Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bangalore Woes - II

Sounds and looks funny... but this is true. You probably saw this picture already on the front page of Times of India (Bangalore) on Dec11th 2006.

It isn't off place to find a new big swanky car worth more than a cool million rupees... negotiate a foot deep pothole on the left side and a heap on the right... resulting in a tilt which almost gives an impression of the driver and the passenger being in two different floors.

An amusement of witnessing these wobbly drives aside - Bangalore roads are in a league of their own. As the classic joke goes - in US they drive on right side of road, in UK on the left side of the road, in Bangalore - on what’s left of the road.

Bangalore may soon be the first city to have a full WiMax network... its the silicon plateau of India, its the jewel of brand India,... but its still going to take an hour for a 5km drive in Bangalore any day. And it doesn't look like it will change anytime soon.

The irony is – that techie’s (I hate the term techie as a classification for anyone working in IT industry… but anyway, it’s the one that sticks) are ridiculed and criticized if they complain about lack of infrastructure in the city. Politicians of all kinds want to have a pro-rural image – especially after the debacle of pro-Industry CM’s like Chandrababu Naidu and SM Krishna. So, raising the infrastructure concerns of the people is a vote-bank killer.

Which brings me to the moot point – why is it so? Bangalore city has a few LS constituencies. And the city according to different estimates has anywhere between 7-10 lakh such techies living here, paying the highest of taxes for the worst of services. But I can safely bet than not more than 5% of these techies would have bothered to register themselves as voters.

Election-day is just a holiday to be optimized for most of us (yeah, I am a so-called techie too). If polling is scheduled on a Monday or a Friday, its all the more fantastic – a long weekend is a treat. Yeah, the compensatory work we need to do some other Saturday for this unscheduled day-off is fine too. But no one really considers the prospect of actually participating.

So if we don’t decide the people who rule and represent us, we have no control over the results we get. No point complaining then… A 7-10 lakh vote bank will make any politician worth his salt jump out of his couch… A fraction of this can swing results in any election. Yet, we don’t care to assert ourselves. Standing in queues on those election days is a thing to be done by my maid and the watchman. I am too cool to be seen standing in a queue for casting my vote. Not until Election commission comes up with Online Voting – where, as a keyboard enthusiast that each one of us is – we will mark a 110% poll (Indian keyboard junkism is illustrated in all online polls – whether it’s electing Amitabh Bachhan as the Man of century or Sachin as best batsmen in the world, or getting Taj into the list of new Seven Wonders…)

So, till Election commission does an technology upgrade… our roads will remain the same.

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