Friday, March 27, 2009

Ceremony and the Servant

I have on occasions written about our penchant for rituals and ceremonies. There is another. This is giving a name. This applies not only to the newborn which of course must have a name but also to inanimate objects like buildings, extensions, localities, towns and cities. These need not be new constructions. Even the old names will be changed at will. Britishers called Bengalooru as Bangalore because it felt better for their tongues to pronounce. Now the locals, 60 years after the Britishers left , realized that we must go back to Bengaluru which is what my city is now called and persons like me find it hard to accept the new name. Worse, the newscasters call it Benglur! Which is neither of the two names! Similar fate befell Bombay which has become Mumbai .Worse was the case of Madras. It is now called Chennai! Did they do it because they did not like the first three alphabets of the old name and renamed it, I don’t know.

We had some nice names for towns and roads in old city, of course named after British officers who rendered commendable public service. Thus Albert Victor road became Alur Venkat rao road, South Parade became M.G.Road. Most names have been changed to Indian ones. The latest is renaming Fraser town as Pulikesi nagar! There are two roads in old cantonment. One is called Cockburn road and the other is Osborne Road and they have left these two names unchanged! Who says we Indians have no sense of humor!

Before we take up any construction project an inaugural is held. This is done on an auspicious occasion [even government buildings are begun after consulting astrologers for this auspicious moment].This goes by the name foundation laying ceremony. A stone plaque with inscription giving the ultimate use of the building and who were all the dignitaries present on the occasion and the date. Our towns and cities are replete with these abandoned mementos with the intended construction never done! They however make useful perches for our omnipresent crows and for the stray cattle to have a good rub.

In some buildings you find more than one plaque! Don’t be surprised. Each time an expansion takes place the process repeats! Our government servants want spacious well appointed chambers. Even our messengers and attenders want the dignity of a chair and desk. This means constant need for additional space. There is continuing construction activity to build office space. Kindly don’t be under the illusion that work gets faster with the provision of additional space. On the contrary it gets delayed. More employees means the files have to move several notches more. More notches mean more delay. It is said a common Indian is getting throttled by reams of beurocratic paper. Any surprise why it is so?

There is a huge [but beautiful] structure called Vidhan Soudha where legislative business is held, here in Bangalore. We disgruntled citizens call it Nidhana Soudha. Nidhana in Kannada language means slow! There is a prominent plaque displayed with the legend,’ government work is God’s work’! This is true. The government [means those who work for government] is God. The government workers are called in India as government servants. They should be called sons of God and thus a privileged class. In modern India the government is for the government servants by the government servants and also it is from them.

Abraham Lincon who said government is from the people for the people and by the people, be dammed.

This is India and here we the people are servants of the government!


Dip said...

On Cockburn Road, there is a Dewar's Bar where one can buy a bottle of the brand of alcohol one likes, drink as much as one wants to and seal the bottle and keep it in a cupboard locked by the owner. Next time one drops in at Dewars, one claims his bottle and drink from it ... I wonder how many bars in cities of the world provide that "service" to a customer.

At Dewar's Bar the snacks are chilly hot and it is said that if you do not want your "ass burn" next morning , you better stay away from those snacks ~ whether you live in "Osborne Road" or elsewhere.

Thanks for bringing eccentries of Bangalore ~ OOPs ~ Bengaluru.


Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that Government's work is God's work. God supposedly created the world in seven days. All the Nidhana Soudha can do in seven days is take attendance and adjourn for another week!