U R Ananthamurthy, one of India's literary greats and a proud resident of Bengaluru, looks on with mixed feelings about the change his city has witnessed over the years. The Padma Bhushan and Jnanpith award winner shared his thoughts with rediff.com about the changing Bengaluru and also the threat of terrorism.
"I would like to begin with the name change that I had suggested for Bangalore. I had proposed that the city should be called Bengaluru. There was a lot of opposition and I was quite taken aback when I heard that the globalising world did not want to say a new word (Bengaluru). Well, what I would like to tell the globalising world is that in Bangalore we do still have a Bengaluru.
"It is unfortunate that cities including Bengaluru are being built only for the youth and fast cars. What is the point in living in a city where an old man, a child or a disabled person cannot cross the road? I am not here to reject development, I only want to critique it. A city in which a person takes an hour to cross a road is not a good city.
"Look at the political scenario. The mining lobby seems to be in control of politics in Karnataka. There has been such a reversal of roles in democracy. Earlier the rich used to go to the MLAs or MPs but now it is the other way around and this is disturbing. But I am sure this will change soon. A Brarack Obama (US presidential candidate) may happen in India too. You never know. When I see the likes of Obama, it gives me hope.
"I see that there has been a regional divide and the Belgaum border issue with Maharasthra is one such example. I have always suggested that Marathis living in Belgaum should get all the privileges. It is not possible to draw a line on the basis of language. I suggest that we translate all great Marathi books into Kannada and vice versa. We should undertake more such exercises in order to diminish the barriers we have on the basis of language.
"Now coming to the key issue and also the most disturbing one -- terrorism. I believe that there are two kinds of terrorism. Naxal terrorism and communal terrorism. There is a distinction between the two. While Naxal terrorism is like cancer, communal terrorism is rabies. What worries me the most is that the Muslims in our country are feeling embarrassed about their religion. Every time a blast occurs, the media pitches it in such a manner that the Muslims are responsible for it. Please do not hold a community responsible. Every time a blast occurs, a dozen Muslims are picked up. Why is this being done after every incident? The police could have well done it earlier, if they thought that these men were a threat. Terrorism should not be made a communal issue. Instead it should be controlled by strict implementation of the law.
"Look at the situation surrounding the Amarnath issue. The Amarnath Yatra was made possible by Muslims. I even heard that the ice sculpture of Lord Shiva was discovered by a Muslim. Giving ownership to the Amarnath shrine board will do no good.
"It hurts me no end when I see pilgrimages becoming tourism and mosques and temples becoming hubs to hatch conspiracies. All this has to stop."
U R Ananthamurthy spoke to Vicky Nanjappa