Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bangalore traffic woes: Can we improve the situation?

Bangalore as a city is severely plagued by traffic issues. And it has numerous reasons to be in that situation. The steady influx of people from all over the country, to either work in the IT city or study at the numerous institutions here has translated to good business for contractors, but has eaten up the lungs of the city - the roads. You go to Hosur Road on any of the weekdays and you will find that from the Silk Board Junction to Electronic City, vehicles are lined up bumper-to-bumper. Just traveling during office hours has become a nightmare for most, leave alone driving. No wonder you hear of so many incidents everyday of someone getting crushed by a speeding bike or hit by a car. Its actually very easy to lose your cool at times. Also, the deteriorating condition of the roads has meant that the load of the traffic is not shared well amongst the existing roads; thereby worsening the situation. Instead of coming up with new roads and flyovers all the time, if they could improve the inner roads; these roads could serve to bypass some of the major thoroughfares, thus distributing the load and speeding up the process.
What is utmost important at thus time is the need for an alternate system. The transport ministry is putting the Metro service into place and I think that would be a huge boost. If the service can be maintained well and connect most of the important locations in the city, if not all; then it would serve two purposes. Firstly, it would no doubt help the worsening traffic problems as the bulk would be routed to the Metro. Secondly, it would help reduce the burden on vehicles which would mean that people would be less encouraged to own personal vehicles. Thus, ultimately we will also be able to reduce the levels of pollution.
Another thing that can be done is to discourage people to buy personal vehicles. Either increase the costs of buying a new vehicle like taxes etc. Already the fuel hike pinches the public. A further increase in base costs of owning a vehicle would definitely help( I don't know how much that would be feasible, though!). Further, incentives could be provided to people to use public transport. Like reduction of prices of public transport vehicle tickets. Also increasing the frequency of the vehicles or providing better facilities like they have in the Volvo buses (which are an experience by themselves). These measures would not go unnoticed.
But I believe that the need of the hour is to educate the drivers and discipline them. A lot of the problems arise because of rash driving. People change lanes, zig zag on the road, its like crazy. All that needs to be stopped. A good way is to severely punish them and the punishment should not be in monetary terms because that does not help. Either you take the driving license away or ban the driver for a few months. Once the laws become stringent then people will take up notice and start adhering to them.
I don't know how much of all this would be actually applied. But even if 10% of it is, traveling in Bangalore would be that much better.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Royal victory for the Kolkata Knight Riders

As the official website of Kolkata Knight Riders had put it 'Royal win for Kolkata Knight Riders', it was truly a win in ROYAL style. Right from the first ball bowled by Praveen Kumar to Ganguly till the end when Shukla got the ageing Sunil Joshi caught by McCullum; it was Kolkata Knight Riders all the way. The Bangalore Royal Challengers could never put up a good challenge and thus got crushed by a mighty margin of 140 runs in the opening match of the Indian Premier League held at their own backyard - The Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.
But lets rewind ourselves to the start of the match. After the dazzling fireworks and the sizzling show put up by the performers, everyone was expecting a similar display from the players. And boy, did they get one! But it came from one of the most unlikely fellows in the team - New Zealand wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum. He hit an unbeaten 158 of just 73 balls, which included 10 fours and 13 sixes. Not only was it the highest score in the match (for which he rightfully got the Man-of-the-Match award), it was also the highest score by any individual in a Twenty20 match. Such was the impact of blitzkrieg that Dravid and his men were down and out when returning to the team dug-out after the Knight Riders' innings. The next highest score was that of Ponting who made 20 followed by extras which amounted to 17. Sourav hit 2 fours. Ponting hit a boundary and cleared the ropes once during his stay. Hussey played a bit too. But no one could take the glory away from McCullum. His innings was a show of clean hitting, improvisation and some clever positioning. That he was able to survive the entire 20 overs tells the story. The Bangalore Royal Challengers' bowlers had no clue as to what to bowl to him. Even Dravid admitted during the presentation ceremony that he tried various strategies to get him out; rotating his bowlers, trying new tactics; but to no avail. One of the shots that I truly liked was the attempted sweep which went for a six. Whew! How can one hit such a cheeky shot to the ropes, I just can't fathom! Quite deservingly, the Kolkata Knight Riders ended their innings at 222/3, thus setting the Bangalore Royal Challengers a target of 223 to be scored in 20 overs at an asking rate of over 11 per over.
Now what would you expect the captain of a team coming out to chase a score of 223 in 20 overs to do? You would want to see clean hitters opening the innings so as to get the boost. But what do you see? Wasim Jaffer and Rahul Dravid coming out to open the innings. I presume they took it as a Test Match where their Objective was to survive the 20 overs. The home crowd expected fireworks from their Royal Challengers team. But sadly there were none to come. In contrast, Kolkata Knight Riders chose to open the bowling with a rookie - Ashoke Dinda. He was quick, pumped up and accurate. From the first over itself, he showed no nerves (None of the bowlers needed to; the target was too big and the pressure was totally on the batsmen) and bowled to the field. His first over on the big stage was good but there was better to come. The prized bowler of the Kolkata Knight Riders - Ishant Sharma was next. And his entry was a bang. The first ball he bowled ripped apart the leg-stump of Rahul Dravid as he attempted to hit through the line. The WALL had been breached. Next came the captain of the Indian U-19 team - Kohli. Ishant Sharma was bowling in-swingers to which he had no reply. He was bowled by Dinda in the very next over. Kallis came in next and tried to steady the boat. he hit a six too. But the rout had started. He was caught off the bowling of Agarkar (who as usual got hit for a few runs but as usual took some wickets, which were all that mattered). And then Jaffer was caught by Ponting. The others just came in and tried their hands at swinging the willow. The Knight Riders were enjoying their time so much that Ponting could even afford to miss a catch ( so rare I don't remember any instance of this happening before). In the end it became a no-show with the Bangalore Royal Challengers getting bundled for a mere 82 runs, thus providing the Kolkata Knight Riders with a victory of 140 runs.
My roommates were joking that the Knight Riders don't have to bat in their next match. The opponent team should first chase down the remaining 140 runs, then they would come out to topple the score. In the presentation ceremony, Dravid was looking dejected as usual as he admired the innings of McCullum and Ganguly was understandably elated. The tournament had started well and I hope that the 40 day Festival of cricket really lives up to its massive billing.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

BarCamp Bangalore 6

The summer edition of this year's Barcamp Bangalore is going to take place at IIM-Bangalore on 19th and 20th of April,2008. Since it will be my first visit to a Barcamp, I am really excited. In february this year I had gone to the first edition of DevCamp which took place at Thoughtworks, Bangalore and really liked it. The unconference format was not new to me since we had the same at Osmosis - The MindTree TechFest, but the sessions were really enriching.
DevCamp was more of a tech, geek conference and it was suitable to hold it in Bangalore. But BarCamp is a universal concept with much more participation and a greater appeal. So I am going this weekend. Hope to see a lot of you there.

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Abhishek Saha
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
A NRB (Non Resident Bengali) or rather a 'Probashi Bangali'; born in Kolkata, brought up in Jamshedpur and now trying to make his mark at IIM Lucknow.
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