Saturday, September 5, 2015

My Rock Star Teachers

Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu Guru Devo Maheshwara | Guru Sakshat Param Brahma | Tasmai Sree Gurave Namaha |

Whenever I meet my Teachers, there is always a big hug and they proudly introduce me to their current colleagues, speaking all the good things about me. :) :) 

No doubt that I was always the Teachers student, as a kid I remember getting into fights with my dad about math sum, and the fights always ended with me screaming ‘My Teacher is right, I will not learn from you’, even after getting few tight slaps.

Noor Fatima, the Head Mistress how can I forget her, slim tall lady who always draped her sari beautifully and spoke with so much confidence. She was an inspiration, what was then not even an observation, today seems to be the very foundation of the way I see the world. A Muslim couple, running a school in Hindu matt premises, my class teacher being Anglo-India and my favourite teacher Fatima K singing om jai jagadish with a tilak on her forehead during the Friday Saraswati puja conducted by children. I learnt all my prayer songs not in a Hindu run school but a school run by Muslim couple, and Noor Fatima indeed laid the very foundation of my Secular thinking.

Fatima K, I can never forget even her signature, everything about her was perfect, she taught Math and Hindi and ensured that I was good in Math and learnt Hindi well. She was a good friend of my mom and her conservation with my mom with her broken Kannada and my mom’s no English was indeed comical.

Oh boy, Pushpa, the very tough PT Teacher, even the tallest and well built boy would never mess with her. She was the energy and never accepted anything less than complete discipline. I remember girls used to go her requesting for a day-off from PT class during their monthly periods, and she always sent them back saying ‘it’s going to be there for a long time, will you stop living your life 5 days of every month?’, maybe there were few exceptions once in a while. I liked the way she knotted her hair up, it was unique than and maybe even know, when I did have long hair that was the no mess hair knot I sported.  

Kausalya M R, the Head Mistress, dark skinned, big bindi and her sari collection was legendary. She taught History & Civics, always encouraged questions and her class on Indian Constitution was a treat. My best ever question to her was, ‘if Hinduism was not a religion, how can you say that Buddhism & Jainism were the off-shoot religions of Hinduism’. When accidently my grandfather & my mom met her on a bus and my grandfather asked her about my progress, she said good things and ended saying ‘she is Stubborn’. Oh that was the line for rest of my life, every time I opposed something at home ‘even your Teacher says you are Stubborn’ became the common gaali! Kausalya ma’am left a mark in my life, not just with the ‘Stubborn’ tag but the K in my signature draws some inspiration from her signature.

Vasudev Bhalla, what can I say about this scholar and Kannada Teacher, he knew Sanskrit, Tulu, Kannada, Hindi, English, Telgu, Tamil etc etc. The old man not only taught Kannada but lessons of life and in a way prepared me for life. He encouraged me to read books without prejudice and complete every book I rent or buy. He used to travel to my village and teach children on Sunday and he always had soft corner for me as he knew my family. He taught me the most important lesson in life, he always said ‘Learning to drive a car is not enough, learn to change the punctured tyre also’ his suggestion was not limited to car for sure, ‘Learn to fix the problem’ was the subtext.

Prabhakar Sir, the typical Hindi Teacher, even though my 3rd language was Hindi he always encouraged me to learn Hindi, me completing prathama & madhyama course in Hindi was undoubtedly his influence. Even though I can’t write Hindi as well as I did once upon a time, it did help me to travel across many parts of North India without a language barrier. One day he gave me a full page picture of Valsamma the famous athlete torn from a sports magazine where she was handing over the baton to the next runner, and said ‘when we handover the baton to the next generation we should have done a good job’, that picture was stuck in my cupboard for many years till it turned brown.

C N Mangala, the Principal, goddess and epitome of simplicity. Tiny lady who commanded the greatest respect, even though she never taught me in class she was someone whom I admired the most, and always felt when I grow really old I will be like her. At a college day event, I was doing a karate demo with the group, after I finished a series of brick breaking and tiles smashing stunts the last was the chopping of watermelon. As I laid still with just a support at the head and foot, and watermelon on my stomach, the blind folded karate master with a huge sword was ready to slice the watermelon. I was told later that she stood-up completely worried and even covered her eyes as the sword went up. After the act, she called me, gave a pat on my back and said ‘Brave Girl, Keep it up’.

I feel blessed that I have very good memories and so much to talk about all my Teachers, the list if these amazing Teachers are endless. Be it School, College or NCC I always had some of the best one to guide me; they encourage me to be Just Me.

We did not have ‘Selfie with Teacher in those days, hence I remember them more for who they are, and how they shaped me rather than how they looked.

Thank You Teachers.

- Kavitha Reddy

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Ward 174 - Let’s Hope

This BBMP election Ward 174 recorded less than 43% voting, leaving many of us who have been involved in the elections directly or indirectly not just surprised but annoyed too.

The story of low voting percentage was common across all BBMP Wards with very few exceptions; looks like relentless awareness campaigns about importance of voting had no impact on urban voters. It may be cynicism or simply not giving a damn about a Democratic process, whatever it may be by not voting and by not participating, voters are weakening the very foundation of our Democracy.

Anyways, as counting closed on 25th Aug, it was clear that voters (who ever voted) of Ward 174 had given BJP yet another chance. For several years with Corporator, MLA, MP all from BJP, both BBMP and State Govt Governed (rather misgoverned) by BJP, nothing good happened for Ward 174 rather only got worst.

There is no doubt that INC lost Ward 174 purely due to its internal fight and a last minute patch-up of the warring factions did not help them, BJP just got away without being held accountable for its misrule or its bad governance both in Ward 174 and in BBMP.

But the mandate is out, so let’s look at the enormity of the mess that newly elected Corporator of Ward 174 has on his hands.

With over 4238 potholes of various shapes/sizes/depth on 141 kms of road length, the basic road infrastructure is crumbling and needs major surgery. Except for repeated asphalting of roads in the IAS Officers locality and 27th main, roads across Ward 174 have not been asphalted for over 5-10 years.

Roads have been the largest source of corruption with multiple billing of the same stretch of asphalted road and illegal digging of roads to lay Optic Fiber  Cables (OFCs), also leading to huge revenue loss.

Traffic & Parking 
Rampant, unchecked and even illegal commercialization has lead to a huge increase in the Traffic. All the key commercial roads that connect to different parts of Ward 174 have turned into bottle necks. Pedestrian are suffering due to random parking and pavement parking, leaving no space for their movement.

Basic audit will reveal that more than 50% of the 4737 streetlights are non-functional, thereby leading to serious safety issues for commuters, women and children. Deadly potholes and lack of streetlight is an open invitation to fatal accidents especially for people using two-wheeler.

Garbage & SWD 
One can pass on the Garbage issue as a common problem across the City & Country, but so far there has been no effort what so ever to create awareness or to implement segregation at source. When large part of Ward 174 is a well planned BDA layout its criminal indeed if even segregated Garbage is collected and dumped into the same pile.

Storm Water Drains (SWD) both the shoulder inlets and the main Raja Kaluves are to the brim with garbage and silt, with choking and clogging drains a few minutes of rains can flood houses in low lying areas.

Education & Health 
A look at Anganwadi will tell you the plight of the children for the lesser privileged section of the society. Lack of even basic facilities will only suggest that previous Corporator gave no attention to the poorer section and left them to fend for themselves.

The Govt Schools are no better, with minimum facilities, with not much emphasis on quality and the high profile schools not willing to implement RTE, parents who can’t afford private schools have very little choice but to send their children to Govt Schools.

Garbage, chocked SWDs, Pig menace, stink from KCDC, unkempt Public spaces, using of vacant sites as Public toilets all are leading to serious health issues cutting across all sections of the society.

Lakes & Parks 
Both Agara Lake & Iblur Lake comes under Ward 174, but until the citizens started a movement to save Agara Lake 3 years ago all elected representatives had completely ignored the Lake. And once the elected representatives got involved they made a big mess, pushing STP which is not even needed and which is a BIG waste of tax payer money, well status of Iblur Lake is less said the better.

Even though Ward 174 is blessed with 39 Parks, other than the one time tap cutting its not been a priority for the previous Corporator and BBMP. Parks lack basic facilities and cleaning, with some efforts of the RWAs some parks are still in usable condition.

Play Grounds 
Ward 174 has been known for its Citizen/RWAs activism, just like snatching prey from a Tiger’s mouth few eminent Citizens went to the court to save the Play Ground from becoming Judges Colony. But now like always elected representatives are pushing to set-up a ‘concrete’ stadium in place of an open Play Ground. Regularly the Play Ground is rented out (rather used) to some religious function, and they mostly leave back a mess.  

With a population of 65000 fewer Play Grounds only mean lesser Public space and lesser opportunities for creating a sporting atmosphere.  

To conclude, Encroachments, Illegal construction are on the rise; a complete control of this menace and implementation of law is the need of the hour. 

These are just some of the key issues out of many, previous Corporator did not even bother about Ward meetings or about setting-up a strong, effective and functioning Ward Committee. There was not even a priority list or a Ward agenda, other than the BIG talk of ‘Model Ward’ with zero impact on ground. Previous Corporator's interactions were limited to her party workers and the select few in the Ward, there by ignore all the requirements in the Ward.

Is there Hope? Only time will tell, will the newly elected Corporator be another puppet in the hands of the MLA or will he show some spine and address the issues that Ward 174 and its Citizens are facing?

Let’s Hope, as if we have a choice :)

- Kavitha Reddy

Note: I am a Member of the Indian National Congress, but I am sure the issues I have put out are irrespective of my political inclination and based on facts and current situation.