Dec 31, 2010
It is all very well for bestselling author and thinker Edward de Bono to say that one must have a positive frame of mind while analysing a person, behaviour or thing. De Bono was not a Mangalorean or a Kannadiga, much less an Indian. Moreover, he was already fifty-eight when he wrote 'Handbook For The Positive Revolution.' Sigh!...those were simpler times.
These are different times. They are difficult times at best.
The year that just passed, 2010AD, seems to have been more 'annus horribilis' (year of horror) than 'annus mirabilis' (year of miracles).
As the year began, Kannadigas were just coming to terms with the untimely passing away of Vishnuvardhan, the much loved and respected icon of Kannada movies. Mangaloreans, not known to be overly emotional, expressed their grief in dignified silence - he was extremely well loved here.
Mangaloreans were happy to welcome their first lady mayor from the BJP, Rajani Dugganna, in February.
The world of Konkani music lost its 'Kogull' Wilfy Rebimbus on March 9 and was the poorer for it. In a career spanning over five decades, the immensely talented Wilfy took Konkani music around the globe - definitely a pioneer.That the world of Konkani literature, music and theatre was to lose more heavyweights such as Sunny D'Souza (popularly known as Sunnyab), Max Karkada (the voice of Jim Reeves in Mangalore), Victor Rodrigues (prolific writer, playwright and novelist), and Denis Peris (popular singer) was not, of course, known then.
Being the stoical people that we Mangaloreans are, we plodded along trying to make something of our lives.
And then there was May 22, 2010. This would perhaps go into the annals of the city as the bloodiest day ever. Air India Express Flight IX-812 crash-landed after it overshot the runway and burst into flames. A hundred and fifty-eight persons lost their lives, with only eight surviving. Mangaloreans plumbed the depths of shock and grief as one by one the charred bodies of the victims of India's third major air tragedy were extricated from the wreckage of twisted metal and brought in for identification by mourning relatives. It goes to the credit of the people of the city that they immediately closed ranks and proceeded as one to extend a helping hand to the shell shocked and benumbed family members of the victims. Mangaloreans have yet to recover from this gruesome tragedy.
The air tragedy took away from the sheen of the bigger and newer air terminal at Bajpe. Yet, the fact that it reduces the distance between the airport and Mangalore city by 8 km is not to be discounted. Also, there are several other amenities that pave the way for more business opportunities and hassle-free travel.
A new Passport Seva Kendra was opened. Online applications could be submitted. That was more good news.
The newly-launched Mangalore Police Commissionerate got a spanking new office, set up within a record five months of its formation.
Alok Mohan took charge as IGP Western Range.
The city at last got the much needed KSRTC air-conditioned bus service to Manipal. A great hit, this, with people thronging to these buses, despite the higher charges.
Another Mall, City Centre Mall, dotted the Mangalorean landscape. It boasts of seven levels of retail shopping space and five levels of parking (of course some of these amenities are yet to be operational) for 800 four wheelers and 1000 two wheelers and houses more than 170 national and international brands in lifestyle requirements.
The concreting of roads continued with trademark silences and sudden bursts of activities carried on at a frenetic pace. Yet, even a casual glance at Mangalore roads will make it obvious that unless the pavements are done up the pedestrians are far from being safe.
In sports, the women athletes did us proud. They won three gold medals in the 16th Asian Games held in Guangzhou City, China from12 to 27 November. Ashwini Akkunje won her first gold medal in the 400m hurdles and another in 4x400m relay squad. Mamatha Poojary of Hermunde near Karkala won the gold medal for the Indian Women’s Kabbadi team. Both Mamatha and Ashwini were raised in humble circumstances and reached the heights through sheer determination and hard work. Ashwini Akkunje of Kundapur was also part of the four-member team that beat the strong Nigerian team to clinch the gold medal for India in the 4 x 400 m relay in the Commonwealth Games held at Delhi in October. More power to the ladies!! They gave us reason to beam with pride.
It is to the credit of the Mandd Sobhann, a premiere Konkani cultural organisation, that on the occasion of stepping into its 25th year the organizers put together a 25-day cultural extravaganza - The First World Konkani Cultural Convention - at Kalaangann, that beautiful open air theatre founded by them. The convention was attended by no less a personage than Pratibha Patil, President of India and the valedictory had another political heavyweight, Lal Krishna Advani, former leader of the opposition in parliament. For 25 days, Konkani speaking people from across religions - Hindu, Muslims and Christians - not only displayed their rich cultural treasures but also reiterated the unity in diversity that Mangaloreans are known for.
It rained cats and dogs and all other forms of animal life in the months of November and December. Very unusual for Mangalore. Did i hear someone say climate change? Well, we better learn to live with it.
Just when the people of Mangalore were sitting back to celebrate Christmas and New Year with customary bonhomie, they were accosted with news of another shocking incident - this time around it was a heinous crime, couched in the garb of a religious ritual. The murder of a three-year-old girl child, daughter of a Bihari labourer, sent shock waves through the entire city. It was a horrifying case of a human sacrifice by a nearly senile 72-year-old and his 28-year-old accomplice. How could such an incident happen in Mangalore, many times referred to as 'Buddivantara Ooru' (city of intelligent persons), was the question on everyone's lips. It was a clear case of a small city, complacent in its modernity and so-called intellectual superiority, being rudely awakened to face horrific reality. Clearly we must never let our guard down.
That was the Mangalorean in me reminiscing about the happenings in my beloved city in the year that just passed. But what about those happenings outside Mangalore that affected us by dint of being Kannadigas?
The last week of 2010 brought in news of the Bangalore Metro's test run. It means some good news, at least for Bangaloreans. The image of Kannadigas has taken such a beating in recent times that it is becoming difficult for us to go about with heads raised these days.
The year started with godman Swami Nityananda in the eye of a sex scandal. The media went to town with footage of the godman in a compromising position with a starlet. Two cases of cheating have been filed against him for hurting people's sentiments. The year had started with a bang for Kannadigas.
A heart-rending news was that of the spree of deaths in the beggars' colony in Bangalore, thanks to the blatant apathy of the authorities and those who run the colony. It was, however, a wake-up call for all, a reminder of the miserable lives led by the less fortunates. But it's a shame that it took so many many deaths to get the colony finally cleaned, and there's no assurance that the incident would not recur.
In October, the ruling BJP took us through the tamasha of two trust votes in three days. Horse-trading and resort politics became bywords. Money flowed like water (wrong simile? If only we had that much water!) and the ugly face of human greed showed up in all its brazen shamelessness. MLAs were up for sale and the people of Karnataka bowed their heads in shame and cringed in embarrassment as the police entered the legislative assembly and MLA Goolihatti Shekar ripped his shirt open ala Salman Khan to display his chest to the roving eyes of the cameras. Was this the government they had voted to power?
As if that was not enough, CM B S Yeddyurappa 'land'ed in the middle of alleged land deal scams involving his sons and Karnataka is now referred to as the most corrupt state in India by sections of the print media, furiously overtaking all other claimants to this dubious distinction. Of course, the CM continues to flaunt the V sign, even as he continued the fist fights with governor H R Bhardwaj and Lokayukta Justice Santhosh Hegde, both of whom were, and still are, marching ahead on their mission to oust corruption.
In terms of political ethicality and accountability it has been, sadly, a downhill journey for the state, as it has been for the nation as a whole.
The massacre of 76 CRPF personnel in Dantewada district of Chattisgarh, in the first week of April jolted us out of our somnolence. Something had gone terribly wrong somewhere if a group of people who claim to fight for the rights of the downtrodden had taken up arms and waged war on the state.
A silver lining, wait...not just a lining but an entire swathe of it... was the mature stance adopted by all in the nation when the Ayodhya verdict was pronounced by the Allahabad High Court on the last day of September. Indians stood united and spoke in one voice on the need to maintain peace and harmony irrespective of the verdict. What followed was a wonderful confirmation of the idea of India as a single entity. There is hope yet for us Indians!!!
We revelled in the success of Commonwealth Games, having the last laugh after all those sneerings, some of which were justified, by the rest of the world. Yet, as the year came to an end it seemed as if we had become a nation of scams - CWG, Adarsh Housing Colony, 2G Spectrum, Niira Radia tapes....to name a few. Who is clean? Are only the bribe takers to be blamed? What about the bribe givers? Nevertheless, mediapersons had the time of their lives, and this time not just as newsbreakers, but newsmakers as well!! For once, the hunter became the hunted.
As the prices of onions, garlic and potatoes continue to skyrocket, we continue to lurch from one crisis to another, with those in authority taking action only when the crisis pinches them at close quarters.
Ironically, though vegetable prices skyrocketed, the actual rocket turned into a vegetable when the latest GSLV launched by ISRO exploded mid-air. However, displaying the quintessential Indian spirit, our astronomical experts came up with the idea of sending another 30 satellites into the space in the next 10 years. Oh for heaven's sake!
The year is all set to end with the taluk and zilla panchayat polls in the state. While the first phase is already over, the second one will be held on the last day of the year - a fitting way to underline the fact that 2010 was a roller-coaster year for politics in the state, and that the elections are crucial for the fate of all the three major political parties. Which way the wheels turn in 2011, we'll know in the very first week when the results are announced on January 4.
That was a year of bitter memories and sweet rememberings. But then what is to stop us from looking forward to a better year ahead? Edward de Bono was right when he said that hope, after all, is the only weapon we have against the spectre of adversity.
So here's to a kinder and more benign 2011. Cheers!!!