Bangalore: Bengaluru: down side


M any Indians and foreigners believe that Bangalore is the knowledge capital of modern India.

Given the robust presence of technology companies, the feeling is partially valid. But if you hear of the day to day experiences of residents of the city, the sheen wears off rather quickly. Among friends, we keep exchanging notes about the abysmal levels of service that we experience on a daily basis. Almost all service providers are equally remiss in this respect.

We had a courier from a telecom company standing in front of our house which has our names splashed on it prominently at three places along with our address and yet he was calling his superior and me to seek directions! We don’t exactly live in the boondocks, living that we do very close to a readily identifiable shopping landmark of new India, Big Bazaar.

Our neighbour has been receiving repeated calls from a consumer durable company’s service centre seeking directions to his place for the last five days even as his refrigerator continues to malfunction.

Another close friend who does not speak any of the South Indian languages complains of receiving serial calls from his bank in Kannadiga about the fate of a cheque he had deposited without still being able to figure out what the matter is. Service centres of brown good companies don’t seem to be recording customer details (despite the easy availability of “off the shelf” customer relationship management software) and expect complainants to provide all transaction details each time a complaint is registered. If you scratch the surface, you would find that English has been eliminated from state funded schools in the state for the last 30 years in a perverse expression of parochialism.

 The harsh fact is that “locals” struggle to communicate with migrants who have thronged Bangalore from the mid-nineties. Sadly, there seems to be no effort on the part of the government to correct this blemish. An associate who recently returned from Beijing was speaking effusively about the painstak ing efforts that Chinese are making to communicate in English as the country prepares to receive tourists for the upcoming Olympics.

Mr Gowda and Mr Kumaraswamy were too consumed by counting their ‘wealth’ to think of governance issues. Party “fine” L ast week we were attending a friend’s birthday party in an isolated bungalow in South Bangalore when the cops came calling at midnight. Mind you music was not part of the fare and the invitees were not quite the teeny bopper variety who are known for their noise levels. Out of curiosity, I eavesdropped on the exchanges between the over zealous cops and our host. It transpired that none of his neighbours had complained to the local police station which is usually the trigger for such interventions by the police. Rather, the problem was that our host had not “informed” the police about the party. It was obvious that a “fine” has to be paid to the law enforcement machinery to host a private party.

Go governor go T he only hope for Bangalore is the ongoing governor’s rule. Noises coming out of the secretariat suggest that the governor is taking an active interest in the infrastructure issues of the city. Some high calibre officials have also been drafted in as his advisors.

It is ironic that in the 60th year of our democracy, we should be rooting for non-political leadership! But political leaders have left us with no choice.

exerpts from Asian Age