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2009 March 5 [Thursday]

Sexual assaults in public spaces

I've changed the title of this post thrice because I refuse to dilute sexual harassment and assaults by calling it eve-teasing -- sounds frivolous and trivialises crimes against women.

India in the 21'st century is definitely unsafe for women, even if she is accompanied by a man and nobody seems to care enough about public sexual harassment to act on it. I've had to warn many female (and male) friends visiting India to NOT travel alone or even in groups of 4-5 women as they dont know the local language and without men in their group its inviting trouble. Saying that about your country sucks big time.

On Monday after a protest was held outside the police commissioner's office, Shankar Bidari, the police commissioner of Bangalore said :

"Bangalore people are so cultured people they will never tolerate any indignity, harassment or assault on women. Even without police and without government, the dignity of women in Bangalore city is perfectly safe and protected,"

I wish !!  One of the women who was attacked describes her ordeal and after reading this article, its deeply disturbing that the PC who is responsible for the safety of the city's citizens has trivialized the issue with insensitive press statements but didnt the Home Minister Dr V S Acharya and District In-Charge Minister J Krishna Palemar called the pub attack and MLA’s daughter’s abduction as ‘small and common’ incidents and scream at the media reporter to "not waste his time with silly incidents" ?! There was a photograph of the Police Commissioner (check out "After hrs" last page of Bangalore edition of DNA newspaper dated 2009mar05) calmly enjoying the Mysore Maharaja's birthday bash on Tuesday at Palace Grounds Palace because : None of the women noted the assailants bike numbers, hence NOTHING can be done.

WRONG, Mr. Bidari, Bengaluru is not safe...... INDIA is not safe for women. I can narrate my experiences too BUT do you even want to listen to women like Archana and others who were attacked ?!

Join us :

Women in Bangalore are facing serious violence and attacks - for wearing jeans, going out in the streets, fighting back the moral police etc and we need to stop these attacks. This is a letter to the police commissioner/home minister/press release regarding the recent attacks on women in bangalore,

Endorse the petition at : http://www.petitiononline.com/petition.html

FRI, Mar06 :
Please come to ALF [Phone : 080-2286 5757] on Friday anytime between 2-6pm to make posters for the protest at the DGP'S office on saturday.. Charts and colours will be provided but feel free to bring your own and you can bring money you would like to contribute. Alternative Law Forum, 122/4 Infantry Road, (opposite Infantry Wedding House), Bangalore 560001, (nearest bus stop- Shivajinagar Depot)

SAT, March07:
1. Gather at Nrupathunga Road at 15:30.  (Parking available at YMCA, DG's office compound, etc.)  Stand on either side of the road, outside DG-IG's office, holding placards, silently.
2. Either the DG-IG comes out at 16:30 collects the memorandum and addresses the audience, or a small representative group goes in to his office when called and present the memorandum.
3. If the latter, then the representatives will address the gathering, when they come out.
4. Gathering shall disperse at 17:30.

SUN, March08:
0. On Sunday 2009March08, International Women's Day,members of the group and other citizens will walk down various prominent roads of the city. Its called "Take Back the Night Walk" and is being held by women to reclaim our lawful right to be safe at night across India. It starts at Indiranagar, Ulsoor and the other two places where the women were attacked
1. At 18:00, people will gather at the five locations as designated by the area coordinators.  They will interact with the audience (in as many languages as possible), and spread awareness about the various goals of the Fearless Karnataka campaign.   This will involve spreading of information flyers and testimonials, conducting bystander polls, and other such forms of interaction with the people on the streets.  This can go on till 20:00.  (Volunteers for poster-sticking will do so around this time.)
2. At 21:00, people gather at the designated spot in Majestic, bringing along with them necessities such as food, water, and community spirit.  There will be further performances, video projections (if possible), songs, and other such activities there.
3. This will go on till 23:00, when people will disperse in their vehicles (pooling as much as possible), in public transport, tempos (which are currently being investigated), etc.

[updated, from FKNK]

2008 September 21 [Sunday]

Bangalore deserves better

The Airport Authority of India says that BIAL airport is already saturated and so does the experience of hundreds of passengers, a few of whom get this platform to air their grievances. Harish Bhat, COO of Titan Industries, has a very interesting take on the Bengaluru airport's toilets. Among other grievances he mentions important factors like travel-to-airport time, space, functionality, aesthetics, etc.. which press releases always ignore.

Strangely the wikipedia page on BIAL has only glowing reports and nothing negative about the company in the wikipage. It has no links to the negative press reports at all. Checking the wiki page history shows edits by just IP's and not a registered user. I wonder why????  Is this their spin doctor (PR agency : Macromedia Research And Development Private Ltd ???) at work again using fake mail-ID's to leave anonymous comments on my earlier blog entry.

In one interview to the press, Mr.Brunner, the CEO, openly states that they are looking to commercialise the 4000 acres of land given by the Indian government. So did the government give BIAL 4000 acres of land to make profits at the expense of the Indian taxpayer? He blames everyone else (ground handlers SATS, to the taxi service, other agencies, etc..) for all of BIAL's problems except perhaps their shoddy planning.  According to the CEO, "Peak-hour capacity (is what matters)" - Does that mean local airlines should fly during non-peak hours (ala 24/7), Mr.CEO?. How many Indians want to travel to Delhi, a domestic flight a 02:00 AM?

Would Mr. Brunner be able to construct an apology of an airport like BIAL in Europe and call it International?

Worse, they are now pressuring the government to allow them to charge an additional User Development Fee of Rs.675 (plus 12.36% service tax) per passenger who uses the BIAL airport. Gee, 770 bucks for an airport that does not even have adequate restrooms, charges 400 rupees per HOUR for parking charges, and has snacks bars where the average cost of a patties or pastry is between Rs.50-85 bucks. The socialist and communist political parties might tag "flying" as a luxury (its a another matter that the political class of socialist and communists jet around the country but....shh, pretend you didnt notice that) meant only for the rich, but its not. Its just yet another option of faster travel in this global age.

Since the Karnataka government found Bial airport is not up to the mark, it can restrict BIAL to only International flights and reopen the old HAL airport for domestic routes. THAT would make better business sense for domestic travellers. Even Infosys is not happy with Bial, and yet the high court stayed the August 18 order by a full Bench of the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC), which had declared BIAL as a public authority covered by the RTI Act, 2005.

If infrastructure projects meant for the public, using public tax payers money are not accountable and will not come under the Right to Information Act, the best recourse is to stop the privatization of public infrastructure projects, thereby keeping the government accountable under the RTI Act. 

Indian cities dont need basic infrastructure like airports, railways and bus stations which are a few hundred kilometers outside the city limits. THAT is NOT smart city planning at all !! As citizens we need to stop absorbing accepting lies and sugar-coated words about infrastructure projects gone wrong - it is the tax-payers money, hence our money, that is being wasted by corrupt private companies, hence inexcusable!

2008 July 25 [Friday]

The Indian SiliconValley

I've had problems adjusting to life in the Indian (version of the American) silicon valley before although things like infrastructure have improved considerably, in the negative that is.

I find the load shedding is much more regular than power supply. Boycotting summer school holidays to Chennai seems tame when compared to the current situation where a  weekday gets an average of 8 hrs load shedding (9am to 5pm) very regularly and weekends its 7am to 8pm ; but now they want to increase load-shedding till August. Nice well-planned move.

I am no apologist for capitalism but do remind me to invite Medha Patkar and Arundhati Roy to live and endure the after-effects,  rather than indulging in grabbing media bytes by protesting against dams and every infrastructure development project that happens. Which is less than what I can say about the Indian elected representatives wasting time and burning tax-payers money in mindless political one-upmanship games. This when there is acute shortage of essential goods and a breakdown of communication services but our ministers are unaware of ground reality. What happens in everyday life is reflected in a larger canvas for the world to see. Not surprising that.

Looking at the situation in gest, I could assume and imagine scenarios about being in an empty bungalow (now i wish it was, but well...) and jump out of my skin each time the cell rings. Maybe improve my skills in the art of making shadows in the candle light with sound-effects, or scream in fear when a door opens/closes accompanied with a c-r-e-a-k-y sound for the ultimate realistic effect. Now all I need is to get meself a white sari and walk around the house aimlessly holding the lit candle. Gotta give that yester-year actress some competition. If only I could remember her name now.

If you thought power is the only problematic quibble point next to the favorite whipping horse called inflation, then think again. The 4 days water cut last week, including a dead phone connection for 10 days, no internet (if i am lucky its an hour in the morning), was enough fuel for a verbal/blog diarrhea about the major metro which was gonna rival an American west coast ...gah !

2008 April 27 [Sunday]

exciting weekend

my weekend could not have begun on a more exciting note. Someone in KEB decided to celebrate "earth weekend" and switched off power for a particular phase early saturday morning. so just a few of the houses have no power in the sweltering summer. As if the excitement of doing my bit for the environment by crashing into objects in the darkness was not fun enough, i managed to lock myself out of the house... Oh, Joy !!
/end sarcasm.