Business or philanthropy, my work requires me to travel frequently to some of the biggest cities and smallest villages. I travelled more than 1.4 Lakh Kms during my tenure as the President of Rotary Bangalore Orchards in 2018. Many of those journeys are still fresh in my memory because they leave a lasting impression. I consider myself lucky that my childhood was spent in Bangalore when the city was still serene and peaceful. While visiting small, charming towns like Ooty or Ichalkaranji or Sangli in Maharashtra, I still feel amazed about how life there is simple and effortless. 

Recently I was invited as the chief guest for the installation ceremony of a Rotary Club in Ooty. There, the people around me were full of energy and were smiling at each other wholeheartedly. Unlike people in big cities, who are either exhausted, distant or insensitive to the world around them; these people had a genuine aura of openness. I have seen that people in smaller towns tend to lead a simple life and everyone knows each other in the community by name. 

As an old-time Bangalorean who grew up on the streets of this city, it truly saddens me to see how it’s going from being the most liveable place in India to a dystopia in the making. Not surprisingly, many Bangaloreans who have been living here for decades now, aren’t too keen on staying here anymore. My two daughters, don’t want to return to Bangalore any time soon, and I think I can see why they have taken that decision.  

On occasions when I need to address a gathering, I generally do not read from a script. And as I interacted more and more with the people in Ooty, it became clear as to what I should talk about during the installation ceremony. So, during my address, I asked them not to migrate from these picturesque towns to big, bloated cities. I told them how lucky they were to live in such beautiful places and urged them not to blindly chase riches at the cost of a simple life.  

For many of us, the old, charming Bangalore is now almost gone. New ‘Bengaluru’ continues to survive as a chaotic city sitting on the ticking time bomb of diminishing natural resources. The only way to prevent such a hopeless future is by coming together, engaging in selfless philanthropy and taking proper steps for the upliftment of our city. And I think this is true for every big city in India. 

If service organisations and NGO’s like Rotary International, Lions International, Jaycees etc. were to come together and join hands with the local government, Bangalore can undoubtedly be restored to its former glory. Undertaking initiatives like tree plantation drives or Swachh Bharat campaigns etc. can do wonders for the enhancement of the city, and at the same time, take the idea of giving back to the society to a whole new level.

Together, let’s work to gift our children a Bengaluru that’s beautiful and serene – just the way it was in our childhood days.