Barack Obama has just proved that the Audacity of Hope can win you the Nobel Peace Prize. Yes It Can. Many of us , including Mayawati, L.K.Advani, and the pantheon of Prime Ministerial aspirants of 2009 believed their dream of becoming Prime Minister was The Change We Believe In. No one thought to revisit Dreams from My Father Of The Nation- Is Gandhiji too old and dated?
At least, one of the aspirational PM pantheon has just taken his rightful place in the Once Upon a Time……… to ponder, one hopes, on how he came to be shortchanged. He had hoped, and wished, and prayed, and promised and believed. Why didn’t he get his Prize?
Changes are afoot everywhere, all the time. In Bangalore., a news report says India’s IT hub is all set to reclaim its old glory as the Garden City. The BBMP , yup, the same one that believed it could do flyovers, underpasses, magic boxes, and solve the city’s mind-boggling traffic problems, has changed its dream- turn lakes, parks and even walls into patches of green cover and art museums!
Change! Again, after all these years of changing into IT City from Garden City /Pensioner’s Paradise?
In the best of times, like when the legendary administrator N.Lakshman Rau guarded each of them jealously, and made plans to protect them for posterity- (another hopeful optimist who never got a Prize, nor, his wish) there were around 260 lakes. Now Bangalore has expanded beyond imagination, though not beyond nightmares, and to count these 187, we probably have to include tanks in Chennapatna, Kolar, Hoskote, Hosur and Harohalli.Or simply believe the BBMP.
How things change. The BBMP has grand plans to convert these 187 lakes into patches of green foliage and rich blossoms, and recreational zones . Bangaloreans just stepped out of their front door to run into their own private patch of green, and the walk form Banashankari Temple to Jayanagar Shopping Complex was a picnic . Once change happens, just hop into the Metro at the place where the N.Lakshman Rau promenade once stretched out like a plump python under a greatgreen canopy and trundle across a concrete jungle (don’t look down, you may go dizzy with the sight of the grotesque, gnarled remnants of a City (Once) Beautiful, and indulge in the dubious pleasures of wannabe Disneyland at a place that ought to be left to the birds and fish, so they can do their bit to keep the ecological balance. Can you measure the carbon footprint of your brave attempt to commune with nature?
The Metro is already eating up a good bit of Lalbagh, and people who want to walk there for free , who ought to walk there for free, are regularly badgered and stressed out by suggestions that they ought to shell out a fee to enjoy Lalbagh, and stay fit and healthy in their chosen ways.
Is this change we want to believe in?
Everybody knows that Bangalore’s green worries are like the curry leaves in the sambhaar to policymakers.It enhances the flavour of the sambhar, , but no one actually eats it. Bangalore’s lakes are a tangled web of encroachment, litigation, neglect, and often the victim of some official’s – enthusiasm, if not caught in tug-of-war between various departments and authorities that claim to “own ” the lakes.
Is the BDA any different? Three years back, the BDA remorselessly destroyed a precious piece of biodiversity because it fell in the way of a road they were building to connect two neighbourhoods off Magadi Road and Mysore Road. The land was taken over by the BDA, but it housed a 100 species of bamboo from all over the world, a passionately tended project of retired forest officer A.C.Lakshmana, an internationally recognised scholar on the subject of bamboo. After the deed was done, about 25 per cent of the bamboo grove was ravaged, at a time when Mr Lakshmana was away, the BDA’s laconic reply was, ” we had to do our job.”
And our job is not looking after trees, they didn’t add. We just take away the lung space near you, and expect you to battle traffic jams, pollution, a protest march or two, diversion of traffic due to VIP movement, and if you are still alive, walk around the park on the other side of town, where your alien-ness will stick out like a sore thumb. No one told us “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” We made up one of our own. Its called, “If it ain’t broke, break it and don’t fix it.”
Like goal posts in the new millennium, Lakshmana Rekhas drawn in green can be controlled, altered, deleted. Or in a single swoop, control+alt+delete(d).
The curry leaf just got flung out again.
In the new year, I shall not dream of change. I shall have a change of dream. Those who (mis)rule in Bangalore shall l not have a green epiphany. For the more things stay the same, the more things change.