July 09, 2011


About 30-35 years back T R Shamanna, V S Krishna Iyer, T D Naganna, G Narayan, Ramdev, J Lingaiah....were the few names familiar to every Bangalorean. They were the city fathers, i.e., Councillors of the then civic body of Bangalore. Bangalore was not this big. The Councillors were taking up the cause of real civic issues and hence were very nearer and dearer to the people.

TR Shamanna was popularly called as Cycle Shamanna. And there was an interesting story behind it. During those days, the most popular mode of transport for the common man was Bicycle. It was more utilitarian and considered as the common man's vehicle. It was common to see cycle stands, cycle shops..etc everywhere. Each cycle had to possess a license. ( yes, you may not believe it now). Once, the municipal body raised the cycle tax. This group led by Shamanna organized a popular movement and succeeded in getting the cycle tax and the licensing abolished. T R Shamanna became Cycle Shamanna.

V S Krishna Iyer, was a well known name then for his generous service to the City. He was the Mayor of Bengaluru and became a big name for his benevolence. He was the Urban Development Minister too in the State Cabinet and later became Member of Parliament from Bangalore South in 1984. In fact he was lone opposition candidate from the state to win in those Parliament elections that were held immediately after the assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi. Such was his popularity that he could swim against the tough wave  of sympathy that was around then.  I very well remember even now, that how he helped our team in Delhi when we had been to Amarnath Yathra during 1985.

After I became the minister, he regularly called me to congratulate whenever some good deed happened in our department or some news appeared about me. Such a large mind he has. Today, Krishna Iyer is seriously ill, getting treated at Appollo hospital. He is 90 years now. When I sat besides him today, in the hospital, I could see a flash of recognition in his eyes. So energetic person he was during his hey days.. This senior citizen has been our city's proud possession and will remain so. I pray for his health and speedy recovery.

Later I was at Nephron-urology unit located in the premises of Victoria hospital. Sri Patil Puttappa, the grand old man of our state is admitted there undergoing treatment for his prostrate gland surgery. The freedom fighter, noted editor-journalist, a fighter for the cause of Kannada and Karnataka..... Sri Patil puttappa, is popularly called as Papu by everyone.
Papu is 95 years young! When I sat with him, it wasn’t surprising that he never uttered a single sentence about his ailment. He relentlessly spoke about the need to save our language. He was explaining about his dream project of Gandhi Gram near Hubli. In fact he invited me to come for foundation stone laying ceremony in September.  Throughout my time with him today, I couldn’t notice a tinge of agony on the face of this just operated nonagenarian.

V S Krishna Iyer and Patil Puttapa, both are the conscious keepers of our land. They have guided, appreciated and at the same time have not hesitated to correct and stop any wrong step or the misdeed that the present people do. The guidance of such personalities is all the more required in these days of everyday turmoil.

I pray that all may go well with them and that they may be in good health for years to come! 

July 06, 2011


Till now I had not stepped outside India. I am in Singapore on an invitation to participate in the Water Leaders Summit at the Singapore International Water Week. The theme of the Summit is ‘Sustainable Water Solutions for a Changing Urban Environment'. The summit began the day before, on 4th July with an inaugural address by the Deputy PM and the Finance Minister Mr Tharman Shanmugarathnam. It was one of the simplest and briefest inaugural functions that I have ever seen. Unlike our programs, inauguration itself was not made into an event.
After a brief introduction, the Dy PM was asked to deliver his inaugural words. Yesterday, the PM of Singapore Mr Lee Hsien Loong (yes, he is the son of that legendary builder of modern Singapore Mr Lee Kuan Yew) participated.  The important thing is he did not give any speech. But it was an intense interactive dialogue with the audience. The Chairperson of the Water Leaders Summit Prof Tommy Koh asked the first question about the need that made Singapore to take difficult decisions towards becoming self sufficient for water needs. Till now Singapore depended upon Malaysia for its water. Then about 12 delegates asked various questions, all pertaining to water needs. AND the well-versed PM answered all the questions excellently.
The felicity with which he handled the questions was something wonderful. Without making any note of the questions (some of which were very long and some very complex containing two or more issues) and without seeking any assistance from any aide, Mr Lee gave his insight about how the challenge was converted into an opportunity.
He said that the key to water success is to set the priority right. Mr Lee advocated that there are no magic solutions to overcome urban water problems and achieving water self sufficiency is a slow, painstaking process. He gave this assessment when he was tapped for advice he could give to any other Country.  Saying he was apprehensive to give any advice because every city’s problems are different, he told “I think the most important thing may not be water itself, but it is the ability of the city to administer effective water management.”
Singapore today is focusing on 3 ways for tacking Water needs. a) Conserving Rain water  b) Recycling c)  Desalination. The PM was sipping the 'recycled' water throughout that interaction. The recycled water is labeled as NEW WATER. And in the convention the delegates drank the same water without any reluctance or hesitation.  The PM spoke on the importance of Governance, Public Education & Proper Technology to make Water Management more effective. It was a real, real Demonstration of leading the country by example. Thank you Lee, for showing the insight, vision and determination,
And as the Indian Water Resources Minister Mr Salmon Khurshid said, the 3 priorities for our country are Water, Water and Water. We should focus on clean water, More Water and Affordable Water.

There is lot more to take back to my state from here. I am preparing for my tomorrow’s address at the South Asian Ministers conference. More of my enriching experiences later.