Posts Tagged ‘BMTC’

Thank god, you don’t need Aadhaar for bus ticket

5 March 2014


Infosys co-founder, outgoing Unique Identity Authority chairman, and prospective Congress candidate from Bangalore South, Nandan Nilekani, takes a bus ride as part of the pre-poll schmoozing exercise, in Bangalore on Tuesday.

Ironically, the photo-opportunity happened on the day angry commuters were demanding increased bus services and not just in the IT-BT corridor which gets most of the attention.

Thankfully, the bus conductor did not holler out to the wannabe-MP to keep his legs in front of him.

Hopefully, the ace quizzer remembers the bus number.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

A stylish lesson in humility from namma Rajni

29 September 2010

There will be many tales told about Rajnikanth in the next few days as Endhrian aka The Robot checks in to a screen near you. Many of them (told by the man himself) will be true, of course, but they will mostly have been manufactured by the buzz machine that modern movies live (and die) by.

Nice to hear, easy to forget.

But the truest stories about Rajnikanth are truly about his humility and humanity despite achieving such stratospheric heights of stardom. About not forgetting his past. About where he comes from. About not losing touch with old friends. About being able to do things he did when he wasn’t earning in crores.

Selvan Shiv Kumar, the Bangalore photographer who passed away recently, detailed one such story about Raj Bahadur (left), who drove the BTS bus on which Rajni was conductor, in his last blog post.



Raj Bahadur lives a one-room pad in Chamarajpet where the superstar visits him in disguise to meet him and stays with him during his Bangalore sojourns.

Rajnikanth, says Bahadur, is still the same old friend he was during their tenure as driver and conductor in the BTS (Bangalore Transport Service) now BMTC; if anything, their friendship has only deepened even as Rajni kept growing from actor to superstar.

Bahadur says Rajni’s simplicity is evident: ‘When he comes to see me, we drink the same old rum with egg-laced delicacies from my sister who lives one floor below mine. When it is bed time, he sleeps on the floor without any complaints.”

Bahadur says Rajni comes unnoticed to his home in various disguises—from beggar to plumber—and leaves after staying with him for a day or two depending on his mood, often sharing his experiences from the netherworld he inhabits.

Once, Rajni was on a shoot in Rajasthan. The role demanded that he dress up as a beggar. In between shots, Rajni decided to visit a mountain-top temple close by since he is a strong believer. On his way to the temple, a lady dropped a Rs 10 note into his palms thinking he was a beggar.

After paying obeisance inside the temple, Rajni was on his way out and getting back into his SUV when the lady who had given him ten 10 rupees noticed him again. She ran towards him and apologised and asked for her note back with his autograph.

Rajni refused: “I am sorry. This note is mine now and I am going to keep it for life.”

This, Bahadur says, Rajni still cherishes as one of his best moments in life as an actor and still carries the Rs 10 in his purse as a remainder that all humans are equal.

For a man who started his job as a bus conductor with a monthly salary of Rs 30 more than 25 years ago, to the star who now gets paid Rs 30 crore per film and yet remain unmoved by all the money is a great feeling. And more so since he is a great friend till death parts us, adds Bahadur with tears in his eyes, which he was unable to stop.

Also read: When a tiger has sex with a tornado

11 similarities between Rajni and the iPod

A hit, yes, but why does Rajni have such a hold?

The most testing day in the life of Rajnikanth

Don’t tell us you didn’t know this one about Rajni

How Rajnikanth caught the lion

When the chief minister prays, the public pays

1 May 2009

Only 10 per cent of India’s 1.1 billion population is said to be aware of the Right to Information (RTI) Act which grants citizens the right to access government documents.

Nevertheless, its power and potential is unmatched. For a nominal fee, any Indian, male or female, rich or poor, can step up to “the scariest government agency” and take his or her shot.

For journalists, RTI is a “game-changer“.

Students of the 2008-09 investigative class of the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media (IIJNM) in Bangalore—under the guidance of Prof Ralph Frammolino, a reporter at the Los Angeles Times for 24 years and a Pulitzer Prize finalist—have used the RTI to show how killer BMTC drivers are back at the wheel; how the State government never fires chronically absentee teachers; and how the chances of corrupt officers trapped by the Lok Ayukta getting punished are low.

They have also used RTI to show how chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa uses public money for his temple visits. It wasn’t easy. They had to make 12 trips to the CM’s office and file an appeal to obtain the documents.



PAVAN KUMAR H. and P. KRISHNAMURTHY write: During his first five months in office, Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa spent more than Rs 11 lakh in government funds to make eight trips to Hindu temples—including one to Tirupathi to take part in the Bramhotsava.

Records obtained by IIJNM Investigations under the Right To Information (RTI) Act show that Yediyurappa charged the eight trips to taxpayers as “official” business.

In five out of eight instances, he used government funds to rent a helicopter or an airplane to carry himself and several top ministers to Hindu shrines, where he offered pujas and, in one case, inaugurated a food serving hall.

Interviews and records also show that during the same period, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader made no official visits to other houses of worship even after being invited by Christian and Muslim leaders.

And in one case, Yediyurappa was visiting a Mangalore temple at government expense the day after pro-Hindutva vandals ransacked two nearby Christian sanctuaries.

Despite heavy media coverage of the church incidents, Yediyurappa didn’t show up at the churches, although he denounced the attacks on prayer halls and met Christian leaders. Still, his failure to visit the sanctuaries prompted accusations that he and his pro-Hindu BJP tacitly condoned the attacks—a charge he vigorously denies.

A BJP spokesman defended the chief minister’s temple visits, saying the reason he didn’t go to mosques and churches in the first few months of his tenure was because “he was not invited.” Yeddyurappa has since gone to at least one dargah and one church, according to press reports.

“Yediyurappa is not against any religion,” said A.L. Shivkumar, media manager of the State BJP. “He treats all religions equally.”

Kumar said Yediyurappa has gone to more temples because Hindu priests continually ask him to.

“He visits many places and people invite him to the temples nearby, so he goes there,” he said. “He is a ‘pakka‘ (devout) Hindu and he goes to a temple as every traditional Hindu does. It would be wrong if he does not go there.”

But Christian and Muslim leaders have another account.

Adolf Washington, public relations officer for the Catholic Archbishop’s office in Bangalore, said church officials had called Yediyurappa “many times but he did not come. He is a Chief Minister so we cannot force him to come.”

Salim Babu, secretary of the Karnataka Wakf Board, which manages mosques for the government, said both Yediyurappa and his Wakf Board Minister, Mumtaz Ali Khan, have spurned requests from the Muslim community to attend events and meetings.

“He is not interested in attending mosques,” Salim said about Yeddyurappa, adding that the chief minister showed favoritism to the religious majority. “He should not discriminate between a tall son and a dwarf son.”

Records show that Yediyurappa’s State-paid temple visits began shortly after he was sworn in on 30 May 2008.

His first was on June 17, a trip that cost taxpayers Rs 2,440, to the Ghati Subramanya Temple in Doddabalapur. That was followed 12 days later by a Rs 854 car ride to the Sri Keshtra Siddhara Betta temple in Tumkur. There, the chief minister participated in a Guru Vadana, or tribute ceremony, in honor of Shiva Kumar Swamiji of Siddaganga Mutt.

The most expensive trips were to Tirupathi, India’s most famous Hindu shrine. His trips on July 17 and October 1 each cost taxpayers Rs 3.6 lakh for a “special aircraft” and Rs 9,500 for the taxi.

The official purpose given for the trips was “local visit,” although the latter was during the Bramhotsava. The nine-day festival is the busiest time for the temple.

Twice he flew in state-paid helicopters to temples. A September 8 trip to the Banavasi temple in Hassan cost Rs 1.4 lakh for the helicopter ride. The other, on October 10, cost taxpayers nearly Rs 1.9 lakh for transportation to the Sri Krishna Mutt in Udupi, where he inaugurated  the food hall.

According to the CM’s office, a temple visit is “official” and paid by the government if Yediyurappa is invited by a local official, such as a district commissioner (DC), to attend a public ceremony, function or make an inspection.

Also read: How to use RTI and be the change you want to see

CHURUMURI POLL: Is the Haj airfare sacrosanct?

As if BMTC was only a Universal Serial Bus service

5 September 2008

NANDITA J, in a letter to the editor of Deccan Herald:

“While waiting at the bus stand, I recently experienced some of the resentment commonly voiced against the ‘greater mortals’—the IT folk!

“Half an hour had passed without a single bus stopping by as the numbers of the waiting lot multiplied. Public buses were plenty but they were all ferrying the folks from Infosys, Wipro, etc.

“Should public property be used to serve private companies?

“For the comfort of a minuscule percentage of Bangaloreans travelling by air, trees have been massacred, roads widened and special AC buses pressed into service. The pricing is so exorbitant that no ordinary commuter can afford it. As a result these Vayu Vajras and Suvarnas run mostly empty or occupied to not more than five per cent capacity.

“But what else can you expect in the new capitalist India? Truly, there is no value for life here, specially if you happen to be poor.”

Photograph: courtesy Aseef Syed via Picasa

Also read: Three reasons why everybody loves to hate IT

M.S. PRABHAKARA: Why shouldn’t old men be mad at Bangalore?

C.N.R. RAO: If IT takes away Bangalore’s values, burn IT

Bangalore’s best building since Vidhana Soudha?

21 August 2008

RAMYA KRISHNAMURTHY writes from Bangalore: Despite what Infosys’ T.V. Mohandas Pai told us, the new Bangalore International Airport (BIAL) hasn’t seen IT business plunge “by 30 per cent”. Despite what V. Ravichandar told us, Tamil Nadu hasn’t announced a rival airport in Hosur.

Despite what Janagrahaa’s Ramesh Ramanathan told us, nobody has found any issues with “connectivity” although a few poor souls have perished in establishing that. And despite what Biocon’s Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said, a grave “crisis” hasn’t come upon us due to the new airport.


In fact, having used the airport more than a few times in the last couple of months, I would do two things. One, I would publicly disavow my initial apprehensions and declare it the most magnificent “public” structure Bangalore has built since the Vidhana Soudha, and that was 50 years ago.

The new airport is everything the old HAL airport was not—clean, unfussy, functional, well lit, and passenger-friendly with lots of space to walk around, park the car, etc. Above all, it is the best advertisement for “Brand Bangalore” than the cattle fair the old airport was.

And two, I would publicly vow to take the “wisdom” of Bangalore’s self-apppointed “experts” who have “seen the world” with a pound of smooth-flowing iodised salt, and not just on the airport but on any issue, henceforth.

The only problem I have with the new airport are public transport costs.

Mysore to Bangalore: Distance 140 km. Fare by KSRTC-run Volvo bus Rs 200. Approximately 20-30 passengers on board. Translates to roughly Rs 1.5 per km.

Majestic to Devanahalli: Distance 35 km. Fare by BMTC-run Volvo Rs 125. Approximately 10-15 passengers on board. Translates to roughly Rs 3.5 per km.

Any wonder BMTC claimed a few years ago that it was the only profitable public transport system in Asia?

Profitable, yes, but “public” transport?

Photograph: Prashant Krishnamurthy

Also read: Edifice complex complex kills our cities, then our citizens