest IT companies are helping raise the price of a cup of decent kapi to unaffordable levels — are two lakh too many... that they are `overpaid, over-stressed and over here'.

Between April and September this year, the IT industry in the city generated Rs. 7200 crore. This is 65 per cent higher than a similar period last year — and, by the end of the fiscal year, the industry is expected to notch up between Rs. 16,000 crore and Rs. 17,000 crore. A good chunk, nearly 10 per cent, is ploughed up as investment in Bangalore. Of the nearly 2,500 hi-tech players here, almost a tenth are international companies and the number keeps growing: 78 new foreign companies came here last year alone.

These statistics only underline how dominant the role of IT is in the life of the city — and the sort of clout its top practitioners enjoy. We saw a demo of that a few months ago when Wipro chief Aziz Premji used a shareholders' meeting to express his angst at the lousy infrastructure around the company's new site on the Sarjapur Road. "We came here when we were promised a lot of facilities... now we are stuck in this wilderness and have half a mind to go back." Well, that's not quite how the suave Premji put it, but that was what he meant.

Last Thursday, the flyover at the Silk Board junction of the highway leading to Electronic City was opened to traffic. Seven flyovers built in two years may indeed be a splendid achievement, but while the latest might indeed be "on par with world class standards" as the Chief Minister said, this may come as cold comfort to the city's vast majority who don't zip through in their own vehicles.

Indeed, the last `splendid achievement' of this kind, the cable-stayed Garden City bridge on Old Madras Road, has made life more difficult for the local residents of Krishnarajapuram who have no easy way to get across. It has also reduced the railway station approach to a permanent quagmire.

Chennai and Mumbai are two other cities that went on a flyover spree a few years ago, but the population there (except for vehicle owners and taxi drivers) is not exactly beside itself with joy.

The Karnataka High Court was none too happy at the very concept of flyovers, particularly when each involved felling dozens of trees. "Flyovers have been discarded by every civilised country for the last 30 years in favour of underground passages, but our authorities still use half-century-old ideas and have so far destroyed 4,000 trees in Bangalore city alone," was the caustic comment of Justices M.F. Saldanha and M.S. Rajendra Prasad.

In other ways too, the high-profile presence of the IT industry impacts the life of the average citizen in ways that reveal insensitivity at the very least. Parking is admittedly a severe pain. So what does the Mahanagara Palike do? It installs hi-tech parking meters on Brigade Road, doubling hourly fee to Rs. 10. In effect, the taxpayer has to pay for the administration going hi-tech. Elsewhere around the central business area, virtually every alley has been handed over to private contractors to charge parking fees. Why is there perennial shortage of parking in this area? Because all those fancy high-rise office blocks prevent the customers of their tenant companies from parking within.

When these builders obtained their permits to put up these high-rises, one inflexible condition was that they should make provision for adequate parking. But who enforces this? In next to no time, the parking area morphs into ATM cubicles, STD booths, copying kiosks or whatever. And every customer for every tenant in the building becomes another burden on public parking space. In one such upmarket address on M.G. Road, they have gone a step further: all the companies in the building have colluded to charge Rs. 20 for their own clients to park inside the compound. This is a Bangalore-style rip-off that has been exported to that other worshipper of Mammon, Mumbai.

Granted that such horrors are part and parcel of any boomtown on the rapid track, Bangalore still falls short of the minimum that must be expected from a city that has pretensions to an international ambience.

As the city lurches forward into the competitive global arena, it not only needs to reinvent itself as a welcoming place for the world's hi-tech talent but also as a place where all her citizens, not just the IT elite, feel wanted, cared for and appreciated.

Posted by Shyam Krishnaswamy at 1:42 PM


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