Towards being a truly global city

How does one earmark a city as being truly global? I guess one of the dubious yardsticks is being set by the terrorists unknowingly. If a city has achieved enough, and can make it to the headlines readily, it becomes a potential target for terrorists. The analogy that was good for human beings now unfortunately applies to cities too. When I hear of terrorists being unearthed from our soil, I know we have arrived on the global map.

Flashback Bangalore fifteen years back. One could enter any public place without being screened. Of course, the airports were still an exception but then that is not really a public place again. Now, when I am screened at every mall, every exhibition, and every public function hosting a variety of people, I wonder when this city actually lost its innocence. This article is not to start a blame game but reflect on how and why we have increasingly become sitting ducks for terrorists who shadow our thoughts at every juncture. Except for the one attack at IISC, I do not recall Bangalore going through the trauma that Mumbai, Delhi, or Hyderabad have gotten used to. I hope it never does but tomorrow may be another day and another story. We do need to sit up and take cognizance. Today’s news is not something that will never affect me.

When elections are held in Pakistan, the person who gets elected determines our fate in this city. When the US decides to launch its operation on terror, the countries it targets harbor elements that pose a threat to our country and our cities. When there was unrest in Srilanka, its ripples killed our prime minister in a not so far away place. I could go on. Fact is, sitting in Bangalore, I cannot be complacent about what is happening in the rest of the world or rest of India anymore.

In the past few days, I have heard of people getting recruited into terrorism from colleges and IT companies. It makes me wonder why any sane Indian would want to destroy the very soil he stands on. If the questions are difficult, the answers are not easy either. We have allowed our politicians to wilfully divide us such that we have lost the power of a single voice. Playing one group against the other, they are the only people who have benefited from this mess. With all the security they muster up with our money, they happily watch us getting slaughtered while delivering tokens of sympathy from their safe havens. Everytime there is an attack on a city, it is cloaked under the talk of the city’s resilience. They will not fault their policies, their short-sightedness, and their wily tactics that has brought the citizens to this state.

Increasingly, all the responsibilities of the state are being transferred to its citzens. Poor drinking water? buy it from the next retail store Poor security? Buy the best security apparatus. Poor electricity? Buy a generator Poor education? What are private schools for? Agreed that the goverment can do only so much, but is it even doing that little we have come to expect from it?

Today, when I read of the elections that will be held anywhere between May and November, I truly hope that the people will see beyond religion, caste, and local identities and look at the bigger issues that stare them in the face. This article is just the beginning. I will be talking to as many people as I possibly can and asking them to pass this message. I don’t expect you to do it too but would be wonderful if you did – not to vote for any party or person but to think and decide the best choice from those available to them. Is the person on the podium talking of issues that matter to me? And then rise, and ask him to stop beating round the bush. It is for people to dictate the agenda. If everyone does a little, we will be doing things on a scale we never imagined.

The global city that I hope to see emerge from Bangalore is one that will evolve from the multiple cultures it so wonderfully embraces, a city that every denizen is proud to call its own or as Tagore put it, Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high! Let us work towards making it a reality.

5 Comments so far

  1. Aggie Rag (unregistered) on February 27th, 2008 @ 7:25 pm

    Well written Preran. But I happen to disagree on one point. Till recent times, I too felt that one should vote based on the right candidate, and not based on party affiliations. But after the musical chairs game in the recently disbanded Kar"nataka" assembly, I have changed my stance. That situation arose precisely because people voted for their preferred person with no regard to party. A split mandate ensued.

    Although a candidate may talk all honeyed words while campaigning, he/she will do exactly as the party wants after the election. So I would say – pick a party that you feel would do the best job overall, and vote them in to power so that they may rule for 5 years without fear of a knee-jerk. Coalitions can do only so much good work. They are more concerned with pleasing each other than pleasing the people.

  2. chappar (unregistered) on February 27th, 2008 @ 10:08 pm

    Bangalore has been a favorite hideout for criminals. LTTEs Shivarasan and Shuba episode was the first of its kind that put Bangalore on he global map of terror. The proximity of Bnagalore to 3 states namely TN,AP,Kerala and the diversity of languages spoken in city makes it a easy hiding spot for criminals.Its not only criminals even for the kings who mostly spent their life waging wars liked Bnagalore as well. Yes its HYder ali and Tippu. The affection towards Bnagalore displayed by Hyder has been the best land mark the city could have got ( guess it :-) )

  3. Gwori (unregistered) on February 27th, 2008 @ 10:09 pm

    Very Well written Preran. I especially like your statement "Fact is, sitting in Bangalore, I cannot be complacent about what is happening in the rest of the world or rest of India anymore.

    That is so true.

  4. preran (unregistered) on February 28th, 2008 @ 9:39 am

    Aggie: Agree with your point. In choosing between a right candidate and a right party, we may be losing out on potential performers and I really don’t have an answer here. Karnataka has always had this problem of voting for a party that is not in power in the center. Maybe things will change.

    Chappar: That’s a valid point. Cities like Mumbai and Bangalore with multiple cultures and languages provide the required camouflage to terrorists. And as you say, everyone loves Bangalore!

    Gowri: Thank you. We all need to reflect and act. We have in a sense arrived as a global destination.

  5. Deepa Mohan (unregistered) on February 29th, 2008 @ 6:27 am

    Very well-written post Preran. But I do feel that much of this screening that we undergo is what we call "security theatre"..that is, the *appearance* of security measures without any real point. At PVR cinemas, for example, I often feel that all they want to do is to ensure that we don’t bring in any food, and have to buy their wickedly expensive stuff!

    Another thing I hate is when they let every mobile phone in and as soon as they see my camera (I have a Canon S3), they make huge noises about "no cameras allowed"! Why on earth have illogical rules that cannot be enforced? The last time, I just went out again, put my camera inside my bag, and came in again after a while, with a pile of books over it. Voila! No trouble.

    This kind of security screening is really irritating!

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