Is this the only way to 'grow'?

Sir Ken Robinson argues in his book titled 'The Element' that it is difficult to identify the things which we take for granted. This is because they 'become basic assumptions that we don't question, part of the fabric of our logic. We don't question them because we see them as fundamental, as an integral part of our lives.'

Throughout my 10+ years of stay in Bengaluru, I could never take it for granted that the way the city is 'growing' is the only way possible. I could never take for granted the dust, the filth, the commotion, the pollution, the confusion. In a word, I could never take it for granted that Bengaluru has to go through a stage of being hell on its growth path.

Of course, whether I take it for granted or not does not matter much, because millions more do. Perhaps hundreds of millions more do. But I cannot keep my thought to myself, so if you will kindly let me speak it.

I don't mean to slight the efforts to cut the above problems that well-minded people are undertaking today. But none of those efforts go to the depth of the problem, which is the model of growth that Bengaluru seems to be cursed with, and that we seem to take for granted.

Bengaluru's growth is not organic. Very few of Bengaluru's growth stories are authored by the 'sons of the soil' (if you can pardon the cliche) i.e., Kannadigas. Kannadigas are at best the pawns in a game of chess played in a cesspool. By and large, they are the ones to whom things are done; they aren't the doers. They are not the Subjects, they are the Objects.

This was not always the case. Only with the accession of the Princely State of Mysore to India, followed by unchecked and mindless migration from other states (esp. from the north) and the conversion of humans into robots did this hell come to be.

This conversion into robots has eroded Indians' sense of what a good life is - so badly that most educated Indians fail to recognize that they are living in hell, with all its fumes and deadly diseases of both mind and body. This has become the normal way of living, and things only get worse when rich and famous Indians raise their car windows and login to their laptops while the driver manoevers through hell.

If Bengaluru needs to improve, it must return to organic growth based on what the 'sons of the soil' can do, will do, and at their own pace. When outsiders 'grow' a city, they don't tread softly on the dreams of the natives which are spread beneath their feet. This has resulted in massacres elsewhere in the world, but in India, these cities have turned into living hells.

This, as far as I can see, can be prevented only by stressing on organic growth, controlled migration, and by discarding the idea that cities are basically real estate. No, cities are living things with living people, and their development cannot and must not be understood as real estate development.

Life has to blossom from within India's cities. It can't be imported, and it can't be done quickly. Only death can be imported that way, and Bengaluru is proof for this. Only the organic model can help other 'growing' cities avoid replicating hells all over India.

The question is, are we - the educated people of India - ready to question what we are taking for granted? If not, are we really educated, or are we just in a state of paralysis of mind?

(pic: acralive.org)

Wrote book, will blog now!

I just finished writing the book. It's tentatively titled The Pyramid of Corruption. The book addresses corruption which lies in the definition of India's systems of politics and commerce. This is the corruption which is unleashed when those systems are faithfully adhered to, not when deviated from. I will keep you posted on developments. It is not published yet. It became longer than I expected - about 380 pages of 5.5' x 8.5' size.

All that writing in English made me yearn for writing in Kannada. So, I have started a Kannada blog called YANDALLI (ಯಾಂದಳ್ಳಿ). I invite you to take a look at it. It has its own Facebook page, too. I hope to write regularly on it.

Karnatique is receiving an encouraging response from readers even though it hasn't really been active for nearly one and a half years now. So, I think I will write here too, after all. But I believe it is going to be less regular than on Yandalli because I believe there is much more for me to do in Kannada than English right now.

The book has taught me a lot about writing in general.

One important lesson I learnt is the difference between a blog and a (nonfiction) book: the former is a dump of the author's thought, while the latter is the grammar of the author's thought, i.e., the rules which govern the author's thought. These rules are not easily available for the author. The author has to mine his or her mind for that grammar, and it is never going to be a perfect description of his or her thought. That grammar can improve over time, and will if the author puts his or her mind to it. And of course, the author's thoughts tend to change with time.

Also, a blog is event-driven, i.e., an event occurs and the blogger pours out his mind on it. A nonfiction book is not like that. It is not event-driven, but theory-driven. That is, a nonfiction book needs to be centered around theories which describe the rules which govern the author's thoughts about the events that drove him to write the book.

I must, of course, thank the great Kannada linguist, Dr. D. N. Shankar Bhat, for making me realize what really a grammar is.