Stakeholders? Who?

the arrogance of the British?

BUT they were sent packing decades ago!

The powers that be, in this case Mysore University, are planning to commercialise the best natural lake in Mysore: Kukkarahalli Kere used by hundreds of locals for invigorating walks and a wonderfully diverse population of birds.

They seem to be stuck in the past.. development-itis means buildings, creating a boating lake (we already have a boating lake –  why not  buy some better boats and get that one working properly?) destroying the very aspects of the lake that attracts the birds and creates the necessary life-enhancing biodiversity. A case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

Well this morning, there was a tremendous turnout of local people from allsorts of local organisations and all political affilitiations, to highlight what will be lost with this inappropriate development. Appreciating their picture show of birds to be found on the lake and signing their petition were hundreds of local people who love the lake as it is now.

Well done the managers of Mysore University, who are acting just like the autocratic British invaders with no sensitivity to local needs and wishes. They might as well be invaders from outside given the complete lack of sensitivity to local stakeholders with little understanding of our need to live in harmony with the natural world. Maybe their brain is not in tune to a real world,  they are contributing to the destruction of Mysore and what makes it unique. Maybe they will realise our loss when its too late.

Unfortunately it was too foggy this morning to properly appreciate the place. Maybe that’s appropriate as it helps illuminate what it will be like after the ‘development’ as we’ll see fewer birds. There will however, always be a place in the hearts of the heartless for the lesser spotted digger, the painted TATA Hitachi, the tool of develpment -itis.

Farrell Factoid

The thread throughout all my careers has been engaging people. One of my current workshops, delivered in the UK as part of the Corporate Responsiblity Academy is a ‘development’ model that is based on stakeholder dialogue and their active participation.

 

 

Manjula’s Background

379003_10150528283149937_1371457865_nManjula is from a poor background. Her poverty, family instability and her experience as a woman in a patriarchal society is not atypical. She  has shown great determination, fortitude, even stoicism. It’s a common story in India. Women (and men) managing to survive through very challenging backgrounds and life circumstances.

Manjula’s story helps illuminate what life is like for so many people living in contemporary India. There may be explosive growth of the economy and the middle classes – we can see the evidence in many ways – higher disposable income, rising prices, spare money sloshing around, building-building-building, the glorification of ‘development’, leisure holidays, flash cars, waste everywhere, traffic jams, disposable nappies (diapers), house dogs… you name it, we’ve got it!

But as with everywhere else and even more so in India, the rich and poor whilst living cheek by jowl are far far away from each other. People are left out and behind, there is the risk their story is not told or realised, their needs forgotten, a myopia of the modern age.

 

 

 

Chamundeshwari fought the demon

It’s early in the morning, a little after 7 am. I cycle up to the brow of the hill and can hear a drumming in the background. Maybe it’s a significant day, a Mela or something else to do with the local goddess.

This is the home, of the goddess Chamundeshwari, her temple and effectively, her woodland garden, the hill is one of the most sacred in the whole of South India.

As I get closer, I realise it’s not what I first thought.

The ‘drums’ are the sound of the diggers breaking up the stones as part of the redevelopment of the hill top.

The hill takes its name from Chamundeshwari the local goddess (aka Durga) who lives on the hill which is just behind Mysore Bed and Breakfast. You can just about see the temple Gopura in the main picture in the far distance.

DSC01379Chamundeshwari is famous for dispensing with the demon: Mahishasura after which Mysuru or Mysore is named.

It looks to me that there is a new demon that she’ll have to deal with and the demon is development.

A few days later I join a walk up the hill to find out a little more…..

 

Hundreds of people walked up the hill as part of a demonstration against the planned development. For those of you who’ve visited you’ll realise its a bit of a mess up there. God knows what it would be like it if wasn’t a plastic free zone….. so there is no doubt  the need to do something

But does it need a new guest house? (there are already two that are not used), a shopping complex? a mulit-storey car park? and a four lane highway? In our view all these plans will devastate the hillside, damage its bio-diversity and make matters so much worse but do the local powers that be give a damn?

Hence I think there is a new demon in town that the Goddess needs to sort out!

Its that magic word development that they keep throwing around. Politicians use it as a catch-all phrase to defend all sorts of unsuitable decisions. Are we against development? by which they must mean progress… well erm yes, if it means destroying the lungs of the city and decemating the woodland, yes if it means worshipping and promoting growth regardless of the consequences.

It has the potential to be an amazing place, not least for the views of the city.

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But for that to be realised, we must have: some participation of the people in this thing called democracy, an end to mindless development and some sustainable and practical proposals to deal with the problems. These are currently  unfettered illegal growth, litter and too much traffic. These are practically and relatively easily resolvable with the right approach and many local organisations have come up with suggestions. In my view, it isn’t about grand schemes as they will not work and are, in any case, designed for the short term gain, with money going into a whole range of pockets and the needs of the people and the environment completely neglected..

This will be an interesting story to follow to see how local politicians and the civil servants manage to properly manage the conflicting priorities and show how well they are suited to representing the interests of people and the environment whilst  maintaining long-term sustainable development when and where its appropriate..

 

the morning after….

or elections part three.

The BJP has won a landslide victory. The press and media in general is full of analysis of how, why and what it means to us in India and the wider world. Who knows what it means?

Modi has already initiated many changes. Amongst them, he’s introduced a presidential style in the election, utilised the social media and shown great leadership, all to great effect.

One thing I’ve noticed something new, on a morning shortly after the election.

In one of the parks near my house, members of the RSS (wikipedia labels it a ‘para-military volunteer Nationalist Hindu group based on selfless service to the nation’ although the neutrality of the article is disputed) who have close links with the BJP, will meet once or twice a month, in their uniform of shirt and khaki shorts, to parade and drill. At the most there are 2-3 usually elderly people.

Shortly after the election, there was a parade of maybe a dozen young men from pre to mid teens parading in the park. The elders looked on. So, Id say that the election and the impact of BJP is influencing younger people and their interest in the nationalism of the RSS.

and who knows where it leads….

 

 

We await the other changes…

Sand – The Great Escape

Sand Karma, from cradle to grave to be born again. The long tentacles of the mafia imprisons the sand by dredging the lakes and rivers, looting the embankments, stealing sand wherever it can, and bribing where it needs to… Dotted around our countryside we see in our rivers, small round boats like metal coracles or Bella (Jaggery) cauldrons or gangs attacking the river banks. These are the starting point for the convoys of bullock carts filled with the precious cargo.
After a sometimes long and arduous journey from river bed or bank, to cart, to truck, to city distribution point (to become official) and then on again (its a wonder there’s no sand travel sickness or maybe there is) to be dumped, unceremoniously outside the mushrooming building sites, found throughout the city. Only then to be reincarnated, as a grey mix, for the greater good of the ‘development’ (some might say ruin) of our great heritage city.

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But this isn’t a sad tail of the demise of sand, the loss of its identity or of its sacrifice to the greater good…..no way.

One or two of our sand grain friends, reunited with water (their very own vehicle) from the previous nights torrential rainfall, seize the opportunity and escape form the constructors piles and become part of a great escape.

This morning the roads are covered with a layer of sand, in time, some might be scraped into little piles and recaptured but some will have managed to reach the storm drains, and on to a new life..

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So next when you notice sand on the road and maybe you feel a bit irritated by the sand on your shoe. Spare a thought for the hard life of sand. Remember the triumphs and tribulations of the grain of sand and its great escape in its long march to the sea.