Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why can't we protect our peoples?

The serial blast in Assam today is one the deadliest in this North-Eastern state of India. Assam has seen many violence in the past, but something like this is unprecedented.

When I heard about it first after news started to spill in the Internet, the first reaction was of shock. By the time I recovered, I started calling my sister who works in Guwahati. This must have been the state of mind for many of the family members. 

The point is, the government had enough indication that this was coming. Situation has been tensed for quite some time in Assam lately and the government had enough reasons to stay tight guarded. But looking at the scale at which these blasts have happened (last news says >60 dead and >300 injured), looks like the government has been caught napping. How can they allow such devastation to happen. This is a pure case of negligence leading to death.

All I can feel now is frustrated and unsafe. What has happened could have been avoided, and what the government can do now is get those culprits and bring them to justice.

We want peace, everyone wants peace. I beg the government to protect my people from all these dangers.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Floods in Assam

Assam is blessed with the great river Brahmaputra which passes through its heart, essentially bisecting through it. Brahmaputra and its tributaries is the largest source of water for Assam. The magnitude of its size can be judged from the fact that in some places the river is as wide as 10 kms. Though it is the lifeline for Assamese people, it is also known for the destruction it causes every year by floods.

Flood and Assam has always been in sync with each other. Come monsoon season and flood reaches its dangerous levels with widespread destruction. Every year huge destruction in agriculture, livestock and property happens.

The destruction caused by flood is not only limited to humans alone. Kaziranga, the natinal wildlife sanctuary in Assam which is famous for it's one horned rhino, gets almost completely submerged during floods. The animals are bound to move to higher grounds for safe heavens, making them vulnerable to poarchers. Local population around Kaziranga provides helping hands during these tough times. Every year many animals are drowned, some of which are part of the endangered species (like the rhino). The image shows an rhino carcass. Here is a news article on recent flood havoc in Kaziranga.

Unfortunately there has been very minimal effort by the state as well as the Indian government to properly tackle this disaster. Flood has been part of Assam's calender for centuries, but the kind of protection and preventive measures as well as preparedness that was expected out of the government is dissapointing. Every year lakhs of peoples goes homeless and crops destroyed, but the embankments built in has to be rebuild. The following link discusses it in greater detail:

There has been constant criticism of the central government for its step-motherly treatment of Asaam. Flood relief efforts being one of them. 

There has been a regular effort by various organizations to influence central government to declare the floods of Assam as a "National Disaster". All said and done, there has to be an serious effort from everyone in the state and the centre to seek an longer term solution to this problem. When we know its going to happen, why not prepare for it and try to reduce the disaster to a minimum.

Looking into the scale of the Brahmaputra, this must sound like an herculean task. I don't want to be philosophical but, "when there is a will, there is a way". And I want to see the will in the concerned people to make an effort in this regard. Until then, the people of Assam has to bear the wrath of the mighty Brahmaputra.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ramanagaram: A trip to see Bollywood history

If you ask someone about one of the most famous movie in Bollywood (film industry in Mumbai, India: Synonymous to Hollywood), you can't miss one movie in most of the lists: 'Sholay'.

Landscape of Ramanagaram

The place we visited recently has its relation to this legendry Bollywood movie. Ramanagaram is situated ~ 50 kms from Bangalore in the Bangalore-Mysore highway. Its a small town with lots of huge rocky outcrops. This place is also popular with rock climbers and adventure sports enthusists. The location was also selected for the village "Ramgarh" in the hindi movie Sholay.

I got my first car recently and my friends were anticipating a long ride (they are just scapegoats, I was actually wanting to have on long drive) in it. So one fine day decided to drive to Ramanagaram ans see the places around. 

On a fine Saturday morning called up my friends Pankaj and Kshitij (they are my college friends from Kanpur working in GM). They were still sleeping, the common time pass for Bangalore techies on a Saturday morning. 

from left: Me, Kshitij and Pankaj

"Hey Pankaj" --- "Kya hain" --- "Chalna hain kya Ramanagaram" --- "Chalna hain kya? chalte hain. Kab nikalna hain" --- "9:30 tak latest nikal chahltein hain" --- "Theek hain. Hey Kshitij, Phuki ka phone hain. Ramanagaram chalna hain. Chal uth jaa jaldi". And thus our trip to Ramanagaram was finalized. I quickly went to have my bath.

By the time I left home it was 10. Filled my fuel talk to full and picked up my friends. We hit the Bng-Mysore highway by ~ 11 and then started the smooth ride towards Ramanagaram. The highway is awesome for drive and you can test your vehicles performance. All said and done, there is something you should be careful of:
"I wan enjoying the nice empty roads and sudenly was intercepted by a traffic police vehicle. I was told I exceeded speed limit. I was given a ticket. The speed limit was 50 and I was driving at 70. 70, thats because its a new car dude, I sould have been driving over 100 at such roads. Anyway, I paid the fine (Rs. 300/-) and moved on. So don't get carried away and keep eyes on the speed limit boards."

We stopped over to have our meal in the middle. The day was extremely hot and we had some tough time. We were expecting similar weather even at Ramanagaram and had our second thoughts on going on a long trek.  We reached there at ~ 12:40, distance covered ~ 60 kms. At Ramanagaram, take a right turn after "Ghousia College of Engineering" to hit a small road away from the highway. The road will take you upto the base of a temple. Its also passes through a small ghat kind of area. Its approx. 4 kms from the highway. We parked our car there and looked around for the roads.

Me with Ramanagaram kids. Car parking

A guide hopped in and promised us to provide the trip of a lifetime :) He was asking for Rs. 50/- and we agreed. He guided us through a route through a very small village. He started showing us stuffs (most relates to the movie Sholay). He showed us the place where the bridge was made (relate to the movie), where Thakurs house was located. One funny claim: "You remember the goat Jaya Bacchan hugged in the movie, that was mine", the guide said. He finally lead us 
through to the place where Gabbar Singh had his "adda". Its was combination of some nice hillocks, spreaded uniformely around. Some small rocks are spread around and the place was surrounded by high rocks hills (looked like a ideal place for rock climbing and rappling).  His claim of this place as Gabbar's den was realistic, and the place looked very similar. We started clicking pictures of the place and also enacted a small movie of the Gabbar Singh's "Kitne aadmi thein" dialouges (Pankaj as Gabbar). 

Gabar's den

Its time to move on. We came back to the base of the temple and bid adieu to our guide. A set of around 400 steps lead us to the top of the hill where the temple is situated. Saw a water tap and quickly quenched our thirst. Saw the places around and took rest. The view from the top was amazing. We can get a good view od the landscape around, with small rocky hills surrounding the place.
Temple at hill top

It was around 4 pm by then and we decided to move back to Bangalore. Reached home at around 6 pm after beating the traffics inside Bangalore. Went out for dinner with Kh,Pnk and headed back home. It was tiring because of the extremely hot weather, but fun. Some new places to see, and just hang out at some places outside Bangalore (my idea of a perfect weekend).

Informations that migt help:
- Distance ~60 kms each way
- Water is available but nothing to eat. Carry eatables
- Roads are awesome, you will atleast enjoy the ride
- Turn right from the highway after "Ghousia College of Engineering" and drive until you see the entrance to the temple. There are enough parking space there for free
- Take a guide, its helps and its fun