No party state

Bangalore’s prudish conscience-keepers strike again

City authorities in Bangalore have taken it upon themselves that its citizens must stop partying by 11:30 pm. And that’s not because the stagecoach will turn back into a pumpkin. It is because the city authorities feel that the ‘unregulated growth of dance bars’ will endanger the moral values of a city that was once a pensioner’s paradise (via TriNetre).That it is now a city with global business interests spanning all major time zones seems to have been lost on a state government that seems determined to do its best to damage Bangalore’s growth.

The details are even more bizarre — deejays will be forced to play classical music to prevent people from dancing. Die-hard partygoers who disregard the city’s laws are liable to be arrested. Resources of the city police, better spent tackling serious crime, keeping the streets safe and the traffic flowing, will now be used to prevent otherwise law-abiding citizens from incriminating themselves. Crooked cops must be rubbing their hands in glee as this will allow them to ‘share’ some of the prosperity that the IT industry has brought to the city.

It is not as if Bangalore has no real problems. Instead of confronting serious problems like infrastructure and pollution that threaten to undermine the city’s future, the ragtag outfit that passes for a government in Karnataka state has chosen to legislate on what is the right time to stop dancing. The media has dubbed this the ‘Talibanisation’ of Bangalore. It is not wrong. It does not matter whether restrictions on personal liberties are placed by a theocratic regime or a democratic one with an prudish sense of morality that it intends to impose on the people. It does not even matter what the excuse is — if late night partygoers break the law, they should be caught and punished. If noise is a concern, then those noisy clubs can be asked to stop the noise from leaking out into the public. Asking people and clubs to stop dancing is a crude measure that only befits the Taliban.

Bangalore’s conscience-keepers have been around for a while. In the late 1980s they lamented the mushrooming of pubs selling (rather good) draught beer. In the early 1990s, when Bangalore was among the first Indian cities to embrace globalisation, ‘farmers associations’ registered their unhappiness with Kentucky Fried Chicken by vandalising its outlets. These causes have since lost their appeal among the moral brigade. The ban on late-night dancing will join this list of absurdities. But the Bangalore of 21st century is not the pensioner’s paradise of yesteryears. It cannot allow its society and economy to be dictated by the persuasions and idiosyncracies of its dogmatic politicians, who at best, enjoy an equivocal electoral mandate.

Like Mumbai, Bangalore is suffering from step-motherly (of the Cinderella sort) governance at the hands of state politicians who wield undue power over the city. Constitutional rearrangements may help, but like in the case of Mumbai, Bangalore’s residents, even those who do not have voting rights, have to be more pro-active in matters that concern them. This story too has a fairy godmother — a few million of them, in fact. If only they would care.

Related Links: Ravikiran on the Dharam Singh government’s apathy.

8 thoughts on “No party state”

  1. Unfortunately Governments in India do not listen to citizens who do not adopt violent means of protest. Otherwise there have been scores of petitions, letters etc that have been sent to the Govt. Not sure if you are aware that most of the IT companies are keeping away from IT.COM conference…as they say you cannot wake up a man pretending to be asleep….thats what it is with the Karnataka Govt

  2. Amusing indeed 🙂 Infact even if the infrastructure and the traffic and the law and order situation was perfect – even then, going ahead with such rules is unacceptable.

  3. Sad day for Bangalore… 🙁 We really need some more civil disobedience. On the other hand, maybe this will finally convince Infy to open up an office in the NCR – does anybody know WHY Infy avoids Delhi like the plague? I’ve always wondered? It can’t be the Punjabis as they have punjus in Mohali.. hmmm..

    It’s a shame really. It goes back to the whole keep state capitals in small, unknown cities and let the cities flourish, DAMMIT!

  4. Although not an expert on Karnataka politics, I think one of the reason this is happening is that because Dharam Singh is a “Lame Duck” chief minister.
    (therefore understandable that he will indulge in such inanity)

    Same with Vilasrao Deshmukh.

    (And same with Manmohan Singh ;-))

  5. Locally enforced time limits for bars, restuarants etc are the norm pretty much all over the world. The primary motivation for these limits is public safety, afterall your desire to booze, and puke has to be balanced against my desire to cross the road with my body, soul and limbs intact. Calling this “talibanization” is nonsense, it trivializes what the Tabliban did and it does not even attempt to identify the basic issue – to what extent can any government tell you what to do.

    Regarding KFC – KRRS was really a farmers association, one could argue about their methodologies, but the issues and concerns that they raised were very valid and very real. The main concerns were (a) effect of factory farming and large scale food sourcing on farmers, (b)health concerns over junk food. Factory farming is now increasingly realized as non-sustainable by the main stream, not just the lefties. On the second issue, nothing much need to be said. Why any one would want to eat from KFC by free will is another mystery.

  6. SanB, while you make an interesting point, I’m curious – any studies or statistics showing the later you keep bars open – the more crime occurs? In fact, I would state the opposite. Keep bars open all night, most of the drunks will be inside boozing away, rather than standing outside, lamenting the lack of a place to get a drink and bother you. Laws like these have one, and only one intent. To harrass. Imposing this law means that the 5-star hotels, which have a reputation to maintain will grease palms so that they can stay open an extra 2-3 hours. And what gives any government of a free democracy to dictate what kind of music is played in a bar, whatever the time. That is “talibanisation” for sure. Classical music. What a joke!

    Further, again, this is a democracy. If KRRS didn’t like KFC, there was no reason to damage their property – all they had to do was protest. The ends do not justify the means. If their arguments really made any sense, they would have developed a following, or do you believe, like so many other people, that Indians are totally incapable of reason?

  7. Well, It was a foregone conclusion that when the JD has even half a foot in the power corridor, it means your state is gone to the dogs, especially in Karnataka.

    I am not surprised that Bangalore is crumbling.

    The same media which incessantly harped on Krishna and Naidu’s focus on their capitals never pointed that if Hyd’d or B’lore werent sucessful the rest of the state would suffer.

    But now they are suddenly singing that tune.

    Every new area starts with a association, but as it grows the association either dies -due to neglect, or aligns to some shady power center. (for example, in my area currently, all the new neighbours dont even invite people to their housewarming, forget talking to them!)

    As much as the three official arms of the democracy need to function, the other two – media and citizens need to complement it.
    In India its just a collective failure of all.

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