MUDA telecast : passing the buck

Telecast of the Mysore Urban Development Authority (MUDA)  meetings has been shelved.  Its members  have passed the buck to Bangalore,  seeking  clear-cut directive from Karnataka government,  on whether or not the proceedings of MUDA should be open to the media via closed-circuit telecast.   MUDA isn’t particularly known for fair dealings when it comes to allotment of residential and other sites to members of the public.

To bring a measure of transparency in its public dealings MUDA chairman P Manivannan thought of opening its periodical meetings to the media.  Some MUDA members felt that presence of news reporters at the meeting hall would cramp their style. Meeting their objection Mr Manivannan  arranged for a  closed-circuit telecast of the proceedings to the MUDA press-room.

Which wasn’t okay with some MUDA members,  notably MLAs   who don’t feel comfortable with anything short of in-camera proceedings.  In the government if someone doesn’t want to get anything done,  the issue is referred to the higher authorities.  Papers are put up for approval. And a file is created,  to move from desk to a bigger desk,  till the file finds itself on CM’ s desk.

The issue whether or not to telecast  MUDA meetings has been referred to the department of law and parliamentary affairs.  The file would then move up the bureaucratic and ministerial ladders.  If the matter pertains to policy direction,  which the telecast issue,  presumably, is,  it goes to  CM.  If he deems the issue is worthy of wider consideration,  he could set up a committee.

My hunch is, a matter needing  ‘clear-cut direction’ would  call for a committee deliberation.  Besides,  if they  okay MUDA ,  you can’t stop  GUDA,  DUDA and BUDA (Bellary)  wanting  to  go  ‘live’ in the interest of transparency .

Mysore: Airport in search of flights

Now that the city has an airport with no flights,  Mysore is faced with the problem of generating passenger and cargo traffic that would make it worthwhile for airlines to come in here.  A recent seminar on the issue came up with the idea that Mysore-based IT corporates and other business establishments should hold out a promise of minumum seats occupancy to lure the airlines.

The idea doesn’t seem all that bright or workable because no airline can be expected make its business decisions on the minimum seats guaranteed  by a few corporates. Anyway,  no such assurance can be binding on individual companies.  Besides, airlines are reported to be looking for a state subsidy by way of a cut in fuel tax (27 perecent in Karnataka).

Air-traffic projection by Infosys has it that 800 of its employees  would use air services every week to Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. To be meaningful such projection ought to be able to give a break-down, city-wise, and also in terms of seat-occupancy on weekdays,  and weekends.

It doesn’t require much study to say that much of the corporate employees traffic out of Mysore is on weekends. Check the Chennai Shadabthi bookings from Mysore on Friday/Saturday. Viewed in this perspective, Mysore could at best function a weekend airport, to start with.

Among other wild ideas that spring to mind:
1) Make Mysore a cargo hub for carrying  vegetables, fruits, flowers, and other perishables from distrcts and nearby Nilgiris to  major market centre. This would need deep-freeze storage facility.
2) Airlines operating from Mysore would do well to  look at traffic to tier-2 destinations such as Coimbatore, Madurai, Trichy, Bellary, Mangalore, Tirupathi, Cochin.
3) The Airports Authority of India  could consider developing  a shopping complex for air passengers and also local residents, in view of the relative proximity of the airport to the city limits.
4) Doubling the railway track could attract air traffic from towns on railway route.
5) Early completion of the Mysore-Bangalore expressway would make Mysore a credible alternative for air passengers in Bididi, Kengari and other Bangalore suburbs on the Mysore-end.

Satyan, T S, no more

Heard about Satyan’s  demise from  his  neighbourhood  friend Mr Bapu Satyanarayana ;  shared an auto-ride with  Satyam’s long-time media colleague  Mr Krishna Vattam to his Saraswathipuram residence, Mysore , for the last glimpse of Satyan. His  mortal remains were placed for public homage on his frontyard.  Within  half hour after our arrival  he was carried away to the crematerium.

A graduate from the Maharaja’s,  of 1944  vintage,  Mr Satyan took to photography at a time when most others in his profession were not even schooled  enough to write a photo caption in grammatical English. Satyan  rose to represent Life magazine,  an odd sized and picture-filled weekly founded by Henry Luce in 1936.  As someone accredited to Life , Satyan enjoyed the status of an aristocrat among the Delhi press corps those days.  But this  photo-man from Mysore retained his common touch.

To quote him ,  “My people are not the rich and the famous; they are simple ordinary folk…..(who) were there when I picked up the camera six decades ago, and they have been there every time I have gone back to capture the interesting moments in their lives” So wrote Satyan in 2002, when his In Love with Life –  a photo journey through life –  was released.

Among numerous historic events he covered for Life,  if I remember right , was the flight of Dalai Lama from Tibet in 1959.  Among the chapters in his subsequent work – Alive and Clicking – that still sticks in my mind is  Satyan’s  account of a meeting with  Satyajit Ray  for a photo assignment ,  when Ray,  a coffee house regular, took Satyan along for meeting friends at the Calcutta Coffee House.

My association with Satyan dated back to early 60s when I was a sarkari journalist with the Press Information Bureau (PIB) in New Delhi. Despite  our gap in the pecking order in the media, Satyan always found time for a chat whenever he dropped in at my office to collect photographs of government functions and other official events handed out by the PIB photo publicity unit. He had an affinity with reporters and writers in the media.  Being a photographer with a flair for writing  Satyan practised  photo-journalism at a time when they had not invented the term – photo-journalist.
Earlier this evening as I lingered for a while  in front of his residence,  after he was gone, memories of my Satyan connection flashed through  mind.  This photo of his deserted residence may well symbolize  the end of the  Satyan chapter in the book of my life.

Media practices

Taking the back page first,  The Hindu today carries  a report about the World Newspaper Congress calling on newspapers to focus less on profits than on their role in democratic society. And then there was a mention made about the print media accountability to their readers.
Here is the newspaper’s  Page One of the day
Pages  2 &  3
It for readers to judge whether The Hindu serves the readers interest by allowing their advt. people and accountants to have the run of their pages this way.

State of a students hostel in Karnataka

B R  Ambedkar Post-metric Students Hostel,  Chintamani,  Chickeballapur

(Mis) managed by : Dept. of  Social Welfare

Students:  100  ( against  grants received  for  200  stidents)

Location:  dilapidated building abandoned by its owner 40 years back.

Not whitewashed for decades

No proper drinking water facility

Solar water heaters, not functioning.

Kitchen – unhygenic

Menu  – ragi mudde with sambar

Vegetables – tomatoes and carrot,  discards  by wholesalers.

Details disclosed by minister-in-charge of the district Mumtaz Ali Khan, at a press conference. His thought – ‘the situation is so horrifying that I have no words to describe it’.

Speaking for horses

A Mysore horse, presumably pulling tonga for a living,  is left by his owner to fend for himself on Ramavilas Road.

In stark contrast,  a horse stabled  at the Bangalore Turf Club (BTC), they say, is taken care of by as many as   six persons.   There are a 1,000 of them at BTC.  They are well fed and bred, and now,  they have an NGO to speak for them  –  People  for Animals (PFA). The NGO has  filed a petition in the Karnataka  High Court  challenging a government decision  to shift the Bangalore race course  from its prime location to the suburbs at  Chikkajala-Doddajala.

NGO’s  case:   There is no infrastructure for proper upkeep of horses at the proposed location. PFA,  in its petition,  says BTC has ‘ excellent’  facilities for taking care of horses.

Apparently,  People for Animals  is not  for every horse.

Child labour in posh flats

Snag is many of us don’t even see any wrong-doing in employing  child labour for household work.  And many who have a chokra or mundu in residence believe they are  doing the  unfortunate children and their parents  a huge favour by  giving them a livelihood.  Children in household jobs are,  in most cases,  brought from the employer’s native village with the consent of  their parents.

In  a few cases a  faithful boy from the village comes with a bride in the family, as part of  the ‘dowry’ she brings. Our movies glorify  child labour by portraying the leading man in a family drama as someone who came into the family as chokra . Viewed in the light of the middle-class indifference to the issue and  the domestic compulsions of parents who send their children out to  work in cities,  The Hindu report makes refreashing reading.  According to the report,  it was the Mangalore media that first took it  up with the authorities.  The newspaper not only played the story on  Page One, it also identified the  wrong-doers –  a  local businessman and a doctor couple.  Whether or not they get punished under the  law such negative publicity may well be deterrent  to others in their social circle.