Skip to Content

Out of sight, out of mind?

If the middle class lives in secure communities, then how will things improve? If the movers and shakers opt out of sharing the problem that everyone else is facing, how will things improve? When the middle class evacuates a sphere, like education, or healthcare, doesn’t it go to the dogs?

These are a set of questions asked in an outlook article on gated communities. I have attached RK Mishra's take on these questions. But, beyond his opinions, what do you think? This by itself is a loaded question, but let us extend this beyond gated communities and ask similar questions about SEZ's and satellite towns. If industry and enterprise go to exclusive enclaves, will not the city go to the dogs?
Or is this all so much more theory? Or is it? To be part of the solution, do you have to be part of the problem?

Bangalore's Premium Gated Community
pics: fabalaTD
R.K. Misra, winner of the Times of India’s Lead India contest, is a resident of Palm Meadows, Bangalore’s most exclusive gated community. Excerpts from an interview with Outlook:
If the middle class lives in secure communities, then how will things improve?
They are paying taxes. They are not getting away from their social responsibilities. The only thing is, they are taking less (from the state).
Aren’t you buying your way out of an urban mess?
In a way, yes. But if you say, don’t buy out, I reject that. That’s socialist thinking, I don’t believe in it. This could be a model. In fact, you should talk to the politicians. Why can’t they make this a model for the rest of the city?
If the movers and shakers opt out of sharing the problem that everyone else is facing, how will things improve?
I totally agree. At our community’s association meeting, I had brought a proposal that a certain amount of our corpus should be kept, five per cent or ten per cent, and we have a huge amount of money, for the things outside of Palm Meadows. It was shot down—because it was felt the association has been elected to take care of the interests of the community and should not do anything outside. The people who have bought their way into this comfort, they are very insensitive. You are talking to an example who is trying to do something. I shouted at people and stormed out. People have become so selfish that when they get in through the gate they behave like kings. They don’t realise there is resentment.
If that is how they behave, then don’t you think gated communities are a bad idea?
See it is human nature. If I can afford it, I will have it. You can say it’s right, or it’s wrong. You cannot deny people their comfort, if they can afford it.... But I totally agree that gated communities are creating a divide.
When the middle class evacuates a sphere, like education, or healthcare, doesn’t it go to the dogs?
I think you have a point, but the middle class has fled, not by its choice. It was forced. The outcome of this is bad, because if I am happy, my threshold is higher, I will not complain that much.... Ninety per cent people don’t do anything. In fact, people here (in Palm Meadows) are just busy counting money. They talk more about Obama than what is happening on July 22 (the day of the trust vote). I am telling you. I am really fed up of this community, and sometimes I wonder, am I getting the right kind of company for my kids?
So why are you living here?
I am not brave enough to be living on a street where I have to face all sorts of.... I mean, you know you cannot get out of your house in Bangalore. Because of stray dogs you cannot walk. Water comes once in three days. Power goes six hours a day. Here at least I can control the environment where I want to live. I can afford it, and I don’t feel guilty because I have done enough. Ninety-nine per cent have not done, and what you are saying applies very clearly to them.
tsubba's picture


i think this a way to bootstrap towards a solution rather than a solution itself. a way generate impetus. otherwise you can keep asking this question recursively should i live in cities when villages are crumbling, should i go to university when primary school kids are dropping out and so on... you can go on like this till infinity. my not going to university is not going to solve somebody else education problem, automatically. similarly my going to university will not oslve somebody else's education problem automatically. irrespective of whether what i personally do, the real difference is going to be made depending on whether i respond to my surroundings or not. if industry says in blr does not respond to city then nothing is going to happen to blr. if they move out and respond to the city then something could happen.
silkboard's picture

Where is that "line"?

Do some of us live in "shells"? Where do you draw the lines, what all things would you call "shells"?

The offices where many young middle class Bangaloreans work in - air-conditioned, 24/7 power backup, drinking water on tap - do those qualify to be called "shells"?

The apartment complexes themselves, with private amenities at par with 'gated communities', just that these are pool of apartments, not houses. Scant respect for parking related byelaws (many of them), some with huge borewells to draw 'public' water, nice lawns inside the apartment complexes, and same rotten pavements and roads just as you step outside. Will these complexes qualify as "shells"?

Let us move on to controversial grounds. What about average middle class house (house on a plot, of old Bangalore, or of small cities where so many of us have grown up)? Don't we take super extra care of them, and mostly disrespected the surroundings? Raise your hand if you ever saw your family members or maid sweep the dust from your house only to throw it right outside, either on the road or in a neighboring compound, as long as it fell outside your "boundary"? How many of these houses do we see building car parking ports now, but not doing their bit to pave the roadside footpath right outside their houses? Would you call our selfish livings inside these houses also as cases of "shell"?

How about traveling in air-conditioned coaches instead of old styled open 3-tier ones? Are those closed bogeys also fit to be called "shells"?

What about cars themselves? buying our way out of messy public transport instead of 'mingling' and working 'on it' - does this also amount to building a "shell" for yourself?

It does feel like living in a virtual world at times. Depart from a nice community; in an air-conditioned car; dropped directly at a nice airport. On to a plane, another airport, then another taxi, and to another air conditioned office with power backup.

Some of us add a bit of 'mingling' to this. Replace the cabs with Vaayu Vajra almost every time except late night international flights. Autorickshaw in other cities wherever possible - taken purely to get a chance to talk to the driver, and enjoy the smoke, soot and polluted air.

Back to the original topic posted by Tarle, the thing is - Community living is the answer, not a problem. There will be tiers here, depending on affordability. But the thing is, affordability increases when you pool energies. Refer to this old post - middle class slums. The only way to get out of that mess (which wasn't a problem two decades ago) is to pool your resources.

  • Join ten 30x40 plots. You get 12000 sqft of land
  • Assuming FAR of 3, you can build 36000 sqft on this plot
  • Take 2000 sqft for each family that pooled in, 20000 gone, you get 16000 sqft free
  • Use this for your car park. Or for a community hall.
  • Or just build a little less, leave space for lawns or amenities on ground or on top floor.

This sort of thing should be incentivized, you make at least a dozen families rub shoulders with each other, and they make do with less resources - no separate UPS'es wasting energy, no separate water tanks getting replenished everyday wasting hundreds of liters of water every other day. No fighting over who parks his car on what stretch of narrow 10-12 feet public lane. The best thing is - for any civic issue, they argue their cases together - with BBMP, BESCOM or whatever.

asj's picture

Socialism is the need of the hour

Anyone who has lived in UK and other parts of EU will agree that these vibrant successful democracies have capitalism coexist with socialist agenda. In fact UK is more socialist/communist in its ways than todays Russia.

One can create great enclaves of relative prosperity within gated developments. Its like going to a posh multiplex, inside you cannot tell (other from our skin colour) if one is West or india. Until one walks out at the end of the show - to the not so pleasant smells and sounds. You walk out struggling to find a footpath and fearing death while to chance your way across roads.

While a handful are treated in relative luxury of 5 star hospitals, in mid 90s I have worked in villages on outskirts of Mumbai where anti-snake venom was not available, where we could not reach primary health centres built in swamps flooded with rain water. Worse still was my trip to Thane Mental Hospital - chickens may have better living conditions. So crowded were the wards that nursing staff do a head count, leave aside personal care and knowing patients by names. We were given a full viewing of direct ECT (shock treatment without anesthesia - something developed world stopped doing 50 years ago) and shown rehab farms where patients worked in what was cement sacks with holes cut at sides and centre to make a quasi T shirt. But this was not it, my tour ended with a viewing of 'dirty ward' - naked patients sleeping and living in their own urine and feces.

80% still live for less than a dollar. It does not take too long to find the evidence that helps make phrases like 'India shining' an advert from TV and nothing else.

A psychiatrist colleague tried to fight entry of SEZ in Panvel villages. Prime agricultural land. I hope one day we find a way for humans to survive on pentium chips.

When I talk of opportunity costs and cost-effectiveness, I have the above in mind. Education, Irrigation, Healthcare all very important aspects for a country to collectively become a great one. Its for this reasons when someone blindly supports BRT on 10% of total Pune roads (imagine how useful or useless that may be in getting from one part of city to another) at budgets running in to hundreds of crores, I cannot help but challenge the basis of such developments.


blrpraj's picture

need of the hour ENFORCEism AND a fundamental change in thinking

Whether it is capitalISM, or socialISM or communISM or a mix of 2 or more of these isms what really matters at the end of the day is whether a system (an ism) exists and can be effectively implemented for the betterment of the society and the country. I guess ENFORCEism  Smile is the need of the hour (why not invent a system that works for us?). China has shown the world what it can achieve no matter how badly the world portrays it as a "communist" nation. It is a communist-capitalist mix now and in a slow transition towards being more open.
Moreover, what is needed is a fundamental change in thinking. Why are we associating these gated communities with rich people? Why are we referring to it as living in a shell? Why are we calling them as great enclaves of relative prosperity? This is just a different form of the post localities like Palace Orchards that existed before. Aren't we stonewalling ourselves in our mind that that this kind of development is not good and there are no benefits on a larger scale? Agreed that now rich people are living in such gated communities but actually there is a silver lining in the cloud.
This is the closest model of organized development that a lot of folks will get to see and learn  from without going out of the country. It is a golden opportunity to develop &standarsize urban development laws/specifications & building codes that can be implemented. Just because somebody is middle class or lower middle class they can violate all regulations & build in a haphazard manner, encroach on the footpath or road, can they? Rather than focusing on the exclusivity of the gated communities we need to look at the aspects of a straight street for free flow of traffic, adequate trees, space for pedestrians (many praja members have complained about lack of importance given to pedestrians&cyclists)  that have been implemented in these communities. In the larger scale how these communities fit into the larger urban/suburban picture and integrates with other facilities like public transportation hubs plus water,sewer&garbage disposal facilities needs to given a thorough consideration without which it will be yet another mess in the making.
In the context of India, socialism is a cancer where very nobody progresses other than a few exceptions. The role of the govt should be to act as a watchdog and enforce regulations apart from giving the minimum help needed for the poorer sections. I came accross a quotation some time back that I really liked => Feed a fish to a hungry guy who doesn't know how to fish, he will come back hungry again; but if you help him initially and teach him how to fish he will most likely not go hungry for the rest of his life.

murali772's picture

Socialism fine, if genuine


You'll notice that each and every person who has made a posting on PRAJA is a Socialist at heart. But, unfortunately, our governments have only been preaching Socialism, but never been practicing it, unlike perhaps many of the Western countries, particularly the Scandinavian lot.

Nehru, Sastry, and the like were genuine Socialists. But, Nehru's daughter gave it a different colouring altogether, and genuine Socialism didn't have a chance in this country thereafter.

So, while R K Misra may lament the fact that many of his neighbours are only bothered about continuing to build their individual fortunes, I dare say there are enough amongst them who care, like in any community, and their number is large enough to make a difference. After securing their lives, rather than continuing to amass more and more wealth, they are looking around to see how they can make a contribution to helping their less fortunate fellow brethren. There is clearly a genuineness in their approach, and that's certainly better than the many pseudo-Socialists who can only contribute to spreading poverty.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
kbsyed61's picture

They are our reflections !

Murali Sir,

Somehow we have been brainwashed and railroad into a thinking of laying the blame on others. We blame everybody except ourselves. We blame bureacracy, elected officials, politicians etc for all that is gone bad or not working. In reality all these sections of people are from amongst us and they are actually refleection of us. I can't expect my MLA/MP to be saint when I myself go to any length to save some money to be paid to Govt as taxes, regsitartion fees, I do not hesitate to bribe to be ahead in line. Take the example of BDA. Just ask the people who are waiting for a site in B'lore.

Also on a intelect side, we never stop talking about competition and Less-Government. I am one among us who support these ideologies/thinking. But at times I wonder am I following double standards here? At one side I am a proponent of less-government and competition, at the other end I have no qualms about accepting the government bodies like BDA, DDA, AAI etc. Per my principle I should not support agnecies like BDA to acquire land, layout formation and selling it to needy (those who can afford the need)? Why should govt be involved in purchasing and selling? Shouldn't govt's role be restricted to formulating policies and regulation?

Unless I raise myself above my personal gains/interests, I may have to live with the system that I support. Any change should start with me. I should learn to blame myself first before I point at others.


amaku's picture

BDA ... why?


OK, I can't hold back any longer. I tried, but it hits a little too close to home to bite my tongue any longer. I have personal experience being at the receiving end of 'wealth redistribution' at the hands of MUDA (Mysore's BDA equivalent). Our rather large farm was 'notified' and 'acquired' in the early 70s, layouts were formed and finally sold to the public starting in 2001/02. Believe it or not they are magnanimously offering to compensate us now at 70s prices of course!! The corruption we've encountered is unimaginable.

Strangely enough, I've had to experience something similar in the SF bay area as well when a new freeway was being constructed. It's called the law of 'eminent domain' and the experience was diametrically opposite. While losing one's home is never pleasant I was at least compensated fairly at market rates.

I completely agree with you a government entity like BDA should strictly be a policy formulation and enforcement agency. In theory they exist to protect the rights of 'have-nots' from the whims and fancies of the 'haves'. In practice they are the most blatant form of 'nanny government' and in the process line their own pockets with untold wealth. I fundamentally oppose this ridiculous idea that the average citizen is so naive and stupid that the government has to protect them from themselves.

My apologies in advance to one and all for my personal rant, but it felt good :-)


bangalorean's picture

I Totally agree with you

When i was a kid, i lived in a small town in karnatak near hospet. We were not rich and could not afford all the luxuries, but we were happy, i could play lot of cricket, games, chit chat etc etc..... It was whole lot of fun, there was a kind of closeness between people. Some glitches here and there, but i stilll remember how the innocense actually rules all our converstations. THATS WHY GURUJI (SRI SRI RAVISHANKAR, ART OF LIVING) SAYS BE LIKE A CHILD THAT INNOCENSE WHICH WE HAVE LOST AS WE GROW UP... We try to become something except our true self.... WHEN WE FORGET OUR TRUE NATURE, WHICH IS LOVE then we start suffocating. Suffocation is gripping in bangalore as poeple are not concerned about others problems. IS BANGALORE BECOMMING ANOTHER USA of INDIA ..... are we too much influenced by the WEST.... WE HAVE TO STOP THIS INFLUENCE, we have to get back to our true nature, our cultutre....... HAVE WE FORGOT.....
asj's picture


I respect the views of everyone who have shared above. I can understand the anger over losing a possession in the name of socialism. As Mruli sir points out very nicely, what we have is not 'socialism'. We can call it anything else - corruption and at times populist measures where rather than creating equal opportunity to self-empower people are given symbolic alms (blrpraj puts it metaphorically above - feed a fish to a hungry guy who doesn't know how to fish, he will come back hungry again; but if you help him initially and teach him how to fish he will most likely not go hungry for the rest of his life).

But what we have now is not socialism. Its a socio-political cancer. As Syed said 'we are very much a part of the system' and change is best when it moves from within out rather than otherway round.

Mruli sir is right in pointing that a huge majority of us are socialists at core (if not we would be busy making money). The winds of change can be felt. From individual acts to work done by NGOs, but it still lacks a kick. For real change we need gale force winds. For real change we need to leave our comfort zones.

When I first started with my handycam producing the driver education videos, I thought I will have help from people I know. Most people communicated I was mad (becoming a social worker) and wasting time 'nothing in India will change'. It was not very comfortable, I persisted and I am glad I did so.

But now I ask myself what will be the most discomforting thing to do. Will I have the courage to do a Prince Siddhartha? Leave my job, enter politics - the ultimate peak discomfort as far as a middle class intellectual is concerned?

I invite everyone to try and imagine what Bangalore / Mysore / Pune city administrations and governance will be like when half of Praja members were to become the sitting corporators? What would our cities look like with regards the landscape, pavements, availability of dustbins, dedicated hawking zones, reliable public transport.......................



Vasanth's picture

Think out of the shell

To be part of the solution, do you have to be part of the problem? - You have to be part of it. You can post on BMTC / Railways only when you travel in it, speak to drivers and conductors rather than posting on BMTC after having travelled regularly in  car .

Based on this, people like us who can build up channels with Government can do something to the community.

People who think who live in Meadows Apartments will be safe, but, sometimes it will be illusion since many will be following them to get some. If they encounter a situation, they cannot handle that since they hideaway to see what is happening. On the other hand, a person who has seen such problems can face that problem when he encounters that. It was said in post that Mr.Mishra could not walk since he was afraid of stray dogs, I do walk alone and many stray dogs follows me since I live in a normal BDA layout rather than Meadows. I am least bothered about them since I know how to handle them. You just stray at them or act like taking a stone, they will run away rather than you running away from them. If you runaway from them, they will runafter you and bite you. This is taught to any small boy in middle class family.

Who travel in Big cars think that they are safe compared to a 2 wheeler, but, they are targetted by criminals since they get most out of them rather than catching hold of a 2 wheeler guy.

People who travel in car between cities in India think its luxurious, but, they are the most accident prone compared to a poor who is travelling in a Passenger Train.

It is the perception of the rich that whatever he does is right, fact is it is not.

People need to come out of the shell of their luxury apartments and cars and think of the reality.

tsubba's picture

Re: Imagine

doc, i understand where you are coming from. a months back i read an article in IE by some sort of a political writer. according to her politics, to paraphrase very loosely, politics is the intense awareness of surroundings and concern of the order in the surroundings. roughly loosely. you should get the spirit of the sentence. in that sense we are already in politics. from here on, where your awareness takes you is really your own process. all the best.
blrpraj's picture

walking a fine line

I think we need to walk a fine line when we talk about rich/middle class/poor; "out of the shell" & western influence.

For example rich, middle class or poor Americans on an average are so married to air travel and a car untill perhaps they comes of their shell of US is the world and experience/study/observe mass public rail & bus transportation in Europe/Japan or for that matter Mumbai, Delhi Metro or Calcutta Metro or Chennai MRTS.

Likewise the rich, middle class or poor in India may not have experienced how different the developed countries are in a lot of day to day activities and how the thought process is and how they have a radically different way of doing things.

Likewise other examples could be drawn. May be we should use both "coming out of the shell" and "thinking out of the box :-) they say..for radically different solutions"  in conjuction? By saying we are being influenced too much by the west and should stop it...I would just stop for a moment and think...isn't it upto us to choose what is necessary and what is not? If a globe trotter visits Bangalore,Shanghai & few western cities his/her conclusion would be that we have not picked up some of the correct western influences. Prior to May 2008 this impression would have started from HAL airport but thanks to BIA at Devenahalli that impression now perhaps starts somewhere on NH7.

My understanding of socialism (please correct me if I am wrong) that the state controls everything, the state is an employer in a big way, encourages more public sector enterprises & scope for privatization and entrepreneurship is less. I don't support that and I don't know how many of the readers are socialists of this version of socialism. I am more of a socio-capitalist where the state encourages privatization and entrepreneurship. The state role would be governance, making laws, enforcing them etc.  At the same time we take active part in governing decisions. For example, very often in the US for different things like building a new freeway/some tax increases/airport expansion or issues like that something called a proposition comes up that goes for vote; the residents get to vote and can approve or shoot down the proposition. For many other things by law govt. announces town hall meetings where citizens participate.

asj's picture

Socialism V Communism V Capitalism

If we look up Oxford dictionary for meanings of the words socialism and communism, one would not be able to tell the difference. For me the difference is that in a socialist model there is freedom of choice, not so in communism. Both models can work with capitalism.

UK is clearly a capitalist democracy with storng socialist agenda. Even today one has to pay annual TV licence fee - why? BBC though now autonomous still does not use advertisement. Healthcare is offered to all completely FREE, 99% of doctors are in Govt service (NHS, including myself). Charging someone money for a surgery straight away creates ethical conflicts, in UK I do not worry about these things, I give my best to every patient. The principle is 'treatment based on NEED and NOT ability to PAY'. Today in India after working for 30 years, my parents have small savings, but if they ever need by-pass operation or end up chronically ill, their savings will vanish. In contrast, in UK ans West the state provides FREE nursing care to those who get bed ridden. We pay council tax in UK (~municipal tax) but in return we get - free libraries, free education, good quality roads, pavements, parks and sport facilities. The sport facilities are not free but come at nominal charge. In India where I grew up in Mumbai, no sport facilites run by council existed - the closest swimming club in 70s needed payment upfront of 1-2 lacs for membership. IS IT ANY WONDER WE DON'T DO WELL AT OLYMPICS? Bindra had to spend from own pocket to get where he is - what has SAI done in last 30 years? China sent 3 participants to 1952 Olympics, where are they now and where are we? Back to London, again the bus travel and tube travel is FREE for children and teenagers in full time education. Its also free for pensioners and disabled. Anyone 65+ gets state pension. By law, no one can be homeless. Hence its rare to see a shanty house or people sleeping rough on streets.

Of course all of the above is regulated. If someone migrates to London with no money and house, the housing department will re-house them but not always in London. If there is no registered property available they are sent to another city / county. A person living in Kent cannot come to London for hospital treatment - it has to be local hospital and anything else needs to be justified on paper.

Socialist models can live alongside private models. London bus services as described above have a storng social agenda but run by private enterprises.

Socialism is not = to giving a beggar money. Its about creating a level playing feild to ensure the rich boy and the poor boy have same chance of making it big (considering everything else being equal - by this I mean parental value system).


murali772's picture

statism is not socialism


Socialism in India got distorted too badly over the years for it to regain its credibility. And, here it has generally got equated with statism. Now, if what I have read about the quality of life of TISCO employees in Jamshadpur is true (and, there's no reason to disbelieve it), our capitalists like TATA are far more Socialistic in their approach than our governments. After all, they are the ones who introduced the concept of the 'earned leave' (1 day for every 20 days worked) for the first time in the world. And, the biggest beneficiaries of TATA's prosperity are insitutions like the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.

The parallel we have with the London bus service appears to be the one in Indore, minus the dedicated lanes. But, my biggest reservation about government being a player simultaneously is the effect it has on its more important regulatory function. London bus services are doing fine; so also BEST in Mumbai. But, I am not sure they provide the best models for Indian cities to emulate. It would be interesting to see how UP state's privatisation plans are progressing.

Incidentally, I had heard that the healthcare system in the UK is not working too well, with long waiting periods to get proper attention. I am sure you know best the actual position on the ground.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
silkboard's picture

Shells, indifference etc... contd

I had read a few articles in ET, Biz-standard etc with same tone (as in this post and some comments) few months ago. Those were written in response to government's updated aviation policy that now allow private parties to build private airports for their exclusive use. The columnists had argued on very similar lines - why do the 'rich' want to just bypass it all and not 'mingle'. Here, I found the one from ET - "Fly away peter, fly away paul".

To quote some opnions of this author (Peter Ronald D'souza from IIAS simla)

... Take the secessionist argument which holds that the policy encourages the super-elite to live life in a bubble. From the helipad at the top of the corporate headquarters, to another helipad in the factory complex, to perhaps a private airport for a journey to Delhi, the captains of industry can journey across the country without having to meet, or rub shoulders with, or even see the ordinary Indian, let alone experience the minimal existential reflections on the lives of those who live in the slums they have to drive through on their way to the airport.

Read further:

Those people, in many cases, might be their own workers. They will thus never know the possible causes that have reduced to a life of indignity those who beg at red-light crossings, or the conditions of the villagers who have to walk for miles for water, or the anxieties of our rural youth as they search for a space between the rural and urban. The helipad has airbrushed the poor Indian from the lives of our super-elite. They can now sit in oak-panelled boardrooms as they plan India’s growth story without the smells and sounds and colours of India. The Mahatma’s train journey has no lesson for them nor does the more recent yatras of Rahul Gandhi. Why subject them to a little existential angst? How can they script India’s rise if they have to face a little discomfort at a public airport?

And further :

So not only are India’s poor being airbrushed from the lives of our super rich, but also the aspiring middle class in ill-fitting jeans and cheap French perfumes as they wait for their flights in pursuit of the next sales target or the next LTC. The middle classes, the foot soldiers of Indian industry, are also a nuisance. So, who do the super-elite meet? People like themselves only. The faceless lackeys, who make it possible, fade into the wall paper. This is bad not just for Indian democracy, because we will have a class of very powerful people who have lived very insulated lives, but also for them since they will have lost access to the diversity of India and life itself.

Well. This author is overdramatizing this a bit. But he has drawn a line between the super rich (those who will build these airports) and the rest. The thing is (As Murali said somewhere above) all of us have socialist leanings, but because of the huge range and disparity levels in our country, we will draw our "lines" at different levels. My neighborhood barber draws this line between the poor and the middle class. A friend draws this between upper middle class and the rest.

The thing is - we all want to bypass these miseries (the ones mentioned by this ET author, some mentioned above by Vasanth). But, most of us (poor, middle class, rich etc etc) want to "bypass" them via "ignoring" them. Only the very few want to "bypass" these miseries by way of "working to eliminate" them.

What is the big difference between ignorant, uneducated or whatever middle class joe who adds to the mess on the roads etc and those who choose to watch all of it but don't react violently enough to think of ways to fix the mess? Pardon the extreme way of mentioning it, but whats the big diffrence between silently watching a murder and committing one yourself? Most of us, poor, middle or rich, today, fall in one of the two categories - are either silent witnesses, or partners in crime in more direct ways.

Now, the rarest of rare (who may come across as actually doing something about the mess they see around themselves) - some of them have this style of disrespecting the rest who watch and 'ignore' the mess. I have heard from one such soul that this disrespect is dileberate at times, and is staged as a ploy to sort of 'awaken' the masses by stirring their souls. But there are better ways of forcing this soul searching and stirring. Perhaps about 98% of us ignore and put up with the "mess". But I am willing to bet that more than 50% want to do better than than, its just that nobody has figured the way yet of getting this large set of people to break out of their "shells". They all think their efforts will be mere drops, and "drops make an ocean" is only a saying, a cliche thats more of a feel good thing to write and say.

Someday, somebody will figure a away to make us all break out of our "shells". It could be a person, could be some event, or could be a well timed mass awakening, but I am still waiting.

[PS: sorry asj, murali and others, I didn't want to get drawn into Socialism etc]

asj's picture

connecting breaking the out of shell thinking with social agenda

Lets cut through semantics. We all agree that there is a need to have a social agenda.

Tisco, Boombay Port Trust, ESI schemes, BARC etc - they all have their own hospitals, but they serve hardly a fraction of the community. Its good for the employees, but does not still reach as far as one will wish to.

The social agenda that I describe is the one that pervades all over. It does not create boundaries of IT professionals V non-IT (I am referring to another post on Praja). It means putting all resources in to one pot and making most of it (I think SB has described this above by giving analogy of plots).

Private parties can play a role. London bus model is simple. There are subsidies that propel keeping costs down and allowing sections of population to go FREE. But private participation is regulated. They bid for running buses on certain routes/regions. One player per region (there is no competition in that sense). But they are audited across a host of performance indicators, penalised and licences not renewed if they fail to reach agreed standards. The Mayor and his body of elected people have regulate fares (not private companies), thus there are many safety plugs for consumers.

Mumbai is subsidised by BESTs electricity providing profit arm (Metro in Delhi is susbisdised by the money they make out of their real estate). All systems use advert money too. But these are systems serving millions (Mumbai rail season ticket can be as cheap as 7 paisa per km).

But Private players left to themselves create new shells - corner shops in Britain are vanishing, post offices as big malls start offering everything. By virtue of their size, these malls are placed a good mile or more away from most peoples front doors. In short, you have to take your vehicle if you need to use postal services of buy milk.

Media and politicians will always moan. I am not surprised about reports of British Health system with its waiting lists. But if you shop around, you will struggle to find a better model. In south Mumbai alone, there are 6-8 huge hospitals, all private, posh, 5* ratings. This will never happen in UK - its so lopsided, almost as if rural India does not exist? And as I said somewhere, 60km away in Thane tribal areas / Vasai tribal areas, they have no anti-snake venom.

Yes, a lot of us want to break the shell. But cannot because we have no security (socially). If we leave our jobs for building our Nation, we may or may not have success but we will run out money personally and have no money for a bypass surgery. Instead we remain immersed in 8-8 or whatever shifts we do like robots and resort to sarcasm, cynicism, watching India play cricket, and find our anti-depressants via idiot box or bollywood. When that fails us - we look the world over and say - a gujrati guy won a bronze for US Gymnasts, Sikhs playing hockey for Canada, Shabbir Bhatia is an Indian and then say Mera Bharat Mahan and wake up next day to go back to same routine.

We are at a tipping point. A lot depends on middle class intellectuals getting braver and demanding more and participating more and going beyond voting - by creating parties that help some amongst us become leaders of tomorrow. Imagine leaving the fate of our nation to current set of leaders for another 60 years.


blrpraj's picture

back to the original topic of this thread...

Coming back to the thread's original question of what we think about gated communities. Such things existed before in different forms. Back in Chennai where I grew up there were flats in a  nearby locality where some friends lived. If I had to get in I had to get past watchmen and guard dogs after registering my name and telling them whom I am visiting. What else were houses in Sadashiv nagar of Bangalore with 10plus feet walls, alsation dogs and guards? I remember eating lunch with my colleagues in Jayanagar in a park and observed a house that looked like a fortress, a black gate with high walls and guards (from what I recall it is a famous Kannada actor's house and it is next to a school..can't remember the name of the actor). The only difference now is that the same compound has grown much bigger with more facilities and more people are living there in multiple homes. 
Like I said before what would be bad about gated communities is if they were built by greasing hands and violating laws. Another problem with the Indian version of gated communities would be if the homeowner's association took the law into their own hands..and let's say..bashed me up if I strayed there wearing hawai chappals and a not so good looking jeans/lungi just because I seemed shady :-).
I don't quite understand nor agree with the interviewers line of questioning of "If the movers and shakers opt out of sharing the problem that everyone else is facing, how will things improve?" From what I have read from other articles, there a quite a few techies who live there. I am sure quite a bunch of those techies grew up in middle class families and faced a lot of the problems that everyone of us faces before making the full circle back to Bangalore via whatever country they stayed in. A lot of folks would have worked their bu** off to make that money & I don't have a problem. But, I do have a problem if they misuse their power, status & money to get away with breaking laws. Let's face it, neither the inverviewer nor most of us are going to voluntarily live in slums or extremely poverty stricken areas (no offence inteded to anybody please) just to opt in and prove a point and share the problems. Believe me, the problems of people living in those areas are so acute our problems may pale in comparison. I think it is wrong to judge that a person is indifferent or not caring about such things just because that person may be driving a car and living in an upscale house. Agreed many are selfish, but quite a few are giving back to the community in different forms; R.K. Misra's effort to have the home owners mark some funds for outside development itself shows. I think, at the end of the day there are many positives that can be taken away as well from these communities in terms of orderly development. Why can't all localities be modeled on such stanard lines? Are we associating clean orderly streets and organized development only with being rich? That is the shell the country at a large needs to get out of.
R.K Misra in that outlook article has referred to how selfish people have is a first hand R.T Nagar when a garbage collection drive was being put together people were reluctant to part with a nominal amount per month. There are many such instances where rich,middle class and lower middle class alike don't want to part with money..but on the other hand..(again with no offence intended to anybody..I am just pointing out one aspect)..folks are willing to part with money for religious reasons at the bat of an eyelid -> as of Sept 2007 Tirupati's annual income is reportedly upto Rs. 750 crores (anywhere between 175 to 200 million dollars roughly) all of this from generous contributions (rich,poor and middle class alike). Plus read this -
I know this is off topic, but all I am saying is that when we can raise such money voluntarily, then why is it so difficult to take ownership of our individual communities and raise money for development? I guess our priorities are wron sometimes. Good things about the new gates communities can be factored in and the bad things left out and an overall standarsized developmental approach can be developed.

Sorry for the rant guys..I just wanted to speak out my mind and again no offence intended to anybody Laughing  

asj's picture

A picture is more than a 1000 words

Here it is. This picture shows front gate of Persistent, a major IT player in Pune and elsewhere. I am sure they have 100s of employees / managers in their gated site who have lived and worked in the West. Many also probably enjoying the IT sops given to IT sector (it benefits no one else). But that aside, day in day out, they come and go to and from work with this garbage skip on their doorstep - what have they done about this? Why not stage a dharna to get it removed? Why not take the bull by its horns?

When I say we do things within comfort zone, the example can be that of this very company. They have offered all help needed to set up Pune Municipal Transport website for free. But anyone who has been in the thick of things will agree that these are ways of earning brownie points. I doubt that website is frequented by even 10 people in a given month.

Alarmingly, what is not seen in this picture is Shah Hospital next to Persistent. Pune's latest mutli-storey, multi-speciality hospital - do they care what lies 10 feet from them while they treat infections inside 3 - 4 star luxury rooms?

Below is a pigsty at one of Pune's oldest residential communities. All middle class families around with one of Pune's first Toyota showrooms bang opposite (alll living in a shell).


blrpraj's picture

absolutely true

Picture being worth a thousand words is absolutely true. This goes back to the other traffic chaos thread where we talked about the 3 Es. The picture just shows another facet of a diseased society. I cannot comment one what they have done or not done about it till one of us finds out the facts...they may have met the corporators on this issue..(staging dharna is not the only way)..they may not have done anything about it(most likely the case)..they may complained to the civic authorities. What is obvious though and common to the scenarios you highlighted is that the person/persons responsible for garbage collection are not doing their job. If you follow a simple chain of  responsibility & everybody does their job(like we have witnessed in other countries) isn't it the solution? ->

       - civic authorities provide garbage receptacles, companies like persistent must be forced by law to maintain the footpaths in front of their property as per specifications laid down & probably provide for garbage receptacles

        - whoever it is, rich/middle class/IT company worker/clerk -> throws garbage properly in the bin provided.

        - the person responsible for garbage collection does a proper job of collecting the garbage.

        - the civic inspector or whoever the garbage collection people are accountable to does his job of frequent inspections and ensuring the job is done. 

 If all these are done there is not scope of fingerpointing and saying "whay have they done about it? Those guys have been to the west or east or wherever..for that matter Delhi Metro stations" .. isn't it? If someone figured out how to get people to do their assigned job and do their part...well that would be it!! Comes back to the 3 Es I guess (ASJ, I think you know which 3 Es I am referring to ).

I would not want to get drawn further into the "shell" discussion..all I can say is that by and large the impression derived after seeing such photos common accross many cities is that by and large we are callous,do not care and will walk through a pile of garbage or sidestep it similar to our driving habits of zizagging to avoid potholes AND move on irrespective of our wallet size.

asj's picture

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

When you look at the pics, you will see the chronicity of the problem. These pics above were part of over 100 submitted by me to Pune Corporation on a CD with a complaint. Part of the complaint was taken up - a road about half km long got footpaths on both sides (probably because my pics showed school kids having to walk on roads along with vehicles).

But other issues remain, probably this rather famous story explains part of why this is the case -

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job.

Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done

Bob Marley comes to mind -

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: dont give up the fight!

Most people think,
Great God will come from the skies,
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high.
But if you know what life is worth,
You will look for yours on earth:
And now you see the light,
You stand up for your rights.

You can fool some people sometimes,
But you cant fool all the people all the time.
So now we see the light (what you gonna do? ),
We gonna stand up for our rights! (yeah, yeah, yeah!) 

I like the lines - Great God will come from the skies, Take away everything And make everybody feel high - because it partly describes the middle class fantasy of someone some day rescuing this country - when in reality its all in our hands, up to us. 


blrpraj's picture

pictures that say 3 words

Agreed that people should stand up for their rights but one thing I have observed when working in Teams "when everybody is responsible for a task then nobody is responsible" because eventually everybody thinks the other is going to do it and does not want to be accountable :-). But, here are some pictures taken in a not so good neighbourhood of southern california that say 3 words - discipline, perfection & accountability. I think these are familiar to anybody who has visited most countries and probably now in the gated communities now springing up in Bangalore 

1) notice that the specifications have been adhered to perfectly for the sidewalk even thought the road the curves. Notice the width of the sloped space (the narrow space to the right of the grass) maintained between the tarred road and the sidewalk. Notice the constant width of concrete walking path to the left of the grass

2) this photo was taken when this road was scheduled for extensive digging to relay some old drainage pipes and other repair works. From inquiries, this road surface was more than 10 years old. If you notice the surface is still very good (a testament to the quality of work). Also, notice the markings(white dotted lines) on the road where they intend to dig..that is standard procedure.

3) The newly laid portion of the road after repairs is obvious due to the dark black colouring. Notice the perfectly painted markings (I had observed the crew making preliminary markings & doing measurements to make sure markings would confirm to specifications). Also, note the constant width of the narrow stretch between the tarred portion and the sidewalk. This is essential for rain water to drain(and we complain about flooding without giving a thought to the engineering of our roads). The width has been perfectly maintained while laying the new stretch to align with the old stretch and has been perfectly done at the cruve too.

4) any private or public property (irrespective of who they are, millionaire or common man or the poice department) needs to confirm to standard specifications while building a driveway -
The contractor doing the job as well as the property owner will be penalized if not done so. This photo was taken on a road different from the previous photos. Notice the standard quality of work and again the same width of spacing maintained between the tarred road and the sidewalk.

5) this photo shows how a private property has had to confirm to specifications/laws by providing for storm water drainage without disrupting the footpath meant for public to walk. Notice the smooth level surface that has been maintained on the footpath

And of course in all these photos you do not see garbage anywhere. The construction job referred to in photos 2 and 3 was carried out by a team of 5 to 7 people who did the traffic management as well. So far there have been no complaints of quality and people have not had to make sure those 7 poeple did their jobs properly. The local residents go about their daily lives and do their part of not destroying public property (they will get fined and arrested if caught doing it). I took the above photos and met PWD engineers in Bangalore to understand why the same could not be accomplished. I did not meet with much success and was was told that the(the US as shown in the photos) could be done because they had money. That is simply not true if we consider the fact how costly it is to relay the same footpath or road over&over again; how costly it is to cleanup the garbage and set right the footpath outside  Persistent, the IT company as shown in asj's post "A picture is more than a 1000 words"; and most importantly the fact that we have abundant supply of manpower to execute these projects. If anybody from praja can use the information in these posts to once again try to make an impact with the PWD or whatever authority please feel free to do so. With the PWDs line of thinking naturally the myth is that clean roads and development is only for the rich when the real problem is the lack of discipline, responsibility and accountability in everybody doing their jobs or their part. I have seen dharnas from time immemorable in Chennai for the water scarcity problem, sewage mixed water & overall water supply problem. Many civic forum and NGO actions had not made a prfound impact. I am not sure what different approach can we all take for accountability, ASJ any ideas? 

silkboard's picture

blrpraj - thanks, and so well said

asj, blrpraj - I have a half done post with pictures like above from around my area, I need a few more of them, and I wanted to write about byelaws, and why and how they are ignored. We have the similar levels of legislation and control as developed world. The 3 Es are the reason we see what asj posted around most places. 3 Es are the reason we are having this discussion right here.

Would you mind if we 'promoted' your comment (blrpraj) with pictures to a separate post on byelaws?

blrpraj's picture


No, problem. Please promote it to a different thread.

Let the revolution begin afresh and let's have people thinking in this direction.

nikunj946's picture

@ bangalorean

This refers to your comment about Sri Sri Ravi Shankar et al. Pardon me, but this forum is not meant for spiritual discussions. I can respect your views, but they are on a tangent, and I don't think it helps here in any measurable way here. Please avoid making such statements.
nikunj946's picture

Who's responsible?

The tone of the author is summarized well: 'if the middle-class goes into private enclaves, wont the city go to the dogs?'

However, I resent the underlying idea strongly. Is the middle-class solely responsible for the state of the city? Do they have to sacrifice their own comfort to improve the 'general state of affairs' - which, theoretically, does not even affect them inside their gated communities? Is there nothing to be expected of paid administrators or elected governments? Have the less fortunate used their right to vote in the best manner? Are they doing everything they can to improve their own lot?

While we do feel responsible and want to contribute, I think it's unfair to expect us to take responsibility for everything, at our own cost. I agree with the stand taken by RK Misra. Let's not become insensitive to the needs of others. But let's not feel guilty about our own comforts either.

asj's picture

We all are responsible

A great thread should not end on a sad note, hence this. No one is forcing or expecting anyone to take responsibility for everything. If anything the discussion has revolved around being and becoming sensitive to others needs. Equally, no one expects anyone to do a Prince Siddhartha and give up all comforts to enlighten the world. Its a matter of personal choice. Some of us want to brainstorm breaking down gated developments - which in this thread mean - psychological gates within us.

Everyone has freedom to choose and gaurd their comforts. But this very freedom came when the middle and upper middle class gave us leaders who fought for the freedom we enjoy (and abuse today).

Is there nothing to be expected of paid administrators or elected governments? Indeed, its obvious is it not.

Have the less fortunate used their right to vote in the best manner? Do they have better choices? Are there quality leaders anywhere? Will there be good leaders if we remain gated?

Are they doing everything they can to improve their own lot? Look around and you will see they are. Their issues are different. On lowest runk of Maslows steps of evolution for them water and food comes first. They will do a dharna for these things. How many middle class people have been on a Dharna of any kind?

We all want to live in a city that doesn't make my life any tougher than I choose for it to be. Among things we will like to see:

  1. A reliable, accessible public transport system
  2. Cleanliness thats easy on the eye and the lungs. Dustbins every 50 yards, concealed efficeint drainage systems, fewer private vehicles on the road. No slums. No littering
  3. Facilities required by ordinary citizens: parking lots, sidewalks, 24-hour power and water supply
  4. Discipline (enforced). People forming and respecting queues everywhere, following traffic rules

But this will never happen if we stay psychologically gated. We are a part of the problem and solutions both and hence very much responsible for our fate.


nijavaada's picture

no infrastructure without good governance.. so:

Would like to hear some of your wise comments here: -Nijavaada
kbsyed61's picture

CM will lay the foundation stone for unapproved Engineers Bhavan

There is news that Chief minister B S Yeddyurappa will lay the foundation stone today for a swanky Engineers Bhavan. What is interesting is its plan has not been approved by the BBMP.

What a combination. CM representing a political Party with difference, Engineers who are to be known for their professionalism and their respect for laws and regulations.

Courtsey -

This can happen only in India. comment guidelines

Posting Guidelines apply for comments as well. No foul language, hate mongering or personal attacks. If criticizing third person or an authority, you must be fact based, as constructive as possible, and use gentle words. Avoid going off-topic no matter how nice your comment is. Moderators reserve the right to either edit or simply delete comments that don't meet these guidelines. If you are nice enough to realize you violated the guidelines, please save Moderators some time by editing and fixing yourself. Thanks!

about seo | forum