Saturday, 22 May 2021

Where do we go from here?

The last couple of months have been some of the toughest months that most of us have faced in our entire lives. Just when we thought that life was about to come back to normal, the second wave turned everything upside down. This second wave has affected every one of us in some way or the other; some of us have lost our close and dear ones while some of us have seen family and friends battle this with all that they have got. And there are probably more amongst us who have seen the suffering and have volunteered to understand the situation and help others in need. I have also seen cousins and friends who have used their time to coordinate much needed help to those in need. From coordinating beds, to supply of oxygen cylinders and concentrators to getting medicines, people have stayed up well past the midnight hour to get things done. Infact, in most cases, it was strangers rising to the occasion and standing up for another fellow human being.

A lot has been written about these known and unknown heroes and I am not going to dwell into that nor am I going to dwell into the collective failure of our Governance system. We have been witness to multiple view points both for and against the Governments both at the States and the Centre. And all of us are entitled to our opinions, and so I am not going to use this space to give my version of it. 

I have personally not done much to help during this second wave except for an odd phone call or two to coordinate for friends and family but staying in Coorg during this time has helped me introspect and look at this entire scenario from the outside. Infact, the most I have probably done during this lockdown is ranting on social media on the ill planned lockdown measures implemented by the powers that be, especially in Coorg. This lockdown has once again helped me introspect and look at things from a much needed holistic perspective. 

Over the last 4 years or so, we have been faced with one disaster after the other. 2018 and 2019 saw mother nature unleash its mayhem on us and then 2020 and 2021 has seen this Pandemic further turn our lives upside down and in all these cases ordinary citizens have come up to support another human being irrespective of the relationship they share with the other person. The disasters in Kodagu saw many people take a break from their regular jobs so as to devote time and money to help rebuild people's land and lives. Even during this pandemic, we have seen strangers helping each other to salvage a situation. And all of this shows that no matter what, humanity is still alive and when push comes to shove, we will always stand up for each other. 

I believe this is where the problem is. In this pandemic, a lot of us started talking about the dismal state of affairs of our healthcare infrastructure only because we were faced with a situation where it didn't matter if we had our fancy insurance or access to the best of hospitals; all of us had to be a part of the system to get a simple bed in a hospital. And now we are taking vaccines in the first place that we have access to and this is making us understand the dismal state of affairs of our health infrastructure in the Country; the only health infrastructure that majority of our fellow citizens have access to.  

For far too long, we have let our emotions and our humanity get the better of us. We have only been reacting to situations by jumping from one issue to the other. It's time for us to take a pause and look at this broken system and understand where we have gone wrong as Citizens; Why is the onus on us as ordinary Citizens to bear the brunt of the collapse of a system and support each other to make it work? When will the system do the work its supposed to be doing? 

Time and again, we have let the system get the better of us by ignoring and looking the other way in our daily lives. We have let the powers that be get away with their corrupt practices and milking of the system to their advantage because we stopped or rather never questioned the functioning of the system. And even if we did, we do it when it trends as a hashtag on social media and even there, all it takes for us to move from one issue to the other is for another hashtag to trend, thereby making us less relevant in the running of the system. 

We have been taught that the most important role that we play in the functioning of the democracy is our power to vote. Unfortunately, we also think our job as participants in the great dance of democracy ends with us exercising our right to vote. The truth is that voting gives us the right to question the system. The people that we vote to power are our representatives, they are supposed to be listening to us. Instead, we are made to look like fools governed by the most intelligent and well meaning people in the Country. The powers that be have used this against us by constantly hoodwinking us into believing that change will come. No matter which party is in power, the onus is always on the stupid common man to follow the system and be good model citizens. And if we have a problem with the system, we can try and petition our representatives and if that doesn't work, then we can always approach another pillar of democracy, our dear Judicial system. But is that all that we can do or should be doing?

The problem is that the powers that be, our Political, bureaucratic and official class have created a system where we as common citizens have become irrelevant, unless of course we belong to the high and mighty class who have direct access to those in power. We have to follow all rules and regulations, pay our taxes on time, don't default on our loans, follow traffic rules and regulations and so on and so forth. We have become submissive to a system of arrogant officials who make it look like they are doing us a favour by doing their jobs. We end up paying bribes for the most irrelevant things; like registering our own properties that we have either bought with our own hard earned money or that has been passed on to us from generation to generation. Almost no business can run without paying bribes to officials at some level or the other so much so that almost everything we do feels like its illegitimate. As Citizens, we somehow seem to find ourselves bowing down to a system that we know is not right just because we don't want to get our hands dirty. Whereas the powers to be are constantly abusing this system to get their right of way and what do we do? Nothing!. We curse the system, crib about it but then live with it like we have no other choice. 

It is time for us to wake up. Let us not let the lives of those who died in this pandemic or those that lost their lives and livelihood during the natural disasters go in vain. It is time for us ordinary Citizens to take control over our destiny and that of our children. It is not enough if we just pay our taxes and follow all rules and regulations like good, honest citizens, We need to become more participative in our democracy. An MLA or an MP is not going to solve it for us. We need to get active at the local ground level. We need to question the system starting from the ward or the panchayat level. I strongly believe that we cannot change the system from a top- down approach, we can only do it if we start at the bottom. 

After 75 years of independence, the time has come for us to value and cherish the freedom that our ancestors fought for. And we can only do that if we stand up for each other and be counted. 

Democracy is not a spectator sport, it's a participatory event. If we don't participate in it, it ceases to be a democracy- MIchael Moore

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

New year- New Dreams!

This year 2020 has been unlike any other. It has impacted every single person in the World one way or the other. Every one of us has been pushed out of our comfort zones and forced to do things just so that we can survive this tumultuous year. On some level, the pandemic has been a sort of intervention the World needed to get it's act right. Though some might argue that nothing much really has changed and that we continue to live the rat race, the truth is that it has definitely let us look at things from a different perspective. 

The fact that a lot of people of my generation have been in Kodagu because of the pandemic has given a fresh impetus to the fight to save the cultural and ecological legacy of Kodagu. Traditional festivals have been celebrated with all its pomp and glory, practices that were long forgotten has seen a resurgence with the old and the young guiding and working with each other to make things happen. Some mandhus were reopened after a long time during this Puthari, Karano kodpa was held with all its glory despite fewer people attending it due to the pandemic, elected representatives stood up for the younger generation who walked up to the birth place of our mother, Kailpod was celebrated in individual houses and for once whatsApp forwards was about the significance of the festival and not just about pork and alcohol. On the ecological front, though one cannot deny that a lot of land has been converted in the recent past to make layouts; we have also seen volunteers and organisations taking part in afforestation drives or conducting random clean up drives in different parts of Kodagu and irresponsible citizens being pulled up for throwing garbage by alert citizens. While a lot of it has been in the works for quite some time, this pandemic has made the process a lot more inclusive than what it would have normally been. 

There has been positives in the economic front as well. Be it artisanal coffee or nicely packaged bird eye chilli or products manufactured by women self help groups or home chefs with their bakes & pickles; all of them have started to get their share of the spotlight.

All of the above will not be much if we do not take control over our immediate surroundings. Gandhiji rightly said that the strength of India lies in its villages. As we end this dramatic year, we have a chance to take that control that we have always been talking about. As a new set of office bearers take over the Panchayats in each of our villages, it's time for us to let go of our egos, our political ideologies and work with our Panchayats to ensure that we protect, preserve and propagate the rich cultural and ecological legacy that our ancestors left behind for us. 

We often complain of not being politically relevant as a district since we have only 2 MLA's and a Half MP but each of us belong to a Village or a town in Kodagu. These Panchayats are there because of us and not the other way around. Let us start participating in local governance and ensure that our Panchayats implement all schemes effectively. Let our elected representatives understand that we will not be taken for a ride anymore and that they can't play us against each other for their personal benefits. Instead, let us make our villages self reliant through the proper implementation of all schemes and programs; be it good roads, Swacch Bharath programs or power and water supply to name a few. Let the tourism policies be decided from the village level by the active involvement of the people of the village instead of big resorts and real estate mafia dictating terms on what should be done. Let the Panchayats be empowered enough to stand up for the citizens of the Village against man- Animal conflict or crop loss due to natural disasters or disastrous weather patterns or helping farmers get Minimum support price for their produce. 

Let each of our Panchayats also show that they respect the land. Let offices and equipment be decorated on Kailpod, let Sankramana be a day for the Panchayats to show that they respect the land of Kaveriamme by keeping botthus all around the Panchayath and let the offices and surroundings be cleaned and painted before Puthari. In other words, let our Panchayats be a reflection of the original inhabitants of our land. After all, each of these festivals are about the land more than anything else. This coming year is an opportunity for us to take back control over Kodagu and it's needs and what better place to start it from than our own Villages. 

The Prime Minister has been advocating for "Atmanirbhar Bharath" which is all about empowering us at the local level. Let us be "Vocal for Local" by ensuring that policies that affect Kodagu be decided by us from our Villages rather than vested interests dictating terms because of their political affiliation at the State level. Let the Government machinery from the District Administration to the Panchayat officials be under pressure to protect the interests of the original inhabitants of the land. 

Let the year 2021 go down in history as a year where our ancestors are proud of all of us and the future generations talk about the year that saw Kodagu taking control over its destiny. 

"Tomorrow hopes that we have learnt something from yesterday"- John Wayne

Happy New year 2021. 

Friday, 12 June 2020

Always Riggerous!

Since its inception, Rigger House as a company has let its work do the talking. The businesses that we bagged and the Clients that we have on our roster has been the result of one thing leading to another. We have always believed that we need to partner our Clients and vendors and this philosophy has helped us develop a bond with every single person or company that we have worked with. It has never been just the work for us, it has always been about nurturing a relationship by finding ways to support a partner or vendor better. It is this thinking that has helped us develop our new product, "Global" or made us support a vendor partner scale up to meet market demands.

Over the years, we have developed a sort of camaraderie with most of our Clients, artists and other partners that has been built on honesty and integrity. We have spoken our minds when it mattered and given an honest opinion to both Clients and vendors. This has also helped us get honest feedback from each of our partners; some of which hurt us and made us question our approach while some made us happy and vindicated but all of this have helped us become better at what we do both at a professional and personal level.

This Pandemic created a lot of changes and with it came new challenges. We had to go back to the drawing board for answers for which we had no clue as to where to start from or where we were heading to. While talking to colleague, clients, friends, relatives or other partners, it helped us understand that everybody was fighting their own battle at their own levels, be it professionally or personally. It also meant a sea change in people's personal lives as well; schedules changed overnight, roles at home had to be reversed and the new normal wasn't so normal after all.

This sprouted the idea of talking to thought leaders from different walks of life to understand their views on how they have been dealing with the situation and what they think will emerge from it. Moreover, as an event and experiential company, since we are always talking to various people, be it Clients, vendors or partners to understand from them what's new and what's not or who did what and how they did it; we thought this will also be a good time to continue that exercise by sharing what we hear and know with others as well. For us, this is not just a business exercise but our way of telling people that we are here for each other and that we can always lean on each other to contribute to the larger good.

We wanted to do this at regular intervals as a collective and hence decided to name it 'Always Riggerous", in line with our identity. The first series focusing on the present pandemic is titled, "Riggerous Minds". The idea sprung up in the last week of March and we started approaching people from the second week of April. For the first series, we have approached a diverse set of people. We have not just approached people directly associated with our business but people from fields not concerned with our regular line of work. Some of who are very popular and some not so popular but big names and leaders in their chosen fields.

We start this series off with a very popular TV host who is responsible for changing the EDM and festival scene in the Country followed by a creative genius who creates masterpieces and awe inspiring experiences for the events and entertainment industry. From outside our immediate business associates, we also have a woman who decided to pursue her passion and is one of the only Indian women to have participated and completed in an Ironman event. All of us have our passions and one of us at Rigger House is big time into sky diving so much so that given a chance, our friend will probably leave everything to live that life. His mentor who is also a world recorder holder is one of the people that we have spoken to. We also have some of our Clients who we deeply admire and are inspired by to give us their views and thoughts. These partners have become our eyes, ears and minds in the market. They are our beacons to newer horizons. The backbone of any event management company is our vendor partners and we have spoken to leaders in this space as well to try to understand from them their struggles and aspirations especially during these troubles times.

We have not just asked relevant business related questions but also tried to make each person realise the small joys of life that we have taken for granted. This pandemic and the natural disasters of the last few years across the World has taught us that when it comes to dealing with the forces of nature, all our ideas, plans and contingencies will come to nought. No amount of economic or financial help will help us overcome these struggles and shortcomings without basic humanity and empathy.

As a company, we will look to partner to deliver World class experiences while always ensuring that we remain the best partners to everybody concerned. We hope that this initiative helps not just us but the audience to get a sneak peek into the thought process of these leaders while helping these leaders look at things from a different perspective.

We hope that this is the start for greater things to come!

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." – Helen Keller

Friday, 22 May 2020

The Silver Lining!

The last couple of months have been a rude awakening for all of us. This Pandemic has made us re-look at our priorities and our general approach to our personal and our professional lives. The plans and forecasts that were being put into motion became redundant overnight. From an industry standpoint, it seems like the Hospitality, aviation, and the event services and entertainment industry has been the hardest hit due to this crisis. Confirmed events got cancelled, bookings made in advance had to be called off, work that was in progress had to be stopped and the skill sets that we had harnessed and polished over the last years suddenly became useless. As event managers, a saying that is often repeated is, "One is only as good as their last event"; but in this case, even that isn’t good enough. 

Of course, the first few days of the lockdown were a welcome relief from the overworked, stressed lives that we all lead. However, once the reality of the lockdown and its side effects hit us, it made us analyse and relook at our business, our strengths, weaknesses, and the market in general and the mood amongst our colleagues and friends. As event managers, we are trained to look for solutions, to plan contingencies that will help us mitigate crisis that might or might not emerge during an event. In this scenario, this contingency was about our very survival. 

They say every cloud has a silver lining and in our case, it was the perfect time to use all our collective experiences to come out with a solution that would not only help us survive the immediate crisis but also help us diversify and create a possible revenue model for the future. While one team started researching new technologies and engagement ideas; another team started engaging with friends, clients, and partners to try and understand the effects of the pandemic on each other's personal and professional lives, and what they thought the future would look like. 

This helped us give new lease of life to an idea that was left in cold storage. The team at Rigger House has spent a large part of the last 2 months trying to give this idea a new lease of life. Seth Godin, the American author remarked, "Don't find customers for your products but find products for your Customers." and it is this mantra that has helped us launch our new brand, "GLOBAL" which is our foray into the virtual events space. At the present moment, we have already started leveraging GLOBAL with our already existing clients while also reaching out to clients and friends across different industries to see how this product can add value to them. 

The exercise of talking to all our friends, clients and partners from different walks of life sprouted the idea of a video series, "Always Riggerous" where we bring thought leaders to answer relevant questions and share their mantras for sustainability and progress, in the form of a series of mini-episodes. The first collective in this series is called "Riggerous Minds," through which we would like to understand the present market scenario and a forecast on the possibilities or solutions that might emerge once we ride over these difficult times. 

We at Rigger House are bullish about the future
. We are using this time to research, learn and teach something new to each other. The new product Global is the effort of everybody coming together to create something new. The post-Covid World will see a lot of changes with social distancing being the norm and expectations from venues and events changing to suit this basic requirement. As event managers, we need to be prepared for all eventualities and hence our team is also working with our partners and vendors to look at various possible scenarios and the most viable solutions to combat them. 

As a Company, we believe in Rudyard Kipling's words from The Jungle Book, "For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack". We strongly believe that if we have to emerge stronger from this crisis, then we must support and look out for each other, be it our colleagues, partners, or our esteemed clients. 

Monday, 4 May 2020

The Land that protects also needs to be protected!

This Pandemic has affected all of us in more ways than that we can imagine. I am not here to talk about the scale of it, the loss of lives, the lack of medical facilities, the implementation of the lockdown, the plight of migrant workers or the economic mess that it has created. There is far too much content on it and I don't want to be another half- baked expert with an opinion at the tip of my finger. However, I am grateful for this Pandemic in a personal selfish sort of way as it has helped me look at things from a whole different perspective. 

This is probably the first article I have written sitting at my house in Coorg. Before this Pandemic, I could not even imagine spending more than a week in Coorg. All my visits to Coorg over the last 10 years or so has been very business like. I came home either for a weekend, a festival or for a social gathering. But this feels like summer holidays from back when I was in School. The only difference is that instead of home work, I now have some office work to complete; although the flip side is that we are not able to go visiting or having cousins, uncles and aunts coming home. This unplanned long break in Coorg is just what the Doctor ordered. 

I am glad that I get to be in Coorg during this pandemic. Moreover, with a young toddler, I cannot even imagine sitting inside a flat in Bangalore. I am sure a lot of my brethren from Coorg feel the same as I do. I really feel grateful for the land that I come from. The house and the space to move around, fresh clean air, the smell of rain, the sound of birds and crickets chirping, the sight of Malabar squirrels jumping from one tree to the other or the fact that my little one got to spend time with her grand parents and experience a whole different life; I can go on and on about the small little things that has made it a joy to be in Coorg during the lockdown. 

It is only when we hear about the hardships that one faces in the City or elsewhere during a lockdown that we understand the value of the place that we come from. This land offers us all that we need for a good decent way of life, Fresh water straight from the ground, jackfruit palya and curry to green leafy vegetables and bulbs, pumpkins and mushrooms and other fruits and vegetables, I got all of this and more in and around my house. And the icing on the cake so as to say, I don't even have to bother about waiting for the garbage pick- up every morning. 

I am also grateful for the place that I come from because of the people that make up this place. Be it the officials or the traders or the common man, everybody has understood their responsibilities and played their roles to near perfection. Most common folks like us came out only when we were allowed to, covered our faces when we were out and supported each other to deal with the situation. The District administration of course has played a tremendous role in dealing with this situation. From closing down an entire village soon after one single case was detected to opening of essential services shops for only 3 days a week, the administration was on top of things always. The fact that they understood the situation and even created a level playing field for everybody by moving the markets to common open spaces and declaring the daily prices of commodities left little room for controversy. 

This being said, I hope all of us including the officials and the powers to be also look at the situation and be thankful that we are in a place like Coorg during this crisis. I hope the next time that they sign on the dotted line for a land conversion project, they think of the scenario now and imagine what a new layout would bring with it. It would be more people to manage, more areas to monitor and more civic and criminal issues to deal with. Let us for a moment imagine the situation if we had a railway line or 4 lane highways running through Coorg. We would have had more permanent outsiders because of such infrastructure. The Railway stations would bring with it the colonies to house officials, workers and their respective families, shops and hawkers plying their trade around these stations and a whole lot of civic infrastructure that would be needed to make this work. Instead, today our rivers, streams and tourist spots are actually clean and breathing again because of the lack of human influence and intervention at the moment.

I know that a lot of what I have written above sounds romantic and the argument can be that I am a fool and do not understand the reality of actually living in Coorg. The point put out be will ideally be that the crop is bad, labour costs have increased, man animal conflict and the changing weather patterns have caused destruction and hardship and to top it all, the price for the produce is dismal. And if some had a home stay to supplement the income from the estate, then this pandemic has put a spanner in the works over there as well. Unfortunately, the powers to be instead of supporting the main income of the people which is agriculture and plantations and finding ways to support this sector will talk about fast tracking the so called development projects and increasing tourists inflow to supplement income. 

We of course need tourism, but let us use this situation to define the type of tourism that Kodagu requires. To start with, a study to understand the carrying capacity of the district and then design tourism policies around it so that it helps in retaining the natural beauty of Coorg while helping local original inhabitants of the land benefit from it. Create better market opportunities for coffee, pepper and other plantation crops including oranges, avacados, jackfruit and other fruits and vegetables. Help people retain the land by looking at policies like the payment for ecological services that has been well elaborated in the Madhav Gadgil report. Encourage Paddy cultivation by offering minimum support price for paddy which will detest land conversion while helping improve the water table of the district on the whole. All these policies will not only benefit Coorg but also ensure the water and food security of the whole of South India. 

The Prime Minister while announcing the first lockdown said, "Jaan hai to Jahaan hai" and this message is so apt for Coorg. If we do not protect this land, then we are doomed! So let us be thankful for this land and work towards protecting it to benefit all of us. We are in the Green zone today from a Pandemic and nature perspective and it is important that we do everything in our power to keep it like that. 

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Is a ban the best way to protect our Culture?

The recent decision of the Ammathi Kodava Samaj to ban liquor at the Ganga Pooja or the Neeru Edupa ceremony has drawn mixed response from Kodavas all across the World. While some have welcomed the ban, others have opposed and ridiculed it. I and most people in my friends and family circle are of the opinion that it is a ridiculous idea and one that should not have been entertained in the first place.
The Committee is of the opinion that Alcohol in Ganga Poojas spoils the sanctity of the Ceremony and is disrespectful to the bride and other women and so we cannot serve Alcohol during the ceremony but can do it after that. Because of a few stray incidents, some protectors of our culture have decided that the best way to avoid such incidents is to ban alcohol during the ceremony and serve alcohol after that.
Alcohol, whether we like it or not is an intricate part of our culture. Be it karana kodupo or meedhi beppo, no ceremony is complete without alcohol being a part of it. And unlike most other communities, we do not hide to have our drink. Since the time we were young kids, if a guest came home closer to meal time, it was customary to serve alcohol before serving food. Conversations at home in the evenings would be with the grand fathers and Uncles holding a glass in their hand and we kids’ playing around. Of course, the volumes in arguments increased after a few drinks but everybody knew their place.
There is no denying the fact that of late, there have been cases where some people have gone overboard and made a mockery of the whole occasion. But this new rule is only going to make things worse. The whole neeru edupo ceremony is going to be for formality sake and will kill the fun in the occasion. A wedding is a celebration of 2 families coming together. The Neeru edupo is one occasion where the families get to know each other. The Neeru edupo ceremony is already diluted with most men and women not preferring to wear traditional clothes for the occasion and with this rule, the actual neeru edupo will have less than 10 people and the drinking after that will be just another party.
Moreover, this rule is going to make us look like every other community that equates alcohol with bad behavior. I am not saying that we have to encourage drinking of alcohol. But let us not fall into this moral policing business. We are dwindling as a Community and occasions such as the neeru edupo ceremony bring the community together. Instead of banning alcohol, let us find a way to regulate the ceremony. Restrict the time for the ceremony to not more than 3 hours and do not let people carry alcohol near the bride and dance with a glass in their hand.
We are better than this. We do not need a ban to protect our culture. We are not going to teach our kids anything by purifying our customs to suit a brahminical narrative. The Kodava Samajas need to stop being hypocrites. They are not helping to protect our culture by this ban. They are in fact diluting it. Instead of this ban, let the Samajas encourage families conducting weddings to ensure that all guests turn up in our traditional clothes. Let the Samajas impart cultural education in Schools, build better infrastructure. There are other ways to raise funds than impose a fine on people. Let us not take the fun out of weddings and ceremonies which is what makes our Community special.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

The Vote that Counts!

In less than a week from now, Karnataka goes to polls to elect the next Government to power. In Kodagu, the election has captured the imagination of all sections of Society especially with candidates from most parties not being sure of their nominations until the very last minute. Politics has become the favourite topic of discussion at all social gatherings so much so that it has put bad prices for coffee and pepper to the background for the moment.  

Almost all parties seem to be fighting this election based on the charisma and capabilities of their National leaders. The common ground cutting across party lines seems to be about voting right for the greater good of the Country. However, as a voter, I must say that I am disappointed that not one of the candidates for the 2 seats in Kodagu has shown any inclination to fight the elections on local issues or even sat down with the electorate to understand and prepare a manifesto that reflects the needs and aspirations of their electorate. The electorate is again being hoodwinked into "voting responsibly" for the betterment of the Country but at the cost of their land and future. 

The issues that we face in Coorg are many; Large scale Deforestation, sand mafia, timber mafia, illegal land conversions, Linear development projects such as railways and highways under the garb of development, exploitative tourism etc are sounding the death knell of this district. Culturally too, the way of life of the Kodavas and other indigenous communities of Kodagu are being threatened by divisive appeasement politics. Added to this, the district is besieged with the total lack of proper medical facilities and public infrastructure, very bad internet connectivity etc. Yet, our Politicians are busy indulging in petty politics at the cost of the future of the district and its people. 

It saddens me to see that no politician worth his salt has spoken out on these issues or tried to address them on their own free will. Our Politicians have only spoken about these issues when they have been pushed against the wall or when they have been called to address a gathering, They have used people and these issues to create a platform for themselves without doing anything to address the actual issue or taking up the matter with their political masters. Unfortunately, Kodagu is faced with a problem of a dearth of good leaders. Petty politics and the greed for money and power have made our politicians blind to the actual reality.

For a long time, it was generally believed that the Kodavas or rather the people of Kodagu are just arm chair activists and just cannot come together. However, the last one year has seen a tremendous change in Kodagu. The protests against the proposed railway line and highways in Kodagu and the recent huge gathering in Mysore showed that people are not going to take things lying down. People from all sections of Society are starting to question the powers to be and I would like to believe that this is the first step towards ensuring that we protect our interests.

Whatever change that is taking place in Kodagu is happening despite the system. Voluntary Citizen initiatives is what is starting to create and drive the change. Be it cleaning campaigns, installations of dustbins and segregation or questioning illegal activities or even going to court or meeting bureaucrats and Government representatives to oppose projects that threaten the fragile ecological balance of the district, it is the assertiveness of a few like minded individuals that is driving that change.

It is true that we the people of Kodagu have been indifferent to what has been happening around us. As long as one was not directly affected, it did not matter to a lot of us. Even today, we seem to continue on the same lines. However, I must say that the times, they sure are changing. Today, we seem to be connecting back to our roots and thanks to social media, the acts of a few good men and women is inspiring others to get their hands dirty.  And this inspiration is what we need to sow the seeds of that big change that we are looking at. 

We need to accept the fact that with just 2 MLA seats, we do not matter to the fortunes of any political party in the State. But every single vote of ours matters to the 2 MLA's who will represent us. We are not in a position today to choose a leader that is worthy of representing us. But we definitely are in a position today to ensure that we will be taken seriously in the future.

Hence, no matter which party we support or what our ideology at the moment is, we need to ensure that we go out and VOTE. OUR TIME IS NOW!

If people don't vote, everything stays the same. You can protest until the sky turns yellow or the moon turns blue, and it's not going to change anything if you don't vote- Dolores Huerta (American labor leader and civil rights activist)