Saturday, April 22, 2006

itni si jaan...

...aur itna gussa?

(That's one of my all time favourite dialogues that I have always wanted to say in real life, along with "Mahurat ka waqt nikla jaa raha hai". I have successfully used the latter in my brother-in-law's wedding )

So the itna gussa part is Shruti telling "outsiders" to what I think is "put up or shut up". That's not actually correct - she should have addressed it to those people who incessantly complain about Bangalore's infrastructure and blame it on Kannadigas. Yeah, you know who you are, you assholes.

I'm what you might call a pseudo-kannadiga. Born in Tirthahalli, Shimoga. Lived 15 years of my (now) 31 in the north of India or abroad. Have never learnt kannada formally, but I can talk the kannada and walk the kannada. Mother tongue: Konkani. Am I a kannadiga? Or an outsider? I don't know. And frankly, I don't give a fuck.

But what I am pissed about is three things:

1) People who say that kannadigas are pricks. Because:
a) Kannadigas expect you to speak in Kannada to them. Not all, but the few that do piss them off. Because Hindi is the bloody national language and we will speak it, and you must reply to us in it. You're in Bengaluru, dude: ninna ajjina keya. Very carefully, take your head out of the hole you are in, and listen: You don't want to talk or learn the local language, then you'll get hostile treatment once in a while. You can live with it - heck, hundreds of tourists do, in Bangalore, France, Norway, Britain, wherever - or you can wither away and die. Anything else is unacceptable.

And Hindi is not *the* national language. It's one of the many, and Kannada ranks equally. Don't give me the bull crap that it's the most widely spoken. It's not in the south, and that's where you are, deal with it.

b) Kannadigas are violent bastards. They quote the Raj Kumar death riots. I'll say this: the guys who rioted *are* pricks. Whether he was a great man or not, his fan club has a lot of anti social elements who will take any opportunity to throw stones or the kannadiga card. But by and large, kannadigas are peaceful, which is why everyone in bangalore does not carry a knife or a gun for self defense. Note that rowdies exist everywhere: Bal Thackeray's crazy fan following and Indira Gandhi's death riots show that latitude is no barrier to insanity.

2) Kannadigas who think "outsiders" are pricks. These are other kinds of xenophobic idiots. They are angry because:

a) There's too much traffic. There was always too much traffic, somewhere or the other. City market was crowded, then Chikpet, Avenue Road and KG Road were crowded, then Shivajinagar (Russell market) was crowded, and now everywhere is crowded. You can't blame this on "outsiders" - even in the past (read, from independence), Bangalore has been dominated by people not from the city - the Coorgis, the Bunts, the Tamilians, the Gults and the Marvadis.

b) Outsiders have raised prices to untenable levels: Yes, this has happened in cases of household help. It's a booming city, and this will happen - with scarcity, prices go up. Yet, you get benefits - your houses and plots are now worth 100 times what you paid for them. Your children drive fancy cars from their fat pay packages at MNCs. Your club memberships at Rs. 5,000 bought in 1980 give you good food and alcohol at phenomenally low prices - memberships that "outsiders" have to pay an absolute bomb for.

The increase in prices has resulted in a general increase in the quality and standard of Bangalorean living. You can now get cheaper food, delivered home in nice packages. You can eat after 9 PM (folks living here in the 80's will understand). You can get affordable prefab furniture and kitchenware. Jobs don't need "sifaarish" or "salpa heLkodri".

But yes, if you have retired, it's not the nicest place to be. Bangalore was a retirement paradise; not any longer. I say if you want to retire in peace, choose a smaller, less vibrant town. No one wants to retire in New York. Florida's been the choice for a reason. (I generalise with "no one" but you get what I mean)

c) Outsiders "expect" too much:This is a pet peeve. Dudes and Dudettes: get the facts straight. Bangalore's infrastructure is appalling. It has always been appalling, but because too few people cared, it got ignored. People who live now do care, and so should you kannadigas. It's not "outsiders" who caused phenomenal damage to 80 feet road in Koramangala. It is your own politicians.

It's not outsiders' fault that some of you chose to land-grab the storm water drains areas and build your houses on it, and now there's flooding.

It's not your fault either. If the outsiders blame *you*, spit on them. But when you blame the outsiders, expect they will spit on you.

3) Companies that cry about infrastructure: they have a right to, yes. But they should participate also, no? There is such a poor response to BMP's infrastructure project requrests for private participation - private companies don't even want to do seven footpaths! Why should only the builders - Prestige, Purvankara etc. - do this sort of work? Can't a company like Wipro, or Infosys or Biocon do it? Or any of the tens of hundreds of MNCs?

They pay no tax. Yes, their employees do - but that goes to the centre. If you think that's a lot of money consider this: if 5 lakh people (in the IT/BT/BPO industries) pay an average tax of Rs. 20,000 per year, the total tax collected is only Rs. 1,000 crore. That means the whole "new" industry in Bangalore pays less tax than HALF of Infosys' annual net profit (2800 crores).

Read that carefully. One company's net profits are more than double the tax paid by all the IT denizens of bangalore. If Infosys was taxed at corporate rate (35%) that means Bangalore would get Rs. 980 crores as tax, which can be used for infrastructure. ONE company's tax can pay for 100 flyovers. For 200 km of roads. I suggest we tax all Bangalore companies at just 10% - that will give you TONS of money - more than Rs. 10,000 crores.

Infosys is an exception -they have paid for roads, flyovers, traffic lights and such. The public sector biggies have done their bit too - BEL, BHEL and all. But my complaint is against the rest - IBM, Accenture, Wipro, TCS etc.

These companies won't give a paltry 1 crore or so for footpaths. Cheapskate miserable whiners.

Okay so that's my pissed-off at people sandbox speech.

Read less aggressive views here.

6 Comments:

Blogger Minkey Chief said...

I'm very curious to see, if all of this South/North local/not local stuff comes to a head, what will it be?

4:36 PM, April 23, 2006  
Blogger Shruthi said...

Amusing to see that my post has been taken as a "put up or shut up" one. I hate the word "outsiders" and have put it in inverted commas whenever forced to read it."
I wish you would go through the post again.
Thank you!

9:20 AM, April 24, 2006  
Blogger Deepak Shenoy said...

Shruti,

Thanks for dropping by. In my post the "put up or shut up" was a summed up total of what you'd mentioned:

To the non-localites, Don't blame all kannadigas for rowdy acts; don't be hostile, be polite; don't expect us to know Hindi or speak it; don't make fun of the south indian accent or our hindi;bad apples exist everywhere, don't paint us with a broad brush; and do your bit, you belong here as well.

When I said "put up", the above paragraph is what I thought you said - just a clarification. No offense meant.

Now, there are parts of your post I take umbrage with. The mention that the localites are hostile because of their frustrations - that is inherently wrong, because localites have benefited immensely from this boom. "Outsiders" have not been any more hostile or superior than anywhere else - I've seen kannadigas band together in Delhi and Mumbai, Indians being parochial in San Jose, doing what would be construed as "hostile". I'm not talking tourists, but regular working population.

A small incident: Nandan Nilekani was desperately trying to sell INFY shares at Rs. 80 in 1992 - the few bangaloreans that bought are smiling today but he largely got refused politely. What came to their rescue then was the "outsiders" and today at least three "localites" - Narayan Murthy, Nandan Nilekani, Mohandas Pai - are immensely rich. Locals need them outsiders just as much!

Trade is only enhanced when you embrace foreign (read: non local) talent. And greater trade results in greater opportunity and greater money on the whole - this gets shared across the hierarchy. Today my car cleaner sends his children to a good school. Ten years ago, the money he would've got was so less he couldn't afford even public schools.

The way we embrace foreign talent should not be like a boa-constrictor. Take a little, give a little.

Your post over-generalizes. The "outsider" is not always the most unaccomodating - some are, and they're more vocal, but we shouldn't paint them all with the same brush.

Just my 2c.

11:27 AM, April 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deepak can't agree more with you.

Me similar to u stayed for 15 yrs outside karnataka, speaking kannada, telugu, marathi, hindi, english, little bit of bengali & Malayalam as well..

Its fun learning languages and I care a damn where I am from.. If I love to stay at a place I stay else I move on..

2:48 PM, April 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You sound quite vitriolic, but have taken a really pretty seat - the fence! Your blog made for interesting reading, though.

Suggestion: Liked this blog for its maturity, despite the vitriol. Cut down on the four-letter-words if you can do without them - me thinks you can.

10:29 PM, April 29, 2006  
Blogger Deepak Shenoy said...

Both Anonymouses: Thanks.

And yes, I must do something about the seemingly arbitrary and fairly unnecessary use of foul-mouthed invective. Who knows, maybe this blog will go down to "PG" rating soon!

3:02 PM, April 30, 2006  

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