Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a Krishak Kalyan Samavesh (farmer’s welfare rally) in Paschim Medinipur district of West Bengal on July 16.Speaking to The Hindu, BJP State president Dilip Ghosh said the meeting was being organised to congratulate the Prime Minister for raising the minimum support price for kharif crops. “We are hopeful that the Prime Minister will not only criticise the Trinamool government over the plight of farmers in Bengal but will also speak on the Centre’s plans to address the issue,” Mr. Ghosh said. He said the party chose Paschim Medinipur as the venue for the meeting to “capitalise on its performance in the rural polls” in the tribal-dominated Jangalmahal area.BJP’s national spokesperson Shahnawz Hussain said the MSP hike showed the Centre’s commitment to farmers’ welfare. He added that this had become a cause of concern for the Opposition. “In Bengal, the BJP’s support base is steadily increasing. However, Bengal is going through a state of lawlessness under the Trinamool government,” he said in Kolkata.
I can still feel the fresh air in the cool, green environs of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) campus off Bellary Road. The more than 300-acre campus, land gifted by the Mysore maharaja almost a century ago, was a testimony to the Karnataka capital’s sobriquet of a garden city.,I can still feel the fresh air in the cool, green environs of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) campus off Bellary Road. The more than 300-acre campus, land gifted by the Mysore maharaja almost a century ago, was a testimony to the Karnataka capital’s sobriquet of a garden city. I was a student in the early 1970s IISc, but the memories are still so green. The population was just one million then. It will touch 10 million soon being India’s fastest growing city.After Bangalore, I found myself lobbed into a Tata plant in Pune in Maharashtra. Much to my chagrin, I realised it was an all-male establishment. I simply wrote to the Tata management to break that all-male rule and found myself breaking the glass ceiling and working there. Pune would turn out to be a key station in my life as it was there that I met my husband Narayana Murthy, founder of software major Infosys. When Murthy decided to walk out of a computer company to start Infosys in our modest home in Pune, nobody had a clue that we would get out of that city. Initially we thought we would set up shop in Bombay or Mumbai but the prohibitive cost of living there put paid to our plans.Of course, I remembered my Bangalore odyssey and wished we could come to this city also because we both hailed from Karnataka. Thanks to a German company Mico which gave Murthy’s new company a five-year contract, we landed in Bangalore. It was the early 1980s and we decided to rent a house close to Mico. After checking out several places we both were comfortable in this quiet lane in Jayanagar, a leafy residential area south of the city. Eventually Murthy decided to found the company in this city itself.advertisementFrom a small building at the newly formed Electronic City, about 25 km away, Infosys has grown to be a behemoth with heads of nearly 50 nations dropping by at the sprawling campus here. That is the power of Bangalore. It grows on you.And Jayanagar, where we continue to live in our own house even today, will always be special to me. We hardly saw vehicles on our roads in this part of the town. Our needs were limited. We did not even have a telephone at home. I was a happy stay-at-home mom of our two children Akshata and Rohan who went to Bishop Cotton Boys School and Baldwin Girls respectively, both about 15 minutes away from where we lived. We enjoyed the rides from home to school and back, occasionally stopping by for an ice cream. Most roads were avenues, with trees lined on both sides. We hardly felt the city running dry; Bangalore had one of the highest number of lakes and water bodies and groundwater levels were not too bad even if you had a borewell in your backyard. Piped water from the Cauvery was also available.The city lacks a designated cultural space. Infrastructure is not just tarring roads, erecting flyovers or building malls. There has to be a Bangalore culture that a visitor can take home. Those days we rarely crossed the 300-odd acre Cubbon Park, laid out in 1864 by Richard Sankey, the chief engineer of Mysore, and named after then chief commissioner of Mysore Sir Mark Cubbon. The park was like a forest and featured giant bamboos, lush greenery and even natural rock formations. And closer home was the 240-acre Lalbagh, laid out by Mysore ruler Haider Ali in 1740. His son Tipu Sultan also added to its lustre by importing tropical plants from Afghanistan, Persia and Turkey.Olde worlde Bangalore was very much in your face whether it was the red and white Scottish style 18th century Gothic St Andrew’s Church on Cubbon Road or even the century-old cathedral modelled after St Paul’s in London opposite the Mahatma Gandhi Park in what was then called South Parade (today, MG Road). Rain trees, gulmohar, jacaranda and the string of trees-serial blossoming concept-planted by a German horticulturist Gustav Hermann Krumbiegel mesmerised us.It is good to know that even US President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to visit this city soon, refers to Bangalore in his talks. ‘Bangalored’ as a verb transitive has even traipsed into English lexicon. Bangalored in America means your job has been taken by someone in Bangalore. With offshore services only on the rise, the city will continue to be a global talking point. Even Thomas L. Friedman begins his best selling book on globalisation, The World is Flat, with Bangalore. Yet the city is groaning under its own weight. And everything cannot be blamed on the government.advertisementHaving lived here for more than 30 years and seen the city become a software hub from a science capital, all I can now hear is cries for better infrastructure. On one side, the city drew jobseekers like a magnet, but somewhere down the line-although there were enough plans on paper to prop up infrastructure for the future-the city fathers, over the years, could not come to grips with the enormity of growth explosion. The sight of garbage strewn on the roads or long queues at public taps for collecting water is worrisome. The city that had hundreds of water bodies and lakes has lost a lot of them to bus stands, housing layouts or even sports arenas. We also need more green spaces, big parks like Lalbagh and Cubbon and an embargo on new development in the concrete jungles. I’m glad to see that the old central jail in Bangalore was converted into a green, open space. There is talk of the government planning to move the turf club away so you might get another 80-acre lung space there.There should be much more citizen and private sector participation in the city development. I don’t know how to control the number of vehicles that jam our roads. It is tough on the police who end up monitoring and guiding nearly three million vehicles in the city. I think more than 500 people are killed annually on the city roads. Safety is key and every citizen is a stakeholder. Maybe there should be a total transformation in mass transit. Bangalore Metro, to be operational soon, is again a small start. Walkways, cycle paths and plenty of civic amenities are keys to keep the city lean, clean and green. Shifting the airport to Devanahalli, 33 km away, was a wise move. Even providing airport buses from the city was a good move.The city also lacks a designated cultural space. There are some private sector-supported centres, but I wish every ward had its own cultural centre, or an auditorium. Infrastructure is not just tarring roads, erecting flyovers or building big malls. There has to be a Bangalore culture that a visitor can take back home. Yet, am I glad to be a Bangalorean? You bet I am.The author is chairperson, Infosys Foundation. She spoke to Stephen David.