Thursday, August 11, 2005

Bangalore: Modern metropolis or medieval village?

Bangalore , Thursday, August 04, 2005 : Bangalore City is going through an identity crisis. On the one hand, Bangalore’s goal is to become another Singapore or Shanghai; on the other, the authorities are imposing the most retrograde restrictions and constraints on the human right to honest, clean enjoyment of life.

Bangaloreans who after a hard day’s work look forward to an evening of relaxation in a restaurant or bar today realize it’s often futile to drive all the way into town only to be told to go back home as all drinking and eating places have been ordered to close down. The citizens of Bangalore have the right to debate and explain to the government that their order is NOT in the interests of the society or the city.

Singapore, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur and all emerging global cities that attract big-ticket investments that help create wealth have the following in common:

· Multiple forms of entertainment for all sections of society
· Sensible rules in regard to the operation of bars, restaurants, discotheques etc
· Licensing systems that clearly differentiate between bars, restaurants, discotheques and other forms of entertainment outlets;

By contrast, under the cover of crime reduction, the Bangalore police have postulated a set of new rules that have little or nothing to do with whatever problems they profess to be addressing. They have donned the garb of ‘moral police’, a phenomenon that is often an alibi for inability to cope with crime reduction itself and almost invariably deplored by contemporary society as a curb on constitutional rights. In today’s Bangalore:

· Restaurants, bars and other such outlets have been ordered to close at 11.30 pm, and Citizens ordered to go home whether or not they have finished their dinners, or had enough entertainment for the evening.
· Citizens may not drink and dance at the same place.
· They may not drink and listen to live music at the same place.
· They may not drink and have a DJ play music for them at the same place.

This is a deplorable example of arbitrary (and probably illegal) encroachment of a citizen’s rights. That apart, Nightlife is an integral part of a metropolitan city. The police and the authorities in the government need to understand that entertainment infrastructure is as important as regular infrastructure when it comes to providing a contemporary lifestyle for the citizens of Bangalore, or for attracting tourists and investments.

To allow citizens any of the above pleasures, a place of public entertainment has to acquire a license. Under the Licensing & Controlling of Public Entertainment (Bangalore City) Order, 2005, here are the definitions of what such a place must choose to be: -

Cabaret: means a form of dance performed in a place of public entertainment by dancers or artists or any other person as part of a musical entertainment.

Discotheque: means a facility provided at a place of entertainment to customers and patrons for singing or dancing of whatever form or both.

Live Band: means music provided at a place of entertainment by artists whether or not accompanied by dancing.

All of the above can and most often are run as clean, honest, decent, contemporary fun places.
But as is true of any business sector under the sun, there are some who will and do stray into areas of sleaze. It is these transgressors who should be targeted and dealt with appropriately. To tar all the establishments in the industry with the same sleazy brush instead is an admission of lazy incompetent policing.

But that’s what we have in Bangalore today - definitions so vague that they not only fail to clarify, they further confuse the distinction between a sleazy girlie-bar and a world-class, well-reputed restaurant and lounge-bar (your favourite night-spot).

Under the rules that prevail today, a citizen who chooses to dance to his favourite music in a restaurant, even in a 5-star hotel, could be arrested. DJs have been prevented from playing music at nightspots as they “incite people to dance”! Nightclubs have been told to play classical music, so people do not dance. Never mind that Amitabh Bacchan and Sharukh Khan and Aishwarya Ray and a host of other Indian icons make a stratospheric living encouraging us to live precisely to that lifestyle. The police has attributed to itself the right to decide that it’s immoral for the rest of us.

What is the legitimate restaurateur and night club operator to do? Licenses have been applied for but there is no time frame specified within which they will be issued. Indeed, there’s no indication when the police are even required to revert with an answer. Maybe tomorrow…maybe a month…maybe never. “The appropriate authority will revert to you at the appropriate time” is the answer one gets to the question of time!

And so back to that identity crisis. Modern metropolis or medieval village? And that other identity crisis: Is the Policeman on the street the guardian of my safety or my Daddy? And the one that your favourite lounge bar and hip nightclub is itself facing, from being clubbed under the unfair classification that treats stylish restaurants, bars and restaurants as one with girlie bars.
It’s time the authorities of the city woke up and gave a separate classification for these entertainment outlets, and return to the citizens of this city the right they have lost to spend an evening of music and dancing with their parents, their spouses and their friends at stylish, sophisticated, dignified places – as every other modern society does all over the world.


"Agents of change are always so caught up in their intellectual processes, they develop few defenses against the hoodlums, moral pygmies and mental deficients who set themselves up as the arbiters of all that's good and right.
It's been that way since God was a little boy. Galileo, Socrates, Joan of Arc, Gandhi, Mandela ... the list of agents of change who suffered the indignity of rejection by intellectual charlatans is endless. And so it is today in Bangalore.
The scum who run our much-touted City of Tomorrow are incapable of looking beyond yesterday to address the needs of today. "

Stanley Pinto
advertising guru, musical genius

"being Bangalored"
by Harish Bijoor

"1) I believe the closing of pubs in Bangalore city at 11.30pm is pretty retrograde a move. The point is simple. If the belief is that a better law and order situation will prevail if the pubs, discotheques and entertainment hubs such as these close early, I believe it is a myopic viewpoint.Law and order is most certainly the responsibility of the Government and its police establishment. Only if you are able to maintain good law and order in an open environment does it mean that there is an efficient law and order enforcement in the city. By clamping down shut-down timings, nothing positive is achieved.It is quite like Kolkata claiming that its Power situation is healthy and surplus............after 60 per cent of its manufacturing units shut shop in the wake of a terrible labour and power situation at hand!
2) Bangalore is today an International city. I do a fair bit of work with Internaitonal partners who come to Bangalore often. Many ask me for the watering hole in the city, particularly as the city has a reputation of hosting a large number of pubs, and all I can point at is a do-not-drink and a do-not -dance regime which is at play in this International city of ours.We travel often and find that a Pune is open till 4am in the morning, a Mumbai literally never shuts, but a Bangalore has to close at 11.30, the witching hour!
3) This city hosts a large population of e-workers who work with the IT and the ITES sector. The closure of Bangalore at 11.30 means the clsoure of entertainment options young people seem to seek after a long day at work.
4) I spent six days in Shanghai recently. The entertainment hubs out there don't close before 4am! I spent a day in Kochi after that. The most popular discotheque out there closes at 3 am! I think Bangalroe is making a negative statement of its International status.In the old days, the phrase "Being Bangalored" meant losign jobs from a London or a Bopston to a bangalroe, due ot the outsourcing revolution. Today, "being Bangalored" means being left high and dry at the end of a long working day with no place to go........
5) I personally party once a week. We work hard. I work pretty obscene hours. My work normally closes at around 9pm on a decent weekend evening. I am able to get to a restaurant or a pub only by 10.30 after the mandatory freshening up. This gives all of a princely hour to enjoy the ambience of a Bangalore pub! Not fair!
6) Bangalore is an International city. If it truly is, it must not ape a Teheran. Instead, let it ape a Dubai or a Singapore or a Chicago in its model for the city's entertainment hubs."

Harish BijoorCEO
Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

Band on the Run in Ban Galore
by Ajit Saldanha

Thanks to George Bush and the War on Terror, the Taliban have fled Afghanistan and sought political asylum in Bangalore where they were welcomed with open arms by the powers-that-be in the police force and administration. The Taliban have commenced a "War on Enjoyment" as exemplified by live music, dancing and anything else that comes under the category of "yenjaayment." "Bangalore is perhaps the only city in thew world where they still adhere to the rules and regulations laid down in 1856 and this will be our new spiritual home," said Mullah Omar. "Where else is there a ban on live bands, dancing and other such morally pernicious practices? I love this city," he gushed. In a speech eerily reminiscent of his nemesis Bush's "Axis of Evil" discourses, Omar went on to clarify that discotheques are even more evil than live bands saying, "In these live joints, women dance while men watch but in discos, men and women dance... sometimes together! This cannot be allowed to continue."
I must confess to a sneaking admiration for the Roman emperor Nero, who fiddled while Rome burned. Historians have condemned him for what they term a "callous indifference to the city's plight" but I think they were being unreasonable. I have it on the best authority that old Nero was playing "Fire and Rain" in the hope that the rain gods would come to the rescue of his beleagured city, if you catch my drift. Namma Bengalooru is in flames: the roads are crumbling, the traffic sucks, the power situation is abysmal and we're not even allowed to dance, let alone fiddle. Or sing, dance and indulge in any form of pleasurable activity. This is very short-sighted behaviour on the part of our CM. During the "good old days" when there were taverns in the town, we were aimlessly occupied with wine, women and song. Now, given the clamp-down on such "illegal activity" we have no option but to make more productive use of our discretionary time and before you can say "Jayakumar Robinson" there will be more citizens committees, greater accountability and political upheaval.
The Bangalore Music Group (of which I am proud to be a member) feels that its days are numbered. "The day is not far off when even bathroom singing will be banned," Vijayan Menon muttered darkly. Monthly soirees are held in secret and members communicate with passwords. Laila Alvares resorted to an innovative strategy during the staging of her latest musical, "The Sound of Music", by literally restricting her "live band" to the sound. The band played offstage but bravely courted arrest by coming out to take a bow at curtain call.
Meanwhile on Brigade Road, a band of musicians conducting a funeral that was to culminate in the burial of their musical instruments at Hosur Road Cemetery were arrested by a man claiming to be the reincarnation of Emperor Aurangzeb. Sources said the group were soundly thrashed and made to listen to fourteen hours of the recorded speeches of Dharam Singh and Deve Gowda as an exemplary lesson to would be offenders who are tempted to break the law.

ajit saldanha
writer, actor, singer, food critic, and really funny man

I had a friend ….
By anushka manchanda

Ding dong! The moral police are calling!! Fools educated enough to be in political positions, qualified enough to make decisions and illiterate enough not to know the difference between a night club and a dance bar.
Help mommy! I don’t wanna grow up in a city where its wrong to go out and have clean fun with friends…listen to live music and dance a little..where people my grandaddy’s daddy’s age decide that I should go to bed at 1130! It doesn’t matter that im 21..or 35..or 56. obviously being an adult and making decisions about how early or late I go to bed after a hard day’s work make no difference.
I had a friend, a really wonderful friend. Her name was Banglore. She was someone I could trust with great judgement about talent….musicians, singers, dancers. She was a great audience, and an even greater entertainer. She loved going out dancing! She used to make sure that all the hard working guys in the IT industry, the call centers, the enterprenuers and the college going students from other cities had a good time after work. She loved listening to jazz and hip hop and classical rock and pop and Hindustani! Really..she was something, and each time I’d meet her, I’d learn so much about music!
Was, was, was.
Banglore is not dead. She is in a coma. The only people who can save her are you and me.
Somebody needs to wake up and realize that drunken driving, brawls and eve teasing are illegal and immoral acts, and singing at a karaoke place or dancing to some r n b at a night club are not.
This comes from someone who doesn’t belong here..but has found a home in this beautiful city.

anushka manchanda
channel V popstar, vj, viva girl, model , actor, singer, friend, bombshell


Arjun said...

That made good reading. And if its true , very sad state of affiars in the so-called "pub-capital". I am returning to bangalore tom'row after globetrotting all over this year. Hope things improve !! Looking forward to the "lost" bangalore anyway..
Arjun (rings a bell ?anisha..sandip...lil cousin bro..hmm)

Abs said...

Hi Carlton,
Stumbled upon this piece. Thanks for articulating all our frustrations & bewilderments about this city's latest plunge into the dark ages in this one post.
I'm still coming to grips with this situation & constantly wonder if we, as the people, can do something to change this absurd big brother environment

Anonymous said...

this is so frustrating. about bangalore. and to think i thought i would live there one day...

Boomsa Happy said...

It's a shame and a pity. Suddenly the city that I've lived in all my life, and loved, has turned into a Big Bad Wolf. Forget happily ever after, I just want a beer and a microphone. Before I kroak.

Kika said...

Carlton!! I heard about all this shit in Namma Bengaluru, WTF?!
I'm embarrassed that the cop responsible for all this BS is a friend of my mum.
I was looking forward to spending Xmas at home, clubbing and all those silly things teenagers (or 20 yr olds) do, now to find that it's been banned. Woe is me!
Hope to hear from you soon!
How's Miss Matthew? Does she blog too?

Anonymous said...


yea bangalore is screwed.....

someone better do something..


Finch, Scout said...

Funny, innit?

We're still taught to discipline ourselves. This may sound Utopian, but to be a true Moral Police would be to let our own consciences work!

Like you said, you can never cut out the sleaze. Its a minority that screws up an entire picture.

I think this kind of control only encourages underhandedness.

Meghna said...

what have they done to good ol' bangalore :(

Anonymous said...

In his inability to bring in order, the guy just shuts the whole damn city out at 11.30.

Probably all the pubs and bar owners should read the blogs and make this an active ground.

Alternatively the pubs should open at 6:00 A.M as a sign of protest. If Jayalalitha is listening, open up Hosur. The event guys should organise a day light bash. It should draw all the call center crowd. have rock shows from sunrise to sun set. Print t-shirts with an inverted smiley. A Saddie. That says, "Mr. Police man, are you happy to see me sad?" etc.

Parimal said...

In India people actually try to act moral police all the time since most of the people are jobless. Moreover in south or rather in cities growing fast the people feel that the city will be robbed of it's original culture and somehow the outsiders will bring in their culture. This is the reason why they change the names of the cities Bombay to Mumbai, Madras to Chennai and now Bangalore to Bengaluroo without even thinking how costly the whole process is.

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