Girish Karnad: J.P. Nagar to China via Singapore

Girish Karnad in the Daily Beast:

“Only 20 years ago, when my wife and I decided to move to Bangalore from Bombay, we could visit a new suburb, buy a site of our choice, and then sit down with an architect to design the house we wanted. No more.

“As the demand for housing overran the availability of land, the estate developers took control, eating into the villages surrounding the city, occupying farms and open spaces, razing houses to the ground, and installing multistory apartment buildings in their place, with little regard to the city’s existing infrastructure.

“The current joke is that the only buildings to remain unscathed by the onslaught may be Vidhana Soudha, the building that houses the legislature, and UB City, a complex that is a hideous combination of the Empire State Building and Internet kitsch, built by a liquor baron….

“Twenty years after we built our house in a residential zone, we have now been informed that the road in front of it needs to be widened to accommodate the traffic. Any day now an entire swath could be cleared from our front garden, and the wall of our living room knocked down.

“A city planner told me: ‘Every day 400 four-wheelers and 1,200 two- and three-wheelers are added to the roads of Bangalore. We have to compete with Beijing.’

“It was not so long ago that the city was competing only with Singapore.”

Read the full article: Karnad on Bangalore


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28 Responses to “Girish Karnad: J.P. Nagar to China via Singapore”

  1. eeprikka Says:

    Can you provide the link to the article in Daily Beast, rather than a link to Daily Beast itself??

  2. Anand Baradi Says:

    Old wine in new bottle …. yawn….

    post something new and wake me up

  3. asha Says:

    It is high time regulations are put on buying 2 wheelers and cars in bangalore and restrict the use of these vehicles only to suburbs and use public transport to work, like singapore does….or else in a few short years namma bengalooru will become worse than calcutta. Also all these progress of bangalore for who…is it for kannadigas or the outsiders who want to settle here????

  4. the colonel Says:




    please spare us this moronic observations

  5. kodladykiran Says:

    what was that?? Seriously I couldnt understand what was Karnad Sir trying to convey here. Growth or change is the only permanent thing in this world. Every thing changes with time, so as Bengaluru city. why we always talk on problems like congestion, traffic, cost of living. why dont we talk on access to healthcare,education,multiple job opportunities..etc which are positive things happened with the time as well. Lets us be more practical rather emotional.

  6. Gokulam 3rd Stage Says:

    Karnad is trying to build this myth (which Guha has tried in the past too) that Bangalore was always a separate city from Bengaluru, and that the former was a British creation.

    I haven’t heard this from anyone other than these two gentlemen. Bangalore and Bengaluru are not like New Delhi and Delhi. There has always been one city the Brits called it Bangalore, and the locals called it Bengaluru.

    If Srirangapattana had become big like Bengaluru, these same gentlemen might have brought out a Seringapatam vs Srirangapattana theory where Seringapatam was built by the British.

  7. BangaloreBaba Says:

    Bangalore will continue to grow – the last decade it was IT, and this decade it will be something else. Finance, aviation, medical tourism…

    And the city will continue to grow, more ring roads will be built, the metro will become bigger and bigger, more signal free corridors will be built.

    And watch out for skyscrapers and supertalls. They are just making a tentative appearance in Bangalore’s skyline. By the end of this decade, we will have at least a dozen supertalls in various stages of completion, and 2-3 of them will already be complete.

    This is going to be the path that Bangalore will take. Accept and welcome the change, you will like it. If you cannot, there’s always Mysore, or even Nanjangud – maybe Madikeri…

  8. sanjeeva Says:

    So, what is new sir?! You have written something which is widely well known. And, it is not only about one city, but it is the same story about all the cities. You have written about Bangalore because you are here. Kindly enquire from your friends in other cities. You will find that they have similar vows to share. First it was four Metros, then ‘A’ class cities, now the side-effects of development” are spreading to ‘B-1’ cities. Can we do something to stop it?! And the irony is the common people cannot do anything about it, whatever government, whatever party we choose…. The only solution is de-congest by decentralizing. But the people themselves do not want that…..

  9. BangaloreBaba Says:

    Asha, restrictions on 2-wheelers and 4-wheeler purchase? Sure, but don’t you think we need to build sufficient public transport first? The metro is a start, but it needs at least another 4 years of construction before it starts becoming a viable form of transport. And it will take at least 15 years for the metro to be spread out widely enough to form a serious alternative to road transport.

    And please, let us dispense with this “Kannadiga-outsider” silliness. Kannadigas have benefited from Bangalore’s growth more than anyone else. First let us understand that.

  10. shanoi Says:

    A blue blood migrants dream expectations and his frustrations perhaps. We must also ask those who come from rural hinter land in search of jobs. I am pleased at the comments. They have been realistic. I was in the planning team for new bombay. We used to hear such comments from rich living in Khar, SantaCruz, Bandra sea face how Bombay was becoming over crowded. The solution is as Mr sanjiva has said but no magic wand seems to be insight for creating jobs which educated middle class would like to embrace (white collar) in B1 cities leave alone smaller towns

  11. ತಿಪ್ಪೇಸ್ವಾಮಿ ಹೊಸೂರು Says:

    sakkhath intellectuall observationsu.. thanksu for putting up-pu; ivella yaarigu gotthirlillaa..

  12. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Solution is to stop breeding like rabbits and better ourselves. That wont happen. Any big improvement has to come from outside the country. We will just keep adjusting.

  13. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    I am thinking of the residents far less influential and well heeled than Shri Karnad in the area and the horror they have to deal with. Or is this a suburb close in style and substance to Shri URA’s Dollars Colony?

  14. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    The conflicting concept of Bengaluru and Bangalore is a reality, and by no means silly. How common are power outages and interrupted water supply in the environs of M. G.Road and suburbs like HSR layout, or even Padmanabha Nagara?

  15. Nastika Says:

    @asha, I have a marwadi friend who speaks non-Kannada at home. But his family has settled in Bangalore for 200 years. They have a house in Chickpet but now they have moved to Sanjaynagar. I am sure you know Kannada. I guess is you are in Bangalore for not more than 30~40 years. Now I am confused, as to who is an outsider? Either you or my friend.


  16. kaadu manushya Says:

    I agree with Karnad.
    there is nothing wrong in having a garden in front of house. infact near mekhri circle all the central government high profile employees have huge gardens for each house.

    so namma jana are inferior to our own people. why again – because of migrants.

    as Bangalorebaba says he wants people to move to nanjangud and gonikoppa!? to allow migrants. – he likes the beauty – as Bhyrappa puts in beauty and truth in so many of his novels.
    the plains beauty and colour is seldom seen here. as the european ones are too spohisticated to these babas they often tend to incline to these plains ones learning hindi from bollywood.
    great going keep the house breaking on. you will get the reply from migrant backstabbers themselves for this one day.

    some of you will be replying with “karnad is also migrant from mumbai………!

    it’s nauseating to live with democracy . i am out.

    ….. to compete with beijing will they bring in prostitutes also or make locally available ones as high profile ones?

    wholly any peace loving kannadiga will not mingle with migrant and the separation of races will continue – the only thing is people are making it to the limit to disturb each other.

  17. DailyBread Says:


    >I was in the planning team for new bombay.

    Sir, with all due respect…

    If we see todays Vashi or Nerul, the planning team has done a pathetic job. I guess it was the same socialist era assumption that people will be commuting on Hercules bicycles.

    Sorry, you had a clean slate, the team had an opportunity to build a modern city, but you messed it up.

  18. shanoi Says:

    Thanks, I respect your opinion. You might have got it wrong. I was not praising New bombay. I was giving my opinion about our honourable blue blood citizens complaining
    Nothing is clean or very good In India. 5000 years old civilisation
    Every thing we get is not the best. Even in religion as practised we dont get best
    With such a vast population and with our mentality we must make do with what we get
    If you go round your locality you just see how many so called honourable citizens have violated Building bye laws and codes
    a few years ago in Koramangala there was a compalint I think and then they found so many so called law abiding had violated the laws.
    The point here Mr Karnad is complaining. Its just that he has to make do with it

  19. BangaloreBaba Says:

    Kaadu Manushya , you are not fit for city life, you should go to the kaadu and kill animals and eat. You are free to do that, but the rest of us want development and jobs in urban centers.

    Your post is a perfect example of why one should not write when drunk. I have no idea what you are babbling about plains and Hindi and Bollywood – is something wrong with you?

    Why are you worried about where “they will bring” prostitutes from? Do you visit one frequently? Anyway, for your information it is not the government’s job to “bring prostitutes”. Since you seem to be so enamoured of white skin and beauty, as I have seen in many of your posts, you can probably look for the East European ones who have begun to ply their trade in Bangalore these days, off MG Road and Church street and Dickenson road.

  20. BangaloreBaba Says:

    PTL saar,

    JP Nagara is also among the list of “posh” localities, in the same league as Dollars Colony. In fact, there is also a “JP Nagar dollars colony” (different from the original RMV 2nd Stage dollars colony).

    I am curious to know about your conflicting concept of Bengaluru and Bangalore. What is this conflicting concept?

  21. Nastika Says:

    “Twenty years after we built our house in a residential zone, we have now been informed that the road in front of it needs to be widened to accommodate the traffic.”

    Haven’t seen Karnad sir’s house in JP Nagar. The road may not be wide for 2-way traffic. But surely would be for 1-way. With some discipline by the residents around that road, it can be one-way. They have to move this via their elected rep. In the end, residents can still have their garden :)


  22. kaadu manushya Says:

    what is development according to you? all roads all ac buses all trains in bengaluru?

    please rethink over it. travel to other parts .
    “Anyway, for your information it is not the government’s job to “bring prostitutes”. ”
    -ok. nandan UID sex scandal
    nd tiwari
    yet to come – chidambaram’s with russian prostitutes.

    dude you are too young for these things. think from a perspective of old sick malnourished kannadiga living in rural areas without food, water , electricity and transport.

    unless people around you are happy you can never be. politicians are scoundrels who show you china and singapore dreams but the fact is in both places there are huge number of prostitutes in cities and we are well above intelectually to allow that development to take place.

    A unesco representative , a jnanpeeth award winner ( agreed he talks less sense sometimes – but we can take it for his old age ) need not talk / request a local idiot corporator. he should order. that will blessing for our stinking administration.

    if we succuumb to city planner then we will be in serious trouble like one more loot of how sm krishna looted bengluru by showing singapore dreams.

    the best residential parts anywhere in world will still have gardens in front of house be it america or japan or england or any first world nation.

  23. DailyBread Says:


    >Haven’t seen Karnad sir’s house in JP Nagar.

    If you ask me, Karnad dude should cross the road and buy an apartment in L&T or Brigade. I have heard that you get great beef in that area….


    Completely in agreement with you. Middle class is the biggest violator of building bye laws. Thats why I have been requesting BDA through good portals of Churumuri to acquire back every single plot allotted by it to residents of Bangalore and build an automobile freindly new city in its place. Its high time we do away with silly crossu, mainu, deadendu, etc..

    Kaadu Manushya,

    >the best residential parts anywhere in world will still have gardens in front of house

    Not if you are a country of 1.25 billion people and going to be 1.75 billion people very soon. More elevators the city has, city will have more greenery (common, to be shared with other city manushyas).

    >chidambaram’s with russian prostitutes.

    His son seems to be the biggest VC & Business strategist south of vindhyas.

  24. BangaloreBaba Says:

    Kaadu Manushya avare, a few points.

    The only thing I agree with you, is that development should be extended to all corners of the nation, and not just to the megacities like Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai… I also feel for the “old malnourished rural Kannadiga”, as you put it.

    But then, I don’t know what point you are trying to make with your other statements.

    I don’t know how much you have traveled, but at the risk of sounding boastful, let me tell you that I have traveled to all continents on the planet except one. “Having garden in front of house” is not something that is practical in any megacity, whether is is London or Tokyo or Bangalore or New York. That is simply economics. The realities of supply and demand.

    And I don’t know your fixation on prostitutes. By the way, prostitutes are also a function of supply and demand. Repeat – no one “supplies” prostitutes to the “innocent public”. Prostitutes exist because there is a demand from males. And a good thing too – better if the males do what they have to with prostitutes in the privacy of their bedrooms, rather than act as predators of ordinary girls on the street.

    While I feel for the poor rural Kannadiga without adequate electricity, it is also true that India needs to create jobs and employment for all categories of people. A PhD in aerospace or a Masters in structural engineering or a B.E. in computer science – all of them need to be absorbed in the economy. There is no point in converting them into naxalites due to absence of adequate opportunities.

    I will be opposed to things like a bullet train if it was subsidized by the government. If there is a natural demand for bullet trains and people are willing to pay for it, thereby making the train run on its own steam without government support, I have no problem with it – we should welcome such development.

  25. kaadu manushya Says:

    “The realities of supply and demand…..”
    it stops at oedipus complex . won’t it? or shouldn’t it?
    i hope you have a mother for it’s realization!
    (prostitution is a curse in any nation . the humanity is abused by child pornography and AIDS today which is rampant under the garb of privacy. so this diligently. make world a better and safer place.
    there is no wisdom is praising Aamir Khan’s show and showing economical terms’ fallacy)


    well. support stopping population growth. educate muslims. educate people in general. take some steps. i am doing my bit.
    but dont tell just to adjust more people i need to stop breathing fresh air or lose agrarian habits. its like a religion to grow a garden in bengluru. we are born from mannu and get one with it. that’s our culture dude not eyeing other wives from apartment complexes like bombay ones. if you wanna support that culture just move out.

  26. Pulikeshi the Last Says:


    Thanks for the valuable demographic info.

    Bengaluru’s conflicted existence has perhaps more than one facet.

    The City of the Rich and Powerful
    The City of a Rising Middle Class
    The City of People who have barely enough
    The City of countless KoLageri Residents

    What interest would the last two groups have in the likelihood of a cosomopolitan belonging to the first of these many classes losing part of his residence to agaleekarana? (It won’t happen.) Their streets need not be widened or their homes insured. They don’t swing by where Bengaluru Habba fanfare takes place. Certainly they do not write to newspapers about whatever difficulty comes their way. If something is not done to make their lives meaningful, and soon, I don’t care whether Bengaluru is truly Bangalore, the megacity, the city of gardens, etc.

  27. Vinay Says:

    PTL – a reply to what you asked BangaloreBaba:

    Bengaluru can progress only when Bangalore progresses. Even in the nostalgic good oooooold days which people often reminisce about, we had the filth in cottonpet/city market/pillanna garden/srirampura/sampangiram nagara, etc.

    The only difference is that in those days, the people who are talking so much today about good ooooooold Bangalore, used to limit themselves to Basavanagudi area, have long walks in the morning in Lalbagh and hog Masala Dose in MTR subsequently. They were completely insulated from the aforementioned localities and the realities of Bengaluru.

    Now at long last, the people in those areas are getting employment and are able to move up the ladder. Bengaluru is progressing now, thanks to Bangalore’s immense progress in the last decade and a half. Airtel sales reps, Citibank telemarketers, Dell call center cab drivers, Tata Sky repairmen, waiters in “Roti Ghar/Mandir”, forum mall attendants, car mechanics in RNS motors Yeshwanthpur, electrical contractors, plumbing contractors – all these are from Bengaluru.

    And when these people progress, Bengaluru progresses. And these people are progressing due to Bangalore’s progress.

    Bengaluru will progress automatically as Bangalore progresses. Ah, but the aforementioned Basavanagudi morning walker is angry because of the traffic and pollution that have caused massive interruptions in his peaceful by-2 kaapi routine. So, we hear cribbing. Cribbing about how Bangalore has been destroyed, how the city is dead, how everything has gone to the daaaags, how they wish they could get back 1970s Bangalore.

    The biggest enemies of Bengaluru’s progress are those whiners, make no mistake.

  28. shanoi Says:

    Thanks Daily bread. I liked your remark ” Travelling on Hercules”
    True, it was a socialist era,
    We struggled for 4 years with P & T department to get a STOWGEAR exchange for Vashi
    We did not get Extension of suburban train from Deonar to new Bombay because railways felt that suburban system was losing proposition in spite of several representations to Railway board and Railways was monopoly

    We also had or limitation of knowledge and exposure to world because of travel restrictions

    Still we made adequate land reservations for central artery for a surface MRT which perhaps is the cheapest among all new towns/new MRTs

    We also had adequate sites for the richest and poorest

    In fact Charles had designed a 5 story block area where 3 classes of income groups could live together
    All in all it may not be the best of the efforts but best indigenous effort under the limitations
    My feelings

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