I have the urge to vent out my ire/frustration/desperation/anger on a lot of things. So, I will try to do it in the subsequent paragraphs in as methodical a way as the venting allows.
Roads, more roads, wide roads, jams, roads, more roads, wide roads ...
On June 5th the residents of Malleshwaram, Stella Maris School and Hasiru Usiru organised a protest against the planned road-widening in Sampige Road and Sankey Road. A quick list of tangible items that will be lost:
- People's homes, shops, means of livelihood (for street vendors)
- Entire building of a school
“You want wide roads in front of your homes, but not in other places.”
If they ones (MLA's coterie) who said this had even read the pamphlet, they would've understood that we do not wide roads anywhere.
“Cars moving faster will reduce the emissions.”
A reason that was thrown from multiple people, and one that I've heard for quite some time now. It is laughable! If people want to reduce emissions, they should take public transport. The problem is that the middle class/upper middle class has become so elitist that they consider buses as something only the poor will/should go in. And they are never afraid to bring up the “democracy” card – we will buy cars and we will drive them; we have that right.
I absolutely agree. But what you don't have the right is to bloody complain about traffic congestion. The cars are the damn CAUSE of traffic congestion! If each single occupancy car was removed off the roads and brought into buses, there will be no traffic problems!
On the other hand, wider roads only encourage more private transport. And this doesn't lead to less emissions.
What about pedestrians?
In this insane urge to pander to the auto-mobile users, the majority (in terms of numbers) of the road users are ignored. In Bangalore, around 50% of daily commute happens using public transport. How will people be able to walk to/from the bus stands, if vehicles are constantly zipping by on signal-free roads.
The immediate reply to this - “We'll construct subways, sky-walks.” Sigh!
So, yesterday, when Vinay asked the MLA how the physically challenged or senior citizens would be able to climb up subways/sky-walks, he responded, “We'll build lifts!” Sigh!
We aren't able to guarantee electricity for street lights, but we'll be able to maintain these lifts?
Therein lies the basic problem. Policies, decisions, initiatives are all taken without worrying about how it will affect the most unprivileged. It's just about self-convenience.
Self-convenience (or just selfishness?)
As part of the road-widening on Sampige Road, the BBMP workers began to demolish the compound walls of Mantri Mall and Mantri Greens (an up-scale residential complex). The residents came out with sticks to beat up the workers.
Now, it's quite likely that, when talking about tribals fighting for their rights, these same residents would have spouted the usual “No one can take law in their hands. The tribals have to fight through democratic means.” And here they are (these residents) who have no compunction in beating up the workers. Talk about irony … or is it just hypocrisy?
Another buzz-phrase that is thrown around by a lot of people (especially in the online space) - “democratic means”. What this means is that people have the democratic right to protest … within certain parameters; and the parameters could vary, but the end-goal is always the same. Do not inconvenience the apathetic public.
Yes, violence can never be condoned. So, people protest on the streets. Or go on fast-unto-death protests. And both these non-violent forms are unacceptable, apparently. The former, because it “blocks” traffic, and the latter, because it is tantamount to blackmail.
So, what are people left with? Elections once every five years? Online petitions? Or, anything that doesn't affect the comfortable lives of the privileged.
Yes, self-convenience indeed holds the reins. Wonder what it will take for this grip to loosen.
Anyway, time for more protests. Life, it goes on.