Tuesday, May 16, 2006


There’s a Tourism expo going on in Mysore for two days, given the name “Karnataka: One state, Many Worlds”. Whatever that means! It is hosted by the Karnataka State Government Tourism Department and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Known as FICCI in India). Several delegates from around the Country and outside India have arrived to take part in the tourism fair. The event was opened by the young Chief Minister of the State and was a perfect venue for important people to make outlandish sound bites. I don’t want to be too cynical, but, due to the history of people making tall promises that can never be implemented (for reasons best known to the people blowing hot air), it is but natural to remain a skeptic.

Here’s what I culled from a local (Mysore) news website:

I quote the newspiece: “Speaking on the potential of tourism in Karnataka, L. Shanthakumari, Principal Secretary, Department of Information, Tourism and Youth Services, remarked that Karnataka could be seen as an expanding tourist destination. A proposal had been made to the Centre for creating an International Airport at Mysore, she disclosed.” (I did a double take when I read this part).

She continues, and I quote: “The number of tourist was rising given the fact that on national basis it was 2.13 crore in 2004-05 while it was 2.3 crore during 2005-06 upto February 2006 itself, she explained. As far as tourists from abroad were concerned, their number was 1.82 lakh during 2004-05 while it rose to 3 lakh in 2005-06. We are expecting more than 6 crore tourists to Karnataka from different parts of the country and more than 5 lakh from abroad during the coming financial year," Shanthakumari explained. Out of 116 recognised tourist destinations, 36 did not have the facilities of mini-connect circuits and other basic facilities, she disclosed.”

Fabulous statistics there, Madam and thanks for the same. Heartening to know that there are number crunchers in the tourism department, if not for anything else. The cynic in me has to think hard about this because we don’t even have the earlier proposed domestic airport yet after decades of false promises from "earnest" politicians. The work that was to begin (again)late last year and postponed several times, has still to start in right earnest, now that it is middle of May. Here is an official who makes claims that cannot be followed up. Remember my previous article on Mysore Airport? The runway and terminal is to be designed to handle an Aircraft that has around 50 seat capacity. Most turboprops can be operated in and out, just to refresh readers’ memories.

Where’s the additional land going to come from, in order to put in a runway of at least 8,000 feet (double the length proposed at the moment for the domestic Aircraft operations). Lots of questions will come up from now on.

I question the insipid media and their inability to ask tough and relevant questions to the lady that made the statement. Could they not come up with normal questions that I have put above? The local print media has failed us again, reporting only sound bites (or hot air as applicable) without asking questions on behalf of their readers. The domestic airport issue has not been tackled yet and here is an important person making false promises. I don’t know what FICCI representatives were doing, whether they have asked the relevant questions or kept quiet. A journalist friend wrote to me on another subject and I quote “We are generally a gutless people, Indians at large. Intellectuals are the greatest culprits” and I think it applies here.

When Mysore gets an International Airport, although I’d be the first one to support a project like it, will be the day the Nandi Bull (a large stone monolith on Chamundi Hill in Mysore) will stand up, let out a loud bellow and runs down the hill, signaling the end of the World as we know it (tales from our childhood about "Pralaya"-end of the World).

Happy dreams Mysoreans!


Athul K S said...

Hi sir ,
that was a nice piece of writing ,
the end was real nice .

coming to the topic ,
i feel that , whenever a new news comes up , just like now the lady said that there will b a international airport , people rnt botherd to ask or may b they dont know what has happent to that place or event which they r talking about , as a resuly the promisers go unquestioned from the media .

and as far the media people r concerned they r trying to b on top of another with whatever news they can get as important or of big importance , seldom tracing its possibility .

There was once instance sometime back when one prominet industrialist called off the interview cos the interviwing person dint know what he himself was talking about , ( very strange though )

Before english men left india , they taught us how to b servant and not to b our own masters .
and its effect is still seen in everyday things .

In a country like us , where majority want to b servants , its difficult for people with ideas to implent as there r enough POWERFUL SERVANTS ( poloiticians ) who unfortunately r of that category to spoil the ideas which would take a nation to heights .

The good news is that things r changing slowly , and i wish atleast some MASTERS get to power and take few steps so that coming generation will b able to say that someone has seen something in advance and has done somthing .


Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Athul,
I have an update. Another news item in Star of Mysore came up regarding the mysore airport project. I quote the article below:
""Mysore, May 16 (MRS&RR)- The Karnataka High Court will conduct the final hearing on the land dispute pertaining to Mandakalli Airport on May 30.c
This was disclosed by Vinaykumar, Principal Secretary, Infrastructure Development, Government of Karnataka, in his address at the panel discussion on "Challenges of Connectivity" under the auspices of Tourism Expo at Yashaswi Convention Centre here this morning.
The speech read out in his absence by Tourist Department Principal Secretary L. Shanthakumari, disclosed that the Government's plea to vacate the stay against acquisition of 20 acres of land would be taken up on that day. The previous hearing was held on Apr. 30.
Vinaykumar hoped that the stay was expected to be vacated facilitating the launching of development work on the airport.
He said that 175 acres of land had already been handed over to Airports Authority of India (AAI) except 20 acres which is under litigation.
He also disclosed that UAE Airlines will start operations from Mangalore Airport from May 27 thus putting Mangalore on international map.
All the speakers were of the unanimous view that tourism in Karnataka in general and Mysore in particular will not grow unless the air connectivity was improved."

What is worse is that Singapore Airline general manager for india says in the next paragraph:" Declaring that Singapore Airlines was prepared to start daily service to Bangalore the Airlines General Manager in India, B.K. Ong observed that due to lack of facilities Bangalore had less international connectivity as compared to other metros in India.
Remarking that the facilities in Bangalore Airport were not upto the mark, Ong said that 50 international operators were operating from Delhi while only 11 from Bangalore against Mumbai's 42 and Chennai's 30.
He suggested international connectivity to the proposed Mysore Airport which would generate strong economy and employment."

So, these politicians and officials got the singapore airlines guy interested in Mysore International Airport, when even the domestic one is yet to take off! Whats funny is that the same official (the lady) contradicts her own statement when she reads out the statement of the principal secy for infrastructure.

As I said before, Mysoreans-dream on.

GVK said...

Strong stuff, Capt.Murthy. It's the kind of piece I'd do after a stiff Sing sling.
Seriously, you don't need to be a cynic to see the point. Which is, our bureaucrats (some of them) seem to speak political lingo (using words without meaning them). If I were a newspaper editor, I'd print the Murthy blog as 'guest edit.' (after redlining references to media being insipid and the rest).
Our friend Athul K S faults newspapers of printing whatever news (he probably meant muck) they can get. Can't blame them for reporting VIPs, can we? If our VIPs can't do better, it isn't the media's fault. My grouse is, as Capt. Murthy puts it so flowerily, that too many of our journalists, and too much of our media (including our city TV channel) let 'speechifiers' get away with baloney. Maybe the fault is ours, readers. Aren't we letting the media get away with playing doormat to the power people, rather than a watchdog.

Vijendra Rao said...

If I were a newspaper editor, I would have vacated the chair for Captain.
I would agree more with Athul and less with GVK when the latter seemingly sides the media. I don't dispute GVK as his personal experience may be different, but I have seen quite a few journalists, including a couple in Mysore, who specialise in reporting what the VIPs haven't said. This is not to deny that many of the VIPs are quick to refute what they have said a day earlier. That gives me the subject for my next blog on press-distrust-india.blogspot.com.
Thanks Captain, Anup and GVK.

GVK said...

Did you say, Mr Vijendra Rao, there are journalists who specialise in reporting what VIPs haven't said ? You're right, I have not come across this breed in my career. But then we have occasionally reporters who can't make out what a VIP wants to convey, and resort to saying what they perceive the VIP had said.

Anyway,I am sure Mr Rao would agree, reporting a VIP faithfully (verbatim) is no crime. It is imperative for a humble reporter in small-town media, dominated by propritor-editors who can't/won't alienate the power people to endorse the news judgement made by a reporter. Besides,there is no more effective way to expose a loose-mouthed VIP than reporting him/her verbatim. The point is editors/columnists who can comment, and readers (letter-writers) often allow VIPs to get away with poppycock.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Mr. Vijendra, for the nice compliment. However, the editor these days need to be more of an "establishment" man (I may be wrong) and I am not one of those! I am not anti establishment all the time, only when needed, or I feel it is required to shake up things.

A short note to Mr. GVK, I wish I wrote the piece after some sing sling, perhaps this piece would have been less biting! I must tell you and Mr. Vijendra that this thing, the sling, can be quite addictive, once you've tried it.

Vijendra Rao, the critical outsider said...

The relevant portion in the last sentence of my previous comment may please be (correctly) read as Captain, Athul and GVK.
Sorry, these things are threatening to become a bit common these days. I promise to take care next time.

Vijendra Rao, the critical outsider said...

Meanwhile, the news report that extracted Captain's vitriol out of him was wrong. I made my inquiries. The reporter in question apparently did not get it right.
Even if the Principal Secretary of Tourism had said it wrong by the slip of her tongue (which, anyway, was not the case), the reporter(s) should have been alert enough to seek a clarification then and there, or at least later in the day.
Colleague Satya (of mysoresamachar.com fame) informs me that Shanthakumari clarified the matter at one of the later seminars (which I did not attend).
It is but natural for any reporter to seek a clarification even when the speaker whom he/she is quoting has inadvertently said something confusing. Perhaps, that should have been sent. The reference she made was to the Mangalore Airport, not Mysore Airport.
Time for me to blog and complete my unfinished article.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Mr. Vijendra, for getting the matter clarified through your journalistic circles. I wrote a stiff one to Star of Mysore about the matter. Lets see if he retracts the news published by him based on his reporters wrong reporting. The probelm is further take out of context when the Singapore Airlines chief in India "corroborates" the news and mentions that Mysore Airport becoming International is a good sign! I wonder if that statement was also "not made" and falsely reported by the local paper mentioned!

ORE MAN said...

Any update about mysore international airport..i guess our laid back govt will only talk big but when it comes to implementation they wont even remember saying something. has the project died down as expected? International airport is too much to ask for mysore in the first place when bangalore airport itself is doing pathetic for population of its size. I wonder where mysore domestic airport is and weather its functional at all

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Ore Man: Mysore Airport did get built, at the same site that a dirt strip once existed (Mandakalli Village area) on Mysore-Nanjangud Road and there was limited service between Mysore and Bangalore for a short time. There was much talk about expanding runway, expanding services etc but nothing materialized. Only chartered Aircraft fly in as of now, as always. No other aviation activity is going on, although there was some talk about setting up a flight school there by some private investors..that hasn't taken off either. So, we'll wait and see!